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Having been given the perfect lead-out, Degenkolb beat Bouhanni and Sanz in the bunch sprint on the second stage of the Bayern Rundfahrt; the German also took the overall lead

Photo: Sirotti

BAYERN-RUNDFAHRT 

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ENRIQUE SANZ UNZUE

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JOHN DEGENKOLB

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NACER BOUHANNI

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TEAM SUNWEB

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14.05.2015 @ 15:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a short mid-season break, John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) has found back to his winning ways as he emerged as the strongest in the bunch sprint on the second stage of Bayern Rundfahrt. Having been given the perfect lead-out, he beat Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Enrique Sanz (Movistar) and as race leader Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) had to settle for fourth, the German also takes the overall lead.

 

John Degenkolb is one of the most successful German riders. Due to the drastically reduced racing calendar, he doesn’t get a lot of chances to ride in his home country and so he was hugely frustrated to miss the chance to do the Rund um Finanzplats which had to be cancelled due to a planned terror attack.

 

However, a change in the calendar gave him the chance to line up at the Bayern Rundfahrt before he heads to his traditional altitude training camp for the Tour de France and with four potential sprint stages in the lumpy German terrain, he was very ambitious to find back to his winning ways after his Paris-Roubaix victory when he lined up at the start.

 

Yesterday his came up short as his lead-out didn’t time things perfectly and he admitted that he missed a bit of speed. He hoped to rediscover his sprinting legs for today’s second stage which was again expected to end in a sprint.

 

Apparently, his things have come around quickly as Degenkolb came out on top when the sprinted roared towards the finish line in Selb after 179.5km of racing. This time his Giant-Alpecin team did everything right to hit the front inside the final kilometre and with a perfect lead-out, there was no way that anyone could beat the fast German.

 

Like yesterday it was another near-miss for Nacer Bouhanni who had to settle for second, making it another frustrating experience for the Frenchman who has had a troubled start to the season. Enrique Sanz who recently showed good form in the Vuelta a la Madrid, took third.

 

Race leader Sam Bennett had to settle for fourth after he had briefly been distanced on a small climb earlier in the race. Hence, he dropped to third in the overall standings, 4 seconds behind Degenkolb who takes the overall lead. Bouhanni is still second, 2 seconds behind the German.

 

Degenkolb takes that lead into tomorrow’s third stage which should be another good one for the Gian-Alpecin sprinter. The first half is lumpy with three smaller climbs and then the riders get to flatter terrain. In the final, they will do two laps of an 11.7km finishing circuit that has a tough climb which could put the fast finishers under pressure and be used as launch pad for attacks. The sprint is uphill.

 

A lumpy stage

After the opening sprint stage, the rides faced a slightly hiller second stage that brought them over 179.5km from Waldsassen to Selb. The first part was pretty lumpy with two category 1 climbs, with the final of those summiting with 76.9km to go. From there, the stage was significantly flatter and the race ended with two laps of a flat 9.9km finishing circuit.

 

Again the riders had nice weather condition when they gathered for the start and there were no non-starters. Like yesterday they got the race off to a very fast beginning with lots of attack.

 

The break takes off

After 5km of racing, Patrick Schelling (IAM), Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN-Qhubeka), Marco Minnaard (Wanty) and Yannick Mayer (Bike Aid) got clear and they fought hard to build an advantage. Meanwhile, Christian Koch (LKT Brandenburg) and Thomas Koep (Stölting) took off in pursuit.

 

The four escapees kept the gap at around 30 seconds before the peloton finally slowed down and allowed it to go out to 1.40 at the 12km mark. After 21km of racing, it was 3.05 and the two chasers were still dangling 15 seconds behind.

 

The gap grows

In the peloton, Bora-Argon 18 and Movistar took control while the two front groups merged. The gap grew slowly and reached 4.15 after 37km of racing and 4.50 at the 43km mark.

 

Minnaard beat Niyonshuti and Koch in the first KOM sprint after 47km of racing when the gap was 5.30. The peloton was still in no hurry and while Movistar and Bora-Argon 18 set the pace, they allowed the gap to reach a maximum of 6.50 at the 83km mark.

 

Bennett suffers

After the feed zone, the peloton hit a small climb and here they clearly accelerated. Race leader Sam Bennett (Bora-Argon 18) was among the riders who suffered but he made it back on the descent.

 

At the 100km mark, the gap had gone down to 5.00 at a point when Schelling beat Niyonshuti and Minnard in the first intermediate sprint. Due to a chain problem, Mayer was unable to contest the sprint.

 

Cofidis take control

As the riders hit the second and hardest climb of the stage, Koch was dropped from the break and it was now Cofidis doing some damage in the peloton. Minnaard beat Koep and Schelling in the sprint for the point at the top.

 

Koch managed to rejoin the front group on the descent and they still had an advantage of 5.00. With the climbing out of the way, the chase got organized though, with Cofidis working hard on the front. At the 125km mark, they have brought the gap down to 3.30.

 

The break splits up

The escapees tried to react and so Niyonshuti was dropped and later Mayer and Koch also lost contact, leaving just Schelling, Minnaard and Koep to press on. The Dutchman beat the German and the Swiss in the second intermediate sprint at the 140km mark where the three chasers were trailing at 1.05 while the peloton was at 2.25.

 

Cofidis got some assistance from Rad-Net Rose but the escapees were responding well. At the 150km mark, they had caught the chasers but were 2.40 behind the leaders.

 

The break is caught

The peloton accelerated and as they crossed the finish line to start the first of their two laps of the 9.9km circuit, the gap had been brought down to 1.30. Midway through the lap, Cofidis and Rad-Net Rose has reduced it to just 50 seconds and they managed to catch them before the crossed the line for the penultimate time.

 

That opened the door for the peloton to contest the final intermediate sprint and it was Movistar GC rider Jasha Sütterlin who beat teammate Eros Capecchi and sprint leader Jonas Koch (Rad-Net) to score three important bonus seconds. As the pace briefly went down, new riders tried to attack and three riders managed to get a 10-second advantage.

 

With 6km to go, it was all back together and from there, the sprint trains were fighting hard for position, bringing back a few attacks. Bora-Argon 18, Movistar and Cult were on the front with three kilometres to go before Cofidis took over in the penultimate kilometre. At the flamme rouge, the French team had been joined by Bora-Argon 18 and Giant-Alpecin and in the end, it was the latter team that delivered Degenkolb to the win.

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