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"I really hurt myself in the crash but the team has worked very well for me. Normally I do not have many opportunities and today I was able to take advantage. There are still one or two more chance for me.”

Photo: Sirotti


02.08.2016 @ 21:15 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Danny Van Poppel (Sky) proved that he is ready to lead Sky in the sprints at the Vuelta a Espana when he claimed a dominant victory in the bunch sprint on stage 1 of the Vuelta a Burgos. After hard work from his team all day, the Dutchman came off Jempy Drucker’s (BMC) wheel and easily distanced his Luxembourgish rival to take his second win of the year and the first leader’s jersey in the traditional warm-up race for the Vuelta.


We have gathered several reactions.


Danny Van Poppel: I was able to take advantage of a rare opportunity

Danny van Poppel bounced back from a crash on stage one of the Vuelta a Burgos to win the bunch sprint in style.


The Dutchman positioned himself brilliantly for the tight final turn and then rounded Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC Racing) a hundred metres from the line to win comfortably in Melgar de Fernamental, ahead of Drucker and Gianni Meersman (Etixx - Quick-Step).


Van Poppel's skinsuit was torn in several places after his earlier crash but he didn't seem fazed as the pace increased in the final kilometres, and he timed his effort to perfection.


Speaking to after the stage Van Poppel admitted his crash hurt, but he was hugely up for the win after a disappointing day at RideLondon on Sunday.


Explaining the crash, he said: "We were riding at the front and I needed a nature break, so I rode back with Christian [Knees] and he gave me some new bottles. I took them and had my hands on my handlebars, not on the brakes, and then when I looked up everyone was standing still! I tried to grab my brakes but it was too late. I crashed onto my back. I hurt myself, but I was fine, and I really wanted to go for the win.


"I'm not so good at travelling and I lost my suitcase before RideLondon - it's still lost! - and I had bad legs on the day. I was really motivated for that race because it was important for the team but I was not going well after the travelling. Today I felt a lot better."


The Dutchman praised the work of his team-mates as he talked through the closing stages.


He added: "The team dropped me off really well, but as a rider you know if there's a finish on a corner it can be really dangerous and chaotic. We lost each other a little bit, but I knew I had to be in the front for the turn. After that I was third wheel, and when we passed the 200m to go sign I went full gas.


"It's possible to keep the lead tomorrow [during the team time trial] because we have a strong team, but I am not here for the GC. We've got other guys in the team for that, but there are more sprint stages - I'm really looking forward to them!"

Team Sky did a fine job of shepherding Van Poppel through the final kilometres and then he did the rest, pulling off Drucker's wheel at the opportune moment and leaving Meersman behind.


The win gives Van Poppel the race lead and sprinter's green jersey, which the team will try to defend on the stage two 10km team time trial.


”We have a good good team capable of controlling the race,” Van Poppel told "I was one the first through the last corner and, although I knew it was still a long way, I went full gas and in the end I managed to win.


"I really hurt myself in the crash but the team has worked very well for me. Normally I do not have many opportunities and today I was able to take advantage. There are still one or two more chances for me.”


Jean-Pierre Drucker: I knew that I started my sprint too early

Stage 1 of the Vuelta a Burgos came down to a predicted bunch sprint with Jempy Drucker crossing the line in second place, just edged out by Danny van Poppel (Team Sky).


Drucker was led out by his BMC Racing Team teammates and was the first rider to hit the finish straight after the last corner, only to be overtaken by van Poppel just before the line.


Jempy Drucker said:


“The whole stage was pretty easy which made the final kilometers so much more hectic because everyone was fresh and wanted to do a good sprint. Luckily the guys put me into a good position and then at the end I followed Daniel Oss, who did a great lead out, until the last corner. I knew it was a bit too early and too far from the finish line but I just started my sprint after the corner and went full gas to the line. Unfortunately, Van Poppel was still passing me just before the finish line.


“The Prudential RideLondon Classic was a good race and gave me confidence going into Vuelta a Burgos, and now finishing second today shows that my recovery was good because Sunday was a pretty tough day. My shape is good and I’m looking forward to the next stages here.”


BMC sports director Max Sciandri added:


“We knew it was going to be a flat day for the sprinters. The only difference could have been if the wind was stronger but this didn’t eventuate. This morning in the meeting we decided that Jempy Drucker would be the sprinter for the stage. Danilo Wyss and Daniel Oss were to help out with the other guys like Floris Gerts. Basically it all went to plan. Jempy came around that last corner with the speed so he just had to go but it was a bit too far out at 350 meters. But if he had waited he would have been swept up by the peloton so he went and that was it.


“We now look to the Team Time Trial tomorrow. It has a climb in the first couple of kilometers and then quite a dangerous descent before the flat. It’s a challenging course even though it’s only 10 kilometers. We are two-time UCI World Champions in the discipline so we want to do well.”


Gianni Meersman: This is a confirmation of my good legs

Coming off the Tour de Wallonie, where he finished second in the overall standings, 30-year-old Gianni Meersman got again in the mix for the win, after being piloted by his Etixx – Quick-Step teammate Yves Lampaert. The Belgian launched his sprint with around 300 meters left, at the same time as Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky) and Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC) did, and concluded stage 1 in third position, notching up his fourth podium in the space of just one week.


"It was very hectic today in the last 15 kilometers and we tried to stay in the upper part of the pack. With 700 meters to go, Yves brought me at the front and we got to enter first and second in the corner that came in the final 400 meters. Unfortunately, we were in the wind, and I lost a little bit there, so I had to do a long sprint. Still, to finish third on the opening day is a solid result and comes as confirmation of my good legs. It wouldn't have been possible without the help of the guys, who worked really hard for me and to whom I must thank", said Meersman, who will have two more opportunities to go for victory in Vuelta a Burgos, on stages 3 and 4.


Good tart for Steele von Hoff in Burgos

With the squad made up of riders fresh from the Tour of Denmark and the Ride London Surrey Classic, the plan for ONE was to ease into Vuelta a Burgos. With no major urge to position anyone in the break of the day, the team was focused on riding for sprinter Steele Von Hoff and delivering him to the line. Riding on roads which were quite exposed, the squad had to remain switched on and work hard to stay in position, remaining near the front of the bunch and protecting Steele Von Hoff.


The plan was always to deliver Von Hoff into the final few kilometres and each rider on the squad played a huge part. Martin Mortensen and Yanto Barker worked as a tight unit, sliding through the bunch, progressively moving forward to position their sprinter. Reaching the 5km to go marker and Karol Domagalski took over, leading Von Hoff from 5km right up until 1.5km to go, where the speed on the bunch and the technical finish meant it was every man for himself.


Launching off Domagalski’s wheel into the final corner with 350m to go, Steele Von Hoff was fifth wheel from the front. The pace was flat stick to the line as Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky) surged forward opening up a small gap on his pursuers and taking victory on the line. A fantastic and exciting sprint finish, Von Hoff maintained his position out of the corner to take a very credible 5th and a fantastic start to the opening stage of the race.


Jose Joaquin Rojas back in sprinting mode in Burgos

The first stage of the 38th Vuelta a Burgos - 158km between Sasamón and Melgar de Fernamental - started off with some crosswinds putting pressure on the bunch. Strong winds caused some early splits in a peloton where the Movistar Team always kept the front with a tireless, consistent Rory Sutherland leading the way in company of EQS and SKY. The bunch let a seven-man escape, with no Blues, go as the only climb of La Cucolina (Cat-3) left room to long plains where the riders - basking under the sun and temperatures exceeding 30ºC - started to bring back the escapees before the junction was made with 13km to go.


Igor Merino (BUR) took on a solo move before the WorldTour squads started preparing the sprint in Melgar de Fernamental where Danny van Poppel (SKY) completed an eventful day, including an early crash, with the first purple leader's jersey. The first Spanish rider across the line, Movistar Team's José Joaquín Rojas, finished 6th and kept his team-mates well represented before Wednesday's crucial TTT: 10.7km in the province's capital, with the ascent of the Castillo halfway through the course. The Blues will roll down the start ramp at 3.51pm local.


Nathan Haas takes over from Kristian Sbaragli in Burgos

Jacques Janse van Rensburg put Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka into a good position from early on in the stage by jumping into the 7 rider break of the day.


Team Sky and and Etixx-Quickstep took control from the peloton almost immediately after the break formed. This meant Janse van Rensburg and co. would not be able to gain more than a 3-minute lead over the main pack. Still, with the South African powering on up ahead, the rest of the African Team were able to sit in the bunch and conserve energy for the expected sprint finish.


The inevitable catch of the breakaway happened with 15km to go and it was then down to teams preparing their sprint trains for the final. The Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka squad was riding to set up Kristian Sbaragli for the sprint and with 5km to go the train started to make its way to the front of the peloton.


After a strong turn from Nic Dougall, the African Team were at the head of the race with 2km to go. Omar Fraile and Jaco Venter then took over to the kilometer to go banner but the fight for position intensified on the wide road. As the race went under the kite, Nathan Haas surged to the front but a coming together of riders prevented Sbaragli from latching onto his wheel. It was then up to Haas to go for the line and he would end with a 7th place for the African Team.


Sports director Alex Sans Vega said:


“Today was a day for the sprinters and for us to work for Kristian. Jacques managed to get into the break so the other teams had to do the chase from the bunch. In the last 4km we came to the front of the bunch. The guys were doing really well but at 1.2km to go 2 guys touched handlebars in front of Kristian and it forced him to brake. After that, he couldn’t do a proper sprint. Nathan then had to perform a sprint to get us a top 10 result.”


Solid start for Luka Mezgec, Orica-BikeExchange in the break in Burgos

Slovenian fast man Luka Mezgec came ninth for ORICA-BikeExchange in the fragmented bunch sprint on stage one of the Vuelta a Burgos today whilst Nick Schultz complimented the breakaway in his first full professional race.


In his first race for the team 21-year-old Australian stagiaire Schultz infiltrated and then animated the breakaway for over 100kilometres before the race came back together for the expected bunch sprint.


Danny Van Poppel (Team-Sky) won the sprint after jumping clear of Jean-Pierre Drucker(BMC) with Mezgec finishing in ninth place from the bunch.


Sport director Dave McPartland was satisfied with the result and happy with performance of the team.


“It was a nice straight forward day out there today,” said McPartland. “There was no wind, it wasn’t particularly selective and that gave Nick (Schulz) the opportunity to get into the breakaway and mix it up.


“Nick did very well, the group stayed away for most of the stage and I’m pleased that he could get that experience on his first race day, tactically the move was ideal for us because we could sit on and let the sprint teams set the tempo.


“We have the horsepower within the squad to set ourselves up for the flat finishes and the team did well to drop Luka (Mezgec) off in a good position going into the last few hundred metres.


“It was tight and pretty hectic after the final corner and Luka tried to break free and in the end did a good job to finish in the top ten.”


Giant-Alpecin stagiaire takes the mountains jersey, no  luck for Waeytens in Burgos

Giant-Alpecin stagiaire Martijn Tusveld was part of the early break of seven riders and the group managed to build up a maximum advantage of around two minutes over the peloton.  Zico Waeytens sprinted to a nice 10th place. After his strong performance in the breakaway, Martijn Tusveld will be the first wearer of the KOM jersey.


Zico Waeytens said: “It was a good start to the stage with Martijn in the break of the day. For the sprint, we made a plan ahead of the stage and it worked out really well. The guys did a really good job, but in the end, we were missing that extra turn of pace to be in a perfect position before the final corner during the technical finish. It was not the result I was hoping for, but I am still proud of the guys of what they did today for me. The intention and timing were good, we just missed that extra turn of pace in the finale.”


“The goal was to get in the early break to show myself, and I succeeded,” said Martijn Tusveld. “Once I was part of the front group I really wanted to go for the mountain jersey, and I won it pretty easy. For the rest of the race, I tried to save as much energy as possible to be able to get to the finish because I also wanted to help Zico out in the bunch sprint. In the finale, I managed to stay with him till the last 800 meters and it’s a shame it didn’t work out for him.”


Two Katusha captains stay safe on first day in Burgos

The 38th Vuelta a Burgos kicked off in Sasamón on Tuesday for a 158 km road stage to Melgar de Fernamental. A break which included Team KATUSHA’s Maxim Belkov was eventually brought back to set up a mass sprint won by Danny van Poppel (Team Sky). KATUSHA’s sports director Xavier Florencio was pleased with the start of the five-day stage race in the northern region of Spain.


”We can be happy with the job and motivation of Maxim Belkov. Like always he was ready to go in a break and he did so with success today. Together with six other riders, he got a maximum gap of 5 minutes. The teams of Movistar and Sky kept the break under control, but only caught them back in the last 7 km. From then on it was obvious we would go for a massive sprint. Tsatevich came a bit too late in the front and finished in the end 14th. The best thing is that our GC guys, Mamykin and Machado, both survived well. Tomorrow it will be full gas for the TTT,” said Xavier Florencio.


Jhonatan Restrepo took the lead in the best young rider classification.


Roompot lose two riders on disastrous first stage in Burgos

There was bad luck in the first stage of the Vuelta a Burgos for Roompot. First it was Marc de Maar who was involved in a crash with André Looij. De Maarbroke his right collarbone after having just come back from a previous knee injury that has ruined his season.

Antwan Tolhoek crashed later in the stage. After a natural break, he was too late to see that the car of another team had stopped and he rode straight into it. Tolhoek flew through the rear window, but after treatment of his injuries, he could still finish the stage. With twenty stitches in the chin and checks for his neck pain, the young Dutchamn spent the night in hospital. This morning it was decided not to start stage 2, also due to a mild concussion.


Astana rider back in action at the Vuelta a Burgos

“Put the number on the jersey again was a great emotion,” said Danil Fominykh. “I worked so hard to get back to racing and today I am very happy. ”


The young Kazakh talent is back in a race at the Vuelta a Burgos after the terrible accident in March at Paris-Nice. 

"I had my first day of competition without stress. I rode quietly in the bunch in a stage without difficulty."


Tomorrow the second stage is a team time trial in Burgos of just over 10 km.


"It's a technical course with an initial climb of about one kilometer and many, many curves. We can do well," commented Astana sport director Giuseppe Martinelli.


Near-crash takes Blythe out of contention, Contador checks his form in Burgos

A collision in the final kilometre of the Vuelta a Burgos put British road race champion Adam Blythe’s chances of a stage result to bed after he had to unclip, losing position. In the run up to the sprint, Sergio Paulinho was also unlucky, the victim of a crash at high speeds, but he was able to continue and finish the stage. GC leader Alberto Contador finished safely in the bunch.


The goal for Tinkoff was to keep Contador safe, and to start to get into the rhythm of racing as a team here with several riders hoping to form the final nine who head to the Vuelta a España later this month.


“There’s nothing special for us to say about today’s stage, but the guys worked well together, finding the processes ahead of the Vuelta, riding in a good position and staying out of trouble,” explained Sport Director Ivan Basso from the finish.

 “At the end we wanted to do the sprint with Blythe but unfortunately he had contact with another rider and had to unclip. So no result, but I liked the commitment and focus I saw from the team, being at the front. I’m happy with the guys today, and we’ll continue to take it day-by-day.”


With 20km to race, the day’s break was well within sight of the chasing peloton, with the fluo Tinkoff jerseys helping to set the pace and to keep Contador  out of trouble. The catch finally came with just over 12km to race and from here in it was the sprint trains who started to battle for the lead into the final corner in Melgar de Fernamental. Tinkoff lost Paulinho from its train with 3km to go, but managed to get Blythe near to the front for the sprint, until his hopes were dashed.


Talking of Paulinho’s crash, Basso added: “For the moment he’s OK but when you crash at 60kmh you never know how you will feel. We will check on his condition tonight and tomorrow morning and take it from there.”


“This race is ideal in the build-up to the Vuelta a Espana because there are still three weeks until the start,” Contador told "It's a good test to get pace and check the feelings. We will go day by day to see how to get to the queen stage.


“There are many riders with options because you never know who can surprise in this type of race.”



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