For the 3rd day in a row the Tour de Eurometropole was decided by a mass bunch sprint and today’s victor was Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen). The Cofidis duo of Michael Van Staeyen and Louis Verhelst secured 2nd and 3rd respectively.
The peloton were in a real hurry today and this showed in the 50km/h average speed during the first 75km today. Not surprisingly, no break was able to form during these fast opening stages. Eventually sanity prevailed and a group of 6 riders went clear with 72km left to race.
The 6 leaders were being held at a minutes lead by Lotto-Soudal and this constant small gap allowed 3 riders to jump across the gap with 35km to go. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were biding their time in the peloton as the African team rode in support of Theo Bos once again.
Lotto-Soudal and AG2R La Mondiale continued the chase, always keeping the pressure on the 9 riders up front. With 15km to go our MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung boys came to the front to extinguish the final 30 second advantage the break had. Andy Stauff and Jayde Julius would do a stellar job with some really powerful pulls on the front in particular.
With 4km to go our African team along with some help from Tinkoff-Saxo, had put in the hard yards to bring the race all back together. It was now a big fight for position as multiple teams came to position their sprinters in the front. In the end it was Theuns who was able to surf from train to train and take the win. Theo would get swamped during the narrow final km and was boxed in by the 30 odd riders in front of him.
Jean Pierre Heynderickx – Sport Director
It was a really fast race right from the beginning. We tried to go in the early break but it was just too hard at the start, we had averaged 49km/h for the first 2 hours. The break only got a small gap, maybe a minute because there were so many teams willing to control for the sprint. Our guys came to the front on the last local lap, trying to set up Theo for the sprint. It didn’t work out for Theo and he couldn’t do his sprint. His legs are good though and tomorrow can be another chance. There is climb in the local lap tomorrow but I believe Theo can get over it so we try again.