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In a dramatic finale where Debusschere was caught metres from the line, Groenewegen won a controversial sprint at the Tour de l’Eurometrople despite pushing Naesen towards the barriers; Boone was third

Photo: Team LottoNL-Jumbo

DYLAN GROENEWEGEN

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NEWS

OLIVER NAESEN

RIDER PROFILE
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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TOUR DE L'EUROMÉTROPOLE

RACE PROFILE
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02.10.2016 @ 17:39 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) continued his dream season when he added the Tour de l’Eurometropole to his growing palmares but this time the victory came in controversial manner. After a hard day in the crosswinds, he was part of the small 15-rider group that sprinted for the win when a trio was caught just 500m from the line and after Jens Debusscere’s (Lotto Soudal) late attack was neutralized, he held Oliver Naesen (IAM) off in the final dash to the line. The Belgian was pushed towards the barrier and filed a protest but Groenewegen was given the win, with Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) completing the podium.

 

When he signed a contract with LottoNL-Jumbo, many expected Dylan Groenwegen to confirm his potential at the highest level but few would have expected him to enjoy a dream season like he has. Going into today’s Tour de l’Eurometropole, he already had 10 wins and proved his huge class a few weeks ago when he beat all the stars on a stage of the Eneco Tour.

 

What has been remarkable in the last few weeks is his improved climbing ability and he has showed that he is more than just a pure sprinter. Today he confirmed that when he won what turned out to be a very hard edition of the Tour de l’Eurometropole which was reduced to a one-day race due to financial troubles.

 

Bad weather turned the race into one of attrition but Groenewegen was there when 18 riders escaped with more than 60km to go. He initially seemed to have lost out when 9 riders got clear and at the passage of the flamme rouge, Oliver Naesen (IAM), Maarten Wynants (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Yves Lampaert (Etixx-QuickStep) had opened an advantage of more than 20 seconds.

 

However, in a very dramatic finale the trio came to a standstill and suddenly Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) came flying past. The Belgian looked like he was going to win the race but Groenewegen’s group wasn’t far behind. The Dutch champion launched a long sprint to catch the Belgian and even though he made, the effort nearly cost him the win. When he started to fade, Naesen tried to come around but the Dutchman moved to the left to close him towards the barrier and so just managed to keep the Belgian at bay.

 

Naesen filed a protest and Groenewegen had to face a nervous wait but the commissaires decided to uphold the result. Hence, the Dutchman got the perfect confidence boost for the World Championships where he is set to lead the Dutch team.

 

The 76th edition of the Tour de l’Eurometropole was held on a 195.6km course with start in Poperinge and finish in Tournai. From the start, the riders headed along flat roads to the first small climb, Sulferbergstraat which came after 8.3km of racing from there the terrain was is completely flat as the race followed the border and passes through the Belgian suburbs of Roubaix. As they get closet to Tournai, the riders tackled the small climbs of Enclus du Haut and Horlitin before they got to the finishing circuit. It included the small Col Croix Jubaru which the riders tackled one time after 101.9km of racing before they got to the finish line for the first time at the 107.5km mark. The final part of the race consisted of 6 laps of the 14.7km circuit which meant that the riders did the climb a total of seven times. The top was located with 5.5km to go and from there, a short descent led to the final 3km which were completely flat.

 

As predicted, the weather was miserable when the riders gathered for the start and it turned out to be decisive. Immediately from the start, the peloton was split in the crosswinds and it continued for more than an hour during which the average speed was 51 km/h. After 60km of racing, a group of 47 riders had a lead of 2 minutes over another group and it quickly grew to three minutes. Four riders tried to bridge the gap, but they never made it. The leading group consisted of Tom Boonen, Julien Vermote, Yves Lampaert, Nikolas Maes, Iljo Keisse, Fernando Gaviria (Team Quick Step), Arnaud Demare, Benoit Vaugrenard, Marc Sarreau (FDJ), Marcel Aregger, Oliver NaesenSimon Pellaud (IAM), Jelle Wallays Jens Debusschere, Kris Broeckmans, Pim Ligthart, Tosh van der Sande, Jurgen Roelandts, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), Marco Haller, Anton Vorobyev, Michael Møkøv, Nils Politt, Alexandr Porsev (Katusha), Dylan Groenewegen, Tom van Asbroeck , Twan Castelijns, Mike Teunissen, Moreno Hofland, Dennis van Winden, Maarten Wynants (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jonas Ahlstrand, Borut Bozic, Florian Senechal, Kenneth Vanbilsen, Michael van Staeyen (Cofidis), Franck Bonnamour (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) Amaury Capiot (Topsport), Dimitri Claeys, Danilo Napolitano (Wanty), David Boucher, Gerry Druyts, Timothy Stevens (Crelan), Alexander Krieger, Aksel Nommela, John Mandrysch (Leopard), Dimitri Peyskens (Vera Classic), Aidis Kruopis, Joeri Calleeuw (Veranda's Willems) and a 3M-rider and they worked well together to increase their advantage.

 

The aggressive riding continued and when the group split again, only Boonen, Vermote, Lampaert, Maes, Gaviria, Naesen, Debusschere, Roelandts, Wallays, Vorobyev, Politt, Teunissen, Wynants, Groenewegen, Senechal, Godon, Capiot and Calleeuw had survived. The 18 leaders cooperated to slowly increase their advantage

 

With 55km to go, the group had pushed the gap out to 3 minutes and with a lack of cooperation in the second group, it was clear that it was game over for the group. On the third lap, Ligthart tried to bridge across but he was 3.30 behind at the next passage of the line. However, he soon dropped back to the second group which continued to lose ground.

 

The front group worked well together until they approached the start of the penultimate lap. Here Wynants got an unintentional gap together with Gaviria and Politt and when Capiot, Vanbilsen, Roelandts, Naesen, Lampaert and Maes joined them, the group had been halved.

 

The nine leaders crossed the line with an advantage of 15 seconds and as they worked well together, they had pushed it out to 30 seconds when they hit the final 25km. Here Politt launched the first attack and surprisingly Politt lost a few metres. However, he soon rejoined the group when Politt stopped his acceleration.

 

The hard race was taking its toll as Teunissen was taken out of contention due to cramps and Vorobyev was dropped from the second group as they went up the climb for the penultimate time. Here Roelandts tried to attack and only Lampaert could follow. Gaviria bridged across on the descent but the trio was brought back soon after.

 

The chase group slowed down a bit which allowed Vorobyev to rejoin them but then Wallays started to ride hard. At the start of the final lap, he had reduced the gap to 15 seconds. Meanwhile, Lampaert launched a failed attack from the front group.

 

Suddenly, a small split occurred when Naesen, Wynants and Lampaert got clear and with the IAM rider as the big engine, they soon got a big advantage. As there was no cooperation in the chase group, Politt tried to bridge across but he had no luck.

 

In the second group, Wallays emptied himself for Debusschere and his work made the two chase groups merge with 10km to go.  However, Wallays was still not getting any help and so they failed to get any closer to the three leaders.

 

Initially, Wynants refused to work but he soon started to take share in the pace-setting which was 30 seconds behind with 8km to go. Here Wallays swung off and as Debusschere and Roeladts went on the attack, the group split to pieces.

 

Debusschere and Roelandts dropped their companions and Boonen had to dig very deep to try to join them. He almost made it but exploded when he was just metres behind.

 

Debusschere and Roelandts reduced the gap to 15 seconds when disaster struck. Roelandts hit Debusschere’s wheel and hit the group hard, leaving Debusschere to press on alone.

 

Debusschere started to fade as they went up the climb and he started to lose ground. Senechal joined him but the pair was 30 seconds behind when they reached the top of the climb for the final time.

 

12 riders gathered behind the leaders but there was no cooperation. Vorobyev, Vanbilsen and Politt all tried to get clear but no one managed to get clear.

 

Things were looking promising for the three leaders when they passed the flamme rouge but that’s when everything went wrong. The trio came to a standstill as they started to look at each other like in a sprint match on the track and their 20-second advantage melted away.

 

Debusschere managed to get a small gap and with less than 500m to go, he sprinted past the three leaders. The Belgian dug deep and looked like he was going to take the win.

 

Maes took a huge turn to do the lead-out for Boonen and that ended the race for Debusschere who started to fade dramatically. Groenewegen launched his sprint and Naesen grabbed his wheel. The pair easily came around the Lotto Soudal sprinter but then Groenewegen started to lose speed. As Naesen tried to pass him on the left, he swerved and closed him towards the barrier. The IAM rider was forced to stop his sprint and so had to settle for second. Boonen crossed the line in third.

 

With the win, Groenewegen also leads the Napoleon Games Cycling Cup series ahead of the final two races. The next event is Tuesday’s Binche-Chimay-Binche before it all comes to a close at the Nationale Sluitingsprijs one week later.

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