On paper, the flat opening stage of the 2016 Eneco Tour was one for the sprinters with Marcel Kittel looking for his 13th victory of the season and an opportunity to send a message to the German selectors ahead of next month's World Championships.
However the messy sprint worked against the Etixx-QuickStep lead out train as Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) pulled off an upset victory ahead of Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) with Kittel boxed in for the narrow finish.
"I was hoping for more, but I can't say I'm disappointed. The stage finale was super fast and hectic, as all the sprinters tried to be at the front," Kittel said of the stage in which he finished ninth.
"Tom [Boonen] did a great job in protecting me, Matteo [Trentin] was also there, and after their work was done, I jumped from wheel to wheel and took the one of Boasson Hagen."
The nine-time Tour de France stage winner added that he was aiming to launch just as Trek-Segafredo's Giacomo Nizzolo made a move that closed the door and ended any aspirations he had of taking the victory.
"My plan was to sprint with 250 meters to go, but Nizzolo came from the right and brought several riders with him, blocking my way. I had no more space, and it's a real pity, because I was feeling great and still had enough power to do a good sprint," added Kittel.
Etixx-QuickStep will aiming for better luck in the 9.6km stage 2 time trial around Breda with three-time world champion against the clock Tony Martin and Luxembourg champion Bob Jungels both tied on time with the majority of the peloton and well placed for the victory or stint in the white leader's jersey.
Cyclingnews will have live coverage of the Eneco Tour all week, followed by a full stage report with results and photos.
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