As expected, the first stage of the Eneco Tour, between Wieringerwerf and Hoogeveen, finished in a bunch sprint. And after a textbook leadout by Quick.Step's Wouter Weylandt and Steven de Jongh, it was world champion Tom Boonen powering to his 18th win of the season ahead of Simone Cadamuro (Milram) and Enrico Gasparotto (Liquigas). Boonen, who was fifth in the prologue, gained enough bonus seconds to take over the red leader's jersey from Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) as well.
"I hadn't counted on this win," Boonen remarked afterwards. "I planned to take it easy in the bunch. But I rode a great prologue and I couldn't let a chance of a victory go."
The stage saw a break containing Rik Reinerink (Skil-Shimano), Matthe Pronk (Unibet.com) and Koen Barbé (Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) stay clear until 12 km to go, after the sprinters teams combined to pull things back together. A late attack by Jose Ivan Gutierrez (Caisse d'Epargne) was unsuccessful in preventing a bunch sprint.
"There was a moment of hesitation in front of the bunch and I tried to make the best of it," explained Gutierrez. "I saw that there was a possibility to try something and I want immediately because it was the only way for me to win the stage. If you want to win, you have to try!
"I think I started just too early because at that moment I was looking for the right position. Maybe I would have had a better result if I attacked just a while later, but that’s easier said than done. Anyway I feel really motivated and I will keep on trying in the next stages."
Click here for the Full results, report & photos from stage 1.