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After Torres was caught with less than 500m to go, Greipel emerged as the fastest in the reduced bunch sprint on stage 3 of the Tour de Luxembourg; Gerdemann retained the leader’s jersey

Photo: Sirotti

ANDRÉ GREIPEL

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ENRICO GASPAROTTO

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LARS VAN DER HAAR

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LINUS GERDEMANN

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LOTTO-DSTNY

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STÖLTING SERVICE GROUP

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TOUR DE LUXEMBOURG

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06.06.2015 @ 17:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) again confirmed that he is ready to go for more stage wins in the Tour de France when he took his second stage victory in the Tour de Luxembourg on the hilly third stage. After a dramatic finale in which Rodolfo Torres (Colombia) was caught less than 500m from the line, he powered clear to beat Lars van der Haar (Giant-Alpecin) and Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty) into the minor podium positions while Linus Gerdemann (Cult) defended the overall lead.

 

Two days ago André Greipel and the Lotto Soudal train proved that they are ready for the bunch sprints in the Tour de France when a perfect lead-out set the fast German up for the stage victory in the first stage of the Tour de Luxembourg. Having shown that he has the speed to beat the best, the German made the double in stage 3 and this time he showed strong climbing legs to get the win.

 

The tough stage finished with two laps of a 15km finishing circuit that included a tough climb and so it was a big question whether the sprinters would be able to survive the challenges. However, it turned out that the attention was taken by a climber who made everyone forget about the fast finishers.

 

Rodolfo Torres was part of the early 7-rider breakaway that was kept firmly under control by Linus Gerdemann’s Cult team and nothing suggested that the group would have any chance of success. Instead, Torres did his job to pick up lots of KOM points to protect the mountains jersey of his teammate Fabio Duarte.

 

However, as they started the final lap, the group still had an advantage of 1 minute and as he had been the best climber in the group, Torres realized that he had a chance to make a solo move on the final climb. He crested the summit as the lone leader and did an amazing job to keep the peloton at bay.

 

With 5km to go, his advantage was only 20 seconds but as the cooperation in the main group was bad, he managed to extend it to 31 seconds 2km later. However, Jens Debusschere who had been part of the break, was now back in the peloton and so it was time for Lotto Soudal to play the Greipel card.

 

The Belgian team took control and with Marcel Sieberg doing a massive amount of work, they managed to bring the lone Colombian back with less than 500m to go. As Greipel had made it over the climbs, the outcome was almost guaranteed when the peloton roared down the finishing straight and he had no trouble holding off Lars van der Haar and Enrico Gasparotto in the reduced bunch sprint.

 

Gerdemann survived the challenges and so goes into the final stage with an 8-second advantage over Marc De Maar (Roompot). However, he faces a stern test if he wants to win the race overall. After a hilly first part with four climbs, the riders get to the difficult finishing circuit which they will tackle four times. The circuit includes a steep 9% climb that summits just 1km from the finish, meaning that it is a day for puncheurs.

 

A tough stage

After yesterday’s hilly stage, the terrain got even more difficult in stage 3 which brought the riders over 161.3km from Eschweiler to Diekirch. After a hilly first half with five categorized climbs, the riders tackled another steep ascent with 44.8km to go before they crossed the finish line for the first time. In the finale, the riders did two laps of a 15.9km finishing circuit that included a tough climb which summited just 14.3km from the finish line.

 

It was another hot and sunny day in Luxemborug when the 114 riders that finished yesterday’s stage, gathered for the start in Eschweiler. As it has been the case in the first few stages, the opening phase was very fast with lots of attacks and after 10 minutes of racing, no one had managed to get clear.

 

Lots of attacks

Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis), Bryan Coquard (Europcar), James Vanlandschoot (Wanty) and Jan Dieteren (Leopard) were the first riders to get a significant advantage and when they were brought back, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar). They were brought back too while the first riders were dropped due to the fast pace.

 

The peloton was still together as they tackled the first climb and here KOM leader Fabio Duarte (Colombia) took maximum points ahead of his teammate Rodolfo Torres. The peloton had now split into several groups, with 20 seconds separating the first two of them.

 

The break is formed

A regrouping took place but that did not dampen the attacking spirit. Lots of attacks were launched before Jens Debusscere (Lotto Soudal), Romain Hardy (Cofidis), Coquard, Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne), Patrick Olesen (Leopard), Torres and Laurent Evrard (Wallonie) finally got clar.

 

The septet had built an advantage of 41 seconds after 35km of racing and as the peloton took a small breather, they managed to extend it to 2.40 at the 58km mark. However, the peloton was in no mood to give them too much of an advantage and as they hit the third climb, the gap was down to 2.15.

 

Cult in control

Torres led Olesen, Coquard and Evrard over the top of the climb while Cult kept the situation under control in the peloton. At the 70km mark, the gap was 2.34 and at this point, Jonthan Hivert (Bretagne) and Youcef Reguigui (MTN-Qhubeka) abandoned the race.

 

Torres also took maximum points on the fourth climb before Gerard won the first intermediate sprint. Meanwhile, Cult worked solidly to keep the gap stable at around 2.30, with Russell Downing, Alex Kirsch and Joel Zangerle all taking turns.

 

Coquard is dropped

Torres led Olesen, Evrard and Gerard over the top of the fifth climb before the peloton started to accelerate as they went up the sixth ascent. As Torres led the front group across the line, the gap had gone down to 1.50 while Coquard lost contact and was picked up by the peloton.

 

As the riders started the finishing circuit for the first time after Gerard had won the second intermediate sprint, the gap was still 1.55. As they hit the Heulewee climb for the first time, Torres again set the pace, taking maximum points. In the peloton, several riders were dropped.

 

Torres takes off

The gap stayed around 2 minutes for a while but as Wanty-Group Gobert started to work with Cult, the peloton started to make some inroads. At the start of the final lap, the gap was down to one minute and this was the signal for Torres to take off as he used the final climb to distance the rest.

 

While his former companions were all caught, Torres dug deep in his attempt to win the stage and he entered the final 5km with a 20-second advantage. As the cooperation failed, he managed to extend it to 31 seconds but now lotto Soudal kicked into action.

 

Marcel Sieberg took a huge turn but as they entered the final 2km, the lone Colombian was still 25 seconds ahead.  In the end, he came up short and instead Greipel powered to another win.

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