The last stage of the Eneco Tour! Will Rohan Dennis hang on to his leader's jersey?
Welcome to the final stage of this year's Eneco Tour. This stage features cobblestones and the dreaded Muur!
We have a number of non-starters today, mainly sprinters: Bouhanni, Elmger, Kittel and Haas.
Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (Dimension Data) was also not at the start, as he fractured his shoulder in a crash yesterday.
He was not the only injury, as Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Soudal) suffered a broken collarbone in another crash.
Best wishes to both!
The stage has started, but so far we have no real action.
177km remaining from 197km
Indeed, after 20 km we still have no breakaway!
What can we expect today? Cobblestones and lots of those short but nasty little Belgian climbs. This race could literally be a fight to the finish!
You can read the Cyclingnews race preview here.
Here the top ten coming into this final stage:
1 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team 18:09:37
2 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:16
3 Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:24
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team 0:00:27
5 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step
6 Jos van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:28
7 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team 0:00:29
8 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 0:00:33
9 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 0:00:36
10 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 0:00:38
We are now told that Nathan Haas (DiData) did indeed start today. It was his teammate Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg who did not start.
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) has the points jersey wrapped up. He leads with 94 points over Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) with 66 points. Third was Nacer Bouhanni, who did not start today.
BMC leads the team ranking, ahead of LottoNL-Jumbo and Etixx-QuickStep.
Kittel didn't start today due to a "small digestive problem", his team said. Not that he would have had much of a chance today, anyway.
In case you missed it (if that is at all possible), Bradley Wiggins gave a tv interview this morning about those leaked TUEs, and as expected, denied any wrongdoing.
157km remaining from 197km
40 km down, and still no breakaways! Some have tried, but no one has been so far successful. The climbing won't start for another 50 km or so.
We know that Dennis is a talented time trialer, but how is he on those cobbles and Belgian climbs, and especially on those cobbled Belgian climbs? That is the question of the day!
When we think of Giant-Alpecin in this race, we think of Tom Dumoulin. But yesterday it was Chad Haga who made the headlines. The American was part of the break group which stayed away -- just barely! -- until the end. He said he was happy for "making the bike race and not just being a passenger.”
Marcel Sieberg (Lotto--Soudal) already has his collarbone operation behind him this morning. No doubt he is planning on being well again quickly to help good friend and teammate Andre Greipel in the World Championships.
50 km are done and there are only 147 more to go! And you guessed it, STILL no break!
Probably no one would have predicted that yesterday's break group would stay away, and probably also not that Luca Pibernik (Lampre-Merida) would win it for his first pro victory. You can read here how it all unfolded on Saturday.
137km remaining from 197km
60 km into the race, and we have a break group with Sagan, Dennis, T. Martin and Dumoulin! They already have eight minutes on the peloton!
Well, not really. There is of course no break group at all. Does no one want to get away, or is BMC preventing any action at all?
In other news, Mark Cavendish (DiData) has abandoned the GP Behelli after only 60 km.
No one will ever all cyclists wimps. A broken toe wasn't enough to stop Wout van Aert from winning the Jingle Cross World Cup race.
At last! A group of nine has gotten away! Now let's go grab those names!
The group is: Wellens, Curvers, Verona, Van Goethem, Anacona, Tleubayev, Sarreau, Nordhaug and Antonini.
2:30 for this group, with some 120 km still to go.
To give them their full names and teams: Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin), Carlos Verona (Orica-Bike Exchange), Brian Van Goethem (Roompot-Oranje Peloton), Winner Anacona (Movistar), Ruslan Tlubayev (Astana), Marc Serreau (FDJ), Lars Petter Nordhaug (Sky) and Simone Antonini (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).
The top rider in this group is Anacona, who came into the stage as 33rd in GC, only 1:07 behind Dennis.
107km remaining from 197km
107 km still to go and the first climbs are rapidly approaching. 2:44 for the break group of nine.
Having trouble remembering where everyone is transfering to next year? So are we! So we wrote it all down, and now everyone can stop trusting their faulty memories.
The break group is at the first hill of the day, the Hurdumont. Only 16 more to go!
As we said earlier, Kittel did not start today due to stomach problems. Apparently this is not the only recent race where this has been a problem for him. Accordingly, there is now speculation in the media that this means he may not be nominated for the German Worlds team, or at any rate not be named captain.
Let’s take a look at the break group. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) is a 25-year-old Belgian. He turned pro in 2012 and has been with the same team the whole time. He has won the overall title in this race the last two years, but as he is 3:06 down, his chances don’t look good this year. He can’t complain about 2016, though, as he won the GC in the Tour of Poland as well as stages at the Giro d’Italia, Paris-Nice and Poland.
100km remaining from 197km
With 100 km to go, and the difficulties of the day only just begun, the gap is at 2:28.
Roy Curvers, a veteran at 36 years old, has been with the Giant-Alpecin team under its various names all his career, since 2008. A domestique, he can point to only one professional win, Halle-Ingooigem in 2011.
Carlos Verona is only 23 but has been a pro since 2011. From 2013 until July this year, he rode for QuickStep, where he rode the Giro this year and the Vuelta in 2014 and 2015.
Brian Van Goethem, 25, is in his second year with Roompot-Oranje. He is still looking for his first top result.
Apparently Sky is leading the chase, despite the presence of their man Nordhaug in the lead group.
The lead group tackles the Muur of Geraardsbergen for the first time and cross the finish line with a gap of only 1:28 on the peloton. No worry, the race still has quite a way to go.
Apparently it is still 2:28, not 1:28.
Several riders had mechanical problems on the Muur and ended up walking their bikes up. That would be Jesper Asselman and Stijn Steels.
The field now takes on 3 laps of an approximately 25 km circuit course. And tnow the gap is actually down to 1:36.
We started out today under blue skies and sunshine but now the weather has changed. It is getting quite gray and cloudy. Hope we don't get any rain!
So of course we now have the first report of rain.
Tinkoff has taken over the chase, hoping to get Peter Sagan back into the overall lead.
Winner Anacona – a great name for an athlete – is a 28-year-old Colombian, who turned pro with Lampre in 2012 and has been with Movistar since 2015. He can claim a stage win in the 2014 Vuelta a Espana.
64km remaining from 197km
The gap has now dropped to under a minute, with 64 km to go.
There is a split in the lead group, with three riders moving away. It looks like it is coming back together, though.
Tinkoff is still powering away at the head of the peloton.
Puncture for Tony Martin.
Definitely raining now at the race. That is too bad, as cobbles, climbs and rain are not a good combination.
38km remaining from 197km
Another split in the break group, as the gap drops to a mere 35 seconds.
Wellens, Curver, Nordhaug and Anacona are in the first group, but now Wellens has jumped again.
The first four are together again. Michael Matthews (Orica) is dangling at the back of the peloton.
Verona has now moved up, joining the lead group.
Up the Muur they all go again!
Verona is having trouble hanging on to this group.
As is Curvers.
Lars Boom (AStana) now at the head of the field, as Tinkoff has disappeared. The gap is now at 19 seconds.
Wellens pulls away again. The field has caught all but the first two or three.
Wllens is bck on regular pavement and pulls away easily. Anacona is the only follower.
Crash! With none other than Rohan Dennis being involved. Looks like he will need a new bike.
The crash must have been near teh front of the field, as Boom was also involved.
The rain looks to have done them in. Sadly, that will probably cost Dennis the title here.
A rider each from Sky and Giant-Alpecin were also involved but seem to have gotten back up and going quite quickly.
The field has fallen apart here. Sagan of course is near the front.
Two BMC riders have fallen back to help Dennis. Up front, Wellens has been caught. Jungels is the next to attack.
The rain is coming down fairly heavily now, so the roads are going to be very tricky. To add to the problems, the leaves are starting to fall. Wet leaves and cobbled climbs are very seriously not what you want to face.
The next to attack and join Jungels is that famous climber, Andre Greipel!
Ok, so he is not really a climber, but a never-say-die type for sure!
A Cannondale ride slips out on a corner and hobbles around a bit.
Looks like w have a group of six with a small lead. Crashes and wet roads are having a real effect here.
Jungels, Sutterlin and Greipel are three of the lead group. The whole peloton has broken up into little groups.
44km remaining from 197km
Dennis now 1:20 down.
Eight or nine in the first group. Trying to get their names, as they have some 27 seconds.
That would be Naesen, Jungels, Terpstra, Greipel, I Izaguirre, Juul Jensen, Lutsenko, Boasson Hagen and Van Poppel.
That group has 16 seconds over a group with Sagan, Van Avermaet and Tony Martin. The Dennis group is now at 1:34.
Three ore riders jump from the chase group.
John Degenkolb is one of those chasers.
21 seconds for the sevn in the lead. Greipel has fallen back into the Degenkolb group. Dennis still nearly 90 seconds down.
The third group is maybe 15-20 riders, including Sagan, Van Avermaet, Dumoulin, Martin.....
Looks like Greipel may have crashed, as his jersey is smeared. That would explain why he fell back, and unfortunately continues to do so.
The chasers are Debusschere, Degenkolb, Greipel and G. Izagirre.
Juul Jensen drops out of the lead group.
Some riders from the third group have caught the Degenkolb group. One of those is Dumoulin, who would very much like to do well today.
Kelderman is also in the Degenkolb-Dumoulin groupl
Sagan and Stybar are also in that group.
Confirmed now that Griepel and Van Poppel crashed earlier.
The third time up Geraardsbergen. In the rain.
Degenkolb drops out of the chase group, looks like he is all out of energy now. Greipel isn't much better off.
Terpstra powers his way up the Muur as first.
Terpstra and Naessen with a nice gap.
Looks like the GC will turn topsy-tury today. Both Dennis and Phinney look to have lost their chances. Peter Sagan, anyone?
23km remaining from 197km
Boasson Hagen has joined the two leaders, with the others from this first group not so very far behind.
Looks like Sagan and Dumoulin are sharing the lead work in the chase group.
Five again in the lead group. The Sagan-Dumoulin group is at 35 seconds, with 21 km to go.
Terpstra, Boassan Hagen and Naesen in the lead, with Sutterlin trying to hang on and Jungels struggling even more.
Tom Dumoulin isn't afraid to say what he thinks, and he thinks the Wiggins TUE case "stinks".
Looks like this lead group of four has a healthy respect for the wet pavement. They are careful on those curves.
17km remaining from 197km
The Sagan-Dumoulin group is being careful, too. They are now at 39 seconds, so -- not getting closer.
There are 9 in the Sagan group. Neither he nor Dumoulin seem willing to really push the tempo or taking any more chances. Their gap is now nearly 50 seconds.
Jungels is dangling in between the first two groups.
Another group of seven is joining the Sagan group, so immediateely four or five jump.
Amongst those is Degenkolb, so that Dumoulin again has a helper at his side.
If the stage ends in this alignment, the GC would go to Terpstra. He was only 27 seconds down and has already picked up 9 seconds today at the Golden Kilometer.
Haven't heard for a long time what the gap back to the peloton and Dennis is. That is a tough way to lose a race.
The four leaders are working well together. Assuming they all come to the line together, we think we will pick Boasson Hagen for the stage win.
9km remaining from 197km
Only 9 km left for teh first four. The Sagan/Dumoulin group is at 45 seconds.
Lutsenko of AStana is a victim of the wet road and hits the ground.
Sutterlin falls back.
BMC reports that Rohan Dennis has abandoned the race.
2km remaining from 197km
EBH is the first to attack in teh finale! The other two are right there, though.
Still 44 seconds for the Sagan group, but they have no more chance now.
Terpstra leads the way into the final km.
From here on it is only up up up for the leaders. Terpstra still at the front, but we suspect he will let the other two fight it out for the stage win.
EBH jumps first and takes a small lead.
Stage win for Boasson Hagen, who nearly falls off his bike after he crosses the line. Terpstra second and Naesen third.
Dumoulin leads the chase group across the finish line, followed closely by Van Avermaet. Sagan comes in a second or two later.
That gives the title of the 2016 -- and last -- Eneco Tour to Niki Terpstra of Etixx-QuickStep!
Dumoulin came in at 43 seconds, with Sagan 4 seconds further back.
Congratulations to Terpstra, who certainly worked hard today for the win. But you also have to feel sorry for Dennis, who crashed, lost time and then eventually abandoned.
This is Terpstra's third win this season, as he previously won Le Samyn and Dwars door het Hegeland.
It is also Etixx-QuickStep's rather staggering 52nd victory this year. Their closest competitor in that ranking is Sky, with only 38 wins.
Top ten, stage:
1 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data 04:03:27
2 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:00:02
3 Oliver Naesen (Bel) IAM Cycling
4 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 00:00:43
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
6 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team 00:00:47
7 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
8 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:00:49
9 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team
10 Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
And the final GC:
1 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step 22:43:26
2 Oliver Naesen (Bel) IAM Cycling 00:00:31
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team 00:01:00
4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 00:01:02
5 Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:01:03
6 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo 00:01:11
7 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:01:15
8 Jon Izaguirre (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:19
9 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin 00:01:22
10 Bob Jungels (Lux) Etixx - Quick-Step 00:01:31
Terpstra: "The Eneco Tour has a special place in cycling and to win this is perfect."
Sagan: "It was a very hard race for the last day and the weather was bad with rain but I’m very happy I didn’t crash. I came up to third place [overall] but against everyone, it is very hard to race. I wanted to come back in the front group but no one wanted to work with me. It’s like that, what can I do? It’s cycling, it’s unfair and I just do my best.
Everyone was racing to not win, just to be beaten, and I don’t understanding. It’s a part of cycling."
There is no further word on Rohan Dennis, who had to abandon the race. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews though, as we will spread the word as soon as we get it.
Thanks for reading along for this great race and this very exciting last stage!
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