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After a perfect lead-out by the Lotto Soudal team, Greipel barely had to sprint to win stage 2 of the Eneco Tour, with Guarnieri and Boonen completing the podium; Asselman became a surprise leader of the race 

Photo: Sirotti

ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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JACOPO GUARNIERI

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LOTTO-DSTNY

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RENEWI TOUR

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ROOMPOT-CHARLES

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11.08.2015 @ 17:16 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After yesterday’s disappointment, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) got his revenge in stage 2 of the Eneco Tour when he powered to a dominant sprint win. After a perfect lead-out, he barely had to sprint to hold off Jacopo Guarnieri (Katusha) and Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) while Jesper Asselman (Roompot) picked up enough bonus seconds in the breakaway to become a surprise overall leader with a five-second advantage over Greipel and Elia Viviani (Sky).

 

Yesterday André Greipel returned to competition after a hugely successful Tour de France and he was expected to continue his success in the opening stage of the Eneco Tour. However, the big German got the timing wrong in the sprint and had to settle for fourth after being easily passed by Elia Viviani.

 

Luckily Greipel got an immediate chance to take revenge as stage 2 was another completely flat affair and with no wind on the menu, it was a straightforward affair for the sprinters. This time Greipel and Lotto Soudal made no mistakes as they completely dominated the finale and delivered their fast German to the stage victory.

 

It had been a bit of a waiting game in the finale as no one wanted to control before Lotto Soudal finally showed their intentions with 6km to go. The Belgian team hit the front with Tim Wellens and Tiesj Benoot who rode strongly on the front for a few kilometres while the other lead-out trains were scrambling for position.

 

With 3km to go, Lotto Soudal briefly lost their top position as Etixx-QuickStep lined out Stijn Vandenbergh, Yves Lampaert, Nikolas Maes and Tom Boonen on the front. Fabio Sabatini came from behind to take a turn while Lotto Soudal made sure to stay compact just behind their Belgian rivals.

 

With 2km to go, a Topsport Vlaanderen rider hit the barrier and brought Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) down in the process. The crash split the field and meant that it was a rather small group that sprinted towards the line.

 

Moments later Marcel Sieberg launched the Lotto Soudal train before Greg Henderson took over just before the flamme rouge. Jurgen Roelandts was next and finally it was Jens Debusschere who delivered his captain in the perfect position on the front.

 

Debusschere swung off very close to the finish line so Greipel barely had to sprint. In fact, his rivals could do nothing but follow his wheel and so they stayed in the same positions as they rolled across the line. This allowed Jacopo Guarnieri to take a surprise second place while Boonen benefited from the good Etixx-QuickStep work to take third.

 

The other big winner of the day was Jesper Asselman who had been in the break for the second day in a row. By winning all three sprints in the golden kilometre, he picked up nine bonus seconds and as he scored another 6 seconds yesterday and Elia Viviani and Danny van Poppel (Trek) failed to score bonifications at the finish, he took the overall lead with a five-second advantage over Greipel and Viviani.

 

He will wear the white leader’s jersey in tomorrow’s third stage which should be the final opportunity for the sprinters in this year’s race. The first stage in Belgium is completely flat and unless the wind or crashes will split the field, it should allow the fast riders to shine.

 

One for the sprinters

After the opening sprint stage, the fast riders were again expected to be the main protagonists in stage 2 which brought the riders over 180.7km around the city of Breda. Again it was a circuit race as the riders would first do two laps of a short and a long circuit around the city before they ended the stage by doing two laps of a 29.7km finishing circuit. The roads were completely flat and only the wind seemed to be able to potentially prevent another bunch sprint.

 

It was a sunny and calm day when the riders gathered for the start. Mirko Selvaggi (Wanty) was absent as he crashed in the finale of yesterday’s stage and unfortunately he was left with a broken collarbone.

 

Two riders get clear

With a sprint finish on the cards, it was no surprise that a small break went clear almost straight from the gun. Already after 7 minutes of racing, Gijs van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Jesper Asselman (Roompot) who was already in the break yesterday, had an advantage of 55 seconds. As the peloton took it easy, it quickly went out to 3 minutes.

 

Team Sky started to ride on the front but they were not chasing yet. Hence, the gap had gone out to 5 minutes when the front duo returned to the finish after having completed their lap of the opening circuit.

 

Wallays attacks

The gap continued to grow and when the front duo reached the 50km mark, they had an advantage of 6.50. Surprisingly, Jelly Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen) tried to bridge this big gap but he was quickly brought back. However, he held on long enough to take third in the first Primus sprint behind van Hoecke and Asselman while Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen) beat Frederik Veuchelen in the sprint for fourth.

 

The peloton accelerated and as they approached the Belgian border, the gap had dropped to just 4.40. As they entered the feed zone with 70km to go, it was only 3.25.

 

Sky in control

Sky had been doing all the work and they took it very easy to allow the gap to go out to 4 minutes again. Ian Stannard and Danny Pate traded pulls on the front to keep it stable for a while and this meant that Leigh Howard could easily make it back after a puncture.

 

At the start of the first lap of the finishing circuit, the gap was still 3.35 but this was the signal for Sky to accelerate. Nathan Earle started to work with Stannard and Pate and while most teams started to move up, the brought the gap down to 2.25 with 45km to go.

 

Lotto Soudal start to chase

It was too early to catch the break and as Sky got no help, they decided to slow down. This meant that the gap had gone out to 3.10 when van Hoecke was allowed to lead Asselman across the line in the final Primus sprint with 35km to go. Frederik Veuchelen attacked from the peloton in an attempt to take third but he was narrowly passed by Preben van Hecke who did a long sprint from behind.

 

Lotto Soudal finally decided that it was time to bring the break back and they put Stig Broeckx on the front. For 5km he didn’t get any help until Pate kicked into action with 30km to go. At this point the gap was 2.40.

 

Asselman wins the sprints

At the start of the final lap, the advantage had been reduced to 2.23 and moments later Pate ended his work, leaving it to Earle to work with Broeckx. Meanwhile, the escapees had reached the golden kilometre where Asselman was allowed to win all three sprints to pick up 9 seconds.

 

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) decided to go for the final seconds and he attacked from the peloton to take third in the first sprint. Andriy Grivko (Astana) and Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha) tried to join him but only the Ukrainian made. This allowed him to take third in the second sprint before Gilbert beat him in the third one.

 

The break is caught

Stannard and Broeckx went back to work in the bunch which was now just 1.20 behind the leaders. They continued to set the pace and even got some help from Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky) to bring the break back with 15km to go.

 

While Ramunas Navardausas (Cannondale) had to work hard to rejoin the peloton after a puncture, the trio traded pulls until they swung off with 11km to go. This created a moment of confusion as no one wanted to take control too early. Hence, Lotto Soudal, Giant-Alpecin, Orica-GreenEDGE and LottoNL-Jumbo were just lined out on the front for a few kilometres.

 

Reto Hollenstein (IAM) and the Orica-GreenEDGE pair of Jens Mouris and Leigh Howard went down in a crash before Lotto Soudal finally hit the front with 6km to go before delivering Greipel to the win.

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