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Russian rider Alexander Kolobnev (Katusha) claimed the opening stage 1 of the 2.HC stage race Tour de Wallonie today in Belgium.

ALEXANDR KOLOBNEV

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KATUSHA ALPECIN

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TOUR DE WALLONIE 

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20.07.2013 @ 19:42 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

The opening 183.6km stage Ans to Eupen partially repeated the distance of the famous monumental classics Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

A breakaway group was established almost as soon as the flag dropped and the group established a solid advantage of 8 minutes.

 

The breakaway group consisted of Laurent Mangel (FDJ), Boris Dron (Wallonie Bruxelles), Tiago Machado (RadioShack-Leopard), Ben Gastauer (AG2R) and Tim Wellens from Lotto-Belisol. But as a consequence of the hard work of a few teams, including Katusha, the breakaway was neutralized in the second part of the race. The peloton was shortened to 25–30 riders at that moment.

 

The crucial moment of the race came with 20km to go, when 5 riders, including Alexander Kolobnev, attacked from the peloton. Kolobnev was joined by Stijn Devolder (RadioShack-Leopard), Björn Thurau (Team Europcar), Julien Berard (AG2R) and Anthony Geslin (FDJ).

 

Kolobnev’s group managed to create a good gap, enough to compete for the stage victory. In the uphill finish sprint Katusha’s rider took his first season victory ahead of Anthony Geslin from FDJ and Julien Berard from AG2R-La Mondiale. The main group finished 24 seconds later.

 

By claiming the stage Alexander Kolobnev, evidently, became the overall leader of Tour de Wallonie.

 

“It was a really hard stage, maybe the hardest one here in Wallonie. During some moments the stage repeated the distance of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The crucial moment was with 20km to go, when I was able to go in the breakaway with 4 more riders. We could get some advantage, enough to fight for the stage victory. In the uphill finish I did all possible to take the win. It was a good sprint. I am really happy with the victory. Now I have the leader's jersey. We have some demanding stages ahead, but I hope with support of the team will be able to hold the leadership and to fight for the overall win,” said Kolobnev.

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