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Eneco Tour 2015: Stage 3


Live coverage of stage 3 of the Eneco Tour, 171.9 kilometres from Beveren to Ardooie.

65km remaining from 171km

As we pick up the action a little over 100 kilometres into the stage, a three-man break made up of David Boucher (FDJ), Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) has a lead of 3:21 over the peloton.

After two days in the Netherlands, the peloton is in Belgium for today's stage of the Eneco Tour, but it's followed a very similar script. The break went early, without much of a struggle and quickly built up a lead. The Roompot-led peloton is now steadily going about the business of pegging them back ahead of the seemingly inevitable bunch sprint.

60km remaining from 171km

Roompot, of course, are defending the overall lead of Jesper Asselman, who picked off enough bonus seconds in yesterday's "Golden Kilometre" to divest Elia Viviani of the white and red jersey. The top ten overall was as follows as the stage began:

1 Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot Oranje Peloton 8:18:55
2 Andre Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 0:00:05
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
4 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
5 Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team Katusha
6 Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
7 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team 0:00:10
8 Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
9 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team 0:00:11
10 Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick Step

Today's Golden Kilometre comes with 25 kilometres remaining, with three bonus sprints worth 3, 2 and 1 seconds to the first three across the line, all in the space of 1,000 metres.

54km remaining from 171km

There's relative détente in the main peloton for now, but we can expect Lotto-Soudal and Etixx-QuickStep to be prominent in setting up competing trains for Andre Greipel and Tom Boonen as we approach the finale in Ardooie.

Greipel looked to be suffering from something of a Tour de France hangover when he faded to fourth on stage 1, but he roared back in defiant fashion in Beveren yesterday. Lotto-Soudal delivered a pitch-perfect lead-out, with young Tiesj Benoot very prominent. This is what Greipel had to say about his 14th win of the 2015 campaign.

50km remaining from 171km

Boucher, Veuchelen and Theuns enter the final 50 kilometres with 3:11 in hand over the main peloton.

The finish in Ardooie is a staple of the Eneco Tour, and a rather notorious one at that. Twelve months ago, Zdenek Stybar crashed out of the race after he was forced into the barriers in the finale.

48km remaining from 171km

Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar) and Hugo Houlet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) both take a tumble after a touch of wheels in the peloton following a sharp right-hand turn.

Houle quickly remounts and carries on, despite some cuts to his shoulder. Izaguirre, meanwhile, remains lying on the road, and is being attended to by his team doctor.

46km remaining from 171km

A line of orange-clad Roompot riders continue to lead the peloton, a shade over three minutes down on the escapees. Incidentally, the team has today confirmed the arrival of Pieter Weening from Orica-GreenEdge for the 2016 season.

Incidentally, some Roompot riders have been using disc brakes as part of a UCI-mandated test on this Eneco Tour, and Sky's Bernard Eisel is also trialling disc brakes in competition this afternoon.

42km remaining from 171km

Landing parties from the sprinters' teams are steadily beginning to navigate their way towards the head of the bunch. The pace has yet to wind up in earnest, but the break's gap has dropped to 2:35.

Movistar have confirmed that Gorka Izaguirre has abandoned the Eneco Tour and will be taken to hospital for further assessment.

Today's finale is on a 15-kilometre finishing circuit, to be covered twice, meaning that the bunch will pass through the finish area for the first time with 30 kilometres to race.

37km remaining from 171km

There has been a definite injection of pace in the peloton over the past 10 kilometres and the gap drops to two minutes. The escapees out to stay clear and hoover up all of the bonuses in the Golden Kilometre but they won't survive much further than that.

35km remaining from 171km

Edward Theuns out-sprints Frederik Veuchelen to claim the Primus Combativity Sprint, which carries no bonus seconds but does offer the winner his weight in beer at the end of this race...

The Lotto-Soudal team of André Greipel has yet to take up the reins but they will surely be to the fore once the race hits the finishing circuit. The German has already won in Ardooie in 2010 and 201, and is targeting a hat-trick this afternoon.

30km remaining from 171km

Speak of the Red Devils... Lotto-Soudal swarm to the head of the peloton on the first approach to Ardooie and the pace stiffens a little further. Th bunch crosses the finish line for the first time just 1:15 down on the break.

An update on Gorka Izaguirre's condition from Movistar directeur sportif Jose Luis Jaimerena. "Gorka was conscious, reacting to our questions, but took a blow to the head. They've immobilized him and taken him away by ambulance, as a precaution. For now, we don't know any more," he said, according to the team's Twitter account.

28km remaining from 171km

Veuchlen, Theuns and Boucher are continuing to collaborate smoothly, but the Golden Kilometre will likely shatter that unity. They'll be doing well to retain much more of their 1:08 lead after those 1,000 metres.

25km remaining from 171km

Theuns beats Veuchelen to the first bonus sprint and then continues his effort to solo clear and claim the second.

Theuns puts his head down and picks up the three seconds at the third sprint for good measure.

24km remaining from 171km

Veuchelen bridges back up to Theuns at the head of the race, 45 seconds clear of the peloton. Boucher, meanwhile, looks set to be swept up by the bunch.

Orica-GreenEdge and Trek Factory Racing have sent delegations to the front of the peloton, and they duly pick up the soft-pedalling Boucher. Just Theuns and Veuchelen remain up the road.

21km remaining from 171km

Theuns and Veuchlens must know the game is almost up. Their advantage drops rapidly to 15 seconds.

20km remaining from 171km

Theuns and Veuchelens are caught by the main. Gruppo compatto.

BMC, with Jean-Pierre Drucker in mind, are among the teams massed at the head of the peloton.

20km remaining from 171km

Shortly after the early escapees are swept up, Nathan Haas (Cannondale-Garmin) clips off the front alone. The Australian could do with some company if he is going to be able to defy the odds here.

18km remaining from 171km

Haas gamely ploughs on alone, with a gap of 7 seconds over the peloton, but the Australian surely won't survive out there for long as Orica-GreenEdge give chsae.

17km remaining from 171km

Haas is pegged back by the peloton as they approach Ardooie for the penultimate time, and take the bell for the final lap of the finishing circuit.

Orica-GreenEdge lead the bunch through the sweeping combination of bends ahead of the final kilometre.

Orica-GreenEdge lead the bunch through the sweeping combination of bends ahead of the final kilometre.

14km remaining from 171km

Trek Factory Racing take over on the front in support of Danny van Poppel. The Dutchman is one of five riders just five seconds off Asselman's overall lead.

A number of competing trains are looking to marhsal their fast men into position ahead of the inevitable sprint, with Trek, Orica-GreenEdge and Astana all prominent. Andre Greipel is a little further back, but surrounded by a guard of Lotto-Soudal riders.

12km remaining from 171km

Lotto-Soudal are now beginning to muscle their way to the front. Greipel is the logical favourite for stage victory this afternoon but with a time trial tomorrow and a series of stages over Classics-style terrain later in the week, all of the sprinters know that this is potentially their final real opportunity of this Eneco Tour.

10km remaining from 171km

LottoNL-Jumbo also enter the fray with Moreno Hofland in mind, while Tom Boonen has some deluxe support in the form of Dutch national champion Niki Terpstra.

8km remaining from 171km

Bernard Eisel, seemingly unencumbered by his disc brakes, moves to the front for Team Sky. Filippo Pozzato is also on hand for Lampre-Merida.

7km remaining from 171km

There's a decent delegation from Astana towards the front for Andrea Guardini. Twelve months ago, the Italian kick-started his late-season purple patch with a stage win at the Eneco Tour.

6km remaining from 171km

No one team has managed to seize control of affairs as Lotto-Soudal did yesterday. Giant-Alpecin are the next squad to try their hand. Lotto-Soudal, meanwhile, maintain a watching brief for now.

5km remaining from 171km

Giant-Alpecin have managed to stretch things out significantly and they continue to lead the peloton.

4km remaining from 171km

The Lotto-Soudal train moves to the centre of the road and looks to overhaul Giant-Alpecin.

3km remaining from 171km

Tiesj Benoot leads for Lott-Soudal. Greipel's will be the prized wheel in the final kilometres here.

3km remaining from 171km

Orica-GreenEdge move up alongside Lotto-Soudal.

2km remaining from 171km

The teams are all battling to gain the upper hand ahead of those bends that precede the final two kilometres.

2km remaining from 171km

Etixx-QuickStep have negotiated their way to the front in support of Tom Boonen.

1km remaining from 171km

Greipel's train is not fully intact but Greg Henderson is on the front.

1km remaining from 171km

Etixx-QuickStep lead into the final kilometre.

The sprint lacks the cohesion of yesterday...

Arnaud Démare (FDJ) opens his sprint early. Greipel is a long way back...

Tom Boonen overhauls Démare...

Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) wins stage 3 of the Eneco Tour.

Arnaud Démare (FDJ) holds on for second place ahead of Elia Viviani (Sky).

Andrea Guardini (Astana) took fourth ahead of Dylan Groenewegen, while Greipel - somehow - picked his way through to take sixth.

Jesper Asselman (Roompot) looks to have done enough to retain the overall lead.


1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
2 Arnaud Demare (Fra)
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
4 Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
5 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Roompot
6 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
7 Rudiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha
8 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
9 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
10 Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert

General classification after stage 3:

1 Jesper Asselman (Ned) Team Roompot 12:13:20
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:01
3 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
4 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal 0:00:05
5 Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise 0:00:06
6 Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:09
7 Arnaud Demare (Fra)
8 Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team Katusha
9 Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
10 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert

Thanks for joining our live coverage of today's stage of the Eneco Tour, where Tom Boonen claimed an important win as he looks to stake a claim for leadership of the Belgian team at the World Championships in Richmond - and as he looks to finalise his contract for the 2016 campaign. A full report, results and pictures will follow here, and we'll be back with more live coverage from tomorrow's time trial.

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