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“Nothing was done inappropriately. I made no mistake and am therefore the rightful winner of this race."

Photo: Christian Kjær, Feltet.dk

CIRCUIT FRANCO-BELGE

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02.10.2016 @ 22:34 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) continued his dream season when he added the Tour de l’Eurometropole to his growing palmares but this time the victory came in controversial manner. After a hard day in the crosswinds, he was part of the small 15-rider group that sprinted for the win when a trio was caught just 500m from the line and after Jens Debusscere’s (Lotto Soudal) late attack was neutralized, he held Oliver Naesen (IAM) off in the final dash to the line. The Belgian was pushed towards the barrier and filed a protest but Groenewegen was given the win, with Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) completing the podium.

 

We have gathered a few reactions.

 

Groenewegen: I am the rightful winner of this race

Team LottoNL-Jumbo rider Dylan Groenewegen won the Tour de l'Eurométropole. In the streets of Tournai, he outsprinted the Belgians Oliver Naesen (IAM) and Tom Boonen (Etixx) after a hard race. Maarten Wynants of Team LottoNL-Jumbo was also in the leading group and placed ninth.

 

"This was a very difficult day because of the wind and rain, I'm glad I won this race. When I crossed the line I felt cramps everywhere and I was freezing.” Groenewegen said. “The whole day the peloton went fast, but we were there as a team every time. First with seven men in a group of 50 and when the peloton thinned further, we always had enough riders in it. In the final Maarten Wynants seemed to be racing for the victory, but when we came back I could sprint for the victory.

 

“I never expected that we were going to catch the trio but suddenly they were just ahead of us on the home straight. And then the sprint started. At one point, I passed the trio and I finished it off.”

 

After the finish, Oliver Naesen was not happy with Groenewegen's sprint.

 

"The sprint was chaotic as the leading group was caught in the final meters," Groenewegen said. "I first had to go past the leading group and then pass Debusschere. I certainly went to the left, but I left enough room to pass."

 

“Nothing was done inappropriately. I made no mistake and am therefore the rightful winner of this race."

 

Sports Director Frans Maassen saw a strong team today.

 

"It was racing from kilometre zero. We were prepared and were as a team rode perfectly in the race. In the final, we only had Wynants join the leading group. Because the leaders of Etixx, Gaviria and Boonen, were in it, Maarten Wynants didn't have to go full gas. We had Groenewegen still in the group behind."

 

Wynants attacked with Lampaert and Naesen. Behind this leading group, the two groups came together and Groenewegen was back in the first chasing group.

 

"Then suddenly we were back in a very good position. Wynants went for the win and was going full gas. For me it was a big surprise that the leaders fell back and Groenewegen could sprint for the win."

 

Groenewegen departs Tuesday for Qatar.

 

"This was my last test before the Worlds. I had to go pretty deep and that was according to plan. It was nice that it was windy, because that may be the case in Qatar, although I'm glad it's going to be less cold in Qatar."

 

Naesen: It’s a ridiculous decision by the commissaires

Oliver Naesen took second place in a very controversial sprint. Though IAM Cycling lodged an official complaint, the jury of commissioners ruled that Dylan Groenewegen (JumboNL-Lotto) would remain the winner of the day.

 

“I have no regrets.  But I am very angry.  To conduct a sprint as Dylan Groenewegen is shameful. He could have caused me to crash, which would have put my participation at the World Championships in doubt,” Naesen said.

 

“I thought we were going to reach the finish with only the front three riders,” Naesen explained.  “And of that small group, I was certainly the fastest.  I believed strongly in my chances to take the victory.  But then with only a few meters to the line we were caught by the chasers. I launched my sprint at that moment and went to the left side of the road. You know what followed, and we can do nothing to change anything.”

 

"What a ridiculous decision of the UCI jury. Everyone has surely seen the sprint. The images speak for themselves. Groenewegen rode me into the fences. That's obvious. I think it is ridiculous that he wins.

 

"We were three in attack and be overtaken on the finishing straight. I took the wheel of Groenewegen and wanted to pass him. He just moved to the side and I nearly crashed. Is it legal?  A normal human has no understanding for this.

 

"We were three in the finale. Lampaert and Wynants were both very strong. I could not start the sprint from the pole position, so I stopped and suddenly the rest was there. I felt super good. With that group I would have won, but in fact I am the rightful winner of this race. This is ridiculous. Groenewegen should simply be relegated."

 

Manger Rik Verbrugghe added:

 

“The decision of the jury commissioners is what it is. Nevertheless, I will make a claim to the UCI. My rider had to have crashed in order to declassify the winner, and that’s not normal. In fact, I think Nacer Bouhanni was relegated in Hamburg for less. When the UCI decides to relegate a ride because of a dangerous sprint once, then it must be consistent in the case of another incident.”

 

Present in the second peloton at the finish, Simon Pellaud and Marcel Aregger are still without a contract for next year, though they have proved once again their resilience and courage. Only 35 riders managed to finish the race in Tournai.

 

Boonen: Again it became apparent that I am no hero in cold weather

For the first time in history, the Tour de l'Eurometropole (Poperinge – Tournai, 195.6 kilometers) was raced as a one-day event and this made for a spectacular race, to which the heavy rain and strong crosswinds brought their contribution. Etixx – Quick-Step blew the peloton to pieces early, after just 15 kilometers, and continued to push the pace, making another important selection with 80 kilometers to go, when only 47 riders were left at the front.

 

Inside the final 60 kilometers, 18 men managed to extricate themselves from that group and as soon as they took their advantage over the pack to three minutes, the riders who wanted to avoid a bunch sprint began attacking. Etixx – Quick-Step responded every time and covered all these moves, with the likes of Fernando Gaviria, Yves Lampaert and Nikolas Maes, who kept the group together.

 

Then, on the last lap of the race, Yves got clear together with Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling) and Marten Wynants (LottoNL-Jumbo), opening a 30-second gap which looked to put them in pole position for the win, but the chasers weren't keen to let them and the trio got caught just 400 meters away from the finish by the strong chasing group, from which Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) outsprinted Naesen (IAM Cycling) to take the victory.

 

Tom Boonen finished a fine third, a result which underlines his good condition ahead of the World Championships in Doha, where he is set to lead the Belgian team. It was his seventh top 3 finish of the season, one which saw him win a stage at Tour de Wallonie, RideLondon Classic and the century-old Brussels Classic.

 

"A big group went from the start, as expected, and we had a couple of riders there. Then, in the last part of the race, we managed to drop some riders of other teams, but unfortunately our main guys, Tom and Fernando, suffered because of the cold temperatures and the legs didn't respond anymore as they would have wanted", said sport director Rik van Slycke, who also explained how the team changed the tactics at that point. "We decided to send Yves at the front and he made it to the last 500 meters with two other riders, but because of tactics they came to a standstill and got swallowed by the group behind. Tom sprinted and came third at the end of the day, which is the best result we could get from that scenario."

 

"It was action all day today. Right from the start the pace was very fast. The rain and wind did not make things any easier. Everyone was apparently motivated to make something beautiful out of it. The finale was as expected with the presence of the better teams in the race and a sprint ended the race," explained Tom Boonen.

 

"That sprint was very confusing. It was only clear in the last hundred meters that we would catch the breakaway. The ensuing sprint was not right according to be. Naesen was certainly hampered by Dylan Groenewegen. You don’t have to any studies to see that this is deliberate. That maneuver was not correct. Today I suffered seriously. I am shivering now as it was barely eight degrees, but the rain made it feel even colder. Sometimes it seemed like it was only five degrees. I responded to an attackby Jens Debusschere and Jürgen Roelandts and it was so difficult that I let them go away and fell back to the group. It became clear once again that I am not a hero in cold weather. I have strength and cannot complain in the run-up to Qatar. It is good that all Belgians from the Worlds team were up there."

 

In-form Politt ready for Worlds after great ride in Tour de l’Eurometropole

It was a difficult day on the bike with the rain pouring down all day for the Tour de l'Eurométropole on Sunday, but several Team KATUSHA were active all day and one rider in particular had good legs for the 195,6km race from Poperinge to Tournai, Belgium – namely Nils Politt.

 

”It was such a hard race, right from the beginning. After 15 k in the crosswinds, the peloton split. Later after 40-50 k Lotto-Soudal let the peloton split again. Vorobyev and I made it to the front group and we were struggling and fighting until the end. In the end three guys managed to get away in the final. They had 20 seconds with 1k to go but we fought back like lions to get them and we did with 400m to go, but by then my strength was gone,” explainedPolitt.

 

Politt was sixth.

 

“Honestly, I am happy with this sixth place finish under such hard circumstances. Many riders are not motivated at the end of the season, but I am. I will head to the Worlds in Qatar with big ambitions where I will do the TTT and the road race. I feel good,” said Nils Politt.

 

Other KATUSHA riders were active too, with Michael Mørkøv, Marco Haller and Aleksandr Porsev all in the early split with Anton Vorobyev and Politt. When the second split of 18 went clear, Politt and Vorobyev were part of the group away. It was from this group with 35km to go that nine riders attacked and Politt was among them.

 

Roelandts: The missed opportunity hurts more than the crash

Today, Lotto Soudal participated in Tour de l’Eurométropole, which was a one-day race for the first time. In the end a front group of seventeen riders created a gap. Jelle Wallays, Jens Debusschere and Jürgen Roelandts represented Lotto Soudal in the leading group but also other favourites like Tom Boonen and Dylan Groenewegen joined in. Lampaert, Naesen and Wynants attacked in the last fourteen kilometres. Debusschere and Roelandts tried to close the gap but the latter crashed unfortunately as he touched the rear wheel of his teammate. The three riders in the front were reeled in in the last kilometre, whereafter Debusschere attacked again. It turned out that the finish was too far away and Groenewegen crossed the finish line first followed by Naesen and Boonen. A battered and disappointed Roelandts looks back at the race.

 

“Right from the start of the race the riders started to form echelons and about five riders of the team managed to get in the first group. At the end of the race I was in the leading group with eight other riders, but amongst them were also three Etixx – Quick-Step riders. I knew that it wouldn’t work out for me that way, so I told the team through the radio that I would wait for Jelle Wallays and Jens Debusschere. That’s also the reason why I didn’t help a lot in the front group. Once the two groups were back together, Wallays did a great job pulling at the front to get closer to the three escapees. Debusschere and I were in the back of the group and we agreed to attack together and bridge to the leaders. Unfortunately I crashed when we attacked and I still don’t know what happened. The wind blew from the right side, so maybe that’s why I touched the rear wheel of Debusschere. I don’t know… The crash doesn’t hurt so much; it’s rather the missed opportunity that is hard to take. Because of the crash I only have some abrasions, so there’s no problem for the World Championships in Qatar. The race was a good preparation for Qatar. When the first echelon was formed, all the riders in the selection for the worlds were in the front group. I think that says enough, right?”

 

Hutarovich: There are no miracles after my surgery

Fortuneo-Vital Concept only had one finisher, Franck Bonnamour. His teammate Yauheni Hutarovich said:

 

"You should not expect miracles barely a month after my surgery but I find that the feelings come back. Following a slight collision with a rider, I lost some ground and it is very complicated to return. I look calmly forward to the upcoming races.”

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