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Having been led out by his Sky teammates, Van Poppel took his first win for his new team in a photo finish on stage 2 of the Tour de Yorkshire; Groenewegen was second and retained the overall lead

Photo: Unipublic

DANNY VAN POPPEL

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DYLAN GROENEWEGEN

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NIKIAS ARNDT

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TEAM JUMBO-VISMA

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TEAM SKY

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TOUR DE YORKSHIRE

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30.04.2016 @ 19:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Danny Van Poppel finally took an overdue first win in Sky colours when he came out on top in a photo finish on the second stage of the Tour de Yorkshire. In a very close sprint, he narrowly held off Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) who retained his overall lead, while Nikias Arndt (Giant-Alpecin) again completed the podium.

 

After his stage win at last year’s Vuelta a Espana, Danny Van Poppel established himself as one of the pure top sprinters and Sky were quick to pick him up when he was reportedly not offered a contract by his Trek team. However, the Dutchman got his time with his new team off to the worst possible start as he had to postpone his debut several times due to a knee injury.

 

Van Poppel finally wore the Sky colours for the first time in March and since then he has slowly built his condition. He managed to get in decent shape for the classics but until now he has not had many chances to show himself in his preferred department: the bunch sprints.

 

This week he finally gets a leadership role for his team at the Tour de Yorkshire which is a hugely important event for the British team as it is one of their few home races. Hence, he could not have chosen a better place to open his account than he did when he took his first victory in today’s second stage where he held off race leader Dylan Groenewegen in a very close photo finish.

 

After yesterday’s sprint stage, the riders faced the easiest stage of the race on the second dag where they tackled just 135.5km from Otley to Doncaster. There were two small climbs early in the stage and another small ascent with 38.5km to go but apart from that, the terrain was flat, meaning that another bunch sprint was expected.

 

Tom Leezer (LottoNL-Jumbo) was a non-starter when the rest of the peloton gathered for another tough day in the saddle. Rain, wind and cold conditions marred the stage and apparently that didn’t inspire the riders to ride aggressively. In fact, the break got clear almost straight from the gun when Richard Handley (One Pro Cycling), Michael Mørkøv (Katusha), Gruffudd Lewis (Madison Genesis), Edmund Bradbury and Joshua Edmondson (NFTO), and Stijn Steels (Topsport Vlaanderen) surged clear and after 10km of racing, they already had an advantage of 2 minutes.

 

Handley won the two early KOM sprints to move into the virtual mountains jersey while the group worked well together to try to build a bigger advantage. However, LottoNL-Jumbo refused to take any risks and they immediately put the powerful duo of Bram Tankink and Maarten Wynants on the front. The pair had reduced the gap to just 1.19 after 46.5km of racing.

 

The sun came out which made the conditions a bit better as Tankink and Wynants continued to control things, keeping the gap just above the 1-minute mark. Meanwhile, Tiago Machado (Katusha) had bad luck as he went down hard and hurt his left leg badly.

 

The gap stayed around a minute as rain again started to fall. However, Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) was unfazed by the conditions as he tried to bridge across the gap which had gone out to 1.35 with around 50km to go.

 

Impressively, Edet made it across to the leaders who were 1.25 ahead at the 92km mark. However, it started to melt away when BMC jumped to the front to accelerate hard, bringing the gap down to just 30 seconds.

 

This prompted the stronger escapees to split the group up and suddenly only Mørkøv, Edet, Edmondson and Steels were left with a little more than 30km to go. However, they were just 30 seconds ahead as they entered the final 25km.

 

LottoNL-Jumbo got back to work and had reduced the gap to 15 seconds with 20km to go. The quartet dug deep to maintain a 10-second advantage for several kilometres but with 10km to go, it was all back together as LottoNL-Jumbo, Orica-GreenEDGE, Sky and BMC were now sharing the work.

 

With 4km to go, Orica-GreenEDGE took control but one kilometre later, Sky had won the battle for the top positions. Their efforts paid off as Van Poppel narrowly managed to hold Groenewegen in a very close photo finish where the name of the winner changed a few times before the Sky rider could step onto the podium. Nikias Arndt took his second consecutive third place.

 

Groenewegen could console himself with the fact that he extended his overall lead and he now holds a 6-second advantage over Van Poppel. However, everything is likely to change in the final stage which is the hardest of the race. After a flat start, the riders will hit the famous hilly, narrow Yorkshire roads and they will tackle a total of six categorized ascents in addition to several small, uncategorized climbs. The final climb comes just 8.5km from the finish, meaning that it is a stage tailor-made for puncheurs and Ardennes specialists.

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