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After Dennis had crashed out of contention, Boasson Hagen beat Terpstra and Dennis to win the wet final stage of the Eneco Tour in a 3-rider sprint; Terpstra took the overall win ahead of Naesen and Sagan

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EDVALD BOASSON HAGEN

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NIKI TERPSTRA

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OLIVER NAESEN

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25.09.2016 @ 17:15 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) turned a disappointing race around when he took a beautiful victory on the Muur van Geraardsbergen in the final stage of the Eneco Tour. In a true Flemish classic held under torrential rain, the Norwegian survived the gradual elimination and finally beat Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) and Oliver Naesen (IAM) in a 2-rider sprint. Rohan Dennis (BMC) crashed on the slippery roads and instead Terpstra win the race ahead of Naesen and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).

 

Dimension Data are fighting hard to stay in the WorldTour and need to score as many points as possible. With the GC carrying more points than stage wins, the team opted to leave Mark Cavendish at home and instead go all in for two-time winner Edvald Boasson Hagen at the Eneco Tour.

 

However, nothing went to plan for the South Africans in the first part of the race. Boasson Hagen did a poor time trial and when the team did a disastrous team time trial, their leader suddenly found himself more than 2 minutes behind. After missing out on victory in yesterday’s stage, he only had one chance to turn things around in today’s final stage which like a mini Tour of Flanders and finished on the famous Muur in Geraardsbergen.

 

The stage has been used several times in the past but has never done that much damage but this year things were different. A very fast start and torrential rain turned it into an epic elimination race and Boasson Hagen excelled in the tough conditions. The Norwegian was always on the right side of the splits and in the end he turned his race around by winning a 3-rider sprint on the Muur against Niki Terpstra and Oliver Naesen.

 

The battle for the overall win was even more exciting as Rohan Dennis and BMC were taken out of contention by a bad crash on the slippery roads. With a broken bike, it took a long time for the Australian to get back into the race and as the crash happened just as the race had exploded, he never made it back.

 

Instead, Etixx-QuickStep used their strength in numbers to send Terpstra on the attack and together with Boasson Hagen and Naesen, he found himself in a 9-rider group. A combination of crashes and tough climbs gradually whittled the group down, and in the end only the trio was left.

 

Terpstra was unable to beat Boasson Hagen in the sprint but he got the biggest prize as he claimed the overall win ahead of Naesen. Peter Sagan found himself isolated in the chase group which didn’t work well together but as Dennis, Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) had all been left behind, he finished the race in third overall.

 

The drama started with 50km to go during the second passage of the Muur which was tackled a total of four times on a circuit that also included the Bosberg, Onkerzelestraat and Denderoordberg climbs. At this point, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin), Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky), Carlos Verona (Orica-BikeExchange) and Winner Anacona (Movistar) were 30 seconds ahead of the peloton which had been led by Tinkoff Verona and Curvers were dropped immediately and after the passage of the line, Wellens dropped the hammer. Both Anacona and Nordhaug were dropped and the latter even suffered a mechanical.

 

Lars Boom (Astana) and Martin led the peloton over the line for the second time and then went full gas as they hit the steep part. At the top, the Dutchman had created a small group with the likes of Martin, Stybar, Terpstra, Izagirre, Boom, Boasson Hagen, Boy Van Poppel, Sagan, Naesen, Dennis, Van Avermaet, Marcato and Lutsenko.

 

Etixx-QuickStep were very eager and rode hard to keep the move alive. That’s when disaster struck for Dennis as the race leader and Boom crashed in the wet conditions. As his bike was damaged, it took a long time for the Australian to get back. When he linked up with two teammates, he was more than a minute behind the peloton in which Etixx-QuickStep was riding hard.

 

Wellens hit the Bosberg with a very small advantage but as Stybar dropped the hammer on the climb, the defending champion was brought back before Stybar led the 50-rider over the top. Bob Jungels (Etixx-QuickStep) launched an immediate attack. The Luxembourger was soon brought back but when a Cannondale rider slid out on the wet roads, a 7-rider move with the Etixx rider, Oliver Naesen (IAM), Christopher Juul (Orica-BikeExchange), Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar), André Greipel (Lotto Soudal), and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) was formed. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), Boy Van Poppel (Trek) and Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) made it across and suddenly 9 riders had gathered in front. Further back, the main group was made up of Grivko, Debusschere, Kelderman, Izagirre, Izagirre, Stybar, Marcato, Politt, Gruzdev, Van Avermaet, Van Emden, Erviti, Degenkolb, Kristoff, Sagan, Dumoulin, Phinney, Martin and Capiot, and Dennis now found himself 1.40 behind the leaders.

 

Kelderman and Dumoulin tried to bridge the gap but had no success and there were more attempts to join the leaders. However, it was impossible to get across as the Etixx riders were riding hard in the front group.

 

Debusschere, Gorka Izagirre and Degenkolb took off in pursuit of the leaders and passed Greipel who had crashed together with Van Poppel. The German champion joined forces with the trio to form a quartet 20 seconds behind the leaders.

 

On the Denderoordberg, Sagan, Marcato, Ion Izagirre, Stybar and Dumoulin joined the chasers and so nine riders had gathered 25 seconds behind the leaders. Further back, Dennis was in a big group that was led by the Sky riders Geraint Thomas and Ben Swift.

 

At the bottom of the Muur, the leaders were 30 seconds ahead of the chasers, 45 seconds ahead of the peloton and 1.30 ahead of the Dennis. Terpstra went full gas on the climb and only Naesen could follow. Sütterlin, Boasson Hagen and Jungels joined forces a bit further back while Juul and Lutsenko exploded.

 

In the chase group, Sagan and Stybar attacked hard, with Dumoulin and Marcato following close behind after Degenkolb had sacrificed himself for his teammate Dumoulin. Van Avermaet tried to attack from the peloton but he exploded spectacularly and was passed by several riders.

 

Boasson Hagen rejoined Terpstra and Naesen on the descent and Jungels also made I across. Sütterlin as not far behind and he made the junction just before they hit the Bosberg. Further back, Sagan, Stybar, Ion Izagirre, Dumoulin and Debuscchere picked up Lutsenko and Juul but they were now 35 seconds behind.

 

Marcato and Gorka Izagirre rejoined the chasers at the bottom of the Bosberg where Terpstra won the first intermediate sprint in the Golden kilometre ahead of Jungels and Naesen. The latter went full gas on the climb and dropped Jungels before Terpstra sprinted ahead of the win the second sprint at the top ahead of Naesen and Boasson Hagen. Sütterlin also lost contact but was back when Terpstra won the final sprint ahead of Boasson Hagen and Naesen.

 

Boasson Hagen, Sütterlin, Terpstra and Naesen entered the final 18km with an advantage of 40 seconds over the chasers. However, there was no cooperation among the pursuers and instead Kelderman, Van Emden, Van Avermaet, Gruzdev, Degenkolb, Weening and Greipel joined from behind. Lutsenko soon crashed out of the group though.

 

With 10km to go, the leaders were still 45 seconds ahead of the chasers and they could start to focus on the stage win. As they it the Denderoordberg, Naesen went full gas and unsurprisingly, Sütterlin was dropped. However, the Belgian couldn’t get rid of his two companions. In the peloton, Sagan gave it one final shot and sprinted past Jungels but most of the group stayed together as only Greipel, Gorka Izagirre and Weening were distanced. They caught Sütterlin at the top.

 

The game of cat and mouse started in the front group and it was Terpstra who led the group under the flamme rouge. The Dutchman tried to ride his companions off his wheel as they hit the Muur but he was passed by both Naesen and Boasson Hagen who sprinted for the win. The Norwegian soon opened a small advantage and powered clear to take convincing win before Terpstra came around Naesen to take second one second behind the winner. The chasers sprinted for the minor placings and Dumoulin and Van Avermaet managed to put four seconds into Sagan and Kelderman, with Van Emden, Ion Izagire and Gruzdev completing the top 10.

 

Second place was enough for Terpstra to take the overall win with a 31-second advantage over Naesena and 1.00 over Sagan. Sagan won the points jersey and Bert Van Lerberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen) won the sprints competition. Etixx-QuickStep was the best team.

 

With the Eneco Tour done and dusted, there’s just one WorldTour race left, Saturday’s Il Lombardia. The next major event in Belgium is the Binche-Chimay-Bince on October 4.

 

The queen stage

After yesterday’s stage in the Ardennes, it was time for the queen stage which brought the riders over 197.8km from Bornem to Geraardsbergen. After a flat start, the riders tackled three small climbs before they hit the 25.8km finishing circuit which they covered three times. It included the climbs of Bosberg, Onkerzelestraat, Denderoordberg and the Muur and the race had a spectacular finish 600m up the latter ascent.

 

Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Marcel Kittel (Team Quick Step), Reinardt van Rensburg (Dimension Data) and Martin Elmiger (IAM) all stayed at the hotel this morning when the rest of the field gathered under a sunny sky. They started the race extremely fast and no one had escaped after 60km with constant attacks. During the first hour, the riders covered 45km in the headwind.

 

Wellens on the attack

Finally, nine riders got clear when Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal), Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin), Lars-Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky), Carlos Verona (Orica-Bike Exchange), Ruslan Tleubayev (Astana), Marc Sarreau (FDJ) Winner Anacona (Movistar), Brian Van Goethem (Roompot Oranje Peloton) and Simone Antonini (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) got a gap which had grown to 2.30 at the 75km mark. However, the peloton didn’t give them much leeway and the advantage was only 2.20 after 90km which were completed in just two hours.

 

The gap was kept stable while they passed the first climbs and was unchanged as they hit the finishing circuit. Here the clouds had covered the sky and at the same time the fight for position intensified. Thus Stijn Steels (Topsport) and Jesper Asselman (Roompot) had to partly walk up the Muur as they hit the famous the famous climb for the first time where Nordhaug beat Anacona, Verona, Wellens and Curvers in the first Primus sprint

 

Tinkoff lead the chase

With 75 km to go, the gap was still 2.30 but as Tinkoff were now chasing hard with Nikolay Trusov, Michael Valgren and Pavel Brutt, it soon started to come down The escapees hit the Onkerzelestraat with an advantage of 1.10 and as Tinkoff continued to ride hard, they started to attack each other. Anacona launched the first move and was joined by Wellens and Curvers. However, the nine riders were back together as they hit the Denderoordberg a few kilometres later. Meanwhile, Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) had to work hard to rejoin the peloton.

 

On the climb, Wellens split the front group to pieces and crested the summit with a small advantage over Curvers, Nordhaug and Anacona. Further back, Valgren and Trusov also made the peloton explode and surprisingly Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) was one of the riders to get dropped. Michael Matthews (Orica-BikeExchange) was also suffering.

 

Rain was falling when the three chasers rejoined Wellens and Verona also made it back just as they hit the Muur for the second time. That’s where both the break and the peloton exploded and from there, the drama unfolded.

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