Eneco Tour: Orica-GreenEdge rides Jens Keukeleire into the lead in team time trial
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Eneco Tour: Orica-GreenEdge rides Jens Keukeleire into the lead in team time trial

by Ben Atkins at 11:10 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Eneco Tour

orica-greenedge Orica-GreenEdge won the second stage of the 2012 Eneco Tour, a 19.9km team time trial in Sittard, Netherlands, putting its Belgian rider Jens Keukeleire into the race lead. The Australian team completed the mostly-flat course in a time of 21’08”, which was less than a second quicker than the time set a few minutes later by Omega Pharma-Quick Step. Third on the stage was the Russian Katusha Team, a further second behind.

The Argos-Shimano team of stage one winner - and race leader - Marcel Kittel could only manage 21’45”, losing 37 seconds to Orica-GreenEdge. The result was academic however, since Kittel himself was dropped by the team on the mid-stage climb as he was unable to hold the pace.

Any hope that stage one third place Taylor Phinney may have had of taking over the race lead were dashed, as the BMC Racing Team crashed during the stage and crossed the line in 22’19”; last on the stage.

“I knew we had a chance for the win,” said Orica-GreenEdge directeur sportif Laurenzo Lapage. “The time gaps between the top teams can often be small, and it comes down to every little detail. I said yesterday we were looking for a top three finish. It’s never good to come into the team time trial too confident.”

A flat course with a small hill makes it tough for the climbers and sprinters alike

The Euskaltel-Euskadi team was the first to start the stage, and finished in a less than impressive 22’18”. This was quickly eclipsed by Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, who went 42 seconds quicker with 21’36”.

RadioShack-Nissan lowered the best time to 21’27”, which was to hold until Orica-GreenEdge finished a few teams later. Despite dropping three riders, and finishing with only five, the Australian team managed to complete the course in 21’09”. One of those dropped was Aidis Kruopis, who had finished fourth on stage one; the Lithuanian would have been set to pull on the white leader’s jersey but suffered a puncture mid-stage.

“The flat tire is obviously not something we can control,” said Lapage. “What we can control is how we react to what happens. The team kept everything together even after Aidis was gone, and this helped us win today.”
Omega Pharma-Quick Step sprinted up the finishing straight shortly afterwards, but crossed the line an agonising fraction of a second outside Orica-GreenEdge’s time to go into second place. Shortly afterwards, Rabobank went close with 21’13”, but Katusha pushed them off the third spot with 21’10”, but the Orica-GreenEdge time was holding.

BMC Racing Marcus Burghardt punctured and, as this distracted the rest, a number of the team’s riders crashed Klaas Lodewyck was the worst affected, but it cost the team a chance to contest the stage victory and they limped home in last place, a second slower than Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Argos-Shimano dropped Kittel on the climb just after the halfway point as the German sprinter was unable to follow his team’s pace, but the Dutch Professional Continental team could still only manage 21’46” and conceded the race lead to Orica-GreenEdge anyway.

The Australian team consisted of just Sebastian Langeveld, Svein Tuft, Luke Durbridge, Jens Mouris and Keukeleire as they crossed the line together. Keukeleire crossed the line first and so took the leader’s jersey, but it could have been any one of them, as Lapage explained.

“Finishing a team time trial with a complete team is never a good sign,” he said. “Leigh Howard and Fumy Beppu did a great job before getting dropped.

“We never thought about who would take the leader’s jersey,” he added. “Who has the jersey isn’t important. The team win was the important thing. Normally, Aidis would have taken it, but after the mechanical problem, anyone who got to the finish had a chance.”

Following its victory, Orica-GreenEdge occupied the first five places of the general classification but, with a tough week ahead, Lapage was focussed on keeping at least one of them up there.

“It now becomes important that we arrive at the time trial on Saturday with a number of riders in contention,” he said. “If we do that, everything is possible.”

Result stage 2
1. Orica-GreenEdge, 18.9km in 21’08”
2. Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 1s
3. Katusha Team @ 2s
4. Rabobank @ 4s
5. Liquigas-Cannondale @ 17s
6. RadioShack-Nissan @ 18s
7. Movistar Team
8. Garmin-Sharp @ 27s
9. Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank
10. Vacansoleil-DCM @ 31s

Standings after stage 2
1. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge
2. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
3. Svein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge
4. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Jens Mouris (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 1s
7. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
8. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
9. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
10. Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step


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