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Eneco Tour 2015: Stage 1

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Live coverage of stage 1 of the Eneco Tour, 183 kilometres starting and finishing in Bolsward.

68km remaining from 183km

As we pick up the action inside the final 70 kilometres, a six-man group made up of Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin), Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Laurens de Vreese (Astana), Jesper Asselman (Team Roompot), Nico Denz (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and David Boucher (FDJ) has a lead of 2:12 over the peloton.

This sextet broke clear almost as soon as the flag was dropped this morning and built up a maximum lead of 7:30, but Lotto-Soudal and LottoNL-Jumbo, in particular, have put their shoulders to the wheel in the past hour of racing to whittle down their advantage.

It's a pan flat parcours in Friesland, at the northern extremity of the Netherlands, and André Greipel, Moreno Hofland, Giacomo Nizzolo, Sacha Modolo and Elia Viviani are among the fast men who will fancy their chances in a bunch sprint this afternoon.

60km remaining from 183km

The sextet's lead is clipped back to two minutes. The early part of today's stage saw the peloton hit the Wadden Sea coast but there was relief for many in the peloton when the feared high winds failed to materialise. The bunch remains intact behind the six leaders.

A curiosity of today's stage is to the so-called "Gouden Kilometer" or "Golden Kilometre" in the finale. With 23 kilometres remaining, the peloton will face three bonus sprints in the space of 1,000 metres, worth three seconds apiece. Introduced at the Tour of Belgium in May, it will add a real frisson of excitement to what has thus far been a relatively straightforward day of racing.

53km remaining from 183km

While the pure sprinters will expect to divide the spoils this afternoon, Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC) are among the riders kick-starting their World Championships preparation at the Eneco Tour. You can ride Sadhbh O'Shea's race preview here.

50km remaining from 183km

A crash in the middle of the peloton sees a number of riders hit the ground, including Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) and Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling).

Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) is among the riders caught behind the crash, and he is in a small group chasing back on.

46km remaining from 183km

Nathan Haas has been very generous in his efforts at the head of this breakaway group. His enterprise has helped the sextet to stretch their lead back out to 1:45.

44km remaining from 183km

As well as the golden kilometre bonus sprints, there are two Primus sprints, which go towards the points classification. Haas won the first in Sneek and he has just pipped De Vreese to the second sprint for good measure.

42km remaining from 183km

That sprint prime temporarily fractured the unity of this leading group and their buffer has suffered accordingly. The gap is now at 1:20, though Haas, Boucher et al appear to have re-established their working alliance since.

40km remaining from 183km

Boucher leads the break through the finish line in Bolsward for the second time. They have two laps of this finishing circuit to go. The bunch clips through a little over a minute down on the escapees.

Lotto-Soudal remain at the head of the peloton, with Stieg Broeckx particularly active. The Belgian squad seems keen to bring the escapees back ahead of the Golden Kilometre, which gets underway with 23.2km remaining.

35km remaining from 183km

The gap drops to 47 seconds as the pace begins to ratchet upwards in the peloton. As ever in the Netherlands, there's quite an array of road furniture on this finishing circuit, though mercifully the peloton has a couple of scouting laps before tackling it at full bore.

Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) takes over at the front with a little under ten kilometres to go to the trio of bonus sprints.

31km remaining from 183km

Haas, Boucher, Veuchelen, De Vreese, Asselman and Denz have 56 seconds in hand on the peloton. They're collaborating well, and giving themselves a fighting chance of staying clear to the Golden Kilometre.

If the six are brought back, it will be fascinating to see how teams approach the Golden Kilometre. Will Astana have Andrea Guardini contest three sprints in succession or will they save him for the inevitable bunch finish, and delegate a rouleur such as Lars Boom to have a go in the Golden Kilometre?

28km remaining from 183km

There is increasing nervousness in the peloton and a gentle right-hand turn triggers a spill at the rear of the bunch. Jerome Baugnies (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Lieuwe Westra (Astana) hit the ground, but they're both back up and giving chase.

26km remaining from 183km

The escapees still have 40 seconds in hand as they approach the Golden Kilometre, and they look set to contest the hat-trick of bonus sprints, worth 3, 2 and 1 second each to the first three across the line.

24km remaining from 183km

As the Golden Kilometre draws closer, the pace drops among the six leaders as they eye one another cautiously.

24km remaining from 183km

Veuchelen attempts to take a flyer before the first sprint but is brought back.

23km remaining from 183km

Nico Denz (Ag2r-La Mondiale) beats De Vreese to the first bonus sprint, then knocks off his effort and the leaders fan across the road.

Nathan Haas opens the second sprint, but he is overhauled by Asselman at the death.

22km remaining from 183km

De Vreese goes from distance to claim the third of the bonus sprints, while Denz comes though to take second place.

The end result of that troika of sprints is that only Haas, De Vreese, Denz and Asselman remain in front, and the stop-start nature of their efforts means that their lead over the peloton has dropped to just 21 seconds.

20km remaining from 183km

The four survivors approach the finish line with 14 seconds in hand on the peloton, which is being lead by a determind delegation from Lotto-Soudal.

18km remaining from 183km

The break's defiance has been petering out since that series of sprints. Denz tries to breathe life into their efforts but the catch is inevitable as the bunch hovers just behind.

16km remaining from 183km

Nathan Haas takes a flyer alone just as the break is swept up but the Australian surely won't last long off the front given his efforts thus far.

16km remaining from 183km

Haas is swept up, and the race is intact once again with a shade over ten miles remaining. A bunch sprint seems ineluctable at this point.

IAM Cycling and Sky joing the controlling efforts at the front of the peloton, while, as ever, Lotto-Soudal remain heavily represented.

13km remaining from 183km

A lot of teams who have hitherto been invisible begin to muscle their way towards the front. A delegation from Orica-GreenEdge moves up, as do Giant-Alpecin and Etixx-QuickStep.

12km remaining from 183km

A determined delegation from Sky is beginning to mass towards the front, with Ian Stannard prominent in support of Elia Viviani.

11km remaining from 183km

Bernhard Eisel sets the tempo on the front of the peloton for Team Sky. Behind, there is a real battle for position developing.

9km remaining from 183km

Heinrich Haussler, a faller earlier on the stage, is safely tucked in towards the head of the peloton. His IAM Cycling teammate Matthias Brandle moves up at the front of a train competing with that of Team Sky.

8km remaining from 183km

Danny Pate takes over from Eisel in the Sky train. The pace hasn't been so relentless as to line out the peloton, but it's been brisk enough to dissuade any attacks.

Tiesj Benoot was also a faller in the same incident as Haussler, and he, too, is safely in the thick of the action. The impressive neo-professional hits the front of the race at the head of the Lotto-Soudal train.

6km remaining from 183km

Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge) slides off as the peloton negotiates a roundabout. Sprinting duties at the Australian team in the finale will surely fall to Adam Blythe now.

5km remaining from 183km

There is still a certain caginess at the sharp end of this race. Lotto-Soudal, BMC, Sky, LottoNL-Jumbo and IAM Cycling are all massed at the front, but no one team has seized the initiative and wound up its train in earnest just yet.

4km remaining from 183km

Stannard takes over at the front and puts in a mammoth turn. Viviani is well-placed in fourth wheel.

4km remaining from 183km

Behind Sky, a phalanx of Lotto-Soudal riders are well-placed in support of Andre Greipel.

3km remaining from 183km

Sky continue to lead into the final three kilometres. Moreno Hofland has plenty of support from his LottoNL-Jumbo teammates a little behind them.

2km remaining from 183km

Andy Fenn is the only Sky rider left with Viviani and it's still a long way to the finish. It risks being a rather chaotic finale...

2km remaining from 183km

Lotto-Soudal surge to the front, eager to bring a modicum of order to proceedings.

1km remaining from 183km

Andre Greipel is battling stay in touch with his lead-out train but he seems to have lost touch.

Niki Terpstra surges to the front in the final kilometre, while a crash takes out a number of riders a few rows back...

It's set to be a decidely disorganised sprint, but Andre Greipel has somehow managed to navigate his way to the front from around ten wheels back...

Greipel hits out early in the sprint, overhauling Adam Blythe...

Elia Viviani and Giacomo Nizzolo come around Greipel...

Elia Viviani (Sky) wins stage 1 of the Eneco Tour.

In fact, that was Danny van Poppel of Trek Factory Racing who pushed Viviani all the way to the line, but the Italian just about held him off to take the win.

Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC) came through for third, while a fading Greipel had to settle for fourth.

Result:

1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
2 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
3 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
4 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
5 Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
6 Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
7 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica GreenEdge
8 Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
9 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team
10 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Roompot

General classification after stage 1:

1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky 4:06:08
2 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:04
3 Jesper Asselman (Ned) Team Roompot
4 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team 0:00:05
5 Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team 0:00:06
7 Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:08
8 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 0:00:10
9 Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
10 Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana Pro Team

"My team did amazing work in the last 20k to stay out of the crashes. Andy Fenn took me in the final kilometre and helped me to find the best wheel," Viviani says as he waits to mount the podium. "I went on Greipel’s wheel. He set out with 200 metres to go, very fast, and maybe he went too early. After a long gap without racing since the Giro, this is a perfect start to the second part of my season."

Viviani has raced sparingly since the Giro d'Italia, where he won the opening road stage to Genoa. His lone appearances since came in the European Games road race in Baku in June and the RideLondon Classic a week ago, but this victory augurs well for the remainder of his campaign - and, indeed, his winter on the boards in preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Thanks for joining our live coverage of the Eneco Tour this afternoon on Cyclingnews. A full report, pictures and results will follow here, and we'll be back with more tomorrow.

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