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BinckBank Tour 2018: Stage 7

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Stage 6 results: Muhlberger wins

A touch of the Classics for BinckBank Tour finale – Preview

Jan Ullrich and the long road home

 

Strap yourselves in for the final day of action at the BinckBank Tour. If yesterday was anything to go by, we're in for an action-packed finale to this Dutch/Belgian race. 

Before we discuss the GC battle and today's finale, a quick look at the current race situation. The battle to get into the breakaway has been big and a five-man group, which got away after 35km, was brought back. With 130km to go of this 215km stage, now have something that resembles the day's breakaway. Seven riders are up the road and hold a 3:40 advantage over the peloton behind. 

 

The seven men are: Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), Markel Irizar (Trek-Segafredo) , Jonas Rickaert (Sport Vlaanderen-Balois), Elmar Reinders (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Ludwig De Winter (WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic)

For now, things are calm in the peloton but we can expect an explosive finale with the overall classification at stake. Matej Mohoric did a sterling job of defending his jersey and he started today's stage with a 30-second advantage in the overall classification. 

 

1 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida 20:34:12
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:00:30
3 Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij 0:00:32
4 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb 0:00:34
5 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:35
6 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:36
7 Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:00:37
9 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:43
10 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:44

 

Today's stage is in the Flanders heartland and will take on some of its most famous climbs, including the Bosberg and the Muur van Geraardsbergen, where the race will finish today. The riders will take on the Muur a leg-sapping four times on the finishing loop. 

 

This image is one of the most iconic in the spring Classics, and cycling in general. 

 

Yves Lampaert was one of the most active riders in yesterday's stage. He is hoping to be in the mix today but he will have to push through a bit of pain after he crashed hard in the finish of yesterday's stage. Read the full story here.

 

There are 18 climbs in today's stage, compared to the 20 featured yesterday. However, the climbs are compacted into the finale, which will make for an even more challenging finish than that of yesterday. It is going to be a stern test of Mohoric's ability to hold onto his leader's jersey. 

 

The seven leaders have upped their advantage to 4:40 now with just under 100km to go.That is the halfway point passed and the average speed has been a tidy 46.5kph. 

 

Another rider that was particularly active yesterday was Tim Wellens, who went on a solo attack in the final 10 kilometres before he was brought back by a number of chasers. Will we see him on the move again today? Read what he had to say after yesterday's stage

 

With the crucial climbs quickly coming up, the peloton has upped the pace just a little bit to bring the breakaway back to a gap of four minutes. With the escape getting away from the break more often than not this week, they do not want this one to get out of hand. 

 

Of the seven up front, Dylan Groenewegen is the best placed at 2:57, making him the virtual race leader at the moment. It's unlikely that Groenwegen and co can keep the peloton that far behind them but the Dutchman has shown that he's climbing pretty well at the moment. He was well up there for much of yesterday's final, only losing touch in the closing kilometres. 

 

82km remaining from 215km

With just over 80 kilometres remaining of today's stage, the key part of the day is about to begin. Can someone unseat Mohoric or can the Slovenian hold on?

 

The riders have made their first ascent of the Muur with a number of different teams on the front, including UAE and Trek. 

 

The pace is pretty steady at the moment, but that's going to change in the coming kilometres. The gap to the leaders has already been brought back down to 1:47.

 

69km remaining from 215km

We have a chase group now that includes Chis Juul Jensen, Rudiger Selig and Alex Kirsch and there are more riders trying to link up with them. 

 

AG2R La Mondiale are leading the chase in the peloton. They have missed the initial break and the counter attack. 

 

Victor Campenaerts was one of those trying to follow the Juul-Jensen move and he is with that chase group. Importantly, Campenaerts is only 36 seconds down on Mohoric in the overall standings. 

 

63km remaining from 215km

The gap to the escapees continues to tick down as the counter attack is brought back. Campenaerts is not ready to give up and puts in another little dig. 

 

The current gap to the seven out front is 1:30. The pace in the break is looking fairly casual right now as AG2R continue to chase hard. 

 

Caleb Ewan misses a bottle from a staff member on the side of the road. The bottle was being held a little high and a replay shows the bottle spinning off into the distance as Ewan fails to get a grip on it. Meanwhile, Campenaerts has been brought back and Bahrain-Merida now lead the bunch. 

 

It will be interesting to see how many riders Bahrain-Merida can keep for this finale. Morhoric was on his own for quite a large portion of yesterday's finish and had to do all the chasing himself. He probably did more chasing than he needed to and he'd be better off playing it a bit calmer today to save as much energy as possible. 

 

On a short cobbled rise, the breakaway fractures as Van Keirsbulck pushes the pace. He has taken Irizar and De Vreese with him as the others are distanced. 

 

Irizar is not normally a man on this kind of terrain, but he can handle the climbs. Meanwhile, De Vreese and Van Keirsbulck are experienced hands in the Classics. 

 

Van Keirsbulck is set to move back to the WorldTour next season with the new CCC team. He used to ride with Quick-Step Floors but has been racing with Wanty-Group Gobert for the past two seasons. 

 

The leaders are onto the Muur again and as they pass the finish line, which is on the first part of the climb in Geraardsbergen, Van keirsbulck has dropped his two companions. 

 

The gap to the peloton is just over a minute as Van Keirsbulck hits the hardest part. Meanwhile, Cort and Valgren have attacked from the bunch. 

 

The peloton hits the hardest part of the Muur and things have broken into pieces. Valgren has caught up with Irizar while Cort has been distanced slightly. 

 

Van Keirsbulck is on the flat now and is pushing on. Behind, the peloton has blown to pieces. 

 

We have a small chasing group that contains Mohoric, Matthews, Naesen, Stybar and others. 

 

Mohoric has now attacked and is trying to distance his companions. The gap to Van Keirsbulck is down to 58 seconds. 

 

Mohoric is brought back and the main group has expanded but we have more attacks coming. 

 

Groups all over the pace again and an eight-man group is about to get caught by another slightly larger group. 

Valgren and two other riders have gone ahead of the reduced peloton, but the gap is very small right now. Van Keirsbulck has just 46 seconds on the pack behind. 

 

The main group looks to be around 20-30 riders. We haven't had confirmation of the full make-up of the group but it seems that all of the main contenders are up there. 

 

We have another counter attack from the peloton with Diego Ulissi. 

 

A huge group of riders have hauled their way up to this peloton and we now have a group that consists of closer to 50 riders. Meanwhile, we have an FDJ rider trying to chase down Ulissi. 

 

A few more riders joining in on this party. Nobody wants to feel left out but BMC Racing are working on the front and look to have this under control. 

 

Ulissi has been caught by the other attackers, one of which is Tom-Jelte Slagter. Campenaerts is now trying to bridge across. 

 

35km remaining from 215km

The Valgren group is just 28 seconds behind Keirsbulck while the Ulissi group is 1:12 back. 

 

An issue with the rear mech for Michael Valgren and he has to wait for the team car. Neutral service tries to give him a replacement but he doesn't want it. That's his move over. 

 

A massive shame for the Dane as his two former companions Martens and Rickaert catch Van Keirsbulck.

 

Stybar has launched a big attack from the bunch as the road goes up again. He quickly latches onto the chasing group. Meanwhile, Valgren is also in that group, having finally accepted the neutral service bike. 

 

29km remaining from 215km

Stybar was relentless yesterday and we can expect much the same from him in this final 30 kilometres. The three leaders have just 42 seconds on this chasing group. 

 

The riders in this chase group are, Valgren, Campenaerts, Stybar, Smith, Slagter, Juul-Jensen, Madouas and Devreindt.

 

Despite the power in this chasing group, they only have a slim margin on the peloton behind. Ulissi is the best placed of the riders at 1:07 with Stybar on 1:13. 

There are a few teams concerned with the make-up of that attack and Team Sunweb have put some riders on the front. Bahrain were doing some work but I can't see any of their riders with Mohoric now. 

 

We hit the Muur again and it's almost all together again. We can expect some fireworks here. 

 

Martens has kicked on from the lead group, dropping his companions. 

 

In the group behind, Campenaerts is putting in a huge effort. Almost upon them is the peloton with Scotson leading the way. 

 

The next time these riders see the Muur, they will be racing for the stage win. 

 

Martens struggling on the steeper part and Van Keirsbulck has brought him back.

 

In the bunch, Wellens is really driving up the climb and has caught all but Stybar and Valgren.

 

Wellens is now with Stybar and Valgren. Naesen is with him too and a couple of other riders. 

 

Mohoric has been distanced but he has time to get back up there. 

 

Mohoric has dug in deep and brought himself back to the Wellens group. Wellens is having nothing of it though and he's attacking again with Naesen. He's about to take back the two leaders. Meanwhile, Van Avermaet has been caught behind the split. 

 

Naesen attacks as they catch Martens and Van Keirsbulck. Wellens is distanced but he;s making his way back. Chasing them are Stybar and Matthews. 

 

Matthews is in second place and he only needs 30 seconds on Mohoric. He's taken one in the first golden sprint.

 

Stybar and Matthews are with Wellens and there is a third group of Stuyven, Valgren and Van Keirsbulck who are almost with them. 

 

The first two chase groups have come together but Matthews and Stybar have pushed on again briefly. They have Naesen in their sights. 

 

14km remaining from 215km

Naesen has just 13 seconds on the six riders behind him. However, we have no time check on Mohoric right now. 

 

We now get a visual of a large group of riders not too far behind this group of six. It is led by Kung and I can see Mohoric in there. It is a sizeable group of around 30 riders. 

 

12km remaining from 215km

The six-man chase move has been brought back by the larger chase group. It is just Naesen up the road now. The former Belgian champ has 25 seconds. 

 

Matthews keeping a watchful eye near the front of this group. Is he planning another attack?

 

Kragh Andersen attacks now and takes Mohoric with him. 

 

Kragh Andersen slows up pretty quickly. Is this a softening effort from Sunweb. Kragh Andersen is well up the GC too.

 

10km remaining from 215km

Valgren, still on the neutral service bike, attacks with Kragh Andersen. 

 

They are brought back but Kragh andersen goes again and the group is very much strung out. The riders are on a slight descent at the moment. 

 

8km remaining from 215km

While we have relentless attacks from the peloton, Naesen continues to plough a lonely furrow. He's got just 23 seconds with another climb and then the Muur to come. 

Bora-Hansgrohe now putting in some big work on the front. They have Bodnar in the top 10 in the GC at the moment and he will want to move up places in this finale.

 

7km remaining from 215km

Kung takes over and he has Van Avermaet in his wheel. The Belgian likely planning an attack on this penultimate climb. 

 

Naesen having to dig very deep to try and hold off the bunch behind. This is going to be a very tough ask as his lead drops to 17 seconds. 

 

Naesen's mouth is wide open as he begins the climb. He's having to dig incredibly deep. 

 

The group can see Naesen now and Stybar attacks

 

This is a huge attack from Stybar and he quickly shuts down Naesen's move. 

 

Stuyven leads another group of riders across to Naesen and Stybar. Mohoric is not one of them and he's chasing hard to get back on. 

This attack group is splitting up again and stybar, Matthews and Van Avermaet have a small gap. Mohoric has made it onto the group but he's struggling. 

 

That trio is caught and Stuyven attacks no. Stybar is chasing. 

 

Van Baarle has caught Stuyven. Stybar is almost there, along with one of the EF Education First riders. 

Van Baarle not happy with the others in the move and throws his arm up, Stuyven responds by attacking. This group of four has a very small gap on the peloton behind. 

 

It's all back together as th eriders pass under the flamme rouge

Mohoric is right up near the front now as we hit the bottom of the Muur

 

Mohoric has a small gap but Van Avermaet storms past him

 

Now it's Matthews at the front and he's driving to the line

 

Matthews takes the win

 

Van Avermaet crosses the line for second and Stybar takes third, yet again. 

 

There's only a couple of seconds in it but Mohoric should have kept his overall lead.

 

No confirmation of the GC just yet but Morhoric is in the tent by the podium and looks ready to go onto the podium so one can only assume he has won the overall title. 

 

A few words from an emotional stage winner.

 

"It’s incredible. We came here with a goal with the GC with me and Soren and the sprint with Max. We did a really good team effort this week and today was one of my really big goals this week. I wanted to finish it off in a really good way. Soren really sacrificed himself for me today. He was actually the leader of this race but he could see that maybe I had better legs in the final so he pulled the breakaway back to give me the best opportunity in the sprint. I’m just so happy to finish it off.

 

"[Mohoric] was just too strong. We tried everything, we had two riders to try and crack him but he played it really smart and there was not much more that we could do. We threw everything at him and I guess we have to be happy with second.

 

"It’s been a rocky season with a lot of bad luck, crashes and illnesses and this is just something I’ve been working hard for. I’m a little bit emotional that it finally came true and I got that victory that I was looking for. Next weekend, I have Plouay and then the Canadian races."

 

This is how it finished on today's stage.

 

1 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 04:38:36
2 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:01
3 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:03
4 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
5 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors
6 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7 Dion Smith (NZl) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
8 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors
9 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky
10 Jan Polanc (Slo) UAE Team Emirates 00:00:07

 

And here is the confirmation of the overall result. 

 

1 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida 25:13:01
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 00:00:05
3 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 00:00:20
4 Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Quick-Step Floors 00:00:25
5 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky 00:00:34
6 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:00:37
7 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb 00:00:39
8 Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:00:43
9 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors
10 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 00:00:50

 

This is what Mohoric had to say of his victory. 

 

"We tried really hard to defend the jersey, we rode really hard from the start to keep the breakaway in check. In the final, I tried to respond to all the attacks from the other guys. Michael Matthews and Kragh Andersen were really strong today and they attacked me many times but I always managed to come back. At the finish, I gave it my all until the line and it was very close but I was lucky enough to win.

 


"It was a really hard week of racing. After that successful breakaway, we defended the jersey every day. It was quite close on a couple of occasions but we defended it each day. We took it day by day and kilometre by kilometre and showed some really good team spirit, even if we might not be the strongest team in the race. We rode well together and in the end it worked out."
 

 

For a recap, results and photos from today's stage, head to our report here

 

 

With that image of Matthews taking victory, I bid you farewell from the 2018 BinckBank Tour. Thank you for following us this week and our live coverage will be back next week for the start of the Vuelta a Espana. Put it in your diaries. We'll have live coverage of every stage from start to finish. 

 

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