Welcome to live coverage of the opening stage of the 2018 BinckBank Tour
Welcome to the opening day of action at the BinckBank Tour. The riders are on their way with five riders getting the jump on the peloton. For a full look at what to expect this week, take a look at Ellis Bacon's preview.
The riders in the breakaway are: Dimitri Peyskens (WB Aqua Protect-Veranclassic), Thomas Sprengers (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Manuele Boaro (Bahrain-Merida), Julius Van den Berg (EF Education First) and Elmar Reinders (Roompot)..
95km remaining from 177km
With just under 100km to go, the leaders have around 3:30 on the peloton.
Today is expected to be a sprint finish, but it is typically windy out there so it is far from a foregone conclusion. There's also plenty of rain out there.
Outside of this week's racing, there has been plenty of debate over the routes announced for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. We spoke to the UCI, Annemiek van Vleuten and Gracie Elvin about it, and you can read what they said here.
Here is a picture of the breakaway earlier on today, before the rain began to fall.
It really is cats and dogs out there and the riders will have to be cautious, particularly with the plentiful road furniture. There was similar weather for the European Championships in Glasgow yesterday and we saw a number of crashes.
80km remaining from 177km
The gap to our plucky quintet remains at 3:30. It is a comfortable gap for the peloton with still 80 kilometres to go.
I mentioned Glasgow before and there are a few riders who have made the journey from Scotland to Friesland for the BinckBank Tour. Xandro Meurisse is one of them. He played an important part in helping Wout Van Aert make the podium. Scott Thwaites is here too after racing in the European Champs, as is Dries Van Gestel, David Cimolai and Ben Swift, among others.
My apologies, but I have left one rider out of today's breakaway. Dries De Bondt is also in the move for Veranda's Willems Crelan, making it a six-man move.
Courtesy of the Astana team, this is what it looks like out there.
Four past winners of the BinckBank Tour (previously Eneco Tour) are in the peloton today. Niki Terpstra (2016), Lars Boom (2012), Tim Wellens (2015 and 2014) and Zdenek Stybar (2013) are all here. It is just last year's winner Tom Dumoulin missing from the past six editions, as he prepares for the Vuelta a Espana.
63km remaining from 177km
The leaders are passing through the feed zone right now and their gap has dropped to 1:47. That will likely go back up when the peloton reaches the same point.
Yves Lampaert battles with a gilet. It might be pouring it down, but he doesn't want to be bothered with sleeves.
We've got a crash in the bunch with Yousif Mirza has done down with Logan Owen, who looks pretty battered and bloodied. A touch of wheels probably. Lots of riders have to take to the grass to avoid them.
The escapees are now onto the local laps of today's course. They will do three laps of a 20km loop.
56km remaining from 177km
The rain is still falling but it looks a little less torrential. The gap to the six up front continues to fall and currently stands at 1:32.
It still looks like the sprinters will duke it out in the finale today. There are a few of the big-name fast men missing from the line-up today but there are still a strong list of sprinters out there to contest the finish. Possible contenders today are: Marcel Kittel, Michael Matthews, Caleb Ewan, Dylan Groenwegen, Fabio Jakobsen, Chris Lawless, Kristoffer Halvorsen, Jempy Drucker, Magnus Cort (another rider who was in Glasgow yesterday), Jens Debusschere, Ryan Gibbons and Ben Swift.
A mechanical problem for Tim Declercq but he gets a quick bike change and he is sent back on his way. He will be an important person for Quick-Step Floors in helping to control the peloton. Their man today is Jakobsen, who has had a superb debut pro season so far.
A few riders end up going the wrong way at a split in the road, thankfully they are able to turn back onto the course quickly enough without having to turn around.
The rain is really hammering it down as Svein Tuft sets the pace. Declercq had been working on the front prior to his mechanical.
A bit of a mishap for Martin Tusveld as he tries to shove some rain gear down the back of his jersey. He loses his balance slightly and the kit ends up on the wet tarmac.
It doesn't look like the rain plans to stop any time soon. Even if it did, the roads are going to be very slippy in the final. Mercifully, it is a relatively straight run into the finish, but there is still a high chance of incident.
Mirza at the back of the peloton after his earlier fall. No news on Owen at the moment.
41km remaining from 177km
De Bondt takes the points at the intermediate sprint. The breakaway chugs along but their gap is a paltry 1:25 at this point.
Two laps to go of this finishing circuit. The peloton passes through the finish line for the second time. They're taking things comparatively easy right now with LottoNL, Quick-Step and Mitchelton-Scott all putting riders at the front.
Reinders takes the next sprint with De Bondt in second, which means he now moves into the lead of the combativity award.
If you missed the news earlier, Mitchelton-Scott announced that Adam Yates will be joining his brother Simon at the Vuelta a Espana later this month. Read the full story here.
A puncture in the bunch for Stijn Steels. He's riding along as he waits for his team car. Meanwhile, the front of the bunch is being hit by some cross winds and the group is beginning to break up. Some signs of echelons beginning to form.
31km remaining from 177km
The group turns and things begin to come back together but the pace is much higher now. Tuft is once again on the front and the gap to the escapees has dropped to 58 seconds.
AG2R La Mondiale are also muscling their way to the front. They have Rudy Barbier in their line-up as a potential contender.
With conditions like this, it's not going to be a straightforward sprint, so we could see someone like Barbier springing a surprise on the bigger names in the pack.
A problem for Roger Kluge, he's looking back for the team car. He's Caleb Ewan's last man.
Kluge is expected to join Ewan at Lotto Soudal next year but that has not been announced just yet.
25km remaining from 177km
The leaders misjudge a roundabout and a couple of them have to take a slip road. Everyone is upright and ok, though, and they carry on their merry way. The gap remains at 50 seconds for the escapees.
The leaders are fast approaching the final lap but first they have the golden kilometre, three sprints in the space of a kilometre.
Peyskens takes the first but Van den Berg attacks
He's brought back and it's Asselman that takes the points on the second
Asselman took the third sprint and it was De Bondt who took the second. Meanwhile, Gruzdev takes a fall and he looks like he took a hard bump.
A replay shows that Gruzdev ran into the back of a rider in front of him and then speared off into the grass. Thankfully, he came to a halt before he ended up in a ditch.
18km remaining from 177km
The riders are onto the final lap and the peloton has really sprung into action with the gap coming down to 27 seconds.
Trek-Segafredo are on the front with Ryan Mullen, while Reinders stops in the breakaway with a puncture.
16km remaining from 177km
Just 16 seconds for the escapees now and they'll be able to see the peloton over their shoulders soon enough.
A crash for Janse Van Rensburg on a roundabout. He's up and going quickly.
Payskens is the next rider from the breakaway to be dropped, but the peloton is almost upon the leaders now and it won't be long before they're all caught.
13km remaining from 177km
The peloton is really strung out here with the breakaway just metres away from being caught.
De Bondt and Boaro shake hands and the break is finally brought back. It's gruppo compatto with just over 10km remaining.
Guillaime Van Keirsbulck (who is moving to CCC next season) moves to the front for Wanty-Groupe Gobert. They have Timothy Dupont for the finish today. What sort of impression can he make?
Another crash for an Astana rider, this time its Magnus Cort and he's gone down with Rick Zabel. A big blow for both of them.
Cort would have been very much in the mix at the finish and Zabel is an important rider for Kittel, and the team's plan B.
8km remaining from 177km
Jan-Willem Van Schip has attacked off the front of the bunch and he's got a small gap but the peloton look like they have this under control.
Van Schip does look like he's pulling out the gap slightly, but the peloton is not going full gas to chase him down. Can he surprise them and hold it all the way? I wouldn't put money on it, but you never know.
6km remaining from 177km
We get a time check for Van Schip. His gap is just 12 seconds.
This isn't for show from Van Schip, he really is laying it out there but the peloton is bringing him back now.
Van Schip has been brought back and we're just about to enter the final three kilometres.
Michael Matthews has been put on the front for Team Sunweb. The team are perhaps working for Theuns today.
Lots of teams coming up and Kluge is trying to get through the middle with Ewan. Kluge has a chunk out of his jersey and he mist have hit the deck at some point today.
Into the final kilometre
Jakobsen takes up the sprint and it looks like he's taken it.
There was a crash in the bunch in the final kilometre as a couple of riders touched wheels.
Jakobsen congratulated by his team as he makes his way back towards the podium. That was a strong sprint by the young Dutchman.
It looks like it was Marcel Kittel in second and Caleb Ewan in third, so that's some pretty elite company that Jakobsen beat.
One of the Katusha riders that went down in that crash is being tended to by medics. We do hope that he is ok but it looks as if he's being prepared to be placed in an ambulance and taken to hospital.
The crash appears to have been sparked by a Roompot rider touching wheels with another rider, before veering across the road into a Bora-Hansgrohe rider.
Here is the top 10 from today's stage.
1 Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Quick-Step Floors 04:01:00
2 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
3 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
4 Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Sky
5 Max Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb
6 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
7 Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
8 Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
9 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
10 Riccardo Minali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
As it was a Quick-Step rider that took the spoils today it seems like a good opportunity to tell you about the documentary we made with Quick-Step Floors at last month's Tour de France. It's a steal at just $5.99 or $3.99 to rent. You can find all the details here.
Jakobsen was clearly delighted with his victory and this is what he had to say about his ambitions for the remainder of the race.
"To try to win another stage and go for the GC with the team [are my objectives this week]. With Niki [Terpstra] and Zdenek [Stybar] we have two guys who have already won the BinckBank Tour and with Yves Lampaert we have another option too in the end."
Thanks to bonus seconds, Jakobsen leads Kittel by four seconds in the overall standings while Reinders is in third due to the bonus seconds he earned in the golden kilometre.
1 Fabio Jakobsen (Ned) Quick-Step Floors 04:00:50
2 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin 00:00:04
3 Elmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij 00:00:05
4 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:06
5 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:07
6 Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic
7 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida 00:00:09
8 Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
9 Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Sky 00:00:10
10 Max Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb
Meanwhile, Katusha-Alpecin has confirmed the rider down in that crash was Viacheslav Kuznetsov. Let's hope that it is nothing too serious for him.
Jakobsen steps off the podium and jumps the barriers to give his flowers to a lady in the audience, his mother perhaps?
Dries De Bondt also gets a trip to the podium after taking the lead in the combativity competition.
Results, report and photos from today's stage can be found here.
The Crescent Vargarda road race is about to get underway and we'll and a report from that later. Get up to speed with our preview, here.
Worth noting that today's win is the 54th for the Quick-Step team, well ahead of the next best Team Sky. How many can they take this week?
Here is a brilliant shot of today's finish, which will give you a small idea of how close it was.
That is all from our live coverage of today's opening stage of the BinckBank Tour. Tune in tomorrow for more.
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