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Young Belgian makes a Tony Martin-like effort to keep the peloton at bay in hectic finale while Greipel is left disappointed as his convincing sprint win is only for the runner-up spot

Photo: Feltet.dk

JELLE WALLAYS

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TEAM FLANDERS - BALOISE

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WORLD PORTS CLASSIC

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30.08.2013 @ 15:36 Posted by Simon Knudstrup

Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen) created a huge surprise in the first stage of the World Ports Classic which was set to be a big battle between some of the best sprinters in the world. Having gained a huge advantage due to a signaling error, the young Belgian defied all expectations and kept the peloton at bay to take both the stage win and the first leader's jersey of the race.

 

All was set for a big battle between the sprinters on the first stage of the flat, windy World Ports Classic but Jelle Wallays had a different plan. The young Belgian did what Tony Martin almost did in yesterday's Vuelta stage: kept the peloton at bay in a hectic finish.

 

Wallays had been part of an original 5-rider break which was almost caught with 50km to go of the flat stage. However, they benefited from a signaling error that suddenly made their advantage balloon to almost 5 minutes.

 

Wallays left his companions behind with 25km to go while Lotto Belisol did their utmost to reel in the lone escapee, hoping to see Andre Greipel win the stage. With a 1.30 gap with 20km to go, all appeared to be under control.

 

However, the young Belgian had amazing legs and managed to keep the Belgian ProTeam at bay. Surprisingly, they didn't get any help by their fellow sprint teams and so Wallays held on to take a huge solo win in the race which is organized by Tour de France organizers ASO.

 

Greipel had no trouble beating Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Kenny Van Hummel (Vacansoleil) in the sprint for 2nd. However, he now finds himself with a 28-second time gap to make up in tomorrow's 2nd and final stage which takes the riders along windy and exposed roads from Rotterdam to Antwerp.

 

Starting at 13.45 CEST you can follow the stage on CyclingQuotes.com/live.

 

A fast start

The 165km stage kicked of the 2nd edition of the ASO-organized race and brought the riders from the big port in Antwerp to the big port in Rotterdam. As the entire race is flat, it was expected to be decided by bonus seconds and so Lotto Belisol decided to keep everything together until the first intermediate sprint at the 15km mark.

 

The team gave Greipel a perfect lead-out but Petacchi was well-placed on his wheel, the Italian coming around his German rival to take the maximum 3 seconds. Greipel was 2nd while Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) took 3rd.

 

A break is formed

The peloton didn't slow down after the sprint and numerous attacks were launched. Stijn Steels (Crelan) and Wallays were both part of the early action but the riders covered more than 50km during the first hour before the right escape was finally created.

 

Wallays, Kenneth Vanbilsen (Topsport Vlaanderen), Reinier Honig (Crelan), Kevin Van Melsen (Accent.jobs) and Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp) got clear and they were allowed to build up a gap of 3.30. The sprinters had, however, no intentions of missing this opportunity and so Bert Grabsch (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Willem Wauters (Vacansoleil) and Frederique Robert (Lotto-Belisol) started to chase.

 

An open bridge

Those three riders kept the gap stable for most of the day while the peloton passed the four cobblestone sectors that didn't produce any drama. When the breakaway was forced to stop due to an open bascule bridge, their gap fell down to just 2 minutes.

 

Their fortunes changed a little later when the peloton took a wrong way in a roundabout and so had to travel some extra kilometres to get back onto the race route. At that time Vanbilsen had beaten Honig and Van Melsen in the final intermediate sprint but the gap had now ballooned to 4.45 with only a little more than 40km to go.

 

Attack in the crosswinds

That forced Lotto and Vacansoleil to add more firepower to the chase and Lars Bak and Martijn Keizer joined forces with Stig Broeckx and Wauters to set the tempo. They were, however, overtaken by Omega Pharma-Quick Step who tried to attack in a crosswind section.

 

Gert Steegmans, Matteo Trentin and Niki Terpstra initiated the attack that saw the peloton split into two groups. Lotto Belisol joined the pace-setting and the two Belgian super teams did a good job to string out the peloton.

 

The peloton slows down

With Bryan Coquard (Europcar) who had gone down in a crash being the notable exception, all the main sprinters had made the split and so the peloton once again slowed down. The gap had, however, now come down to less than 2 minutes with a little less than 30km remaining.

 

With 25km to go, Wallays opened a gap by coincidence when Honig refused to close it down. The Belgian decided to continue on his own while the agreement in the chase group completely disappeared.

 

No help for Lotto

The peloton was now led by Broeckx and Bak who initially got a little help from Terpstra and Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) but quickly were left to do all the work on their own. They caught the chase group and appeared to have everything under control when they slowed a little down, thus allowing the second big peloton to rejoin the main group.

 

Wallays did a good job to keep the peloton at bay and inside the final 20km, he was still 1.30 clear. Bak and Broeckx gave it their all but were unable to reel in the lone Belgian.

 

More teams move to the front

With 5km to go, MTN-Qhubeka finally decided to assist Lotto and put their entire team on the front. At that point the gap was still 1.10 and so their effort was too late. Rudiger Selig (Katusha) tried to assist but when Omega Pharma-Quick Step hit the front inside the final 3km, it was clear that Wallays would take the win.

 

The young Belgian crossed the line in solo fashion while Greipel overcame a very strong Omega Pharma-Quick Step lead-out to beat Petacchi in the sprint for 2nd. At that time, 26 seconds had passed since Wallays had crossed the line and Greipel may now have to settle for 2nd on GC for the second year in a row.

 

Result:

1. Jelle Wallays 3.32.33

2. Andre Greipel +0.26

3. Alessandro Petacchi

4. Kenny Van Hummel

5. Jonathan Cantwell

6. Gerald Ciolek

7. Alexander Porsev

8. Nikolas Maes

9. Michael Van Stayen

10. Danilo Napolitano

 

General classification:

1. Jelle Wallays 3.32.23

2. Andre Greipel +0.28

3. Alessandro Petacchi +0.29

4. Kenneth Vanbilsen +0.33

5. Reinier Honig +0.34

6. Kenny Van Hummel +0.36

7. Jonathan Cantwell

8. Gerald Ciolek

9. Alexander Porsev

10. Nikolas Maes

 

Points classification:

1. Jelle Wallays 25

2. Andre Greipel 24

3. Alessandro Petacchi 23

4. Kenny Van Hummel 18

5. Gerald Ciolek 16

 

Youth classification:

1. Jelle Wallays 3.32.23

2. Kenneth Vanbilsen +0.33

3. Michael Van Staeyen +0.36

4. Raymond Kreder

5. Fabian Schnaidt

 

Teams classification:

1. Topsport Vlaanderen 10.38.31

2. Omega Pharma-Quick Step +0.26

3. Katusha

4. Accent Jobs

5. NetApp-Endura

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