Eneco Tour: Lopez wins stage six as Ardennes hills annihilate the field
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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Eneco Tour: Lopez wins stage six as Ardennes hills annihilate the field

by Kyle Moore at 11:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Eneco Tour
 
Dumoulin takes the overall lead with Stybar just behind; Boom, Chavanel, Gilbert lose time

Eneco TourThe Ardennes hills had as big of an impact on the overall in the 2013 Eneco Tour as they could well have had, as David Lopez (Sky Procycling) won stage six out of the original breakaway. Lopez was the best of two other original breakaway mates – Maciej Paterski (Cannondale) and Ángel Madrazo (Movistar).

But a group of favourites powered by Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano) was breathing down the necks of the trio of escapees as the finish on La Redoute got closer. Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) emerged from that group to throw his bike ahead of Paterski for second, two seconds behind Lopez.

Sitting third overall entering the stage, Dumoulin worked by himself to keep his select group ahead of another group behind, which contained second placed Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). The Argos-Shimano rider was successful, and even managed fourth on the stage for himself, and then collapsing in a heap across the line with photographers surrounding the young Dutchman.

They were all looking for a shot of the new overall leader, as Dumoulin took over by eight seconds over Stybar. Previous overall leader Lars Boom (Belkin) lost over two minutes on the stage and dropped out of the top five overall, as did Chavanel. It was the riders out of the Dumoulin group who had the best legs on the day, and who now occupy the top five spots overall as a result.

“Stybar is a tough opponent for the victory,” Dumoulin stated afterward. “I’m happy to have the jersey and I hope to still have it in my possession on Sunday night.

“I had to come from far back because I was in the group with Philippe Gilbert that was involved in the crash. I stayed calm and eventually again linked up with the front of the race after a long chase. This course suited me. I surprised myself that I was so good today.”

A calmer first half precedes a roiling finale to stage six:

The first 50 kilometres of the Eneco Tour stage six were flat, and it was a battle to get into the breakaway with so many race-affecting climbs coming later. With 45 kilometres gone, all were still together, but a group got away on the first uncategorized climb of the day.

Lopez, Paterski, Madrazo, Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Evan Huffman (Astana), Jurgen Van Goolen and Gregory Habeaux (Accent Jobs-Wanty), Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha), Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp), and Pim Ligthart and Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) were the men to split off, and they built a healthy advantage quickly as the road undulated heading toward the Côte de Fôret.

With more than 50km gone and 90km to go, their gap was up toward five minutes.

With a few early climbs completed, the field tackled La Redoute for the first of three times. The finish line wasn’t at the true summit, but rather about two-thirds of the way to the top. When the breakaway hit the line on the first of three passes, it was beginning two laps of a roughly 30km circuit, with each containing climbs of the Côte de Chambrolles, the Côte de Niaster, and the la Redoute once more.

With 70km left to race, the break had expanded its advantage to seven minutes, and disaster struck for some in the peloton as it heated up for its first time up La Redoute. A big crash near the middle of the bunch sent riders into both ditches, and sprawling onto the pavement. BMC Racing seemed to be affected the most, with Taylor Phinney and Philippe Gilbert both down and injured.

Dumoulin was another top ten rider affected by the pileup, but the Argos-Shimano rider seemed to be simply held up, rather than injured. But it was a different story for Phinney and Gilbert. The Belgian limped to his feet and tried to shake off the pain, but he got a new bike fairly quickly and was soon back in the saddle.

But Phinney was moved to the left side of the road, being attended to by race medics. He was getting one of his legs examined, and getting a knee wrapped, but the damage suffered was too much for the American to continue, and the fourth placed rider coming into the day was forced to abandon, having already crashed earlier in the week as well. Others who seemed especially shaken up in the crash included Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Gabriel Rasch (Sky Procycling).

In the escape, Westra, being well placed in the overall, took a few bonus seconds at the top of La Redoute. Huffman was briefly dropped from the break, so Astana came to the fore in the peloton to make the pace. But at this point, the main bunch was still in pieces after the crash, with large groups having been stuck behind the crash and trying to get back on. One of the groups was being marshaled by BMC, which had three lieutenants trying to pace Gilbert back in, though the Walloon rider was two minutes in arrears.

On the front of the peloton, AG2R La Mondiale and Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Nicki Terpstra began a series of curious little attacks, making it tough for the peloton to regroup after the crash, especially given Terpstra’s high GC position. News came through of Phinney’s abandonment, as BMC continued to work for Gilbert. Dumoulin, whose movement up the road would soon become big news, was stuck in the Gilbert group for the moment.

Meanwhile, Huffman made it back up to the breakaway, just as the Gilbert group was trying to reattach to the peloton. But Terpstra spun off more attacks, and with more climbing looming, Gilbert and BMC kept a steady tempo, absent of panic. With under 50km to go in the stage, the main bunch was 5’15” behind the 11-man group out front.

For Omega Pharma-Quick Step, it was Kevin De Weert’s turn to go up the road, as the Belgian left the peloton with Ian Stannard (Sky Procycling) and Jesse Sergent (Radioshack-Leopard) in tow, and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) soon bridged across, on the Chambrolles climb for the first time. Riders began to suffer in the peloton, falling off the back on the first climb of the first 30km circuit. But Dumoulin was moving up, getting back in the peloton with a smaller group of riders as Gilbert and his men continued to sit around a minute behind the main bunch. The De Weert quartet continued to remain just ten seconds ahead of the bunch, which at this point was down to 3’20” behind the breakway.

On the Côte de Niaster for the first of two ascents, Gilbert and his team-mates were back in the peloton, and were working their way toward the front of it as it continued to shrink under the pressure of the sharp climbs. The Niaster put pain to Sergent and Stannard in the De Weert group, which was whittled to just he and Wellens on the Niaster climb. With Gilbert recovered from his crash, BMC took to the front of the main bunch onto the La Redoute for a second time.

The racing continued to be unsettled in both the escape and the peloton, as Lopez moved away from the escape, and Radioshack-Leopard spun little moves out of the main pack. Nearing the top of La Redoute, Madrazo came across to Lopez. With the main bunch nearing the finish straight on the climb, De Weert and Wellens continued to pedal just 20 seconds in front of the peloton, which was strung out with about 40 riders in its midst with one 30km circuit to go.

However, the multiple cameras on the finish straight couldn’t find Boom, as the race leader had been distanced for the first time. It wasn’t long before Omega Pharma-Quick Step received this bit of news, and Stybar began pounding out the tempo leading toward the top of the Côte de la Redoute. The climb had also whittled down the breakaway, with just Lopez, Madrazo, Westra and Paterski remaining out front.

With 25km to go, Boom was getting paced by one team-mate, and had just Belkin mate Wilco Kelderman left fending for himself in the main bunch. They continued to close in on the leaders, now within two minutes as they descended the other side of La Redoute.

With De Weert and Wellens now dangling just in front of the main group, a few riders broke away to come across to them. But crucially, it was just a few riders who chose to come across, while perhaps others were simply unable.

But importantly, it was Stybar, Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ.fr), and Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Leopard) who formed a new group with De Weert and Wellens, and this group grew a bit more when they picked up Ligthart from the break, and when Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) came up from behind.

Ahead, the escape was back up to seven with the readdition of Nuyens and an Accent Jobs-Wanty rider. Behind the break, two groups had now established on the road – the new escape with Stybar, Jeannesson, and Bakelants, and the main peloton with Gilbert and Chavanel behind them, although the time gap was minimal. But it wasn’t long before a teal wave zoomed into the Stybar group, containing three Astana riders and an Argos-Shimano rider, which proved to be Tom Dumoulin.

Behind them, Boom had worked hard to come back to the Gilbert peloton. But with the attrition of the peloton and the increased size of the Dumoulin – Stybar group, the two main packs were beginning to seem equal in size. In the second chase group, Chavanel took it upon himself with 20km to go, pushing on aggressively as Gilbert, Boom, Johnny Hoogerland (Vancansoleil-DCM) and others struggled to hang onto the Frenchman.

In the escape, it was Madrazo’s turn to attack solo, as time gaps were starting to be established. With 18km left to race, the break had an advantage of 1’16” over the Dumoulin group, and 1’46” on the Chavanel chase behind.

For the next five kilometres, over the Côte de Chambrolles and the Côte de Niaster, a tenuous status quo remained. Madrazo held off the escapees for a while, but soon it was Paterski who again made it back to the Spaniard. With the first chase group now nearly a minute ahead of Chavanel on the road, Stybar was not contributing to it, and Jeannesson became frustrated, fearing his group could stall out. Having placed Astana leader Andriy Grivko in the group, Maxim Iglinsky dropped out of it, as did the other Astana man who had come across earlier with Dumoulin.

But just as Jeannesson became worried about the group and its lead over Chavanel, Dumoulin came to its rescue. The young Dutchman began driving the pace in the group with Stybar in his wheel, and he wasn’t asking for any help, as the prospect of the white jersey started to increase.

Ahead, Lopez had made it back to Paterski and Madrazo. It was 1’10 back to the Dumoulin group, while Chavanel had De Weert pacing for him, but they were two minutes off the lead. But thanks to the pacing of De Weert, followed by an attack by Chavanel, his group was reduced even more, with both Gilbert and Boom falling out of it.

On the Niaster climb for the final time, the Dumoulin group was down to seven with the Dutchman still pacing. They were a minute back of the breakaway, with Chavanel a further 40 seconds behind. Gilbert and Boom were chasing on their own, but losing more time.

With 5km to go, Chavanel had responded to a Euskaltel-Euskadi attack out of his group, but he was getting no closer to Dumoulin, who had hauled back both Nuyens and Vandenbergh from the original break. Under the 3km banner, the leading trio had just 27 seconds on Dumoulin, but it was still 1’19” back to Chavanel.

As La Redoute bit in one last time, Bakelants attacked the Dumoulin group but was pulled back by Stybar, as both he and Grivko pushed toward the line, with the Czech rider thinking about bonus seconds.

The chasing group had almost caught the leading trio with a kilometre left, but Lopez lit it up with the line approaching. He held off Stybar and Paterski, while the boundless energy of Dumoulin took fourth, and zipped up the leader’s jersey on the podium.

Gilbert came across 1’38” behind, while Boom lost a whopping 2’19”.

One stage remains in the Eneco Tour, another Classics style day with ascents of the Muur van Geraardsbergen making the final mark on the overall classification.

Eneco Tour Stage 6 Brief Results:

1, David Lopez Garcia (Sky Procycling)
2, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) at 2”
3, Maciej Paterski (Cannondale) at 2”
4, Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano) at 4”
5, Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Leopard) at 4”
6, Ángel Madrazo (Movistar) at 4”
7, Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) at 4”
8, Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) at 4”
9, Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp) at 12”
10, Arnold Jeannesson (FDJ.fr) at 12”

General Classification after Stage 6:

1, Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano) in 20hr14’01”
2, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) at 8”
3, Andriy Grivko (Astana) at 23”
4, Jan Bakelants (Radioshack-Leopard) at 29”
5, Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) at 29”
6, Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) at 37"
7, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) at 49"
8, Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) at 1'07"
9, Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) at 1'15"
10, Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana) at 1'32"

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