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One year after taking his first pro win in the race, Danny van Poppel won the final stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen while Lampaert won the race overall

Photo: Trek Factory Racing


















08.03.2015 @ 17:33 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Danny van Poppel (Trek) confirmed his potential as a future top sprinter when he won the second stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen in a sprint from a 50-rider group. After a hard finale, he beat Kris Boeckmans (Lotto Soudal) and Michael van Staeyen (Cofidis) while Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) stayed attentive all day and took the overall win.


One year ago Danny van Poppel took his first pro win in the first stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen and yesterday he was determined to make it two in a row. He did his job by winning the bunch sprint but as five riders stayed away, it was only good enough for sixth.


Today things finally succeeded for the powerful Dutchman when he again emerged as the fastest from the bunch on the second and final stage of the race. After a hard chase on the hilly finishing circuit in Ichtegem had caught a dangerous 24-rider group, it all came down to a sprint from a 50-rider group.


Van Poppel’s Trek team had been among the most active in the chase and the sprinter fully paid back their teammates for their hard work when he beat the in-form Kris Boeckmans and Michael van Staeyen in the final dash to the line. The win comes as a relief after yesterday’s disappointment and his teammate Jesse Sergent’s second place in the prologue.


For Yves Lampaert, it ended as another great day as the young Belgian defended his overall lead and so took the first major stage race victory of his career. The Etixx-QuickStep rider rode an attentive race all day and was in a strong 17-rider group that bridged across to the early 7-rider break just before the start of the first lap of the 11.5km finishing circuit.


Lampaert was surrounded by several of his teammates and the move forced the Katusha team of second-placed Anton Vorobyev on the defensive. The Russians had to work hard for almost the entire final 30km but finally made the junction with 5km to go, setting the scene for van Poppel’s win. Vorobyev finished second with a time loss of 8 seconds while Jesse Sergent was 4 seconds further adrift in third.


Lampaert also won the points competition while Tim Kerkhof (Roompot) won the sprints classification. Lampaert was of course the best young rider while his Etixx-QuickStep team beat Ag2r by 4 seconds in the teams competition.


After a hectic start, the Belgian season now takes a small break while Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico takes center stage. The action will be resumed on March 18 with the semi-classic Nokere-Koerse and two days later the sprinters are expected to shine in the Handzame Classic.


A difficult stage

The second stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaandeen was held on a 184.5km course from Nieuwpoort to Ichtegem and it was a challenging affair. At the midpoint, the riders would tackle the classical Gent-Wevelgem climbs of Goeberg, Kemmelberg, Monteberg and Rodeberg before they headed to the 11.5km finishing circuit that they would tackle three times. It contained the short Keiberg and Ruidenberg climbs and a short pave sector and with the wind also set to play a role, a bunch sprint was not a guaranteed outcome.


Kenny Dehaes (Lotto Soudal) was the only non-starter as the rest of the peloton left Nieuwpoort in rather pleasant weather conditions. Straight from the gun, Gijs van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen) launched the first attack but he was quickly brought back.


Bonus second for Barta

With the first intermediate sprint coming early in the stage, many riders were keen on keeping things together until that point. With a late attack, however, Tim Kerkhof (Roompot) managed to take the 3 points and so move into the provisional lead in the sprints competition while Luis Mas (Caja Rural) and Jan Barta (Bora-Argos 18) were next across the line, with the latter picking up an important bonus second.


After the sprint, the early break was finally established when Louis Verhelst (Cofidis), Riccardo Stacchiotti (Nippo - Vini Fantini), Jimmy Engoulvent (Team Europcar), Tim Kerkhof (Team Roompot), Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Edwig Cammaerts (Veranclassic - Ekoi) and Stef Van Zummeren (Verandas Willems) took off. With 155km to go, they were already 55 seconds ahead and 3km later, they had extended the advantage to 1.42.


Etixx-QuickStep lead the chase

Etixx-QuickStep hit the front of the peloton but they allowed the gap to grow a bit more. At the end of the first hour, it was 3.26 and it even reached 4.07.


However, the peloton now approached a pave sector which caused the pace to go up and with 121km to go, the gap had come down to 3.38. Moments later, the peloton hit the hilly zone and this started a fierce acceleration in the peloton.


Hoogerland and Asselman take off

Two riders went down as the riders fought for position for the Rodeberg and moments later Jesper Asselman and Johnny Hoogerland (both Roompot) launched an attack. Meanwhile, their teammate Kerkoh beat Engoulvent and Wallays in the second intermediate sprint at the top of the Kemmelberg.


On the descent, the 7 leaders were 1.51 ahead of their two chasers while the peloton was 10 seconds further behind. Hoogerland and Asselmann were quickly swallowed up but now the peloton slowed down a bit and allowed the gap to go back up to 3.22 after 100km of racing.


The peloton splits

As they approached the finish, they gradually upped the pace and with 62km to go, the gap was again down to 2.54. With the difficult finishing circuit looming in the horizon, the peloton accelerated further and with 50km to go, the gap was down to just 1.23.


The peloton was clearly intent on sprinting for bonus seconds in the final intermediate sprint and so they chased hard. The fierce pace created a split and suddenly 17 riders had taken off in pursuit.


17 riders make it across

Steve Chainel, Adrien Petit (Cofidis), Jempy Drucker, Klaas Lodewyck (BMC), Yves Lampaert, Gianni Meersman, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Lukasz Wisniowski (EFC - Etixx), Kris Boeckmans, Gert Dockx (Lotto - Soudal), Bert-Jan Lindeman, Mike Teunissen (LottoNL - Jumbo), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R), Christoph Pfingsten (Bora - Argon 18), Mattia Pozzo (Nippo - Vini Fantini), Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise) and James Vanlandschoot (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) bridged the gap to the 7 leaders and at the start of the first lap of the circuit, they were 22 seconds ahead. Petit led Drucker and Theuns across the line to win the final intermediate sprint and pick up three bonus seconds.


Katusha were chasing hard in the peloton and brought the gap down to 11 seconds. However, split occurred and suddenly a first peloton was at 16 seconds while a second bunch was at 40 seconds.


Hard chase for Katusha

Stijn Devolder (Trek) and Björn Leukemans (Wanty) were chasing hard in the first peloton at the second passage of the line where they were still 15 seconds behind. Victor Campenaerts (Topsport Vlaanderen) led the second group with a deficit of 40 seconds.


The peloton brought the gap down to just 5 seconds but as Katusha got little help, they again started to lose ground. At the start of the final lap, the 70-rider bunch was 7 seconds behind.


In the end, however, the hard work paid off for the Russian team as the junction was made with 5km to go. In the end, van Poppel benefited from it all when he won the 50-rider sprint.



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