Guillaume Van Keirsbulck takes final stage victory; Geraint Thomas sixth overall
Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won the seventh a final stage of the Eneco Tour from a breakaway.
Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) successfully defended his overall lead, on a day that saw surprisingly few attacks from the GC riders.
Van Keirsbulck was part of a 20-man break that got away at the very start of the stage, and attacked alone with 34 kilometres to go to win the stage. He demonstrated impressive strength to hold off the pursuing riders, and, aged just 23, looks like he could be a classics star for the future.
Matteo Trentin won the sprint for second ahead of Yves Lampaert (Topsport Vlaanderen) to make it a one-two for Omega Pharma-QuickStep, in a group containing the other survivors from the break.
Despite the small margins of time in the GC, and despite the stage’s hilly terrain, it was quiet day among the overall contenders.
Although Belkin spent large portions of the day at the front of the peloton, no attack from Lars Boom materialised, as Wellens was given a generally untroubled ride to the finish. Tom Dumoulin (Giant Shimano) was also content to ride in the bunch, and only BMC tried something with a few tentative attacks from Philippe Gilbert and Manuel Quinziato on the final climb.
The lack of activity meant the top order remained unchanged, with Boom and Dumoulin completing the podium, and Geraint Thomas (Sky) finishing sixth overall.
For Wellens, who is only 23, this result is the biggest of his career, and the Belgian will no doubt be taken very seriously as an emerging young talent in the peloton.
One incident of note on a quiet day’s racing was an unusual tussle between Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Maarten Wyants (Belkin). At the front of the peloton, and right in front of the TV camera, Terpstra barged into Wyants with his left shoulder, prompting the Dutchman to barge back, before Terpstra offers one final nudge. It was unclear what caused the hostilities, but Terpstra subsequently admitted responsibility and was disqualified from the race, losing his seventh position overall.
Eneco Tour 2014, stage six: Heerlen to Aywaille, 173.3km
1. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step in 4-25-47
2. Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 46 secs
3. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Topsport Vlanderen
4. Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
5. Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale
6. Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7. Pablo Lastras (Spa) Movistar
8. Danilo Hondo (Ger) Trek Factory Racing
9. Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC
10. Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
Overall classification after stage six
1. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Belisol in 21-03-27
2. Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin at 7 secs
3. Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano at 13 secs
4. Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana at 33 sces
5. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 34 secs
6. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky at 38 secs
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing at 48 secs
8. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge at 56 secs
9. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Garmin-Sharp at 1-04
10. Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale at 1-11