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After a splendid lead-out, Groenewegen crushed the opposition at the Arnhem-Veenedal Classic, making it two in a row in the Dutch one-day race; Opie and Dehaes completed the podium

Photo: Team LottoNL-Jumbo








19.08.2016 @ 19:52 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

One year after taking his first pro win at the race, Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) lived up to his status as the big favourite by taking a dominant victory at the Arnhem-Veenendal Classic. The local hero got the perfect lead out and easily distanced Chris Opie (ONE) and Kenny Dehaes (Wanty) in expected bunch sprint to take his 8th win in an impressive first year on the WorldTour.


Exactly one year ago, Dylan Groenewegen showed the world that he is a future top sprinter in the making when he took his first pro win at the Arnhem-Veenendal Classic. A few weeks later, he added the victory at the Brussels Cycling Classic to his palmares to confirm that a new star had been born.


LottoNL-Jumbo were quick to sign the big talent and Groenewegen paid them back immediately. In his first year on the WorldTour, he won no less than seven races in the first half, including a maiden title at hit National Championships.


Having made it through his first Tour de France, Groenewegen returned to the place where it all started at today’s Arnhem-Veenendal Classic and he went into the race as the huge favourite. He didn’t disappoint the local public as he took his first win in the Dutch champion’s jersey when he defended his title in dominant fashion in the expected bunch sprint.


The 31st edition of the Arnhem-Veenedal Classic was held on a classic 198.5km course between the cities of Arnhem and Veenendal. First the riders did six laps of a 13.7km circuit around the starting city, every time tackling the small climb of Beekhuizenseweg. Then they headed along relatively flat roads towards the finishing city while passing the Grebbeberg with 83km to go. With 52.4km to go, the riders crossed the finish line for the first time before tackling one lap of a 28.5km circuit that included the small climbs of Cuneraweg and Bergweg. Having returned to the finish, they ended the race by doing one lap of a 23.9km circuit which included the climbs of Defensieweg and Bergweg. The final ascent came with 9km to go and after the descent, it is a flat run to the finish


The 147 riders had excellent sunny conditions when they gathered for the start of one of the biggest Dutch one-day races and that served as an inspiration for a fast and aggressive opening phase. Tijmen Eising (Metec) attacked as soon as the flag had been dropped and he was soon joined by Wouter Mol (De Rijke)but everything was back together as the peloton approached the first climb.


As they went up the climb for the third time, Christian Meier (Orica-BikeExchange) managed to build an advantage of 30 seconds and he was soon joined by the very aggressive Mol. For a long time, the pair worked very hard to maintain a lead of less than a minute. That allowed Philip Lindau and Edvin Wilson (Joker) to join the pair before the peloton finally slowed down and allowed the gap to go out to more than 4 minutes.


Unsurprisingly, it was the LottoNL-Jumbo team that took control in the peloton with Twan Castelijns who kept the gap between 3.00 and 4.00 for several kilometres. Meanwhile, the hard work took its toll as Lindau was dropped from the front group.


With 70km to go, the gap had suddenly gone out to 4.30 but the front group lost some momentum when Mol missed a turn in the woods of Rhenen. His two companions had to wait for him but the trio found back together with an advantage of 3.30.


Jakub Mareczko’s Wilier team started to work with LottoNL-Jumbo as they put Mirko Tedeschi and Cristian Raileanu on the front and soon Wanty also came to the fore with Robin Steunit. ONE also added Kristian House to the chase and with this big alliance between several teams, the gap started to come down.


Light rain was falling when the escapees crossed the finish line for the first time with an advantage of 2.50 and it had dropped to 1.58 when they entered the final 40km. Moments later, Tim Kerkhof (Roompot) launched a strong attack on one of the climbs and as no one reacted, he immediately got a solid advantage. However, the Dutchman had clearly hoped for some company and so he soon fell back to the peloton.


With 28km to go, the many sprint teams had reduced the gap to just 1.05 and it was only getting faster and faster in the peloton as the fight for position had intensified. Wilier, Wanty, ONE and LottoNL-Jumbo were still riding on the front but now the WIGGINS and Metec teams was lending a hand too.


Topsport Vlaanderen hit the front with 26km to go where the gap had been reduced to just 30 seconds and together with Wilier, they led the peloton across the line to start the lap of the final circuit. As they continued to ride on the front, LottoNL-Jumbo lost an important rider as Steven Lammertink was involved in a crash that also saw Leszek Plucinski hit the deck hard.


Things were getting increasingly nervous and as the peloton passed through a forest, another crash took out an An Post rider and Samuel Williams (ONE). However, the peloton didn’t slow down and with 20km to go, the gap was only 20 seconds.


Meier did a lot of work in the front group but it was all in vain. The peloton brought the escapees back and then Fortuneo-Vital Concept took complete control, with Jean-Marc Bideau riding on the front to set up Yauheni Hutarovich for the sprint.


Bideau led the peloton into the final 15km but he couldn’t prevent the attack from being launched when they hit the final climb. Jasper Ockeloen (Parkhotel) accelerated hard together with Adriak Kurek (CCC) and it was the former who managed to escape in a solo move.


Brian Van Goethem (Roompot) took off in pursuit and he joined Okeloen as they passed through the city of Rhenen for the final time. While the pair worked together to maintain their advantage, a crash took out Topsport Vlaanderen sprinter Bert Van Lerberghe.


Orica-BikeExchange took control in the peloton and they slowly reeled the attackers in. Van Goethem tried a solo move but it was all in vain and everything was soon back together.


Amets Txurruka and Ruben Plaza strong the group out for Orica-BikeExhange before Metec took over. Then Wanty hit the front with two riders, the Belgian team working to set Kenny Dehaes up for the sprint.


A Roth rider made a strong solo attack as they entered Veenendal but Wanty didn’t give him much of an advantage. He still had a few metres as they passed the flamme rouge but as LottoNL-Jumbo took over, he was soon brought back.


Tom Van Asbroeck, Robert Wagner and Groenewegen were on the front as they sped towards the final turn and then Wagner did the final lead-out. As soon as he launched his sprint, Groenewegen immediately got a big gap and no one was even close to matching the Dutchman who had plenty of time to celebrate his win. Chris Opie was a clear second while Kenny Dehaes just managed to come around Mitchell Docker and hold off Yauheni Hutarovich for third place.


With Arnhem-Veenendal Classic done and dusted, the next major race in the Netherlands is the Eneco Tour which kicks off in the middle of September.



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