Eneco Tour: Mark Renshaw surprises the other sprinters with a late attack on stage one
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Monday, August 12, 2013

Eneco Tour: Mark Renshaw surprises the other sprinters with a late attack on stage one

by Ben Atkins at 11:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Eneco Tour
 
Australian sneaks away inside the final two kilometres and holds off André Greipel

Mark RenshawMark Renshaw (Belkin) took his first win in almost six months in the opening stage of the 2013 Eneco Tour, between Koksijde and Ardooie, as he snuck away from the front of the peloton with less than two kilometres to go. The Australian was leading the Belkin sprint train into the finish when his teammates allowed to pull away from the front in a twisting chicane-like section. With Belkin’s rivals having trouble getting around the Dutch team for some time, Renshaw was able to continue to take a solo stage victory.

German champion André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) easily sprinted to second place, two seconds behind Renshaw, to show what might have been had the Australian not escaped, with Giacomo Nizzolo (RadioShack-Leopard) taking third.

The time bonus on the line gave Renshaw the first white and red leader’s jersey of the race.

"The initial plan was to ride for Theo [Bos]," Renshaw said afterwards. "In the final, he was right in my wheel properly, but with still a long way to go it was just the two of us. He then opened up a small gap, I think on purpose, and that was crucial for me to win. I have to thank Theo for that.

"I went as fast as I could through the last couple of corners,” he continued. “I took some risks. Merijn Zeeman shouted in my ear that I needed to give one hundred per cent and that’s what I did. I’m pretty good at keeping a high speed over a longer distance. In the last two hundred metres I have not looked back once and luckily I saw nobody pass me.

“Tomorrow we will ride for Theo again,” Renshaw added. “He simply is our fastest guy. Lars Boom and Wilco Kelderman are still our GC guys.”

The 175.3km saw a long-distance attack from Laurens De Vreese and Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), and Ben Verraes (Accent.jobs-Wanty), who escaped almost as soon as the race had set out from Koksijde, and were already more than seven minutes ahead of the peloton as they crossed the start line after the 17.6km starting circuit.

After 20km the trio’s lead had reached its maximum of 8’30”, before Argos-Shimano and Lotto-Belisol took control of the peloton and got the break under control.

The gap was down to 6’50” as the break topped the Rodeberg - the one real climb in the otherwise flat parcours - after 77.3km and, as the course turned east towards the finish, the Vacansoleil-DCM and FDJ.fr teams joined the chase.

As they began the two laps of the 15.4km Ardooie finishing circuit, the three riders were little more than two minutes clear and, as they passed under the 25km banner, it was down to just 1’57”. Orica-GreenEdge and Omega Pharma-Quick Step also joined the chase, with the tussle for the front of the bunch causing the speed to ramp up quickly.

With 20km left the gap was down to 1’14” and, with 19km left, De Vreese attacked; briefly leaving the other two behind, as he tried to maintain the break’s momentum. The peloton was just 40 seconds behind by now, and still closing quickly. As they headed towards the line to take the bell, the three riders were just a few seconds clear and in full view of the sprinters’ teams; shortly afterwards, they shook hands and sat up as Orica-GreenEdge swept past.

BMC Racing took over the peloton as it headed towards the final intermediate sprint, with nine kilometres to go, to set up Taylor Phinney, but the American was beaten to the line by defending champion Lars Boom (Belkin). On the wide road that followed several teams began their own pacelines with the peloton splitting into two parts as Orica-GreenEdge and Belkin led on the right and left.

With five kilometres to go it was Lotto-Belisol that took over, but Belkin was not willing to allow the Belgian team to have its own way just yet. Following a sharp right-hander with four kilometres to go Garmin-Sharp hit the front, but the American was also overtaken by Belkin soon afterwards.

Meanwhile a group of riders was more two minutes behind the main peloton, which included Belgian champion Stijn Devolder (RadioShack-Leopard), 2011 Vuelta a and 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky).

In the tight, twisting section on the edge of town, with two kilometres to go, Renshaw opened up a gap and his teammates were happy to sit up and let him creep away. The Australian kept on the power all the way to the line and sat up to take his first victory in almost six months.

Greipel led the bunch home, two seconds later, easily outpacing Nizzolo and the rest on the way to the line.

Result stage 1
1. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Beilsol @ 2s
3. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Leopard
4. Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida
5. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
6. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
7. Michael Van Staeyen (Bel)
8. Davide Appollonio (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
9. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
10. Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team

Standings after stage 1
1. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Beilsol @ 6s
3. Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise @ 7s
4. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack-Leopard @ 8s
5. Benjamin Verraes (Bel) Accent.jobs-Wanty
6. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling @ 9s
7. Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise
8. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team @ 10s
9. Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling @ 11s
10. Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida @ 12s

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