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Stopping the clock in 7.30, Kluge was 1 second faster than long-time leader Keizer in the 6.4km prologue at the Ster ZLM Toer; the German also took the first leader’s jersey

Photo: IAM Cycling








17.06.2015 @ 21:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Roger Kluge (IAM) continued what is his best road season ever when he took a narrow victory in the Ster ZLM Toer prologue. Being one of the final starters, the German stopped the clock in 7.30 which was one second faster than Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) and this allows him to wear the leader’s jersey in tomorrow’s first stage of the race.


Roger Kluge is known as one of the best track riders in the world but the German has had a harder time on the road. On the tarmac, he has mostly been known as an excellent lead-out man for Matteo Pelucchi and has rarely had a chance to race for himself.


However, things seem to change in 2015. Just a few weeks ago he nearly created a big surprise when he won the bunch sprint on the final stage of the Giro d’Italia in Milan. Unfortunately, the early break had made an even bigger surprise as they managed to stay away and so he had to settle for third place.


Since then he has used his good condition to do well at the German track championships and his good performance on the board made him hopeful that he would be in the mix in today’s prologue at the Ster ZLM Toer. With several turns and a flat profile, the traditional 6.4km opener suited the strong German perfectly.


Kluge fully confirmed that he has taken a huge step forward as he turned out to be faster than all his rivals in the short test in the Netherlands. The German stopped the clock in 7.30 and that was one second faster than Martijn Keizer.


Kluge was the fifth last rider to roll down the start ramp and at this point Keizer could smell the victory. The Dutchman had been an early starter and for a long time no one had been even close to his time of 7.31. However, it all came to nothing when Kluge crossed the line and the German just had to wait for the final four riders to finish their ride before he could step onto the podium.


Among those riders, only Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) managed to get close but his time of 7.34 was only good enough for fourth. The podium was completed by Victor Campenaerts (Topsport Vlaanderen) who had been the 12th rider to start and had set a time of 7.32 that saw him lead the stage for a long time.


With the win, Kluge takes the first leader’s jersey which he will wear in tomorrow’s first stage. It is a completely flat ride in the Dutch countryside but the wind has often created carnage on this course. If it fails to split the field, a big bunch sprint is expected and here Kluge will either try to lead Pelucchi out or have a go himself in the battle against super stars André Greipel and Marcel Kittel.


A technical course

The 2015 edition of the Ster ZLM Toer kicked off with the usual 6.4km prologue in the city of Goes. The profile was completely flat but several turns made it a pretty technical affair, meaning that it has usually been dominated by sprinters and real specialists.


It was a cloudy but dry evening in Goes when Melvin van Zijl (3M) rolled down the ramp as the first rider. The Dutchman set a first mark of 8.02 and the second rider Joris Blokker (Parkhotel) set the exact same time.


Best time for Campenaerts

Jochem Hoekstra (Jo Piels) was the fifth rider to start and he was the first rider to go faster than 8 minutes, stopping the clock in 7.55. Daniel Schorn (Bora-Argon 18) slotted into second with a time of 8.01 but it was Victor Campenaerts (Topsport Vlaanderen) who got all the attention when he moved into the lead with 7.32.


TT specialist Rick Flens (LottoNL) set a disappointing time of 8.06 while Stefan Poutsma (Jo Piels) impressed with a good time of 7.54. Coen Vermeltfoort (De Rijke) did even better as he slotted into second with 7.50.


Solid ride by Kittel

After Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) had stopped the clock in 8.06, Marco Coledan (Trek) was the first to get close to Campenaerts with a time of 7.40. Heinrich Haussler (IAM) also had a good ride with 7.45 before Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) showed growing condition by slotting into third with 7.42.


Former winner of this prologue Robert Wagner (LottoNL) could only manage 7.42. André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) got himself into a good position on GC with a time of 7.40 that was good enough for provisional third place.


Keizer takes the lead

Martijn Keizer (LottoNL) had a fantastic ride to stop the clock in 7.31 which was enough to take the lead while Brian van Goethem (Roompot) also had a good day to make it into 7th with 7.44. As opposed to this, Kristof Vandewalle (Trek) who was one of the favourites delivered a disappointing performance with 7.56.


Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Soudal) showed his good condition with 7.42 but he was relegated by Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL) who slotted into fifth with 7.41. Danny van Poppel (Trek) again confirmed that he is a great prologue rider as he set a time of 7.36 which was good enough for third.


Kluge wins the stage

Ramon Sinkeldam (Giant-Alpecin) and Moreno Hofland (LottoNL) both had good rides with 7.45 and 7.47 respectively before Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) stopped the clock in 7.38 to move into fourth. Like his brother, Boy van Poppel (Trek) did well with 7.48 while former winner Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal) could only manage 8.03.


Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep) made it into fifth with 7.39 but he was beaten by Greg Henderson (Lotto Soudal) who was one second faster. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Etixx-QuickStep) had a disappointing ride with 7.47 before Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen) confirmed his good condition with 7.41 which was good enough for 10th.


Keizer could smell the win but it all came to nothing when Kluge went one second faster. As Dennis van Winden (LottoNL) and Gianni Meersman (Etixx-QuickStep) were both far off the pace, the only challenge came from Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) but as he had to settle for fourth with 7.34, the German could step onto the podium as the winner of the stage.



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