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After Stake Laengen was caught inside the final 2km, Vanmarcke beat Van Aert in the uphill sprint to win the Ster ZLM Toer queen stage; race leader De Bie could only manage fourth and so Vanmarcke is the new leader

Photo: Sirotti

SEP VANMARCKE

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STER ZLM TOUR

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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WOUT VAN AERT

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18.06.2016 @ 19:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sep Vanmarcke continued the marvelous Ster ZLM Toer for LottoNL-Jumbo by winning the queen stage in impressive fashion. After Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM) was caught inside the final 2km, he beat Wout van Aert (Crelan) and Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen) in the uphill sprint in La Gileppe and as race leader Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) could only manage fourth, the result allowed him to take the race lead.

 

Being the big home team, LottoNL-Jumbo went into the Ster ZLM Toer with one of the strongest teams. They had Jos van Emden for the prologue, Dylan Groenewegen for the sprints and Sep Vanmarcke for the hilly queen stage in the Ardennes.

 

The team had hoped to achieve success in at least one of the disciplines but they had probably never imagined to come out on top everywhere. However, they have been totally unstoppable as van Emden won the TT and Groenewegen won the first bunch sprint yesterday.

 

Today it was Vanmarcke’s time to make his mark and he was equally successful. After a winless classics campaign, the Belgian emerged as the strongest in an exciting duel with cyclo-cross world champion Wout van Aert on the short, explosive climb to finish in La Gileppe.

 

After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was time for the traditional queen stage which brought the riders over 186.7km from Verviers to La Gileppe in Belgium. The course saw the riders head into the Ardennes heartland as they traveled from the start to the finish in the first part, going up the Baronheid climb along the way. They tackled the climb to La Gileppe for the first time after 54.4km of racing and then did one lap of a tough 99.9km circuit that included the famous Liege-Bastogne-Liege climbs of Col du Rosier and Cote de la Redoute in addition to the Cote d’Annette et Lubin. They climbed to the finish for the second time after 154.3km of racing and then the final part of the stage consisted of two laps of the 16.4km finishing circuit. The final 2.5km were all uphill and very technical with numerous turns.

 

Ryan Mullen (Cannondale) who crashed a few days ago, and Rick Zabel (BMC) who had fallen ill, were both non-starters when the peloton rolled through the neutral zone. There were several mechanicals which delayed the start but when the stage finally got going, there were lots of attacks.

 

Mirko Selvaggi (Androni), William Clarke (Drapac) and Martijn Budding (Rabobank) got a 10-second advantage but they failed to stay away. Instead, Joey Rosskopf (BMC), Xandro Meurisse (Crelan), Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM), Jimmy Janssens (3M) and Phil Gaimon (Cannondale) escaped. Jochem Hoekstra (Parkhotel) joined them and later Florian Senechal (Cofidis) and Pieter Lenderink (Rabobank) also made it across. Meanwhile, Jan Ghyselinck (Veranda’s) abandoned.

 

The 8 leaders worked hard to get an advantage of 25 seconds before Ivar Slik (Roompot) and Elias van Breussegem (Veranda’s) became the final two riders to make the junction. When Stake Lanegen beat Janssens and Lenderink in the first KOM sprint, the peloton was 55 seconds behind and as they slowed down, the gap went out to 1.55.

 

Lenderink won the first intermediate sprint and he was also the fastest in the second KOM sprint on the finish line where he held off Janssens and Hoekstra. The peloton rolled across the line 2.05 later and it stayed around the 2-minute mark for some time. Meanwhile, Tim De Troyer (Veranda’s) and Andrea Fedi (Wilier) abandoned.

 

Janssens attacked from the break to win the third KOM sprint ahead of Meurisse and Lenderink and he managed to push his advantage out to 25 seconds before the group came back together. They entered the final 100km with an advantage of 1.45.

 

Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) became the first big name to abandon during the stay while the peloton worked to keep the gap stable. It has even gone out to 2.15 when the riders hit the famous La Redoute where Janssens again attacked to win the KOM sprint ahead of Meurisse and Hoekstra.

 

With 70km to go, the gap was still 2.20 but now the chase was getting organized. After Lenderink had beaten Rosskopf and Senechal in the intermediate sprint, the gap had dopped to 1.15 when Janssens beat Gaimon and Senechal in the next KOM sprint with 50km to go.

 

Lenderink also won the next intermediate sprint where the peloton crossed the line 1.20 later and that was the end of the cooperation in the break. Stake Laengen attacked and it was Janssens who took off in pursuit.  Together with two riders, he made it back and another three also made the junction to make it a front septet. Lenderink, Slik and Senechal fell back to the peloton.

 

The gap was only a minute and so Stake Laengen attacked again. He managed to open a 10-second advantage and was the first rider to cross the finish line for the start of the first lap of the finishing circuit, with Janssens taking second in the KOM sprint 11 seconds later. The peloton had lost ground and it was André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) who led the peloton to the finish 2.12 behind the lone Norwegian.

 

With 25km to, Stake Laengen was 25 seconds ahead of his chasers and it had gone out to 40 seconds five kilometres later. Lotto Soudal controlled the peloton 1.50 behind the lone leader.

 

Stake Laengen started the final lap with a 54-second advantage over a chase group that had been whittled down to three while the peloton with the likes of Marcel Kittel and Dylan Groenewegen was not far behind. However, the Norwgian started to fade and as the peloton picked up the chasers, he only had a 35-second advantage with 5km to go.

 

Lotto Soudal and LottoNL-Jumbo shared the pace-setting with 4km to go but their progress stalled. With 2km to go, the gap was still 25 seconds. However, the final climb became too hard for the Norwegian as he was caught and instead it came down to an uphill sprint. Here Vanmarcke emerged as the strongest as he beat Wout van Aert in a duel. Pieter Vanspeybrouck was third 3 seconds later, with race leader Sean De Bie crossing the line in fourth and Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) taking fifth.

 

Vanmarcke gained enough time to move into the race lead with a 5-second advantage over De Bie while Jos van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) is 12 seconds behind in third. He will try to defend his lead in the final stage which should be one for the sprinters. The stage is completely flat and ends with one lap of a 27.2km circuit and two laps of a 19.7km circuit

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