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German beats Drucker and Debusschere in final sprint when a front trio is caught with less than 1km to go while Debusschere defends his leader's jersey after having virtually lost it during the stage

Photo: Sirotti

CIRCUIT FRANCO-BELGE

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JENS DEBUSSCHERE

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JOHN DEGENKOLB

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TEAM SUNWEB

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04.10.2013 @ 17:13 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano) continued his string of end-of-season success when he beat Jempy Drucker (Accent.jobs) and overall leader Jens Debusschere (Lotto Belisol) in the sprint on the second stage of the Eurometropole Tour. In a nail-biting finale, a front trio was caught inside the final kilometre and Degenkolb benefited from the situation to take his 3rd win of the season while Debusschere's third place was enough for him to take back the leader's jersey that he had virtually lost during the stage.

 

John Degenkolb had a difficult first part of the season where only his stage win in the Giro d'Italia stood out as a successful result but during the autumn, his legs have started to come around. Today he proved that his strong run of form continues to the very end of the season when he won the second stage of the Eurometropole Tour.

 

The German emerged as the fastest in the sprint that ensued after a nail-biting finale. Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Degenkolb's teammate Ramon Sinkeldam and Viatcheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha) had escaped late in the race and the trio was almost 30 seconds ahead when they passed the 3km to go banner.

 

The sprint teams combined forces and just managed to neutralize the move inside the final kilometre. The man to benefit the most was Degenkolb who beat Jempy Drucker and overall leader Jens Debusschere in the sprint.

 

The 3rd place was a welcome one for Debusschere who had started the stage with a 1-second lead over Michael Mørkøv (Saxo-Tinkoff). However, the Dane had picked up 3 bonus seconds along the way to virtually take over the leader's jersey. With his 3rd place, Debusschere secured 4 bonus seconds and so he reclaimed the jersey that he was about to lose.

 

Debusschere now takes a 2-second lead into tomorrow's 3rd stage. The 164,2km route is the easiest of the 4-day race and if the win doesn't break up the field, a bunch sprint is expected on the eve of the final, hillier stage.

 

A tough circuit

The 172,5km second stage was held on a 21,8km circuit in Poperinge which would be completed 8 times. With one categorized climb and a smaller non-categorized ascent on each lap, the stage was expected to be one of the toughest in the sprinter-friendly 4-day race.

 

Team Europcar got their race off to a bad start as 18 bikes had been stolen from a truck overnight. Wallonie and Color Code stepped in and provided them with replacement bikes and so the French team was able to stay in the race.

 

A break is formed

Like yesterday, the race was off to a really fast start with several attacks being launched in the first part of the stage. After 10 minutes, Sebastian Lander (BMC), Robert Vrecer (Euskaltel), Johann Van Zyl (MTN Qhubeka), Clément Koretzky and Erwann Corbel (both Bretagne-Séché) escaped and those 5 riders were later joined by Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) and Staf Scheirlickx (Accent) to form a 7-rider group.

 

The peloton accepted the composition of the breakaway and allowed the group to get some leeway. For most of the stage, the advantage stayed between the 3 and 4 minute marks while the Lotto Belisol team of overall leader Jens Debusschere set a controlling pace in the peloton.

 

Battle for mountain points

At every passage of the climb, mountain points were awarded. Vrecer and Van Zyl were most active in picking up those points and so got closer to Frederic Amorison's lead in the mountains classification.

 

With 80km to go, Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Belkin joined Lotto on the front as fierce wind started to make the peloton more nervous. Moments later, Belkin tried to attack in a section with crosswind and the peloton blew into 4 groups as a consequence.

 

Vrecer and Koretzky take off

The fierce pace saw the gap come down quickly and when it was down to less than 30 seconds, Vrecer decided to attack. He was joined by Koretzky while their five companions were all picked up by the peloton.

 

Behind the first peloton, a second group was let by Argos-Shimano whose main riders had apparently missed the move. At some point, they were 30 seconds behind but made the junction with 60km to go. Moments later, Vrecer and Koretzky were caught and it was all back together just in time for the first intermediate sprint.

 

Mørkøv picks up a single second

Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen) won the sprint and secured 3 bonus seconds while Maarten Wynants (Belkin) was 2nd. Michael Mørkøv (Saxo-Tinkoff) picked up the final second and so was now equal on time with overall leader Debusschere.

 

Moments later, a 4-rider group escaped and they were joined by 13 riders to form a 17-rider move. However, that group was too big and things were brought back together.

 

A strong group goes clear

The next attack was launched by Graeme Brown (Belkin), Henrich Haussler (IAM) and Baptiste Planckaert (Crelan-Euphony) and they were joined by Marcel Sieberg (Lotto-Belisol), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Ramon Sinkeldam (Argos-Shimano), Marko Kump (Saxo-Tinkoff), Christophe Prémont (Crelan-Euphony) and Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun) to form a very strong lead group.

 

Jonas Vangenechten (Lotto-Belisol), Roy Curvers (Argos-Shimano), Maarten Tjallingi (Argos-Shimano), Alexander Porsev (Katusha), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp), Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis), Renaud Dion (Bretagne-Séché), Stijn Steels (Crelan-Euphony) and Dominique Rollin (FDJ.fr) also bridged across and that was too much for BMC who had missed the move. The American team closed it down and brought things back together.

 

De Vreese tries a solo move

Laurens De Vreese (Topsport Vlaanderen) attacked on the penultimate passage of the climb and stayed away all the way to the second intermediate sprint. Behind the lone Belgian, Mørkøv beat Kenneth Vanbilsen (Topsport Vlaanderen) to pick up 2 bonus seconds and move into the virtual lead.

 

A little later, De Vreese was caught and Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Ramon Sinkeldam (Argos-Shimano) and Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha) launched a counterattack. For some time a 13-rider group was in pursuit but as there was no big cooperation, that group was reeled in.

 

Saxo-Tinkoff initiate a chase

When the riders started the final 21,8km lap, the gap was 38 seconds and Saxo-Tinkoff now sensed the danger for Mørkøv's virtual lead. The Danish team started to chase but with 13km to go, the gap had gone up to 59 seconds.

 

Belkin and FDJ joined Saxo-Tinkoff on the front and started to reduce the gap. With 6km to go, however, the front trio was still 39 seconds ahead and when they passed the 3km to go banner, the advantage was 24 seconds.

 

In a nail-biting finish, the sprint teams managed to neutralize the move inside the final kilometre and a sprint finish was set up. Degenkolb showed his speed by emerging as the fastest ahead of Drucker while Debusschere finished 3rd to retain his leader's jersey.

 

Result:

1. John Degenkolb

2. Jempy Drucker

3. Jens Debusschere

 

General classification:

1. Jens Debusschere

 

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