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Van Hummel survives a very windy opening day of the Tour d'Azerbaidjan before beating Buts and Vigano in a sprint finish to take the first leader's jersey of the race

ANDRONI GIOCATTOLI

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DAVIDE VIGANO

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KENNY VAN HUMMEL

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TOUR D’AZERBAIDJAN

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VITALIY BUTS

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07.05.2014 @ 14:04 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kenny Van Hummel (Androni-Giocattoli) took his second victory of the season when he won today's opening stage of the Dour d'Azerbaidjan in a bunch sprint. On a very windy day that saw the peloton split to pieces, the Dutchman held off Vitaliy Buts (Kolss) and Davide Vigano (Caja Rural) in the final dash to the line.

 

Kenny Van Hummel (NED) of Androni Giacattoli – Venezuela proved to have the fastet legs on the first stage of the Tour d'Azerbaidjan. After 158 kilometers from Baku to Sumqayit, he pulled away fom the field for a clear win. Vitaly Buts of Kolss CT and Davide Vigano of Caja Rural rounded out the top three. The Dutch rider also took the first leader|s jersey of the race. 

It was a fast race, helped on by the day's strong winds. After leaving the Baku waterfront, the peloton quickly split into three groups. The first group of some 40 riders worked well together. Eventually things came back into two groups, and pretty much stayed that way to the end – with a rather large gap.

The field had the first ranked climb of the race in this first stage, a category three ranked climb at  58 km. First over was Vitaly Buts of Kolss CT, followed by two Synergy Baku Cycling Project Riders, Maksym Averin and Aleksandr Surutkovych.

Two groups, with a large gap, came into the final six laps of the 10 km closing circuit course. With three laps to go, a four-man group broke away. Klemen Stimulak (Adria Mobil), Youcef Reguigui (MTN-Qhubeka), Luis Mas (Caja Rural) and Mykhaylo Kononenko of Kolss Cycling Team held on to their small lead of up to 30 seconds as long as they could, but with the sprinters determined to have their day, they were caught again for the last lap.

The group thundered over the cobblestones on the closing hundred meters, and it was Van Hummel who shot to take a clear and dominating win. Buts was second and Davide Vigano of Caja Rural third, to round out the podium.

Van Hummel was pleased with his second win of the season. “I was shaking a little bit before the start, because there was so much wind. I think after 5 km we had already split the group. It was hard, but just before the laps of the closing circuit started, the first two groups came together.”

“There were some attacks in the final, but my team did a good job bringing me to the front with 500 meters to go, with 300 meters to go I put down the hammer and then I was there.”

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