Tour of Belgium: Two from two for André Greipel in a tight Meerbeke sprint
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tour of Belgium: Two from two for André Greipel in a tight Meerbeke sprint

by Ben Atkins at 1:07 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour of Belgium
 
German beats Danny van Poppel and Tom Boonen on former Ronde finish line

andre greipelAndré Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) made it two victories out of two in the 2013 Tour of Belgium, as he took the rainy second stage, between Knokke-Heist and Ninove/Meerbeke, in a bunch sprint on the former Ronde van Vlaanderen finish line. The German’s second victory was far closer than his first, however, as it took a photograph to separate him from second place Danny van Poppel (Vacansoleil-DCM) and third place Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who took his two famous Ronde victories on that very spot.

“Two out of two is of course a good result,” said Greipel afterwards. “The guys did an awesome job, especially in the chase on those last three escapees. In the sprint I couldn’t shift my gear to eleven, so I couldn’t go full from the start. Still I could come out. The weather wasn’t good today, which didn’t make the job any easier, but everyone did their best to defend my leader’s jersey.”

Time bonuses on the line saw Greipel extend his overall lead to ten seconds over Boonen, but the German was under no illusions as to his chances of retaining it the following day.

“Tomorrow in the time trial it’s only following the course from start to finish,’ he said. “With that time trial and the stages this weekend it won’t be evident for me to defend the jersey. The next days we’ll look more to other guys in the team, depending on who’s performing best in the time trial.”

The hilly 181km stage saw a breakaway from Stijn Steels (Crelan-Euphony), Arman Kamyshev (Astana), Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha), and Sebastien Turgot and Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), who escaped after 34km. The five riders were 4’25” ahead of the peloton after 78km before Lotto-Belisol began to keep them in check.

Slowly the gap to the leaders began to come down, as the weather began to deteriorate, while the race crossed several of the climbs made famous by the Ronde van Vlaanderen. Omega Pharma-Quick Step caused splits in the peloton in the final 35km, with virtually the entire team all active on the front. The bunch was split into several pieces, with Greipel caught in the second group.

With 22km to go the front group caught up with all bar Ignatiev, and the Russian was back in the fold five kilometres later, shortly after he had crested the Bosberg. After a hard chase from his team, Greipel rejoined the front half of the peloton as it approached the closing kilometres.

Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Francesco Gavazzi (Astana) managed to escape on the Congoberg with just 11km to go, with the World champion taking first place - and thee bonus seconds - across the intermediate sprint with five kilometres to go.

The trio was just 20 seconds ahead, but managed to stretch this out to 24 seconds before Lotto-Belisol began to close them down. The gap was down to ten seconds with two kilometres to go, and they were still just ahead as they passed under the flamme rouge, but they were swept up shortly afterwards.

Into the finishing straight Boonen was tucked on Greipel’s wheel and it was the Belgian champion that made the first move. Greipel and van Poppel went either side of Boonen as the finish approached, however, and both managed to just throw their bikes ahead on the line.

Result stage 2
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
2. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
3. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4. Alexander Porsev (Rus) Katusha Team
5. Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis
6. Simone Ponzi (Ita) Team Astana
7. Alexei Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha Team
8. Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Team Astana
9. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
10. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Argos-Shimano

Standings after stage 2
1. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol
3. Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 10s
2. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM @ 14s
10. Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Argos-Shimano @ 16s
5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team @ 17s
6. Jürgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
7. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 18s
8. Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9. Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 19s
10. Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Team Astana

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