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After an excellent lead-out, Groenewegen timed his sprint perfectly to hold off Ewan and Arndt in the bunch kick on the first stage of the Tour de Yorkshire; the Dutchman is the first leader

Photo: Lotto NL-Jumbo








29.04.2016 @ 19:22 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) continued his steady rise towards the top of the sprinting hierarchy by beating Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEDGE) in the bunch sprint on the first stage of the Tour de Yorkshire. After an excellent lead-out from his teammates, he timed his sprint perfectly and easily held off the Australian and Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) to win the stage and take the first leader’s jersey.


When he won the Brussels Cycling Classic last autumn, Dylan Groenewegen firmly established himself as the next Dutch top sprinter and it was an obvious choice for the biggest Dutch team, LottoNL-Jumbo, to pick the talent up. With a poor winning tally in 2015, the Dutch formation was aiming to place a big emphasis on the sprints and Groenewegen was regarded as the rider that could significantly increase their winning rate.


The signing has turned out to be a good one as Groenewegen had already won two races in the beginning of March and after a short break following the classics, he is already back in form. Today he got a very big scalp when he returned to his winning ways right from the start by beating no less of a figure than Caleb Ewan who is gearing up for the Giro d’Italia.


The sprint came at the end of a long, wet day in the saddle as a stiff headwind had made it difficult for anyone to make a difference and the final part of the race became a bit of a waiting game as the early break was brought back far from the finish. Sky and Orica-GreenEDGE controlled things until they approached the 12.5km finishing circuit where an uphill first part led to the final intermediate sprint and a descending second part before the road again ramped up towards the finish.


The fight for position intensified as they rode towards the finish line for the first time, and it was first ONE and later Topsport who took over from the big WorldTour teams with 16km to go. ONE was briefly back on the front before Orica-GreenEDGE showed their intentions with Ewan as Alexander Edmondson and Christopher Juul took control. They were battling hard with the ONE team and the Brits led the peloton across the line for the first time before Edmondson and Juul again took over.


Juul set the pace on the lower slopes of the small climb until a Direct Energie rider moved up to set Thomas Voeckler up for an attack. The Frenchman was joined by Anthony Turgis (Cofidis) who led him over the line at the top to win the final intermediate sprint. Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) sprinted ahead to pick p the final bonus second.


He two French riders quickly got a solid advantage as they powered down the descent while Juul continued to lead the chase. They had a 12-second advantage as they entered the final 6km but the peloton always kept the close as Orica-GreenEDGE, Sky and Dimension Data were working well together.


Stephen Cummings (Dimension Data) looked like he was chasing when he suddenly got a gap on the descent. He closed the gap to the leaders and sprinted straight past with 4km to go.


There was a moment of hesitation in the peloton which caught the two Frenchmen before the LottoNL-Jumbo train gathered on the front. However, they failed to make much inroad on the Brit and things looked good for the Dimension Data rider.


LottoNL-Jumbo had something extra in the tank though and inside the final 2km, the balance tipped. Cummings shook his head and was reeled with 1.5km to go where LottoNL-Jumbo still had three riders in front of Groenewegen.


Tom Leezer led the peloton under the flamme rouge followed by Robert Wagner and Groenewegen and Wagner took over just as ONE tried to pass them. However, the two LottoNL-Jumbo rider seemed to be boxed in when first a Sky rider and then a ONE rider and Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) moved ahead.


Groenewegen stayed calm though and found the room to launch his sprint, easily passing the two leaders. Caleb Ewan was in a perfect position on his wheel but couldn’t find the room to come around, rolling across the line in second place. Arndt had to settle for third.


With the win, Groenewegen takes the first leader’s jersey with a four-second advantage over Ewan. He will try to make it two in a row in stage 2 which has just three small climbs in the first two thirds before a flat final part leads to the finish in Doncaster.


A lumpy opener

The second edition of the Tour de Yorkshire kicked off with a 185km stage that brought the riders from Beverly to Settle. After a completely flat first half, the riders faced a tough climb at the midpoint before flat roads led to the 12.5km finishing. It had an uphill first part and then a descent led to the uphill finishing straight where the sprinters were expected to battle it out for the win.


It was a rainy day in Yorkshire when the riders gathered for the start and they got the race off to a dramatic opening. After just 300m of racing, a crash split the field and brought down riders like Gianni Moscon (Sky) and Sven-Erik Bystrøm (Katusha), with the latter forced to leave the race.


Six riders get clear

There were a few early attacks but it didn’t take long for six riders to get clear. Peter Williams (ONE), Jens Wallays (Topsport), Nils Politt (Katusha), Matt Cronshaw (Madison), Sebastian Mora (Raleigh) and Graham Briggs (JLT) were allowed to get a big advantage that had reached almost five minutes after 30km of racing.


Unsurprisingly, Sky took control with Peter Kennaugh who quickly got some assistance from Xabier Zandio and they allowed the gap to go out to 5.10 before they slowly started to reduce it. After 45km of racing, it was down to 4.10 and Cheung King-Lok came to the fore to lend them a hand for Orica-GreenEDGE.


Eisel lends a hand

While Mora beat Briggs and Politt in the first intermediate sprint, the trio kept the break in check as the break hovered around the 4-minute mark. As they entered the final 100km, it was still 3.40 and as Kennaugh had now stopped his work, Bernhard Eisel came to the fore to chase for Dimension Data.


Eisel, Zandio and Cheung had brought the gap down to 3 minutes as they went through the feed zone with 90km to go. That forced the escapees to react and as they upped the pace, the group split up. Briggs, Mora and Cronshaw were left behind as Politt, Williams and Wallays pressed on.


Mora rejoins the leaders

The trio managed to increase their advantage and it was 4.30 with 70km to go. In the peloton, Eisel and Cheung had disappeared and it was Edmondson, Kennaugh and Zandio who set the pace. However, the Austrian soon returned to the front as they picked up Briggs and later also Cronshaw.


With 65km to go, Mora made it back to the front group at a time when the gap was again down to 3.25 but he would soon be dropped again as they hit the only categorized climb. Wallays also briefly got distanced but he made it back as the tactical battle for the KOM sprint started.


Williams wins the KOM sprint

The group almost came to a standstill and Williams even almost went down but he managed to get back on track to launch an impressive sprint to easily pass Wallays who had gone from afar. Politt had to settle for third.


In the peloton, there had been a bit of a selection as there had been a big fight for position on the climb, with Eisel patrolling the front, and as the break had gone slowly, the gap was only 50 seconds with 55km to go. Hence, the peloton almost came to standstill and while Eisel stayed on the front, the advantage was kept stable.


Williams takes off

Williams refused to give up and while Politt and Wallays were brought back, he took off in a solo move. With the gap down to just 40 seconds, the door was open for new attacks and it was Stijn Steels (Topsport) who opened the game. Adria Moreno (Raleigh) joined him and finally Josh Edmondson (NFTO) also got across.


The trio joined Williams as they entered the final 45km with a 40-second advantage while Eisel still set the pace in the peloton. He again got some assistance from Zandio and they kept the gap at around 30 seconds for a while.


Sky accelerate

With 35km to go, Sky made a big attack on the narrow roads as Luke Rowe and Moscon suddenly started to ride hard. In a matter of seconds, the break was brought back and the Brits stayed on the front for a few kilometres before they ended their attack.


With the headwind, the race calmed down and it was Juul, Zandio and Fenn who set the pace for a long time while everyone was waiting for the finale. The fight for position started as they approached the circuit and in the end, it was Groenewegen who won the stage.



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