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With a fantastic solo attack with 15km to go, Brammeier held off the peloton to win the final stage of the Ster ZLM Toer; Greipel won the bunch sprint for second and took the overall victory

Photo: OPQS / Tim de Waele

ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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GREGORY HENDERSON

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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MATTHEW BRAMMEIER

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MORENO HOFLAND

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NTT PRO CYCLING TEAM

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STER ZLM TOUR

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YVES LAMPAERT

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21.06.2015 @ 18:38 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Matthew Brammeier (MTN-Qhubeka) did what most had thought to be impossible when he denied the sprinters in the final stage of the Ster ZLM Toer. With an attack with 15km to go, the Irishman time trialled his way to the finish line before André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) won the bunch sprint for second. The German won the race overall with a 16-second advantage over Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) and Moreno Hofland (LottoNL-Jumbo).

 

Matthew Brammeier is known as one of the most loyal domestiques in the professional peloton and as a brutally strong rider in flat terrain. However, his hard work for his teammates means that he rarely gets the chance to ride for himself.

 

Brammeier is a multiple Irish national champion in both the road race and time trial but until today he had never won a major UCI race. He changed that fact in the most impressive fashion when he took a hugely surprising victory in the final stage of the Ster ZLM Toer.

 

With 25km to go, the early 8-rider break had been brought back by the LottoNL-Jumbo team which was keen on setting Moreno Hofland up for an overall victory and another stage win. The Dutchman was just 10 seconds behind André Greipel in the overall standings and the 10 bonus seconds on the finish line would be enough to win the race overall if Greipel failed to finish in the top 3.

 

With a compact peloton entering the final 15km on a completely flat course, everything was set for a bunch sprint. However, Brammeier refused to follow the predicted script and he launched a strong solo move.

 

Lotto Soudal were focused on the overall victory and if Brammeier stayed away, Greipel would win the race overall. Hence, they did nothing to chase Brammeier down and LottoNL-Jumbo were now on their knees.

 

This meant that Brammeier could enter the final 10km with an advantage of 40s second and with an impressive ride, he managed to extend it to 1.20 at the 5km to go banner. Naturally he lost ground in the final part but as he still had 50 seconds at the flamme rouge, it was clear that he would make the big coup.

 

Brammeier had plenty of time to celebrate his win, crossing the line with a 25-second advantage over the peloton. As Lotto Soudal had their entire team intact, they gave Greipel the perfect lead-out and the German had no trouble winning the bunch sprint, with lead-out man Greg Henderson even taking third.

 

That was enough to extend his overall lead over Yves Lampaert and Moreno Hofland to 16 seconds and so take a rare victory in a stage race. He also won the points competition while Cees Bol (Rabobank) took the sprints jersey. Lotto Soudal completed a great race by winning the teams competition.

 

With the Ster ZLM Toer done and dusted, most riders turn their attention to their national championships and the Tour de France. The next major UCI race in the Netherlands is the Eneco Tour in August.

 

A flat stage

After the queen stage, it was back into the flat Dutch terrain for the final stage which brought the riders over 183.1km from Eindhoven to Boxtel. The riders first did an opening section of 113km before they got to the finish line for the first time. Then they did a lap of a first 30.9km circuit before they ended the race by doing two laps of a 19.6km finishing circuit. With no categorized climbs, the wind was the only challenge on a day when a bunch sprint was expected.

 

There was a bit of rain when the riders gathered for the start in Eindhoven and all riders who finished yesterday’s stage were present. There were several punctures in the neutral zone which briefly delayed the start but when the official start was finally given, the attacking started immediately.

 

Lots of attacks

A Jo Piels rider was the first two try and when he was brought back, a 10-rider group got clear. They did not have any luck either and instead riders were getting dropped due to the fast speed, with a 20-rider group being formed 20 seconds behind the peloton.

 

Ronan van Zandbeek (De Rijke), Brian van Goethem (Roompot) and Jim van den Berg launched an attack but they were brought back before they got a significant advantage. Meanwhile, several riders punctured out of the peloton while the group of dropped riders continued to lose ground.

 

The break is formed

9 riders got a 40m advantage but they were also brought back. After 27km of very fast racing, the peloton was still intact.

 

A front duo was formed before another two riders joined the move. As they were brought back, the elastic finally snapped when Nikolas Maes (Etixx-QuickStep), Jesper Asselman (Roompot), Jetse Bol (De Rijke), Ronan van Zandbeek (De Rijke), Cees Bol, Twan Brusselman and Sander Cordeel (Vastgoedservice) got clear.

 

Lemoine bridges the gap

As the gap had gone out to 45 seconds, Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) took off in pursuit and he managed to bridge the gap. Meanwhile, the gap continued to grow and went out to 2.05 before the peloton upped the pace.

 

Cees Bol beat Brusselman and Jetse Bolin the first intermediate sprint at a time when it was raining very hard. The gap was coming down quickly and was down to 1.10 with 115km to go.

 

The peloton splits

The cooperation in the front group had been really bad but finally they started to collaborate better. That immediate had an effect on the advantage which again started to grow.

 

Van den Berg had to leave the race after he hit the deck in the peloton which was very nervous. Moments later, the way started and the group quickly split into 3-4 groups.

 

Bol wins the sprints competition

A regrouping took place but the peloton definitely did not calm down. The gap was down to 1.15 due to the acceleration.

 

The cooperation in the break was completely gone and several riders tried to attack. Finally, they again started to cooperate before they got to the first passage of the finish line where Brusselman beat Jetse Bol and Cees Bol in the second intermediate sprint, meaning that the latter secured himself the win in the sprint competition

 

Bol crashes out of the break

At this point, the gap had gone out to 1.55 and it was LottoNL-Jumbo that worked hard in the peloton on the slippery roads to keep the situation under control. Moments later, Cees Bol and Lemoine crashed in the slippery conditions and while the latter managed to rejoin the group, the former was dropped.

 

Gert Steegmans (Trek) crashed in the peloton which had upped the pace and brought the gap down to just 1 minute as they approached the next passage of the finish line. When it was down to just 22 seconds, Asselman tried to attack and he managed to gain 15 seconds on his former companions.

 

Asselman is caught

While Martijn Keizer (LottoNL) and Danny van Poppel (Trek) left the race and a Melvin van Zijl (3M) crashed, Asselman extended his advantage and when he crossed the finish line he was 17 seconds ahead of his chasers and 1.03 ahead of the peloton.

 

The chasers decided to sit up and even though Cordeel made one final desperate attempt to rejoin Asselman, the Dutchman was the only escapee ad they did the first lap of the circuit. Owever, his gap was coming down quickly and with 25km to go, it was all back together.

 

Brammeier takes off

Just after the penultimate passage of the finish line, there was a small crash that brought down a Vastgoedservice rider just as Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Adrien Petit (Cofidis) took off. They managed to build an advantage of 10 seconds before they were brought back.

 

Matthew Brammeier (MTN-Qhubeka) was the next rider to give it a go and as the peloton suddenly slowed down, he suddenly had a 40-second advantage as they entered the final 10km. Petit and Peter Lenderink tried to bridge the gap but they had no success.

 

They gap went out to 1.05 before the peloton managed to reduce it to 47 seconds. However, the peloton was running out of steams and with 5km to go, Brammeier had reopened his advantage to 1.20. The gap was still 50 seconds with 3km to go and as he hadn’t lost a single second at the flamme rouge, he had plenty of time to celebrate his win before Greipel sprinted to second and the overall victory.

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