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Czech uses attack from teammate Chavanel to wear down the opposition before launching his own offensive on the penultimate climb, bridging across to lone escapee Stannard and finally taking both the stage and overall win

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18.08.2013 @ 17:08 Posted by Henriette Brandt

Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took everything on the final stage of the Eneco Tour when the Czech made a strong attack on the Denderoordberg to leave behind all his rivals. Having bridged across to lone escapee Ian Stannard (Sky), he powered clear of the fatigued Brit in the uphill sprint on the famous Muur van Geraardsbergen to take not only the stage win but also the overall win in the big home race of his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.

 

Zdenek Srybar had started today's final stage of the Eneco Tour 2nd on GC but with a small 9-second gap to make up on overall leader Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano). With the final stage being dubbed as a mini Tour of Flanders, his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team was in familiar terrain and he intended to use the strength of his teammate to unseat the Dutch leader.

 

That was exactly what he did, using an attack from teammate Sylvain Chavanel to force his rivals on the defensive. Being completely spent by their effort to reel in the winner of the time trial, no one had anything left when Stybar himself attacked on the penultimate climb of the Denderoordberg.

 

The Czech caught the final survivor of the early escape, Ian Stannard, and those two combined forces in their attempt to keep the peloton at bay. Being isolated from his team, Dumoulin had nothing left himself and had to rely on other teams to organize the chase.

 

That never happened and so no one was able to catch the front duo. Surprisingly, Stannard decided to contribute to the pace-setting and so he had nothing left when Stybar accelerated inside the final 500m. The Czech not only took the stage win, the bonus seconds and his time gains were enough for him to take a comfortable overall win ahead of Dumoulin and Andriy Grivko (Astana).

 

Stannard held on to take 2nd while Lars Boom (Belkin) joined forces with Manuel Quinziato (BMC) and Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) in a late attack to take 3rd on the stage. That was also enough for him to take a narrow 1-point win in the points competition over Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) who had done an outstanding job to make it into the early break and pick up points in the intermediate sprints in a final attempt to save his lead in that classification.

 

With none of the top 10 finishers in the race being high up on the WorldTour rankings, the top 10 was unchanged. WorldTour racing recommences on Saturday with the Vuelta a Espana while many of the riders from the Eneco Tour have set their sights on the Vattenfall Cyclassics on Sunday.

 

A fast start

The 208km stage form Tienen to Geraardsbergen took the riders into the Flemish Ardennes for two laps on two different circuits in the finale. Both finished up the famous Muur and with three passages of the cobbled ascent, the stage resembled the Tour of Flanders, thus making it a day for time gaps to open up.

 

As expected, the stage was off to a very fast start as Argos-Shimano and Omega Pharma--Quick Step were involved in a fierce tactical battle. The latter team had a number of riders that were close on GC and so could put the Dutch team under pressure by getting one of those riders into the early move.

 

The break is formed

For a long time, no breakaway was allowed to go up the road. The first group to gain a significant advantage consisted of Manuele Boaro (Saxo-Tinkoff), Matthew Hayman (Sky), Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil), Ruben Perez (Euskaltel) and Laurens De Vreese (Topsport Vlaanderen) with De Vreese and Hayman both fighting hard for the black sprints jersey. That move was reeled in a little later.

 

Instead, the decisive 8-rider group got clear. Boaro and Perez were once again involved and this time they had Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (OPQS), Ian Stannard (Sky), Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), Giacomo Nizzolo (Radioshack), Julian Kern (Ag2r) and Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil) for company. They were allowed to build up a big gap which reached it maximum at more than 7 minutes when the riders approached the Muur for the first time.

 

Omega Pharma-Quick Step accelerates

Omega Pharma-Quick Step showed their intentions by upping the pace on the run-in to the climb, Gert Steegmans doing the work on the lower slopes. Chavanel took control moments later to make sure that the pace was kept sufficiently fast up the ascent.

 

In the front group, Stannard momentarily split the group with only Ligthart and Van Keisbulck able to keep up. However, it came back together after the climb and so Greipel was allowed to win the intermediate sprint on the top of the Bosberg climb.

 

Lampre takes control

The Muur and Bosberg were followed by a long flat section which meant that the peloton once again eased up. The gap was allowed to group from 4 to almost 6 minutes when Lampre-Merida decided to move to the front, preparing an attempt from team leader Filippo Pozzato.

 

For a long time, Matteo Bono, Winner Anacona and Luca Dodi swapped turns on the front, bringing down to less than 3 minutes. Numerous punctures continued to haunt the peloton but as the tension had not increased yet, all riders were able to get back on.

 

A fierce battle for position

As the peloton approached the Tenbosse climb which signaled the start of the hectic finale and its many climbs, the battle for position intensified. That alone was enough to bring the gap down to less than 2 minutes.

 

Sensing the fast-moving peloton, the escapees knew that they had to up the pace. Ligthart made a small acceleration on the climb but it was Stannard's counterattack that created the decisive split. Greipel made a fabulous sprint to come around the Brit and pick up the points on offer on the top.

 

A front trio is formed

Stannard decided to continue his attack and so he combined forces with Greipel as they started to distance their former companions. Ligthart rejoined the duo and so a front trio was established.

 

Jens Mouris (Orica-GreenEdge) led the peloton onto Tenbosse but it was the Astana that upped the pace even further. Jacopo Guarnieri and Dmitriy Gruzdev swapped turns on the front as the Kazakh team prepared an attack from team leader Grivko.

 

Radioshack in control

Kern was the first rider to be caught by the peloton in which Radioshack had now taken control with Danilo Hondo and Gregory Rast. With numerous riders in the top end of the GC, the team had strength in numbers and hoped to capitalize on that.

 

The front trio had done an outstanding job to increase their gap to more than 2 minutes but behind the battle was about to start. Knowing this, Stannard set a furious pace the first time up the Denderoordberg and Greipel had to make a furious sprint to get back to the Brit when Ligthart had dropped off, opening a gap in the process.

 

Pozzato accelerates

In the peloton, Pozzato decided to make a first acceleration which forced 6th-placed Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) to lose contact. The Italian flew past Nizzolo, Boaro and Perez with Chavanel, Daniel Oss (BMC) and Kevin De Weert (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in his wheel.

 

A 20-30 rider peloton formed over the top and former escapees Boaro and Nizzolo were leading the main group to the bottom of the Muur for the penultimate time. Up ahead, Stannard made another acceleration up the famous climb  to once again drop Greipel.

 

Chavanel goes clear

Boom led the peloton onto the climb when Luca Wackermann (Lampre) launched a first attack. It was, however, the counterattack by Chavanel that was the dangerous one.

 

On the top, a very strong trio with Chavanel, Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) and Oss had formed while Boom, Dumoulin and Stybar followed a little behind. Pozzato and Grivko were the next to cross the summit but had some time to make up.

 

Stannard the lone leader

The understanding between Oss, Kelderman and Chavanel was good and those three riders started to cooperated while a big peloton formed behind. Two Cannondale riders and Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) both made unsuccessful attempts to bridge across.

 

Up ahead, Greipel had rejoined Stannard but on the Bosberg, he fell off the pace for good. However, he held on to take 2nd in the sprint on the top before being swallowed up by the Chavanel group which had also overtaken Ligthart and Van Keirsbulck.

 

The chase gets organized

As the chase in the peloton was not organized, Bakelants made an attack up the Bosberg but as he got nowhere, the group once again slowed down. That allowed more riders to rejoin, thus bringing back the strength that could set up a real chase.

 

The Chavanel group - which now also contained Greipel - built up a gap of 40 seconds but when Orica-GreenEdge, Radioshack and Astana combined forces behind, the advantage started to drop. Sebastian Langeveld, Jens Keukeleire, Luke Durbridge, Bob Jungels, Gregory Rast, Maxime Monfort and Borut Bozic were some of the riders who did the work and they were later joined by Koen De Kort (Argos-Shimano) who had made it back to the peloton to provide some support for Dumoulin.

 

Stybar launchs his attack

That spelled the end for the Chavanel group which was caught just as they hit the bottom of the Denderoordberg. Oss led the peloton onto the climb but it was Stybar that created the action.

 

The Czech launched a fabulous attack and only Boom was briefly able to stay in his wheel. Closing a 30-second gap on the short 700m climb, he caught Stannard on the top, and those two riders started to trade turns.

 

Dumoulin is spent

Behind, all riders were completely spent and Dumoulin clearly indicated that he had nothing left in the tank. That allowed new attacks to go off and the one that stuck was launched by Boom, Quinziato and Weening.

 

By the time, the front duo reached the bottom of the Muur, it was clear that they would stay away to the finish. Surprisingly, Stannard took a turn halfway up the climb and moments later Stybar saw his chance. His acceleration left the Brit behind and the Czech could solo across the line to take both the stage and overall win.

 

Boom beat Quinziato and Weening in the sprint for 3rd while Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge) led the peloton across the line with a time loss of 25 seconds. Dumoulin finished 8th but had to give up his overall lead.

 

Result:

1. Zdenek Stybar 5.00.03

2. Ian Stannard +0.02

3. Lars Boom +0.12

4. Manuel Quinziato +0.14

5. Pieter Weening +0.17

6. Daryl Impey +0.25

7. Wilco Kelderman

8. Tom Dumoulin

9. Filippo Pozzato

10. Laurens De Vreese

 

General classification:

1. Zdenek Stybar 25.14.05

2. Tom Dumoulin +0.26

3. Andriy Grivko +0.50

4. Jan Bakelants +0.55

5. Daryl Impey

6. Sylvain Chavanel +1.20

7. Wilco Kelderman +1.32

8. Pieter Weening +1.34

9. Maxim Iglinskiy +2.08

10. Maxime Monfort +2.14

 

Points classification:

1. Lars Boom 100

2. Andre Greipel 99

3. Zdenek Stybar 85

4. Giacomo Nizzolo 66

5. Tom Dumoulin 56

6. Ian Stannard 41

7. Laurens De Vreese 41

8. Pieter Jacobs 37

9. Tyler Farrar 37

10. Sylvain Chavanel 30

 

Sprints classification:

1. Laurens De Vreese 66

2. Matthew Hayman 36

3. Pieter Jacobs 30

4. Tim Declercq 28

5. Pim Ligthart 25

6. Benjamin Verraes 22

7. Gediminas Bagdonas 22

8. Maciej Paterski 20

9. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck 19

10. Andre Greipel 19

 

Teams classification:

1. Omega Pharma-Quick Step 75.46.08

2. Orica-GreenEdge +1.39

3. Radioshack +3.05

4. Vacansoleil +7.41

5. BMC +13.02

6. Belkin +13.29

7. Euskaltel +21.23

8. Astana +23.05

9. Lotto-Belisol+24.11

10. Sky +25.17

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