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Eneco Tour 2016: Stage 1

 As we join the action, there are 125km remaining of the 184km opening stage. 

Five riders have formed the early break of the day but the peloton is keeping them under control, working for a sprint finish.  

 

The five attackers are Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Laurens De Vreese (Astana), Bert Van Lerberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Brian Van Goethem (Roompo Oranje Peloton) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

 

The gap to the peloton is currently 3:40 after touching 4:30 earlier in the stage. 

 

The riders are enjoying the late summer conditions in northern Netherlands. However the coast is not far away for much of the stage and so cross winds could be a factor.

As expected, world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) made it to the start in Bolsward despite racing and winning the first ever European road race championships in Brittany on Sunday. 

 

Sagan was flown by private plane- apparently paid by the Eneco Tour organisers, to make the start. his victory in Plumelec showed he is on form and so he could even be a threat today in the sprint finish.    

67 kilometers passed. The gap between the leaders and the peloton shrinks to 2'57. #EnecoTour

@EnecoTour Mon, 19th Sep 2016 12:14:11

According to reports in Belgium Tiesj Benoot of Lotto Soudal also hoped to be on the plane Peter Sagan took from northern France to Friesland, but that plan didn't happen. Instead he took a ride in his family's motor home, covering the 1000 kilometres by road.

"He came here this morning at 6.30 am with little eyes to" the Lotto-Soudal team was quoted as saying.  

 

Today's finish is expected to see the sprinter's clash, with Marcel Kittel taking on Andre Greipel, Sagan, Giacomo Nizzolo, Alexander Kristoff, Ben Swift, Michael Matthews and others. 

 

However missing are Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky). The Manxman has apparently opted for a lesser racing schedule and is set to ride the three-day Giro della Toscana in Tuscany this week.

 

Viviani come down with a fever and so will probably not race this week, missing vital racing before the world championships.   

 

109km remaining from 184km

The peloton has reduced the gap on the five attackers. It is down to 2:10 now. 

 

Two time Eneco Tour Tim Wellens is aiming to make it hat-trick this week at the final stage race of the 2016 WorldTour calendar.

 

The Lotto Soudal rider won the Tour de Pologne in July and is facing stiff competition for another WorldTour stage win this season.

 

"I cherish the Eneco Tour very much. In 2014 this race was my first victory so that's why I'm very attached to it. This year it will be harder to win the GC again," said Wellens who will wear the number one dossard for the race. "First of all because I'm not as good as I hoped. After the races in Canada I participated in the GP de Wallonie and I wasn't good. Maybe I had bad legs or maybe I still suffered of the long flight back home. I don't know."

 

The 25-year-old added that his chances have also been hampered by a change in the parcours.

"Adding to that, the course of this year's Eneco Tour doesn't suit me very well. The organization decided to cut my favourite stage, the one to La Redoute. Fortunately the time trial and the team time trial are no disadvantage. The circuit of the individual time trial is the same as the one in 2014. Usually I’m not at my best in a flat time trial, but if the legs are good that shouldn't make any difference," he added.

 

Click here to read more from Wellens on his chances.  

 

108km remaining from 184km

The escapees stretch their lead out to just shy of three minutes. Lotto Soudal and Etixx-QuickStep seem content to allow them some leeway for the time being.

World champion Peter Sagan lines up at the Eneco Tour fresh from claiming another title, the inaugural European Championships road race for elite men. The Slovakian had too much for Julian Alaphilippe (France) and Dani Moreno (Spain) in Plumelec, and you can read a full report and watch video highlights here.

100km remaining from 184km

Bono, De Vreese, Van Lerberghe, Van Goethem and Backaert enter the final 100 kilometres with 2:30 in hand on the peloton.

 

There are many riders in the Eneco Tour peloton preparing for the World Championships in Doha next month, but one man who has already brought the curtain down on his 2016 season is Nairo Quintana. The Vuelta a Espana winner was feted at home in Colombia over the weekend, and you can read the full story here.

 

88km remaining from 184km

The five leaders continue to collaborate smoothly at the head of the race, 2:30 clear of a peloton which has not begun to ratchet up the intensity just yet.

 

This afternoon's stage is undoubtedly one for the sprinters but tomorrow afternoon, all eyes will surely be on Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) in the 9.6km time trial in Breda, which could prove so important in the race for final overall victory. 

 

70km remaining from 184km

Into the final 70 kilometres for the five leaders, who maintain an advantage of 2:40 over the peloton. They haven't been given quite as much leeway as they might have anticipated on a stage such as this, but the sprinters' teams appear unwilling to allow any margin for error this afternoon.

 

There's no particular urgency in the main peloton for the time being, with Orica-BikeExchange, Cofidis and Lotto Soudal all keeping tabs on matters at the head of the field.

 

Today's golden kilometre troika of sprints comes with a shade over 20 kilometres. That's three sprints offering bonuses of 3, 2 and 1 seconds to the top three in each.

 

62km remaining from 184km

Orica-BikeExchange, Etixx-QuickStep, Lotto Soudal and LottoNL-Jumbo are all on the same page this afternoon, and they will work together to ensure a bunch finish. It will be fascinating to see, however, whether they look to peg back the five escapees before that golden kilometre...

 

Bono's presence in the break means that Sacha Modolo's Lampre-Merida teammates will not have to contribute to the chase effort this afternoon.

 

55km remaining from 184km

The gap remains at 2:40 and there is no real urgency in the peloton. Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) shares a joke with world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) near the rear of the bunch. Boonen, of course, will hope to divest Sagan of those rainbow bands on October 16, some 11 years after his world title win in Madrid.

 

Today, it Boonen will be part of Marcel Kittel's lead-out train. Indeed, the Belgian is already playing a supporting role as he drops back to the team car to pick up some bidons for his teammates.

 

51km remaining from 184km

Van Lerberghe takes some advice from his Topsport team car behind the break. The leading quintet are still working smoothly and are 2:30 clear of the peloton.

 

50km remaining from 184km

Cofidis have been prominent at the head of the peloton this afternoon in support of Nacer Bouhanni, who is currently vying for leadership of the French team at the Doha Worlds with his eternal rival Arnaud Demare (FDJ). French coach Bernard Bourreau has been reluctant to bring both men in the same national team since their under-23 days, and it remains to be seen if that policy will change this year.

 

Into the last 50 kilometers of stage 1 and the gap still stands at 2:30. #EnecoTour

@Etixx_QuickStep Mon, 19th Sep 2016 13:41:36

There are five teams leading the chase with one rider each from Lotto Soudal, LottoNL-Jumbo, Etixx-QuickStep, Cofidis and Orica. 

 

They are keeping the five attackers in check as the kilometres tick down. 

 

Can the breakaway hold the lead 'till the Golden Kilometer? There is a maximum of 9 bonus seconds to catch. #EnecoTour #Bolsward

@EnecoTour Mon, 19th Sep 2016 13:43:24

The riders are still on the exposed fields of northern Netherlands but there is no wind today and so no real sign of echelons. 

 

Andre Greipel is at the back of the peloton, collecting bottles for several teammates before moving up the peloton. It will soon be time to use his strength and speed in the expected sprint finish.  

 

Two consecutive roundabouts have sparked an increase in speed as the riders in the break fight for the sprints.

 

 

The riders are fighting for the black Primus points jersey.

 

Bert Van Lerberghe won the sprint and so has secured the black jersey and a day in the jersey tomorrow during stage 2.  

 

We stand corrected, the points jersey in red in the Eneco Tour, the combativity jersey is black.  

 

#EnecoTour @FrederikFrison is working at the head of the peloton! The gap is stable, now 2'23" between the bunch and the escapees.

@Lotto_Soudal Mon, 19th Sep 2016 13:55:27

35km remaining from 184km

The five breakaways have reformed and are working together again. Their lead is 2:15.

 

The five are about to pass through the finish area again. The riders now face two final circuits.  

 

Just after the finish riders grab a bottle from their soigneurs at the side of the road.

 

The peloton comes through the finish some 2:07 back. The speed seems higher now, with teams gathering together near the front. 

 

Etixx - Quick-Step is leading the peloton, taking back time on the breakaway riders. #EnecoTour #WayToRide

@Etixx_QuickStep Mon, 19th Sep 2016 14:02:31

26km remaining from 184km

Crash!

 

Stijn Devolder (Trek) goes down with Cimolai (Lampre). It seems that Nizzolo and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) were also involved as the road narrowed and the riders came together.  

 

Another touch of shoulders see several riders forced onto the grass but nobody crashed.

 

Sagan was one who dived into the grass but used his bike skills to stay up.   

 

#EnecoTour Orica, Cofidis and Lotto-Soudal pick up the pace in the peloton... 22km to go, the breakaway is now just 1'29" ahead.

@TeamDiData Mon, 19th Sep 2016 14:15:24

It's almost time for the golden kilometre, with three intermediate sprints and time bonuses up fro grabs, all within one kilometre. 

 

It will make the finale interesting. 

 

Attack!

 

Backaert goes first in pursuit of the time bonuses. 

 

The other riders are lined out in the gutter chasing each other. We have a pursuit match in the break. 

 

Backaert is caught after the second sprint but there are more attacks. 

 

De Vreese wins the third sprint, taking a final three  seconds.  

 

Backaert picked up six seconds for his efforts. 

 

Of course the top three on the stage score seconds (10-6-4) too, so if they are caught they will not be contenders for the race leadership. 

 

16km remaining from 184km

The gap is 1:00.

 

Crash! 

 

Another pinch point in the road has sparked another crash. 

 

Danny van Poppel (Team Sky) seemed the worst off. He didn't get up quickly and seems winded by his crash. 

 

His hopes of victory have disappeared. It will be up to Ben Swift to sprint for Team Sky.  

 

14km remaining from 184km

The speed is high in the peloton, with several teams fighting for places near the front. 

 

The peloton can virtually see the break now. Lotto Soudal has taken charge of the chase, setting up Greipel.  

 

The roads is sweeping through a residential area, with bike paths and road furniture adding to the obstacles of racing. 

 

FDJ is also in the mix up front. 

 

10km remaining from 184km

The break is trying to work together but the peloton is on their tails. 

 

10km remaining from 184km

The break is trying to work together but the peloton is on their tails. 

 

Un peu + de 10 km à couvrir, @EquipeFDJ en tête de peloton #EnecoTour https://t.co/Ehwhd4GUEx

@EquipeFDJ Mon, 19th Sep 2016 14:31:14

FDJ is on the left with Katusha in the middle of the peloton.

 

Tinkoff is also in the middle, with Trek on the left. 

 

Frederik Backaert (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) attacks from the break in a late solo effort. Bono goes across to him but they will surely be caught soon.  

 

Bono also does a big turn but the five come back together. They still have a 30-second gap with 6km to go. 

 

The peloton splits for a roundabout but the speed is quickly back up to 50km/h. 

 

FDJ and Katusha are leading the chase but we expect a huge bunch sprint with a high-speed finale.

 

5km remaining from 184km

The break seems ready to throw in the towel, with some cross wind from the right slowing them.  

 

Will we witness a tight finish today? Half a minute for the five men in the lead with 5 kilometers remaining. #EnecoTour

@Etixx_QuickStep Mon, 19th Sep 2016 14:37:49

4km remaining from 184km

The peloton takes a left turn with the gap down to 20 seconds.

 

It's getting tricky now. Only 12 seconds for the breakaway. The sprinters are loading their weapons. #EnecoTour

@EnecoTour Mon, 19th Sep 2016 14:40:24

After a final flurry of attacks, the peloton eases and is swallowed up by the peloton. 

 

It's sprint time!

 

2km remaining from 184km

Tinkoff is leading it out with 4 riders ahead of Sagan. 

 

Katusha is also there for Kristoff.

 

Here comes FDJ up the left side of the road for Demare.

 

Orica is also in the mix for Caleb Ewan. 

 

Last Kilometre! 

 

This is going to be fast and furious!

 

A shuffle splits the peloton. 

 

Nizzolo hits out early but the other sprinters come up to him. 

 

In the end it was Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL - Jumbo) hit the line first. 

 

Sagan was in the mix, Bouhanni too but it was a hectic sprint with little room to come up from behind.  

 

Dylan Groenewegen did it right by hitting out a little early and then holding off his rivals. 

 

The 23 year-old Dutch national champion is the first overall leader of the race.

 

The results show that Bouhanni was second, with Sagan third, Boasson Hagen was fourth and Kristoff fifth.  

 

Marcel Kittel was ninth in that close sprint. 

 

Top ten: 

 

1 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 04:14:00
2 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team
4 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
5 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
6 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
8 Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
9 Marcel Kittel (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step
10 Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert

 

Groenewegen is the first race leader and so will start last in Tuesday's 9.6km time trial stage around Breda. 

 

The TT will be a key stage in deciding this year's race.

 

Groenewegen was happy to have won a WorldTour sprint and take the scalp of several big-name rival sprinters.

 

“The team worked well to help me get this win. It’s a very important win, I took it in front of the best sprinters in the world. Winning a big sprint like that is special,” he said.

 

“This is a WorldTour race in my home country too and so winning feels really, really nice. We worked really hard together as a team today and in the end we did it. I’m very happy.”

 

 

 

The photo finish shows that Groenewegen won by almost a bike length but behind him Bouhanni, Sagan, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Kristoff were shoulder to shoulder, with Nizzolo also up there.

 

Behind them was another row of sprinters all fighting for a result.   

 

There he is! Congratulations @GroenewegenD for winning this first #EnecoTour stage https://t.co/5KMAVTzuxS

@EnecoTour Mon, 19th Sep 2016 15:03:15

Groenewegen has pulled the white leader's jersey over his red, white and blue Dutch national champion's jersey.  

 

.@petosagan wins two points for the UCI WorldTour Classification. He still needs to win 23 points to be the new overall leader. #EnecoTour

@EnecoTour Mon, 19th Sep 2016 15:09:25

Thanks fro joining us for live coverage of the stage. We'll be back with more live coverage throughout the week.

 

 

 

For our full stage report and photo gallery of the action, click here. 

 

We will also have reaction and news from the race during the rest of the day and overnight.  

 

This is a shot of Groenewegen winning stage four at the recent Tour of Britain. He produced a similar powerful sprint today to beat Bouhanni and Sagan. 

 

 

 

Join us for more live coverage tomorrow as we continue our unmatched live coverage of all the major races.   

 

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