photo credits @ Twitter
FDJ’s Arnaud Demare claimed stage 2 of this year’s Baloise Belgium Tour today.
With the exception of Jelle Vanendert, who abandoned the race today due to illness, riders faced a rather lumpy 201 kilometer stage from Knokke-Heist to Herzele.
With Matthias Brandle still looking after a two second lead of the race, second placed Rohan Dennis got into a break along with Habeaux, Joeaar, Stevens and Vingerling.
At one point, the break had created 2:35 advantage over the peloton, as they started on the first lap of a circuit which included the Valkenberg, Leberg, Berendries, Paddestraat and Lippenhovestraat climbs and cobblestones.
With 54 kilometers remaining, the leaders were caught by the peloton which had split into two groups. The first contained approximately 45 riders and saw a number of attacks including one by Thomas DeGendt along with Oliver Naesen and Vicente Reynes which was fifty six seconds ahead going into the final forty kilometers of the stage.
On the Valkenberg climb, De Gendt was dropped and with less than twenty kilometres to go, Naessen and Reynes had a lead of a minute.
With the duo only 19 seconds clear, Jurgen Roelandts attacked on the Paddestraat section of cobbles. Etixx Quick Step and Lotto Soudal worked and with 8.9kms left, all the escapers were back in the bunch.
Steve Chainel attacked with eight kilometers to go but was caught and Benoot, Van Avermaet, Leukemans and Claeys from Verandas Willems took over with a ten second lead going into the final four kilometres.
With everyone caught during the final 1.6 kilometers, the race began shaping up for a sprint finale.
From there, Jurgen Roelandts proceeded to roll out his sprint, but then came FDJ’s Arnaud Demare, who was able to seize the win.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s winner, Tom Boonen finished in 2nd place, followed by Jurgen Roelandts, Van Asbroeck and Mathieu van der Poel.
Matthias Brandle still keeps grip on the overall race lead.
Top 20 Finishers
1 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr 4:43:39
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
3 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
5 Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) BKCP-Powerplus
6 Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot Oranje Peloton
7 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8 Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 0:00:02
9 Gaetan Bille (Bel) Verandas Willems Cycling Team
10 Dennis Coenen (Bel) Vastgoedservice – Golden Palace Continental Team
11 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
12 Antoine Demoitie (Bel) Wallonie – Bruxelles
13 Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
14 Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
15 Nicolas Vereecken (Bel) Team 3M
16 Olivier Pardini (Bel) Verandas Willems Cycling Team
17 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
18 Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha
19 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
20 Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty – Groupe Gobert
1 Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling 9:10:56
2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr 0:00:06
3 Gaetan Bille (Bel) Verandas Willems Cycling Team
4 Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:09
5 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
6 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:11
7 Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) BKCP-Powerplus 0:00:19
8 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step
9 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal 0:00:21
11 Oliver Naesen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 0:00:22
12 Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 0:00:23
13 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice – Golden Palace Continental Team
14 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 0:00:25
15 Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
16 Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 0:00:26
17 Olivier Pardini (Bel) Verandas Willems Cycling Team
18 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
19 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:28
20 Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:31
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