Stage 3 of the ZLM Tour finished amid confusion in Landgraaf on Saturday after the race jury decided to finish the race a lap early after the police raised concerns about the level of traffic on the finishing circuit.
Jumbo-Visma continued their domination of the ZLM Tour as Amund Grøndahl Jansen won the 10-man sprint for stage victory while Mike Teunissen retained the overall lead, but the on-the-hoof decision to remove the final 10km lap was met with annoyance by the Lotto Soudal duo of Jasper De Buyst and Jelle Wallays, who were both part of the leading group in the finale.
Wallays showed his displeasure with the situation by raising both middle fingers as he crossed the finish line in 6th place on the stage, while his teammate De Buyst took to social media to vent his frustration at the situation, though he later deleted the post.
“@ZLM_TOUR really? This is so b * llshit! You call yourself a tour preparation race ?! You want to have final laps but it's full of traffic and then you start changing the final so we know from nothing! So dangerous,” De Buyst wrote on Twitter, according to Sporza.
Race director Jean-Paul van Poppel expressed disappointment that the route had to be altered at such short notice but explained that the organisers had no option but to do so. “As an organization we find it annoying that this decision had to be made, but the safety of the riders comes first," Van Poppel said. "We are going to evaluate this with the organization, so that hopefully this will no longer happen in the future."
A police motorcycle outrider had to be taken to hospital after crashing into a car that had turned onto the race circuit, though De Telegraaf reports that he did not sustain serious injury in the incident.
Van Poppel said that the race jury made its decision to remove the second of the two finishing laps on police advice and the news was relayed immediately to the riders in the first and second groups on the road.
“Halfway through the first local round, the jury decided on the advice of the police, who concluded that the course was insufficiently protected, to sprint. They made sure that all riders in the first and second group knew it was a sprint,” Van Poppel said, according to Wielerflits.
“We are now investigating how this could have happened. The crowds surprised us. It is Saturday afternoon, it may have just been the time when everyone wanted to drive home. It was hectic, we were right in the middle of it.”
Race leader Mike Teunissen said that he had spotted another car inadvertently driving onto the course during the race and he felt that it was the correct decision to finish the stage a lap earlier than anticipated.
“I don't know what happened today, but at least it was very chaotic," Teunissen said, according to De Telegraaf. "A car suddenly came across the street. He tried to turn around in a panic, but it didn't work out in one go. Well, that means that you are completely bothered by the road. Fortunately, we riders always pay attention and we can still avoid it. It is dangerous all week long in this stage race. However, this was too much of a good thing and I think the decision to shorten the ride has been very sensible.”
Saturday’s stage in the Limburg hills was the toughest of the ZLM Tour, and the winning move of 10 riders formed ahead of the finishing circuit after an attack from Maurits Lammertink (Roompot-Charles).
Grondahl Jansen won the uphill sprint in Landgraaf ahead of his teammate Teunissen, who carries a lead of 15 seconds over the Norwegian into Sunday’s concluding stage. Mads Schmidt Würtz (Katusha-Alpecin) lies third at 16 seconds, while De Buyst is fourth, a further 9 seconds back.