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Having made it into a 9-rider group, Devenyns attacked in the final kilometre to pass lone leader Vandenbergh and take both the stage win and the leader’s jersey on stage 2 of the Belgium Tour; Planckaert was second

Photo: Sirotti

BAPTISTE PLANCKAERT

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BELGIUM TOUR

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DRIES DEVENYNS

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IAM CYCLING

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STIJN VANDENBERGH

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27.05.2016 @ 18:52 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Dries Devenyns (IAM) put himself in the perfect position to go for the overall win at the Baloise Belgium Tour by claiming an impressive stage win in stage 2 which was like a small version of the Tour of Flanders. Having made it into a 9-rider group, he attacked inside the final kilometre and sprinted past lone leader Stijn Vandenbergh (Etixx-QuickStep) to take the victory and move into the race lead with a 4-second advantage over his teammate Reto Hollenstein. Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie) won the sprint for second.

 

In 2014, Dries Devenyns proved himself as one of the best riders in the cobbled classics but for some reason, Giant-Alpecin decided not to renew his contract. Hence, he was forced to find a new team and it was IAM that gave him a chance.

 

Unfortunately, health issues prevented him from building on his progress in 2015 but now he is back at 100% and in 2016 he has been better than ever before. He won the GP Marseillaise in January and was in top 10 contention at Paris-Nice for a long time.

 

Unfortunately, more health issues destroyed his classics campaign but he is back in form for this week’s Belgium Tour. In the prologue, he was 12th as part of a great IAM performance and so proved that he is ready to go for the overall win.

 

Today he had his first chance to make a big assault on the race lead in stage 2 which was like a mini version of the Tour of Flanders and so was the perfect testing ground for the classics rider. He made maximal use of his chance as he finally got that elusive win on the cobbles and also took over the race lead.

 

After a brutally fast start, Devenyns had already been active early on the final lap of the 55.6km  finishing circuit that included the climbs of the Valkenberg, Leberg and Berendries and the pave sector of Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat. However, the move with the likes of Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) and Simon Spilak (Katusha) came to nothing but he was still attentive when the attacking started again as they approached the Berendries with 22.3km to go where the Golden Kilometre with three consecutive intermediate sprints was located.

 

On the Leberg, Dimitri Claeys (Wanty) put in a big attack and that created a group of around a dozen riders. Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Vicente Reynes (IAM), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale), Julien Vermote (Etixx.-QuickStep), Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) and Davide Vigano (Androni) were all part of the move and the situation was dangerous for race leader Wout Van Aert (Crelan) who was forced to lead the chase on his own. He got some help from Fortuneo-Vital Concept and Veranda’s Willems but the group increased its advantage.

 

That allowed the attackers to go for the points in the Golden Kilometre and it was Slagter who beat Chavanel and Vermote in the first battle for the bonus seconds. De Vreese made an immediate attack and soloed across the line ahead of Claeys and Vigano in the second sprint.

 

In the peloton, the favourites had come out to play and they passed most of the attackers before Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty) beat Tiesj Benoot (Lotto) and Stijn Vandenbergh in the third sprint. A group with those three riders, Sergeu Chernetskii (Katusha), Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport) was formed and Devenyns briefly found himself on the defensive. He found himself in a group with his teammate Reto Hollenstein and most of the earlier attackers but together with his teammate , he made it back to the leaders.

 

Behind the octet, a chase group with De Vreese, Vigano, Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie), Florian Senechal (Cofidis) and Claeys was formed an Planckaert managed to bridge across. With 16km to go, the groups were separated by 13 seconds while the peloton had already lost 26 seconds.

 

Senechal made a solo attack before the rest of the chase group was caught but the Frenchman never made it back and was brought back as they entered the final 15km. Meanwhile, disaster struck for Martin as he punctured and never made it back to the peloton.

 

Fortuneo were the first to start the chase before Cannondale took over. As they hit the Padestraat, Edward Theuns (Trek) tried to bridge the gap but he never made it across. Instead, it was Dylan van Baarle and Slagter who started to chase for Cannondale. Meanwhile, Vandenbergh beat Devenyns, Gasparotto, Chernetskii and Hollenstein in the final Primus Sprint.

 

On the Lippenhovestraat, a Roompot rider hit the front but Lotto Soudal did a great job to leave a gap behind the Dutchman. Slagter and Van Baarle bridged across to form a chase trio.

 

The gao gad now gone out to 30 seconds and it was Vandenbergh who attacked from the front group. Devenyns joined the move and the pair quickly got a big gap.

 

In the peloton, Etixx-QuickStep accelerated hard with Niki Terpstra and Yves Lampaert as they were apparently not comfortable with the situation but it only served to bring the three chasers back. In fact, they had already lost a minute to the two leaders as they entered the final 7.5km.

 

With 5km to go, the front group came back together and it was again Cannondale who led the chase one minute behind. However, they were not getting any closer and when they stopped their work, IAM patrolled the front as the group came to a standstill.

 

The battle for the stage win started with 1.1km when Vandenbergh hit out and he immediately got a big gap. However, Hollenstein sacrificed himself for his teammate and slowly started to bring the Belgian back before Devenyns made his attack. The Belgian sprinted past the fading Etixx rider and held off his chasers to win the stage. Planckaert won the sprint for second one second later as he narrowly managed to pass Vandenbergh on the line.

 

Theuns won the sprint for 10th 40 seconds later and the time loss for Van Aert allowed Devenyns to move into the lead. He has a 4-second advantage over his teammate Hollenstein while Vandenbergh is three second further adrift in third.

 

Devenyns faces a big task tomorrow in the queen stage in the Ardennes. The stage consists of two loops that will see the riders go up some of the most famous climbs in the regions. The final circuis is 66.3km long and includes the famous Cote de Maquisard (2.9km, 5%) and Cote de la Redoute (1.65km, 9.7%) which are both known from Liege-Bastogne-Liege and finally the Cote de Banneux (3.8km, 5.2%) and the short Rue de la Paix (700m, 8.6%). La Redoute comes 37.1km from the finish while the final two climbs come with 21.7km and 5.2km to go respectively and as the finale is also uphill, the scene is set for a huge battle.

 

A mini Tour of Flanders

After yesterday’s sprint stage, the GC was expected to come into play on stage 2 which was like a small Tour of Flanders. It brought the riders over 200.4km from Knokke Heist to Herzele in the Flemish Ardennes. The first part was flat but the race was expected to come to life on the two laps of the 55.6km finishing circuit that included the famous climbs of the Valkenberg, Leberg and Berendries – the latter was located to 22.3km from the finish - the Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat cobbles. The final 10km were without any major challenges.

 

Jasper Stuyven (Trek) and Piotr Havik (3M) were the non-starters when the rest of the field gathered for the start under a nice, sunny sky and they got the race off to a brutal start. A dozen riders first got clear but the Crelan team managed to bring them back.

 

Lots of attacks

Amaury Capiot (Topsport), Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie), Brian Van Goethem (Roompot), Toon Aerts (Telenet) and Antoine Warnier (Wallonie) managed to get a gap of 18 seconds but they were back in the fold after 15km racing. Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM) was the first rider to get dropped but he made it back just like Zico Waeytens (Giant-Alpecin) who suffered a puncture.

 

The attacking continued for an hour before Stef van Zummeren (Veranda’s) briefly seemed to have made the difference. However, the cross-tailwind made things so nervous that he was also brought back.

 

Seven riders get clear

A group with Jesper Asselman (Roompot) escaped but they had no luck either and so the group was still together when they hit the Lippenhovestraat for the first time. Here Capiot beat Lawrence Naesen (Cibel), Ludwig De Winter (Wallonie), Christope Premont (Veranda’s) and Clement Chevrier (IAM) in the first Primus sprint.

 

After the sprint, Chevrier, Capiot, Mirko Selvaggi (Androni), Steven Tronet (Fortuneo), De Winter Naesen and Premont escaped and as the peloton finally slowed down, they got an advantage of 1.30. They were the first to cross the finish line for the first time and after the gap had briefly dropped to a minute, they managed to push it out to 2.50.

 

The break is caught

As the group tackled the climbs for the first time, De Winter was dropped from the break and he was brought back by the peloton which had again accelerated hard. However, they were still clear for the second Primus sprint which was won by Capiot ahead of Naesen, Premont, Selvaggi and Tronet.

 

Just after the sprint, the group was caught and this set the scene for new attacks. Tim Declercq (Topsport) launched a strong move with Julien Vermote (Etixx-QuickStep) but they had no luck. The peloton had split to pieces and Astana were chasing hard in the second group as Lars Boom had missed out.

 

Martin on the attack

Boy Van Poppel, Marcel Sieberg and Kenneth Vanbilsen all tried to escape but Vermote was the most active. The Belgian managed to get a small gap just before he started the final lap of the circuit.

 

Björn Thurau (Wanty) managed to bridge across before Martin, Spilak, Devenyns, Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), and van Poppel also arrived from behind. The peloton slowed down and so the gap quickly went out to 25 seconds.

 

The chase gets organized

De Vreese started to chase for Astana when a regrouping had taken place behind the seven leaders but the chase was still not organized when they entered the final 50km 35 seconds behind the front group. It was Topsport and Wallonie that finally took control before Perrig Quemeneur and the rest of the Direct Energie team gathered on the front.

 

Crelan came to the fore to work with the French team but they could see the gap go out to 50 seconds with 45km to go. However, more teams were now lending a hand as also Cibel, Fredrik Ludvigsson (Giant-Alpecin) and Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) started to work on the front.

 

Martin tries again

The work had an effect and so the gap was down to 15 seconds with 40km to go. In the hectic chase, Vegard Breen (Fortuneo) and Shane Archbold (Bora) hit the deck hard.

 

Martin and Thurau attacked from the front group and were joined by Wallays who had just been following wheels. The rest of the group was brought back by Roompot and Direct Energie who were now leading the chase.

 

Martin sits up

The two leaders had a 20-second advantage with 38km to go but three kilometres later, they decided to wait for the peloton. Hence, Crelan could take control as they went over the Valkenberg where the peloton exploded to pieces. Wanty upped the pace even further and then Direct Energie took over. At the same time, Niki Terpstra suffered a puncture.

 

On a cobbled section, Theuns accelerated for Trek before Direct Energie led the group onto the Leberg. This is where Claeys made his move and so signaled the start of the winning action.

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