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With a new course record of 7.50, Bohli crushed the opposition in the Diredaagse van West-Vlaanderen prologue, beating Keizer by 6 seconds and Wisniowski by 10 seconds; the Swiss is the first leader of the race

Photo: Tim De Waele/TDW Sport






04.03.2016 @ 17:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Neo-professional Tom Bohli (BMC) proved that he is one of the greatest time trial talents by taking a surprisingly dominant victory in the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen prologue. With a course record of 7.50, the young Swiss was in a class of his own as he beat Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) into second by six seconds over the short 7km distance, with Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep) four seconds further adrift in third.


With several strong performances at the U23 level and a fine 8th place against the pros in last year’s Tour de l’Eurometropole prologue, Tom Bohli has long ago marked himself out as a great time trial talent. However, no one had expected him to crush the opposition in the way he did when he claimed his first pro win in today’s Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen prologue.


Bohli had been hugely disappointed to crash out of the Tour of Qatar where he was looking to test himself in the time trial and with no previous TTs in his legs, he flew a bit under the radar for today’s flat 7km opener in Middelkerke. He was even an early starter, suggesting that his BMC team didn’t have too high expectations either.


However, Bohli did what few had imagined to be possible as he beat the course record on the out-and-back course long the coast. The same route has been used in the race every year since 2011 but past winners like Jesse Sergent, Michal Kwiatkowski and Anton Vorobyev had never covered it in 7.50 which was Bohli’s impressive time.


As an early starter, he faced a long wait in the hot seat after having beaten Lukasz Wisniowski by 10 seconds. For a long time, no one was able to get close but the late starters included several specialists who could pose a threat.


When specialists like Marcin Bialoblocki (ONE) and Ryan Mullen (Cannondale) both missed out, Bohli started to believe that his time would be good enough. The final confirmation came when last year’s winner of the prologue Anton Vorobyev (Katusha) stopped the clock in 8.02 which would ultimately be good enough for fourth.


Only six riders were now left on the course and one of them turned out to be his biggest rival. Martijn Keizer again had to settle for a second place in a prologue as 7.56 saw him miss out on the victory by 6 seconds. Moments later, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Etixx-QuickStep) reached the finish as the final rider and Bohli could start to celebrate his win.


The young Swiss is of course also the first leader of the three-day race. He will try to defend his position in tomorrow’s first stage which has a flat start before it heads into the Flemish Ardennes where the Tiegemberg (twice), Holstraat and Oude Kwaremont will be tackled. However, the final 55km are flat and the race ends with three laps of a flat, very technical 10.6km finishing circuit where a bunch sprint is expected.


A flat course

The 2016 edition of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen kicked off with its usual 7km prologue in Middelkerke. It was a completely flat out-and-back course along the seafront and as usual it was expected to suit the big specialists.


After a rainy morning, the sun had come out when Laurent Evrard (3M) rolled down the ramp as the first rider. Three riders were absent as Maxime Daniel (Ag2r), Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ), Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Peter Velits (BMC) didn’t take the start.


Best time for Alaphilippe

Evrard posted a first time of 8.44 but he was quickly beaten by Tim De Troyer (Verandas) who was 9 seconds faster. However, it was former Belgian U23 time trial champion Ruben Pols (Topsport Vlaanderen) who set the first serious mark with a time of 8.29.


Pols barely got the chance to sit in the hot seat as he was beaten by track specialist Jhonathan Restrepo (Katusha) who was six seconds faster. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) was just three seconds slower and slotted into second. Moments later Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep) continued to build condition for the classics by shaving another six seconds off the mark.


Rosskopf takes the lead

The best time was beaten numerous times in during the first 30 minutes and the next rider to lower the mark was Dion Smith (ONE) who was one second faster than Alaphilippe with 8.16. Loic Chetout (Cofidis) got close as he stopped the clock in 8.19 to slot into third and Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen) had a decent ride for fifth place.


Alexey Vermeulen (LottoNL-Jumbo) nearly got the chance to move into the hot seat but his time of 8.17 was only good enough for seconds. Instead, it was Joey Rosskopf (BMC) who beat Smith with a time of 8.09 before Maximilano Richeze (Etixx-QuickStep) got a great comeback by taking second best time


Wisnowski lowers the mark

Stef Van Zummeren (Verandas) slotted into 8th with a time of 8.26 before Rosskopf got his first scare. Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha) was less than a second slower but had to settle for second place.


Twan Castelijns (LottoNL-Jumbo) made it into the top 10 with 8th place but he was quickly beaten by Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale) who was five seconds off the pace in fourth place. Unsurprisingly, they were all pushed down one spot when Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep) lived up to his status as one of the outsiders by stopping the clock in 8.00 to take the lead.


Bohli crushes the opposition

Steven Lammertink (LottoNL-Jumbo) got close as he slotted into second with 8.05 but it was Bohli who got all the attention when he blasted across the line in 7.50 to set a new course record. Moments later, Colombian climber Rodrigo Contreras (Etixx-QuickStep) did much better than expected as he moved into the top 10 with the seventh fastest time. Another tiny climber did even better as Koen Bouwman (LottoNL-Jumbo) slotted into fourth with 8.08 and Laurens De Plus (Etixx-QuickStep) was the next climber to do well with 11th place.


Robert Wagner made it three LottoNL-Jumbo riders in the top 5 with a time of 8.06 which was good enough for fourth while Davide Martinelli (Etixx-QuickStep) had a disappointing ride for 20th. Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen) narrowly missed out on the top 10 with 8.15, good enough for 11th.


Bialoblocki misses out

Damien Gaudin (Ag2r) confirmed his status as a prologue specialist as he posted a time of 8.12 to move into 8th but he was quickly pushed into 9th by in-form Nils Politt whose time of 8.07 was good enough for fifth. Specialist Ryan Mullen (Cannondale) was also off the pace as 8.09 was only enough to move into ninth.


There were huge expectations for Marcin Bialoblocki (ONE) but his time of 8.08 meant that he had to settle for spot in the lower half of the top 10. Surprisingly, many of the late starters had a hard time but Patrick Gretsch (Ag2r) did well to move into third with 8.04.


No repeat win for Vorobyev

All eyes were now on last year’s winner Anton Vorobyev (Katusha) but he was left disappointed with 8.02 which was only good enough for third. Instead, it was Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) who became the second rider below 8 minutes with a time of 7.56.


Only five riders were now left and none of them managed to pose a threat. Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) got closest as he slotted into seventh with 8.05 before Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Etixx-QuickStep) stopped the clock in 8.06 for the ninth best time, meaning that Bohli could step onto the podium as stage winner.



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