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Belgian continues rise through the sprinting hierarchy by beating several strong sprinters in the first stage of the Eurometropole Tour to take both the stage win and the first leader's jersey in the four-day race

Photo: Vincent Calu/Photonews

JENS DEBUSSCHERE

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

LOTTO SOUDAL

TEAM PROFILE
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NEWS

NIKOLAS MAES

RIDER PROFILE
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NEWS

TOUR DE L'EUROMÉTROPOLE

RACE PROFILE
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NEWS
03.10.2013 @ 18:03 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Jens Debusschere (Lotto Belisol) once again showed that he's a great sprinter in the making when he won the 1st stage of the final European stage race of the season, Eurometropole Tour. The Belgian emerged as the fastest in the bunch kick that decided the stage and moved into the race lead by virtue of bonus seconds.

 

Less than two weeks ago, Jens Debusschere won his first professional race when he triumphed in the bunch sprint that decided the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen. Today he proved that he underlined that he has hit peak condition for the final part of the season when he won the first stage of the Eurometropole Tour.

 

The four-day race, formerly known as Circuit Franco-Belge, is held in Belgium and France and is traditionally the final European stage race of the season. Being a classical stage Belgian race, it is dominated by short, steep climbs, wind and flat roads and usually suits the sprinters.

 

Hence, it was no surprise that the first stage came down to a big bunch sprint. Most expected Lotto Belisol to work for last year's overall winner Jurgen Roelandts but when the sprint was decided, it was his teammate Debusschere who raised his arms in celebration. Nikolas Maes (Omega PharmaQ-Quick Step) continued his recent string of good sprint results by finishing 2nd while Kenneth Vanbilsen (Topsport Vlaanderen) finished 3rd.

 

With the win, Debusschere earned 10 bonus seconds that puts him on top of the GC. He takes his lead into tomorrow's second stage which is held on a 19,9km circuit in Poperinge. The circuit has one climb and will be completed 8 times to form a 172,5km stage that is expected to be more selective than today's.

 

A fast start

The 73 edition of the Eurometropole Tour kicked off with a 194,8km stage from La Louviere to Moorslede. The stage traversed the hilly area close to the French-Belgian border and finished with 3 laps on 15,7km circuit around Moorslede with one categorized climb. Despite 8 climbs, the stage was expected to suit the sprinters.

 

The race was off to a really fast start with several attack being launched in the first part. The first to get a significant gap were Christopher Juul Jensen (Saxo-Tinkoff), Wouter Mol (Vacansoleil-DCM), Gert Joeaar (Cofidis) and Evaldas Siskevicius (Bretagne-Séché) and they were later joined by Rudiger Selig (Katusha), Stig Broeckx (Lotto-Belisol), Silvan Dillier (BMC) and Will Clarke (Argos-Shimano). That group was, however, deemed too dangerous and quickly reeled in by the peloton.

 

More attacks

The next to try were Sebastian Lander (BMC) and Anthony Delaplace (Sojasun) but they had little success as it was the case for Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil-DCM) who attacked a little later. 10 riders got a little gap but that group was too big to allow any leeway.

 

The Topsport Vlaanderen duo of Gijs Van Hoecke and Laurens De Vreese set off but gained little ground before being reeled in. Finally, the elastic snapped when Ricardo Mestre (Euskaltel), Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Frédéric Amorison (Crelan-Euphony) got clear and they were later joined by Michael Mørkøv (Saxo-Tinkoff), Kristof Goddaert (IAM) and Bert-Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil).

 

The peloton initiates a chase

Those 6 riders were allowed to build up a gap of more than 4 minutes when Argos-Shimano and FDJ started to keep the gap in check. The two teams had John Degenkolb and Arnaud Demare for the sprint and hoped to set up a bunch sprint in the end.

 

For most of the day, the gap stayed between the 3 and 4 minute marks while Amorison made sure to win most of the KOM sprints to become the first wearer of the red mountains jersey. Mestre fell off the pace on the second climb of the day and was quickly reabsorbed by the peloton.

 

The pace is upped

With 70km to go, the peloton upped the pace and started to bring down the gap. When the escapees crossed the line to start the first lap on the finishing circuit, they were only 1.20 ahead.

 

Argos-Shimano and FDJ had now been joined by Lotto Belisol on the front of the peloton and the break appeared to be doomed. However, Morkov made sure to win all three intermediate sprints of the days to pick up bonus seconds that moved him into 2nd on GC.

 

A counterattack

With 30km to go, Delaplace and Antoine Leleu (Color Code) attacked. While Leleu quickly fell back to the peloton, Delaplace bridged across to the front group. He did a good job to put new life into the escape but in the peloton, FDJ appeared to have everything under control. A counterattack by Dillier was quickly neutralized.

 

Shortly before the start of the final lap, Delaplace attacked and while he was later caught by his companions, the action spelled the end for Lindeman who fell back to the peloton. With 8km to go, it was, however, all over for the escapees and all was set for a sprint finish.

 

Katusha, Vacansoleil, Lotto-Belisol and Crelan-Euphony all led the peloton at different points in the finale and set up a big bunch sprint in the highly technical finale. In the end, the favourites like Demare, Degenkolb and Tyler Farrar (Garmin) were denied by Debusschere who made good use of the many corners in the finale to take his second win as a professional and the first leader's jersey in the race.

 

Result:

1. Jens Debusschere 4.22.05

2. Nikolas Maes

3. Kenneth Vanbilsen

4. Tyler Farrar

5. Bert De Backer

6. Roy Curvers

7. Ramon Sinkeldam

8. Graeme Brown

9. Mickael Delage

10. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck

 

General classification:

1. Jens Debusschere 4.21.55

2. Michael Mørkøv +0.01

3. Nikolas Maes +0.04

4. Kristof Goddaert +0.05

5. Kenneth Vanbilsen +0.06

6. Jelle Wallays +0.07

7. Bert-Jan Lindeman +0.09

8. Tyler Farrar +0.10

9. Bert De Backer

10. Roy Curvers

 

Points classification:

1. Jens Debusschere 25

2. Nikolas Maes 0

3. Kenneth Vanbilsen 16

4. Michael Mørkøv 15

5. Tyler Farrar 14

 

Mountains classification:

1. Frederic Amorison 44

2. Jelly Wallays 32

3. Kristof Goddaert 15

4. Michael Mørkøv 15

5. Bert-Jan Lindeman 3

 

Youth classification:

1. Jens Debusschere 4.21.55

2. Kenneth Vanbilsen +0.06

3. Jelle Wallays +0.07

4. Bert-Jan Lindeman +0.09

5. Ramon Sinkeldam +0.10

 

Teams classification:

1. Belkin 13.06.15

2. Garmin-Sharp

3. Argos-Shimano

4. Lotto Belisol

5. IAM

 

More results to come

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