photo credits @ Eneco Tour
Elia Viviani got the Eneco Tour off to a perfect start for Team Sky with a well-timed sprint to win the opening stage.
The Italian rider was brought to the front of the peloton by his team-mates in the closing stages before finding the perfect wheel in Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol).
The big German kicked early but it was Viviani who emerged from his slipstream to take an impressive victory, fending off the late charge of Danny van Poppel (Trek Factory Racing) and Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC Racing) at the line.
That win moved Viviani into the both the race lead and the points jersey in Bolsward, with a four-second advantage overall courtesy of bonus seconds on the line.
Team Sky committed numbers to the front in the final 20 kilometers, keeping Viviani out of trouble on a day which was peppered with crashes.
Full of praise for his team-mates, Viviani explained the final run-in, saying: “We preferred to stay at the front to stay out of all the crashes. In the final kilometre Andy Fenn took me and put me on the best wheel. When I saw Greipel’s wheel I took that and I thought ‘okay I’m in a good position’.
“When he started to sprint he went very fast, and I thought, ‘now I wait a second and then I go’. I think I did 200 meters of a sprint. I had good legs in the final today and after a long gap without races following the Giro this is the best way to start a new second part of the season.”
Today’s victory marked the third win of the season for Viviani : “In the last 3km we had Ian Stannard, Chris Sutton and Andy Fenn. When they had finished their work Andy kept me at the left side.
“The plan is in the last kilometer to take the best wheel we can. We know Lotto have a big team for the lead-out train, the same for Lampre. So we knew one of these would be a good train and it turned out to be Lotto today.”
Today’s opening 183.5 kilometer stage kicked off on Dutch soil, saw a breakaway group containing Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Nathan Haas (Cannondal-Garmin), Jesper Asselman (Roompot Oranje Peloton), David Boucher (FDJ) and Nico Denz (Ag2r-La Mondiale), managed to stretch out a maximum gap of 7:45 before their advantage began to diminish.
Indeed, with 24 kilometers remaining, they were finally caught after the three intermediate sprints along the Golden Kilometer – four riders of the breakaway group managing to stay ahead of peloton until the final 17 kilometer mark.
The time bonuses earned on the Golden Kilometer kept De Vreese, Denz, Drucker and Haas all inside the top-10 on GC, despite finishing just behind the front group.
Viviani now sits in the overall race lead, with four seconds over Van Poppel.
Stage 1 Results
ITA 1 VIVIANI, Elia (SKY) 4:06:18
NED 2 VAN POPPEL, Danny (TREK FACTORY RACING)
LUX 3 DRUCKER, Jean-Pierre (BMC RACING)
GER 4 GREIPEL, André (LOTTO SOUDAL)
BEL 5 VANGENECHTEN, Jonas (IAM CYCLING)
ITA 6 GUARDINI, Andrea (ASTANA)
DEN 7 NIELSEN, Magnus Cort (ORICA GreenEDGE)
NED 8 HOFLAND, Moreno (LOTTO NL – JUMBO)
ESP 9 ROJAS GIL, Jose Joaquin (MOVISTAR)
NED 10 GROENEWEGEN, Dylan (TEAM ROOMPOT)
BEL 11 BOONEN, Tom (ETIXX – QUICK STEP)
BEL 12 JANS, Roy (WANTY – GROUPE GOBERT)
GER 13 ARNDT, Nikias (GIANT – ALPECIN)
ITA 14 FERRARI, Roberto (LAMPRE – MERIDA)
RUS 15 KUZNETSOV, Viacheslav (KATUSHA)
GER 16 SELIG, Rudiger (KATUSHA)
LTU 17 NAVARDAUSKAS, Ramunas (TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN)
FRA 18 DEMARE, Arnaud (FDJ)
NED 19 LOOIJ, André (TEAM ROOMPOT)
BEL 20 THEUNS, Edward (TOPSPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE)
General Classification after Stage 1
ITA 1 VIVIANI, Elia (SKY) 4:06:08
NED 2 VAN POPPEL, Danny (TREK FACTORY RACING) + 4
NED 3 ASSELMAN, Jesper (TEAM ROOMPOT)
BEL 4 DE VREESE, Laurens (ASTANA) + 5
GER 5 DENZ, Nico (AG2R LA MONDIALE)
LUX 6 DRUCKER, Jean-Pierre (BMC RACING) + 6
AUS 7 HAAS, Nathan (TEAM CANNONDALE – GARMIN) + 8
GER 8 GREIPEL, André (LOTTO SOUDAL) + 10
BEL 9 VANGENECHTEN, Jonas (IAM CYCLING)
ITA 10 GUARDINI, Andrea (ASTANA)
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