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In another bunch sprint in the Tour of Belgium, Steegmans rides so fast that he opens a big gap and only his teammate Boonen manages to pass him on the line, making it a 1-2 for OPQS on home soil

Photo: ASO / B. Bade

ETIXX-QUICKSTEP

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GERT STEEGMANS

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TOUR OF BELGIUM

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29.05.2014 @ 18:24 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Tom Boonen and Omega Pharma-Quick Step are simply unstoppable in the Tour of Belgium and todat the Belgian star added another win to the one he took in yesterday's opening stage. In the bunch sprint, his teammate Gert Steegmans rode so fast that he gapped everybody else and only Boonen  managed to pass him before the line to make it a 1-2 from Omega Pharma-Quick Step.

 

The classics campaign may not have been what he wanted but now Tom Boonen is finally back to his best. Yesterday he did an excellent sprint to easily beat André Greipel (Lotto Belisol) in the Tour of Belgium and today he was again in a class of he won the he won the second stage of the race.

 

As expected, the mostly flat stage came down to a bunch sprint but unlike yesterday when all the lead-out trains had been very well-organized, it was a very confusing and uncontrollable affair. No one was able to organize a real lead-out and it seemed that no one was on the wheel of their lead-out men.

 

After an Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider had taken a massive turn inside the final kilometre, Gert Steegmans suddenly came flying, the Belgian wanting to lead out Boonen for the sprint. However, he soon opened a massive gap and it seemed that he was riding away with the win.

 

Behind, Thor Hushovd (BMC) opened a long sprint in a quest to get back in contention while Boonen hid himself a little further back. When the race leader launched his sprint, however, he quickly got a big gap and was the only rider to pass his teammate Steegmans just before the line. Theo Bos (Belkin) finisged a distant third while André Greipel was outside the top 10 after a sprint where Lotto never featured near the front.

 

The 170.4km stage from Lierde to Knokke-Heist was mainly a flat affair. The riders went up some well-known hellingen in the early part but then rolled along flat roads until they finished the stage by doing two flat laps around Knokke-Heist in the finale.

 

The early part of the stage was dominated by some aggressive racing until Yves Lampaert (Topsport), Marcel Aregger (IAM), Frederic Amorison 8Wallonie) and Sacha Weber (Veranclassic) got clear after 11km of racing. While Stijn Vandenbergh and Andrew Fenn set a steady pace for OPQS in the peloton, the gap went up to a maximum of 3.40 but OPQS were in no mood to let things get out of control and for most of the day the gap was stable between the 2- and 3-minute marks.

 

Lampaert made sure to win all three Primus Check Point sprints but the group started to lose ground when they hit the finishing circuit. As they started the final 30km lap, they were only 1.30 ahead and Rick Ottema (Veranclassic) saw this as a chance to try to bridge across. He was soon caught and Ian Van Zummeren (3M) didn't have more success.

 

With 10km to go, Michael Vingerling (3M) was the next to try while the escapees fought well to still have a 12-second lead but with 5km to go, it was all back together. Greg Van Avermaet beat his BMC teammate Philippe Gilbert and Niki Terpstra (OPQS) in the bonus sprint to score a few bonus seconds before Lotto, OPQS and Belkin started to organize the sprint. They failed completely in what was a very disorganized affair from which Boonen emerged as the strongest.

 

Boonen now leads Bos by 12 seconds but the GC should be completely reshaped tomorrow when the race continues with a flat 16.7km time trial in Diksmuide. Boonen's teamate and defending champion Tony Martin looms in the background, ready to take over the lead.

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