Tour de Wallonie: Nizzolo holds on to overall victory as Napolitano takes final stage
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tour de Wallonie: Nizzolo holds on to overall victory as Napolitano takes final stage

by Ben Atkins at 11:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
Gianni Meersman thinks he’s won but misses out by half a wheel and one single second

giacomo nizzoloDanilo Napolitano (Acqua & Sapone) took his third victory in the 2012 Tour de Wallonie, in the sixth and final stage between Welkenraedt and Perwez, in big battle between the sprinters of the race. The Italian was fastest once again, as he sprinted down the left side of the road, and just managed to hold off a late surge from Gianni Meersman (Lotto-Belisol) - who initially thought that he had won - on the right. Davide Appollonio (Team Sky) took his third podium finish of the five-day race, with another third place.

Race leader Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Nissan) could only manage sixth in the sprint, and missed out on the bonus seconds. With Meersman just missing out on the victory however, the Italian held on to win by a single second over the Lotto-Belisol rider.

"Jakob [Fuglsang] brought me up to the 1 km mark, while Ben [Hermans] and Matthew [Busche] kept on keeping the pace very high," said Nizzolo afterwards. "I managed to position myself well, behind Napolitano, but probably I went a bit too early for the legs that I had. Too bad, but the overall victory was the most important thing today.

"I'm very happy with the win," he added. "I shows that all the training has paid of. When Daniele [Bennati] had to pull out of the race, I was allowed to sprint for myself and I'm happy I can pay back the trust that the team has given me. The guys have had to work a lot in these hot temperatures and hilly roads, so this is above all a team victory."

Kristof Goddaert (AG2R La Mondiale) et Antoine Demoitié (Idemasport-Biowanze) broke away in the vey first kilometre of the 179.2km stage, and managed to get almost a minute clear, but the sheer number of counterattacks meant that their advantage quickly came down again. Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) managed to bridge across, followed by some others, but Lotto-Belisol closed it down after 28km so that fourth place overall Meersman could go for some bonus seconds at the first intermediate sprint. The Belgian was beaten to the line by Alexander Porsev (Katusha), however and, with Nizzolo taking third, Meersman only managed to close his eight second deficit to the Italian by one second.

There were numerous attacks in the rolling mid part of the stage, but it was not until the 85km point that Maxime Anciaux (Idemasport-Biowanze), Julien Bérard (AG2R La Mondiale) and Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) managed to jump clear.

The trio managed to open up a lead of 4’25” by the 75km to go point but, as the peloton steadily reeled them in, Jacobs decided to sit up and wait with 45km left.

With just over 30km to go, with the remaining duo’s lead down to less than a minute, Bérard jumped away and set off alone; now alone the Frenchman opened up his lead to 1’13” with 25km to go. At this point Boris Dron and Christophe Prémont (Wallonie Bruxelles-Credit Agricole) attacked from the peloton, and by the 20km to go banner had caught up with Bérard. The peloton was just 30 seconds behind by now though, and being led by Team Sky and Acqua & Sapone.

Gradually, the two Wallonie Bruxelles-Credit Agricole riders - with Bérard sitting in - managed to eke out a few seconds, increasing their lead to 40 seconds by 15km to go. The sprinters’ teams were not going to be denied however - with FDJ-BigMat also joining the chase - and they were caught before they could reach the 10km banner.

Team Sky, Cofidis and RadioShack-Nissan now had control of the peloton, keeping the pace high to prevent any further attacks. With five kilometres to go though, Quentin Bertholet (Wallonie Bruxelles-Credit Agricole) jumped away, but was pounced upon immediately by the RadioShack-Nissan team.

The Luxembourg team kept the peloton strung out into the final three kilometres, where Lotto-Belisol and Vacansoleil-DCM came forward to help, and no further attacks were attempted.

Under the final kilometre banner several of the sprinters’ teams began to surge forward. Nizzolo was the first to make his move, down the centre of the road, but Napolitano surged past, close to the left hand barriers. Meersman began a long way back, but flew forward on the wheel of Appollonio and came around the Italian as he hit the line.

Thinking he’d won the stage, and therefore also the overall, Meersman sat up to celebrate, but Napolitano, on the other side of the road, was half a wheel ahead of him.

Result stage 5
1. Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
2. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
3. Davide Appollonio (Ita) Team Sky
4. Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Garmin-Barracuda
5. Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
6. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan
7. Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
8. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis
9. Kevyn Ista (Bel) Accent.jobs-Willems Verandas
10. Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team

Final overall standings
1. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan
2. Gianni Meersman (Bel) Lotto-Belisol @ 1s
3. Pim Ligthart (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM @ 2s
4. Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Katusha Team @ 3s
5. Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale @ 11s
6. Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Euphony @ 13s
7. Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator
8. Kevyn Ista (Bel) Accent.jobs-Willems Verandas @ 14s
9. Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator
10. Rémi Pauriol (Fra) FDJ-BigMat

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