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Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the first road stage of the 2010 Eneco Tour. The 177km stage is from Steenwijk to Rhenen in the Netherlands. It is expected to finish in a bunch sprint.
The 177km stage has been dominated by a three rider break but the peloton has never let them get away.
Pavel Brutt (Katusha) Albert Timmer (Skil-Shimano) attacked early in the stage and were later joined by the Italian Adriano Malory (Lampre-Farnese Vini). They built a solid lead of almost three minutes but the peloton is now chasing hard, with several teams taking over from Garmin-Transitions, who were protecting Svein Tuft's overall race lead.
Crash! The bunch has been delayed by a big pile-up. Gianni Meersman (Francaise des Jeux) is still on th ground and may be out of the race.
The race is on country lanes with lots of turns today. Hence the high risk of crashes.
Fortunately the sun is now shining after the rain and wind of Tuesday's prologue stage.
Michael Barry (Team Sky), Richie Porte and Jens Voigt ( Saxo Bank) are chasing hard to recatch the peloton after the crash. The peloton is not waiting for them as the speed gets faster and faster.
Another 90 degree turn and the peloton is lined out. The chasers are still in the team cars. There are others with Voigt, Porte and Barry but they're struggling in the traffic.
Here come Milram, with three riders on the front of the peloton. There is a slight crosswind and so the riders are fighting for position.
Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is chasing. He's not at his best after taking a break following his excellent Tour de France.
The gap to the trio in the break is coming down rapidly but the chasers are still off the back.
The break is passing through the finish area for the first time and the climber's will be disappointed to see that the final 500 metres kick up quite significantly.
The gap is now just 50 seconds. But will the sprinter's teams chase after seeing the finish?
Garmin are back on the front, perhaps riding for Robbie Hunter.
The overhead shots show the constant movement in the peloton. Riders are coming up on the outsides and then fighting for position at the front, while dodging the traffic furniture.
Crash! Lampre-Farnese Vini rider Matteo Bono has crashed and is rolling around in pain. He seemed to tangle with Alberto Ongarato (Vacansoleil) and dragged each other off the road. Ongarato rolled down the grass vege but seemed okay.
Rabobank are now leading the peloton and the gap is still going down.
The peloton is one long line now as the corners stretch the field.
The wind seems to be playing a vital factor. When the wind drops or the peloton is protected, the pace eases. Then after a corner, the sidewind kicks in and the pace goes balistic.
Tom Leezer (Rabobank) has crashed at a roundabout after he tried to go one way and another rider went in the other.
The peloton has eased after the crash and that has helped the breakway trio up front. Will they be caught?
The speed goes back up as Vacansoleil move to the front. This is going to be a really nervous finish.
The peloton is racing on half the road with the rest full of traffic on a closed off lane.
The gap is down to 20 seconds now.
Now it is time for the final 90 degree corners that will shuffle the pack. This finish is more like a Belgian kermesse.
The peloton can see the trio now but they're not giving up yet.
That's it, the peloton is back together. The trio has been caught but now Rabobank are trying to split the bunch in the cross winds.
The peloton is one long line and could split unless they turn quickly and get out of the wind. This is classic Dutch racing.
Riders are getting shelled out of the back like peas falling out of a pod. Speed bumps are adding to the chaos.
HTC-Columbia and Team Sky are positioning themselves near the front.
Tony Martin (HTC-Columbia) is on the front and squeezing the peloton in the ditch as the sidewind blows and stretches out the field.
Almost time for the sprint.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) takes a flyer.
He's gone too early and is passed before the line.
The sprinters flicked to the other side of the road and Robbie Mcewen (Katusha) wins the sprint.
McEwen timed his effort perfectly on the tough finish. It was climbing but had the late speed to win.
JJ Haedo (Saxo Bank) and Allan Davis (Astana) got second and third.
McEwen confirmed to Cyclingnews that he will race for another season in 2011 but has yet to reveal if he will stay with Katusha or change teams. His names has been linked to the Fly V Australian team that is applying for a ProTour licence in 2011.
A slight correction to the provisional results. It was Lucas Sebastian Haedo from Saxo Bank that finished second behind McEwen.
Provisional stage result:
1. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha 178km in 4:16:35
2. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank
3. Allan Davis (Aus) Astana
4. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo
5. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto.
We are still awaiting confirmation on the overall leader of the race.
That's all from the Cyclingnews live coverage of today's first road race stage at the Eneco Tour. We'll have a full report, a gallery of photographs and full results very shortly.
Thursday's 210km stage 2 is from Rucphen in the Netherlands to Ardooie in Belgium. There wil lbe live coverage yet again here on Cyclingnews.