August 14, 2011 2 Comments
In the end, Edvald Boasson Hagen had a relatively easy time of defending his narrow lead at the Eneco Tour to claim his second overall win at the race. First Lampre’s Matteo Bono emerged from the day’s breakaway to take stage five, then the Norwegian himself sprinted clear of the field to celebrate overall victory in fine style with a final stage win.
Stage 5: Genk, 189.2km
Matteo Bono took his first win in four years as the day’s breakaway narrowly succeeded in holding off the peloton on Saturday’s figure-of-eight stage starting and finishing in Genk. Edvald Boasson Hagen and Philippe Gilbert finished safely in the main bunch, with the Norwegian maintaining his 12-second lead heading into the final stage.
In theory, the day’s profile favoured a bunch sprint, with the most serious climbs occurring mid-stage and just a couple of minor kick-ups on the run-in to the finish. A three-man group of Bono (Lampre-ISD), Artem Ovechkin (Katusha) and Sergey Renev (Astana) broke away after 59km, establishing a lead of 3:25 with 68km remaining as Sky controlled the pace on the front of the peloton. This was reduced to under a minute inside the final 30km, but in rainy conditions both Sky and Omega Pharma-Lotto – after André Greipel punctured with 11km to go – were happy not to commit fully to the chase.
With 7km to go the gap was hovering at around 30 seconds as Skil-Shimano moved forward to set up their sprinter Kenny Van Hummel, but Ovechkin’s Katusha squad positioned themselves at the front to disrupt the chase. And although the advantage was gradually whittled away, the leading trio was just able to stay ahead of a scrappy chase headed by Skil-Shimano and Quick Step.
On the final ramp in the last 500 metres, Renev drove for the line with Bono on his wheel, and the Italian was easily able to come around the outside of the Kazakh rider in the last 50 metres to claim victory. Ovechkin was three seconds back in third, while Renev’s teammate Tomas Vaitkus led the peloton home a further three seconds behind. Boasson Hagen, Gilbert and third-placed David Millar finished safely in the pack to set up a final day showdown.
Boasson Hagen was pleased with the way the stage worked out, allowing him to maintain his 12-second advantage over Gilbert without undue difficulty:
I was pleased that three riders broke away, because it took away the stress about bonus time. I didn’t intend on sprinting for first place today. I had a bigger chance of losing seconds than I had of gaining some. Fortunately Greipel had a flat and Omega Pharma-Lotto didn’t feel like sprinting either.
Tomorrow’s track will be difficult, but the last really hard climb is too far removed from the finish line. But, of course, you never know with Philippe Gilbert.
Stage 5 result:
1. Matteo Bono (Lampre-ISD) 4:12:14
2. Sergey Renev (Astana) same time
3. Artem Ovechkin (Katusha) +0:03
4. Tomas Vaitkus (Astana) +0:06
5. Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) s/t
Stage 6: Sittard-Geleen, 201.2km
Edvald Boasson Hagen emphatically secured overall victory, winning the sprint at the end of the final stage by a country mile after his Sky team controlled the race superbly. Philippe Gilbert had to settle for second overall, 22 seconds behind, as the young Norwegian also secured the points and young riders’ classifications to clinch a hat-trick of jerseys.
The day’s stage starting and finishing in Sittard-Geleen covered much of the same route as the Amstel Gold one-day classic and featured 22 climbs in its 201km. 12 riders, including Boasson Hagen’s teammate Juan Antonio Flecha, formed the break of the day, allowing Sky to leave other teams to lead the chase as the group built a lead of four minutes. They were whittled down to five on the Doodeman climb with around 70km to go: Matt Wilson (Garmin-Cervélo), Matteo Trentin (Quick Step), Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM), David Tanner (Saxo Bank-Sungard) and the week’s perennial escape artist, Julien Fouchard (Cofidis). The five survivors gained a maximum advantage of 2:31 with 37km remaining and were subsequently joined by HTC-Highroad’s Bernhard Eisel, who had ridden off the front of the peloton.
However, with several teams showing an interest in ensuring a bunch sprint, the gap was soon trimmed back to one minute and allowed to hover around that mark, with the peloton always in control of the chase. Taylor Phinney launched a series of attacks in the final 10km in the hope of wrestling the final podium spot from David Millar, but Sky jumped firmly on every move to keep the leaders together and complete the catch of the breakaway with 4km to go. HTC’s Lars Bak counter-attacked almost immediately, building a lead of several seconds and forcing the pack to up its pace to prevent him from escaping completely.
Gilbert made one final bid for glory at around 2km, but with the gradient relatively shallow and Sky in determined mood, he soon realised he had no chance of slipping away and sat up, accepting that overall victory was beyond him. Bak led under the 1km banner with Katusha leading the chase on behalf of their sprinter Denis Galimzyanov, reeling him back in with around 500 metres to go. But as the leaders rounded the final left-hander, both Omega Pharma-Lotto’s Jurgen Roelandts and Galimzyanov ran wide and came off their bikes, bringing down or halting Phinney and several others. In the confusion, Boasson Hagen found himself alone at the front and was able to sprint unopposed to victory by close to ten lengths.
The 2009 and now 2011 Eneco Tour winner paid tribute to the hard work of his team in controlling the stage and closing down any potentially damaging attacks:
I only had one thing to do today and that was to keep an eye on Philippe Gilbert. My team did all the rest. The guys have been cycling at top level all week and today they were there for me. Without my team I would never have won the Eneco Tour. This is a very important stage race for me, so I’m very pleased to have the final victory.
He said that he had backed off slightly in the final corner, avoiding the accidents that befell several others:
I felt like Jurgen Roelandts was going a little too fast. I decided to slow down a bit and made it through the bend. Later on I realised the rider behind me also fell. Of course that made it an easy win.
Boasson Hagen was a worthy winner, proving to have the best combination of time-trialling, sprinting and climbing ability to take the overall win. For Gilbert, too many of the week’s toughest climbs were placed in the middle of stages rather than towards the end, and there were just not enough uphill finishes to compensate for his minor deficiencies against the clock. However, his efforts on Thursday’s queen stage animated the race and ensured a tight finish. Millar held on to third as the top five on general classification remained unchanged over the final two days. Overall, it was a good and interesting race which provided an ideal tune-up for several riders ahead of the Vuelta a España, which starts next weekend.
Stage 6 result:
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) 4:53:06
2. Manuel Cardoso (RadioShack) same time
3. Lars Boom (Rabobank) s/t
4. Grega Bole (Lampre-ISD) s/t
5. Damiano Caruso (Liquigas-Cannondale) s/t
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) 22:54:22
2. Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) +0:22
3. David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:28
4. Taylor Phinney (BMC) +0:35
5. Jos Van Emden (Rabobank) +0:57
1. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) 122 pts
2. Taylor Phinney (BMC) 85
3. André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 68
4. Grega Bole (Lampre-ISD) 66
5. Lars Boom (Rabobank) 56
Link: Official website
Eneco Tour recaps