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Having been part of an 11-rider breakaway, De Bie beat Duque and Leukemans in a 5-rider sprint to win the final stage of the Tour of Luxembourg; Gerdemann won the race overall

Photo: Lotto Soudal

BJÖRN LEUKEMANS

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LEONARDO DUQUE

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LINUS GERDEMANN

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LOTTO-DSTNY

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MARC DE MAAR

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SEAN DE BIE

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STÖLTING SERVICE GROUP

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TOUR DE LUXEMBOURG

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07.06.2015 @ 17:42 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) took his first professional victory in impressive style when he emerged as the strongest from an 11-rider breakaway that decided the final stage of the Tour de Luxembourg. The young Belgian beat Leonardo Duque (Colombia) and Bjorn Leukemans (Wanty) into the minor podium position when 5 riders sprinted for the win while Linus Gerdemann (Cult) secured his second overall victory in the national tour.

 

In 2013, Sean De Bie confirmed that he had the potential to be a great professional when he won the European U23 championships. Less than one year later he turned pro and since then he has been knocking on the door for that elusive first win.

 

De Bie has been close on a number of occasions and has delivered several great performances to confirm his talent. Already in his debut season he was 6th in the Tour of Denmark and this year he was 5th in the Driedaagse de Panne.

 

Today things finally came together for De Bie when he opened his account by winning the final stage of the Tour de Luxembourg. After a frustrating start to the race that had spelled the end to his GC ambitions, he was free to attack and that turned out to be a winning strategy.

 

De Bie was part of an 11-rider breakaway that was allowed to get clear pretty early and as Frederik Brun (Bretagne) was best-placed on GC at more than 3 minutes, they were allowed a big gap. With a tough climb summiting just 1.3km from the finish, it was not a stage for sprinters and so they were allowed to decide the stage.

 

In the end, only De Bie, Leonardo Duque, Björn Leukemans, Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar) and Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis) were left to contest the win. Engoulvent was dropped on the final climb and so it came down to a 4-rider sprint.

 

On paper, Duque and Vanbilsen were the fastest in the quartet but De Bie surprised the sprinters by taking the victory. Duque had to settle for second while Leukemans completed the podium.

 

Linus Gerdemann defended himself well and finished safely in the bunch to secure the overall victory for the second time in his career. He was flanked by two Roompot riders on the podium as Marc De Maar finished second and Huub Duijn took third.

 

Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty) won the points classification while Fabio Duarte (Colombia) was the best climber. Oliver Naesen (Topsport Vlaanderen) was the best young rider and Colombia won the teams classification.

 

The series of short preparation races for the Tour de France continue next week when the Ster ZLM Toer, Route du Sud and Tour de Slovenie combine forces with the Tour de Suisse to form a very important block in the build-up to the world’s biggest race.

 

A tough circuit

After yesterday’s sprint finish, the sprinters were expected to come to the fore in the final stage which brought the riders over 156km from Mersch to Luxembourg. After a hilly first half with four climbs, the riders would go up the Cote de Bereldange before they got to the finishing circuit. Here they would go up the Pabeierbierg before they crossed the finish line for the first time. In the end, they did four laps of the 6.7km circuit which included the short steep ascent that summited just 1.3km from the finish.

 

Again the riders had splendid weather when they gathered for the start in Mersch and as it has been the case in the previous stages, it was a fast opening phase. Cult worked hard to keep the race under control while Johnny Hoogerland (Roompot) had to work his way back to the peloton after a small crash in the hectic first kilometres.

 

A big break gets clear

Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Frederik Brun (Bretagne), Simone Antonini, Bjorn Leukemans (Wanty), Leonardo Duque (Colombia), Olivier Chevalier, Antoine Demoitie (Wallonie) and Kristian Haugaard (Leopard) managed to escape after the fast start and they quickly managed to get an advantage of 1.20. However, the group was too big to give too much of an advantage and the gap was down to 45 seconds after 12km of racing.

 

Venter led De Bie and Chevalier over the top of the first climb at a point when the gap was 41 seconds. Moments later, Vanbilsen won the first intermediate sprint ahead of Venter and De Bie.

 

A big gap

The peloton finally slowed down and when they passed the 25km mark, the gap had gone out to 3.34. When Venter led Duque, Antonini and Leukemans over the top of the second climb, it was a massive 5.45, meaning that Brun was the virtual leader of the race. At this point, riders were getting dropped from the peloton.

 

At the 60km mark, the escapees had extended their advantage to 6 minutes but now Cult and Roompot had started to work in the peloton. This had an effect as the gap was down to 5.24 when Leukemans won the third KOM sprint ahead of Engoulvent, Venter and Duque. Again riders were dropped from the peloton as they went up the ascent.

 

The gap comes down

At the 80km mark, Cult had brought the gap down to 5 minutes and they kept it around that mark for a while. Meanwhile, De Bie won the next KOM sprint ahead of Haugaard and Engoulvent.

 

Rick Ampler (Differdange), Kenny Dehaes (Lotto) and Florian Guillou (Bretagne) left the race while Cult set a steady tempo to keep the situation under control. As they approached the circuit, they accelerated and with 45km to go, they had brought the gap down to 3.50.

 

The break splits up

Alex Kirsch and Russel Downing finished their work for Cult as they entered the final 40km with a deficit of 3.15. Meanwhile, Demoitie won the next KOM sprint ahead of Antonini, Brun and Duque.

 

Leukemans was the first rider to crest the summit of Pabeierberg for the first time and here Antonini and Chevalier were dropped. At the same time, the front group was losing ground as they gap was only 2.22.

 

Haugaard and Demoitie are dropped

Jay Thomson (MTN-Qhubeka) crashed and Adrien Petit (Cofdis) was dropped from the peloton which was now riding very fast. This meant that the front group accelerated and this was too much for Haugaard and Demoitie who were both dropped with 20km to go.

 

Kirsch abandoned the race at a point when the gap was only 1.55. However, the escapees did an impressive job to extend their advantage to 2.25 at the second passage of the finish line.

 

De Bie takes the win

Leukemans won the penultimate KOM sprint before Engoulvent attacked. Duque took off in pursuit but Duque, Engoulvent, Vanbilsen, Leukemans and De Bie were back together as they started the final lap with a 2-minute advantage.

 

It was now clear that those five riders would decide the stage and even though the peloton made a great comeback in the finale that saw rider like André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) lose contact, it was De Bie who emerged as the strongest in the finale after Engolvent had been dropped and Venter nearly had rejoined the front group on the finale.

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