Defending champion Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) won stage two of the Eneco Tour.
He moves into the overall lead ahead of tomorrow’s time trial, one second ahead of today’s runner-up Lars Boom (Belkin)
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Stybar was comfortably the quickest rider in the sprint, and managed to overcome the numerical advantage held by team Belkin.
The Dutch team will be kicking themselves for failing to pull off the win. Following a big effort at the front of the peloton, they found themselves with three riders in contention on the finishing straight. First Bauke Mollema attacked, with Stybar bridging the gap to his wheel. Both Boom and Sep Vanmarke lurked behind Stybar, but neither rider could come round his wheel and finished second and third respectively.
Despite being a flat stage, it was a lively day’s racing which culminated in a small group of twenty or so riders contest the sprint for the win. A crash within the final ten kilometres on a narrow roundabout, which saw Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Jose Joaquim Rojas (Movistar) fall, caused a split in the bunch, with overall leader Andrea Guardini (Astana), sprinters Andre Grepiel (Lotto-Belisol) and Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ), and Sky’s overall hopeful Edvald Boaasson Hagen among those the wrong side of it.
Another big loser today was last year’s runner-up Tom Dumoulin, who punctured 24km from the finish just as the pace was being picked up in the peloton. His teammates dropped back to assist him but the gap initially behind the rest of the peloton remained steady at one minute, but, thanks partly to some unsubtle drafting and an impressive solo ride once he’d used up his teammates, ultimately managed to reach back up to the second peloton and limit his loses to just 23 seconds.
Alongside all this action, it looked for a while as though the break of the day may survive. With just 20km left Pavel Brutt (Katusha) Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) had a gap of around two and a half minutes.
Then with 12.5km to go, Brutt upped the pace and went into time trial, moving away from the other two who could not respond. The Russian initially looked strong, but soon tired and the gap from him to the peloton started coming down quicker and quicker, before he was caught with just under 5km remaining.
Eneco Tour stage two: Waalwijk – Heusden 176km
1 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
2 Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin
3 Sep Vanmarke (Bel) Belkin
4 Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale
5 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC
6 Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
7 Davide Appollonio (Ita) Ag2r
8 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin
9 Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
10 Stig Broechx (Bel) Lotto-Belisol
Overall Classification after stage two
1 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step in 08-20-39
2 Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin at 0-01
3 Sep Vanmarke (Bel) Belkin at 0-06
4 Pavel Brutt (Rus) Katusha at 0-07
5 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC at 0-09
6 Marco Marcato (Ita) Cannondale at 0-10
7 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
8 Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9 Aidis Kruopis (Lit) Orica-GreenEdge
10 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge all st