Fresh from winning the mountains classification at the Arctic Race of Norway, Tom Van Asbroeck continued his good form with his first victory in LottoNL-Jumbo colours. The Belgian warmed up with sixth on the opening stage of the Tour du Poitou-Charentes before out-sprinting Manuel Belletti (Wilier - Southeast) in Niort.
The 26-year-old, who won the Cholet-Pays De Loire and a stage of the Tour de Wallonie in 2014, had several top-ten results across this season before his stage win.
"I'm speechless," Van Asbroeck said. "I yearned for a win. The team supported me. They believed in my chances even more than I did.
"I had goose bumps because of the team's level. Bert-Jan Lindeman absolutely flew to the front straight through the wind in the final four kilometres of the race. When we only had 1.5 kilometres left, I still had four team-mates in front of me. That was when I thought, 'Damn, we're doing a great job!'
"I felt comfortable and that gave me a euphoric feeling. After Bert-Jan, Robert Wagner took the matters in his hands and Dennis van Winden brought us to the foot of the final hill afterwards. The pace Sep Vanmarcke set at that little uphill almost scared me. With 300 metres to go, he gave another knock at it. It was unbelievable, Sep is as strong as a bear."
Following strong work by his team, Van Asbroeck was at the head of the peloton coming into the final 100 metres when a crash on the right-hand side of the took brought down several riders and led to a scuffle once the fallen riders had crossed the line. Van Asbroeck avoided the tangle as he thew his arms up in triumph for the team's 15th win of the season.
"The team delivered a phenomenal performance and I should have been ashamed if I didn't finish it off. I wouldn't dare to show myself anymore," added Van Asbroeck.
Hutarovich breaks collarbone in Tour du Poitou-Charentes crash
Yauheni Hutarovich (Fortuneo Vital Concept) was the biggest casualty of the stage 2 finish line crash at Tour du Poitou-Charentes as he fell and broke his left collarbone. The 32-year-old was the last of the 135 riders to cross the line but abandoned the race once the break was revealed.
Hutarovich had placed ninth on stage 1 and was fighting for position in the sprint for stage 2 honours when he and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) both crashed heavily.
"Thank you for your support. Just broken left collarbone ..." Hutarovich tweeted after the stage. "Only damage is I am at the end my contract and we arrive at the end of the season ..."
Hutarovich joined the Pro-Continental squad in 2015, after five years with FDJ and two with AG2R-La Mondiale, taking four wins at the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo during his two years with Fortuneo Vital Concept.
Tour de l'Avenir stage win for John Rodriguez nets KOM jersey
Colombian John Rodriguez, 19, rode himself into the first leader's jersey of his career after taking out stage 5 of the Tour de l'Avenir ahead of Australian Michael Storer. Rodriguez, who rides for the Continental EPM–UNE–Área Metropolitana squad, also moved into the top-ten with teammate Daniel Felipe Martinez one second in arrears in tenth overall.
"I am delighted to win this stage and take the polka dot jersey. I have never lead a race, either in Colombia or elsewhere, and I hope to keep it until Saturday," Rodriguez told DirectVelo. "But if the opportunity arises, why not go for the yellow jersey?"
The Colombian team has 19-year-old Egan Arley Bernal (Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec) as the trump card for the overall classification but as the team has shown in the 'mini Tour de France' over the last few years, it's talent runs deep.
"There are very good riders here, all well prepared. With us, Egan Bernal can do something overall. I look forward to the mountains," added Rodriguez.