Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) brought his winning drought to an end when he won today’s second stage of the Tour of Luxembourg. In a finale suited to puncheurs, the Dane beat Jempy Drucker (Wanty) in the uphill sprint, with the latter taking over the leader’s jersey from Danny van Poppel (Trek).
Heading into the Tour de Luxembourg, Matti Breschel hadn’t won a race since last year’s Tour of Denmark but today the Dane found back to his winning ways. In a finale perfectly suited to his puncheur characteristics, he beat Jempy Drucker in an uphill sprint to take his first victory in 2014.
His Tinkoff-Saxo team had shown their intentions in the finale when their hard tempo had contributed to the neutralization of the early break inside the final 10km. Already yesterdar, Breschel has shown good condition when he had made a solo attack in the finale and with his confidence boosted, he had asked his team to keep the tempo high in the finale.
They had to battle with Lotto Belisol for position but by the time, the sprint kicked off they came out on top. Breschel held off Drucker in the tough uphill battle to bring his drought to an end.
After finishing second in the prologue, Drucker had set his sights on the overall lead and after scoring one bonus second in the first intermediate sprint, he added another six seconds at the finish. As previous leader Danny Van Poppel struggled to keep up with the best in the finale, he was rewarded for his consistency by taking over the leader’s jersey from the 20-year-old Dutchman.
Drucker now heads into tomorrow’s third stage as the race leader and he faces a very difficult challenge. The 205.8km stage is traditionally the queen stage and is up and down all day. The stage ends with three laps of a 9.4km finishing circuit that the 8% Col de l’Europe which is usually hard enough to create some selection
A finale for the puncheurs
After yesterday’s flat first stage, the GC battle was expected to become a bit more earnest in today’s second stage that brought the riders over 157.4km from Rosport to Schifflange. The first part of the stage was rolling and included several categorized climbs before things got a bit easier towards the end. The stage ended with a lap of a 36.3km finishing circuit that was mostly flat but had an uphill finish that made it a stage more for puncheurs than for sprinters.
The good weather conditions that the riders also enjoyed yesterday, continued when they started the ride towards Schifflange, and the riders were ready to go right from the gun. The first part was really fast and it took a long time with constant attacking before the early break finally got clear.
Bonus seconds for Drucker
The peloton was still together by the time they reached the first intermediate sprint after 22.9km of racing and this opened the door for the GC riders to score some bonus seconds. Michael Mørkøv led his Tinkoff-Saxo teammate Marko Kump across the line while second-placed Jempy Drucker (Wanty) took the final second on offer.
The attacking continued for a little while but at the 37km mark, the elastic had finally snapped and Juan Esteban Arango (Colombia), Boris Dron (Wallonie), Ilnur Zakarin (Rusvelo) and Jacuqes Janse Van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka) had opened a 1.30 gap. While Arango beat Dron and van Rensburg in the first KOM sprint, the gap continued to grow and reached 4.47 after 50km of racing.
The chase starts in earnest
The peloton had now upped the pace and over the next 27km, they brought the gap down to 3.24. It was too early to make the catch though and while Dron beat Arango and van Rensburg in a KOM sprint, the advantage went back up to 4.25 with 60km to go.
Now it was time for the peloton to kick into action and the chase started in earnest. 42km from the finish, they had already brought their deficit down to 1.20 and with 25km to go, it had reached the one-minute mark. The peloton had something left in the tank though and they manage to reopen their advantage to 1.25 when they still had 14km to ride.
The break splits up
The pace was too high for Dron who was in the break for the second day in a row and the Belgian had to let his companions go. The remaining three riders battled on but with 8km to go, their advantage had fallen to 40 seconds.
The battle for position in the peloton had now really intensified and unfortunately Phil Bauhaus (Stölting) went down in a crash. Tinkoff-Saxo had taken control on the front and they brought the break back with 6km to go.
As they hit the final climb, Lotto Belisol started to show themselves near the front and the Belgian team took control in the finale. When the sprint started, however, it was Breschel who returned to his winning ways.
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