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Having been perfectly led out by his impressive sprint train, Greipel beats Porsev and Bos inthe bunch sprint to take his first European victory of the year

Photo: Sirotti

ALEXANDER PORSEV

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ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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LOTTO-DSTNY

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WORLD PORTS CLASSIC

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24.05.2014 @ 19:10 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) brought an unusually long victory drought to an end when he won today's first stage of the World Ports Classic. Having been perfectly led out by his impressive sprint train, he easily held off Alexander Porsev (Katusha) and Theo Bos (Belkin) to take his first European victory of the year.

 

Among the favorites for victory on the World Ports Classic, André Greipel delivered in style, capturing victory after a bunched sprint in Antwerpen. The German and his Lotto-Belisol team controlled the race and the escapees all along the 195 km of the course. It was then up to Greipel to power to glory, beating Porsev and Bos to the line.
 
Three in the break
Cloudy skies and windy conditions welcomed the riders of the third edition of the World Ports Classic in the center of Rotterdam for the start of stage 1. But the sky cleared as the 135 rider (one non-starter: Gavazzi of Astana) took of from the Dutch port for a 195km ride all the way to Antwerpen, in Belgium. As soon as km 6, three men managed to break away: Van Zandbeek (RIJ), Hollanders (MET) and Stauff (MTN). The gap grew rapidly and reached 5 minutes at km 27.
 
OPQS and sprinting teams chasing
The front three even enjoyed a maximum 6’40 lead over the pack at km 50. But teams OPQS, Belkin and Lotto-Belisol then started chasing along the Northern Sea in the breathtaking scenery of Zuid-Holland and Zeeland. The first intermediate sprint (km 74.5), set exactly where stage 2 of the 2015 Tour de France will take place, was claimed by Stauff ahead of Van Zandbeek and Hollanders, while the pack remained 6’30 adrift.
 
Echelons as expected… and a train!
As the gap dropped down to 3’30 at km 110, the pack under the influence of the wind broke up into several groups. But despite the efforts of the Lotto-Belisol boys the pack bunched up together again. The front three men were finally caught at km 140 hunted down by team OPQS. The Belgian squad that claimed the first two editions of the race carried on showing it meant business, pushing even harder as the pack broke into two. Sixty riders were left in the front group, enjoying a 25’’, but their efforts were to be vain as they were stopped by a train crossing at km 144.
 
Sinkeldam fights for seconds
At km 157, three riders took off despite the fast pace: Sinkeldam (GIA), Brandle (IAM) and Asselman (MET). They managed to stay clear of the pack all the way to the second bonus sprint (km 164.5) claimed by Sinkeldam who captured 3 precious bonus seconds. The Young Dutchman then stopped his efforts as the race entered Belgium, leaving Brandle and Asselman in the lead. After enjoying a 45’’ advantage, the front two were caught at km 176 with under 20kms to go. The pack remained bunched at high speed led by the Lotto-Belisol team of André Greipel.
 
Greipel of course
With 6kms to go, Vakoc (OPQS) and Eising (MET) gave it a go. Their attack only lasted a few kilometres as the pack stormed towards Antwerpen for what promised to be a bunched sprint. Beautifully led out by his squad, André Greipel flew to victory beating Porsev (KAT) and Bos (BEL) to the line. After his crash during Gent-Wevelgem, the German claims his seventh win of the season (three stages in Oman, two at the Tour Down Under and one in Qatar). He also conquers the overall lead of the World Ports Classic, as well as the lead of the points classification while Sinkeldam is best Young rider.

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