Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) won the opening stage of the Worlds Ports Classic after out sprinting Alexander Porsev (Katusha) and Theo Bos (Belkin). Kristian Sbaragli was our highest placed finisher at the line in 13th position.
The opening stage saw a fast start with attacks right from the gun. After just 6km of racing the break of the day would form with Andreas Stauff from Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung joining Ronan Van Zandbeek (Cyclingteam de Rijke) and Dries Hollanders (Metec) on the attack. This would prove to be an important move for Stauff as he was able to pick some bonus seconds at the intermediate sprint, placing him 5th on General Classification at the end of the day.
The 3 escapees were reeled in with still 40km to race but this worked out nicely for Stauff as the peloton had already shelled a number of riders making it easier to stay in the bunch after the kilometers spent on the attack. Coming into the finish it was a going to be a bunch gallop and Sbaragli was the designated man. With quite a bit of wind in the finale the fight for position was intense and Sbaragli started his sprint from quite some way back and so would end the day in the 13th place.
Rider – Andreas Stauff
It was quite an unexpected and unusual tactic for me today. I never go into breakaways at the beginning of a race and the last time I did that was back in 2010 in the Tour of Romandie.
There was a chance to get 3 seconds in the intermediate sprint and then try to save energy to catch the first group to get to the finish. The bunch split like expected in the crosswinds and when the first group came across I immediately went in and rode through the echelon. We dropped my breakaway companions and were down to maybe 15-20 riders, but then we had to stop at a railway because a train was coming just as we arrived. The bunch came back together and it was all done for the rest of the race. I was caught behind a crash just before the 2nd sprint and 3 riders could jump away and get the bonuses, so I’m 5th in the GC now.
In the finale we tried to place Kristian in a good spot for the sprint but we were a bit packed with the headwind spreading the peloton all over the road. I’m really sorry for him because he did a exceptional sprint but started in a really bad position.
Tomorrow there is a bonus sprint after 15km and the peloton usually stays together until there, so I’ll try to get some seconds again to hold my spot on the GC. It’s a more technical finale in Rotterdam and the team did a good lead out there last year and will try to do the same again.
World Ports Classic (Netherlands) – (24-25 May/UCI 2.1) Team Lineup
Staff: Michel Cornelisse (Directeur Sportif), Jens Zemke (Directeur Sportif), Bastian Buffel (Soigneur), Yvonne Houweling (Soigneur), Heiko Heinrici (Mechanic), Werrner Lenk (Mechanic)