Tour of Belgium: André Greipel wins opening stage ahead of Tom Boonen
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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tour of Belgium: André Greipel wins opening stage ahead of Tom Boonen

by Ben Atkins at 1:43 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Belgium
 
German takes his tenth victory of the season as the Belgian champion returns to the front

andre greipelAndré Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) sprinted to his tenth victory of the season in the opening stage of the 2013 Tour of Belgium, between Lochristi and Knokke-Heist, on the uphill finishing straight. The big German was led into the final metres by his team, before opening up his sprint with 200 metres to go, and managed to hold off a powerful surge from Belgian champion Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), with Ramon Sinkeldam (Argos-Shimano) third.

“It was a victory from the text book,” said Greipel at the finish. “The final was hectic with many turns, but we were well organised and could stay together. The guys perfectly prepared the sprint. My gear was a bit too big, but I finished it off. I am very happy with this win. We work together very well, other riders search us in the way up to the sprint because we have such an excellent train.

“We are racing together again for the first time since Tirreno-Adriatico,” Greipel added. “From now on it’s one line to the Tour de France via the Tour of Zeeland Seaports, Berlin and the ZLM Tour. We now have to get confidence and sharpen the automatisms. Tomorrow’s stage suits Jürgen Roelandts very well, but it will also be difficult to get rid of me on the climbs.”

The 194.2km stage saw a group of four riders get clear, as Olivier Chevalier (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Laurens De Vreese (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Dieter Uyttersprot (ToWin-Josan) and Alphonse Vermote (An Post-Chainreaction) managed to get away from the start and managed to get four minutes clear in the first 20km. The sprinters’ teams began to give chase, however, and steadily began to reel in the four fugitives.

On the first passage of the 700 metre long section of Kerkstraat cobbles with 56km to go, Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) came down in a freak crash as his own bidon became dislodged from its cage and became jammed between his bike frame and wheel. The former French champion, who was making his return to racing after fracturing his collarbone in the Amstel Gold Race, was able to remount, but was never able to rejoin the peloton.

Onto the second of two 36km finishing circuits, the break was down to just De Vreese and Chevalier, and they were finally caught with 24km to go.

With the breakaway caught Katusha continued to lead, with BMC Racing taking over with 20km to go; World champion Philippe Gilbert was visible, putting in some big turns. Belgian champion Boonen was also mixing it on the front with the domestiques, as well as World cyclocross champion Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony).

The pace at the front saw several groups splitting off the back as, with 14km to go Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol) jumped clear to take the bonus sprint. The former BElgian champion was joined by Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), along with some others, but the group was not committed to the escape and the race came back together.

There then followed several attempts to get away but, as the race turned into stiff headwind, nobody was able to make an break stick. With eight kilometres to go Jos van Emden (Blanco) attacked, and was joined by Thijs Al (Telenet-Fidea), but the two riders could only get a few metres clear as Lotto-Belisol got organised on the front of the peloton.

Vacansoleil-DCM and Europcar then took turns to lead the peloton, but it was Lotto-Belisol that led into the final kilometre. Greipel opened up his sprint with 200 metres to go; Boonen was gradually gaining as the road began to tilt upwards, but the German had done enough to win by almost a clear bike length.

Result stage 1
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
3. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Argos-Shimano
4. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
5. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
6. Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar
7. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
9. Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Crelan-Euphony
10. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis

Standings after stage 1
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
2. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 4s
3. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Argos-Shimano @ 6s
4. Jürgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto-Belisol @ 7s
5. Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise @ 8s
6. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 9s
7. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM @ 10s
8. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar
10. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise

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