Wel­lens on the way

Lotto-Belisol’s tal­ented young stage racer takes his first WorldTour win in the Low Coun­tries

Procycling - - Eneco Tour - Writer: Sam Dan­sie Pho­tog­ra­phy: Tim De Waele

Guar­dini con­tin­ued a great run of form when he won the open­ing stage in Terneuzen. After win­ning two stages at the Post Dan­mark Rundt, this was his third vic­tory in six days.

It wasn’t all smiles on

stage 1. On the loop be­low the Wester­schelde es­tu­ary, the pelo­ton bat­tled strong winds and rain. One ca­su­alty was Orica- GreenEdge’s Damien How­son, though he gin­gerly restarted.

More than just a

leader’s jersey came Zdeněk Šty­bar’s way when he won the sprint into Vli­j­men – it was also the 50th road race win of the sea­son for Omega Pharma- Quick­Step. He won a cask of Primus beer for his ef­forts, too. Cheers!

Tom Du­moulin’s

(Gi­ant-Shi­mano) face is the pic­ture of con­cen­tra­tion in the pan-flat Breda TT, which he won. The young Dutch rider beat the old master, Fabian Can­cel­lara ( Trek Fac­tory Rac­ing) by a very slim two seconds. front group con­tests the stage 4 sprint in Ar­dooie, Bel­gium. Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr), who had an­nounced he was off to Cofidis in 2015, still had the hunger to lead home the group.

Min­utes later, Omega

Pharma- Quick­Step rid­ers traipse over the line after con­cernedly watch­ing Šty­bar, the Czech cham­pion, be lifted into an am­bu­lance with fa­cial in­juries after a bad crash in the fi­nale.

Show­down on the

Muur. Here, Lotto Belisol’s Jens Debuss­chere climbs to the Ger­aards­ber­gen chapel. He’d been in the early break but by the time he hit the Muur the race was over and the Bel­gian champ was a mere photo op.

In­stead, BMC’s Greg

Van Aver­maet beasted his way up the Muur and edged out race leader, Du­moulin at the top of the iconic Ronde van Vlaan­deren climb. Pavel Brutt (Ka­tusha) fin­ished third. It was Van Aver­maet’s first win in more than a year. cob­bled bergs to Wal­lo­nia’s steep côtes, stage 6 saw the rid­ers tackle the mounts of Liège- Bas­togne- Liège in a 173km stage from Heerlen to the most fa­mous côte of all, La Red­oute.

In a pul­sat­ing

fi­nale, Lotto- Belisol’s Tim Wel­lens at­tacked a de­pleted front group of 30. He over­turned more than a minute’s deficit on GC to take his first WorldTour win and the race lead.

After tak­ing the

leader’s jersey the day be­fore, Lotto- Belisol were un­der at­tack. They had to ride hard all day to keep Wel­lens’s po­si­tion se­cure as Belkin and Gi­ant-Shi­mano sniped. Here, Debuss­chere un­der­takes a bidon run.

De­spite the flurry of

at­tacks on the 183km stage, Lotto- Belisol held firm. And in Sit­tard- Geleen in Hol­land, Wel­lens pulled on the leader’s jersey one last time. Here, he’s flanked by Boom in sec­ond and Du­moulin in third.

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