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"Tomorrow we will go with Giacomo, but we can also decide in the race - if Giacomo does not feel good he will come to the car and let me know."

Photo: Trek Factory Racing

BENELUX TOUR

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BOY VAN POPPEL

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DANNY VAN POPPEL

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GIACOMO NIZZOLO

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TREK - SEGAFREDO

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11.08.2014 @ 19:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Usually on separate programs, Giacomo Nizzolo and Danny Van Poppel are riding together in this week's Eneco Tour. Both sprinters will get their chances in the 7-day race but as both were held up by crashes in the opening stage, it was Boy Van Poppel who sprinted to fifth.

 

The 183-kilometer first stage of the weeklong Eneco Tour opened as expected: A three-man breakaway led a chasing peloton for most of the flat and wind-swept kilometers before they were reeled back in and a large bunch sprint unfolded.

 

However, behind the textbook appearance was not an easy, controlled day. Rain, wind, and abundant road furniture typical of the Netherlands made for stressful racing marred by crashes as everyone fought for the critical front positions.

 

“Today was very stressful because we are close to the sea so we had strong winds, and we had some showers," sports director Dirk Demol said. "It was really nervous because we changed direction so many times today, and so the direction of the wind kept changing. There were several crashes towards the end - it was really a stressful, stressful day.”

 

Trek Factory Racing’s experienced duo Danilo Hondo and Fabian Cancellara directed the team when the hammer went down in the vital last 20 kilometers. As riders were spit out the back, or hitting the tarmac - a result of the wind, rain, treacherous roundabouts and gnarly medians - Trek Factory Racing was astutely in the front.

 

But even the shrewd need luck.

 

As Cancellara, Hondo, and Boy Van Poppel steered Danny Van Poppel through a roundabout with around four kilometers remaining Danny’s wheels suddenly lost grip on the slick curve and in a millisecond his race was over.  Danny remounted and finished, but the opportunity to battle the stage win was lost.

 

“We were well organized until Danny crashed," Demol said. "Giacomo was caught behind the crashes at the end and was not there, so Boy did the sprint and managed to be fifth.  It was a missed chance seeing how well the team was organized up front. But okay, that is how it is. We will give another try tomorrow.

 

"Having Fabian there with his experience in fighting for position and riding the echelons is really good. He can keep the team organized, and he makes everything so much easier, especially for me from the car because he speaks over the radio and give instructions to the boys to go left, go right, speed up now. He is one of the best in these kind of races. It’s just a pity we had the crash with [four] to go.”

 

Boy van Poppel instinctively picked up the reins and did a superb job to sprint to fifth place in the absence of his brother Danny and Giacomo Nizzolo.

 

It was an untidy finish with the crashes disrupting the lead out trains, leaving the sprinters vulnerable. The first wheel across the line in a rather disorganized sprint was of Andrea Guardini (Astana). He also donned the first leader’s jersey for the Eneco Tour.

 

Trek Factory Racing brought both its fastmen to the Eneco Tour, and the duties will be split between Nizzolo and Danny Van Poppel, explained Demol.  Later in the week the Eneco Tour offers a taste of some of the biggest Spring Classics, and specialists Fabian Cancellara, Stijn Devolder, and Jesse Sergent will be on head duty when the course enters Belgium for some tough parcours.

 

“Danny is coming back from an injury he sustained at the Tour (de France) so he does not know exactly where his form is. And Giacomo pulled out of Wallonie because he was sick so it is also a little unknown where he is at. In the end, we decided to play the card of Danny today.

 

"Tomorrow we will go with Giacomo, but we can also decide in the race - if Giacomo does not feel good he will come to the car and let me know.

 

"It is a hard race here. On paper the first two days are the easiest, but not with the weather conditions we had today. Day five is a mini Tour of Flanders, Saturday a mini Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and on Sunday a mini Amstel Gold race.”

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