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After an aggressive stage, Gilbert beat Lammertink in the uphill sprint on the Plabeierberg to win the final stage of the Tour de Luxembourg; Lammertink won the race overall, with Gilbert and Kirsch completing the podium

Photo: Tim De Waele/TDW Sport

ALEX KIRSCH

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DYLAN TEUNS

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MAURITS LAMMERTINK

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PHILIPPE GILBERT

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ROOMPOT-CHARLES

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TOUR DE LUXEMBOURG

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05.06.2016 @ 16:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Philippe Gilbert (BMC) continued his successful return to racing by taking his second win in three days on the final stage of the Tour de Luxembourg. The Belgian came around race leader Maurits Lammertink (Roompot) in the uphill sprint on the Plabeierberg in the capital of Luxembourg to take the stage victory but the positions were reversed in the overall standings as Lammertink won the race, with Gilbert and Alex Kirsch (Stölting) completing the podium.

 

Crashes, illness and a training altercation have made it a bad year for Philippe Gilbert who rode the Ardennes classics with a broken finger and had to skip the Giro d’Italia. However, the Belgian now seems to be back on form in time for the summer season and the one-day races in the second half of the year which are his main goals for 2016.

 

Two days ago Gilbert took his first win of the season when he won the uphill sprint on stage 2 of his comeback race, the Tour de Luxembourg. Today he again proved that he is one of the best in that kind of finishes as he won the final stage of the five-day race in a similar finale on the Plabeierberg in the capital of Luxembourg.

 

Gilbert stayed put in the peloton as they tackled the four laps of the difficult 5.5km circuit and then launched his devastating sprint on the final climb to come around Maurits Lammertink and take a comfortable victory. Dylan Teuns made it an even better day for BMC as he crossed the line in third.

 

However, the result was not enough for Gilbert to win the race overall. Having started the stage in third, 12 seconds behind Lammertink, he failed to take back more than 3 seconds on the Dutchman who had picked up a single bonus second in the first intermediate sprint. Hence, Lammertink took Roompot’s second stage race win ever after Pieter Weening’s recent victory at the Tour of Norway while Gilbert had to settle for second. Alex Kirsch moved into third by taking sixth.

 

After yesterday’s queen stage, it was another tough challenge on the final stage which brought the riders over 178.2km from Mersche to a spectacular finish in the capital of Luxembourg. The stage covered early category 1 (2.3km, 6.90% and 2.7km, 5.62%) and category 2 (1.9km, 7.4%) climbs within the first 60km and there was another category 2 climb at the midpoint but then the terrain got flatter. However, the stage had a tough finale as the riders ended the race by doing four laps of a short 5.5km finishing circuit which ended at the top of the steep Pabeierberg (825m, 9.05%).

 

The riders had nice conditions when they gathered for the start and with an intermediate sprint coming after just 3.8km of racing, they were prepared to race right from the gun. As expected no one could get clear until they got to the sprint where Alex Kirsh (Stölting) picked up important bonus seconds by beating Christopher Juul-Jensen (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Maurits Lammertink (Roompot).

 

Moments after the sprint, André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) who won this stage from a breakaway two years ago, Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Pirmin Lang (IAM) attacked and they had a 7-second advantage at the 10km mark. Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo-Vital Concept ) and Jerome Baugnies (Wanty) bridged across and the added firepower allowed them to push the gap out to 39 seconds during the next three kilometres.

 

When the gap had gone out to 1.30, Jerome Cousin (Cofidis) took off in pursuit while Roompot started to control the pace in the bunch. However, he failed to make much inroad and the peloton was not concerned at all as they allowed the gap to go out to 3.30 after 50km of racing.

 

When Greipel beat Van Hecke and Baugnies in the first KOM sprint, Cousin was still two minutes behind while the peloton had lost a massive seven minutes. The Frenchman realized that he wasn’t going to make it so he dropped back to the peloton.

 

Baugnies had bad luck to suffer two mechanicals in less than 5km and Sepulveda also had to stop for the same reasons. However, they had plenty of time to rejoin the group as the gap had gone out to 8.02 at the 76km mark.

 

The peloton finally started to chase and as they entered the final 80km, the gap was down to 6.40. They shaved another 55 seconds off the lead during the next 10km.

 

It was the Stölting team that did the damage which meant that the escapees lost time quickly. With 53km to go, the gap had dropped to 3.23 and it was only 2.04 17km later.

 

Entering the final 30km, the gap had dropped to 1.45 and it was still Stölting setting the pace. It was down to less than a minute with 25km to go.

 

The small gap prompted the escapees to attack each other and only Sepulveda, Baugnies and Greipel had survived when they hit the Plabeierberg for the first time with an advantage of just 15 seconds. Orica-GreenEDGE were now lending Stölting a hand and so the escapees were brought back as they headed to the climb for the second time.

 

Greipel fell off the pace while the attacking started again and impressively Sepulveda was part of the action. He joined forces with Chris-Anker Sørensen (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) to form a trio that got an advantage of 10 seconds.

 

Lotto Soudal took over the pace-setting and kept the gap at around 10 second as they started the penultimate lap. However, it was soon all back together and it was Orica-GreenEDGE that led the peloton onto the climb for the penultimate time.

 

Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen) launched a strong attack but he was quickly brought back while Kirsch, Lammertink and Gilbert watched each other. Hence, it all came down to a battle on the final climb where Kirsch launched a strong attack. Lammertink came around with less than 200m to go but the Dutchman was unable to hold off Gilbert who took his second win at the race.

 

Lammertink may have had to settle for second but he achieved his big goal of winning the race overall with a 9-second advantage over Gilbert. Kirsch had to settle for sixth but it was enough to move into third. Gilbert also won the points competition while Brice Feillu (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) was the best climber. Lammertink was of course the best young rider and Cofidis won the teams classification.

 

With the Tour de Luxembourg done and dusted, many riders will spread around Europe for the many stage races that take place in the next few weeks, with the Tour de Suisse, Ster ZLM Toer, Tour de Slovenie and Route du Sud all offering a chance to improve the condition for the Tour de France.

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