“I always aim high and sometimes aiming high can give you only disappointment," Stuyven said. "After having so much bad luck this year it is finally nice to be able to do something with the good legs and it’s really nice to take the first victory in a WorldTour race. I am really, really happy. The team did well to pull everything back and even after the crash I kept fighting, kept fighting...Yeah. It pays off.”
Stuyven suffered to get over the pair of climbs that jettisoned a number of sprinters in the final 50km, and avoided a big crash leading to the climbs.
“We knew it was going to be really hard today,” Stuyven said. “We were well-placed together with the team and then there was the big crash and we had a few of us go down. I was also in the crash, and I hit my wrists pretty bad, they were hurting a lot, but I said to the guys I am gonna try.
“I suffered a lot the first time up the climb, and I was afraid that I would not make it a second time, but Dirk [Demol] was there to say to keep fighting, keep fighting. And I was in a good position at the bottom so I could drift a little bit back on the climb; I think I was one of the last guys to make it over with the front group."
The stage, which looked fairly docile on paper, came to life after a huge crash that saw Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Dan Martin (Cannondale Garmin) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) all forced out through injury. Esteban Chaves was caught up by the fall but survived the mayhem and the finishing two climbs to retain his overall race lead.
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff Saxo) also made it through the major crash and the final two climbs near the finish and was a favourite to take his second stage of the race. However a crash with a neutral service vehicle in the final 10 kilometres robbed the Tinkoff rider of a chance to contest the win. With the majority of the top sprinters already dropped or on the deck Stuyven came through to take the biggest win of his career.
The Belgian timed his sprint well, coming through in the final 100 meters, but the stage will be remembered for the flurry of crashes that took place in the final 50 kilometres or racing.
The first incident occurred with 48km to go as the peloton headed towards the first of two final third category climbs. Dan Martin, Tejay van Garderen, Nacer Bouhanni and Kris Boeckmans were among the fallers, the latter taken immediately to hospital after he appeared motionless on the ground for several minutes. Van Garderen appeared to break a collarbone while Bouhanni briefly remounted before falling once more and then throwing in the towel.
By the time the early break hit the foot of the first climb their advantage, which had peaked at 4:46 was down to less than two minutes. Iljo Keisse (Etixx-Quick Step), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin), Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida) and Ángel Madrazo (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) had forced their way clear after 35 kilometres and it was Howes who pressed on alone, unaware of the bad luck that had taken out his teammate, Dan Martin.
More misfortune was to follow for the American team with Howes falling on the first descent. He was passed by Madrazo, and then the peloton with the remnants of the break already caught.
A brief lull in the action allowed for several groups, one including the race leader Chaves, to return to the peloton but the race kicked into life on the second ascent.
Nikki Terpstra attacked from the peloton but he was passed by his teammate Gianluca Brambilla, with no one single team able to truly control proceedings. Tom Dumoulin, who started the day second overall, moved to the front of the bunch, eager to nullify the purer climbers from jumping clear but one man alone couldn’t hold off an entire charge. Brambilla linked up with four other riders midway up the climb but on the descent Rojas crashed as rider after rider tried to move clear.
Even the GC riders, Chaves, Joaquim Rodriguez, Valverde and Nairo Quintana tried to forge clear but by the bottom of the descent another re-grouping had taken place with around 40 riders left at the front of the race.
José Gonçalves (Caja Rural), Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) and Alberto Losada (Katusha) then moved clear and briefly threatened to spoil the day for the sprinters who remained as they built up a 19 second advantage. Trek and Tinkoff Saxo combined to nullify the move and even Sagan went on the attack. His chances were dashed though when he and a neutral service moto collided, leaving the Slovak with torn shorts and dashed chances.
A late attack from Adam Hansen came with 1.5km to go but the sprinters who had survived a day of utter chaos were not to be denied. Credit to Stuyven for his win but it was a stage that will be remembered for all the crashes.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing||4:06:05|
|2||Pello Bilbao (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||Row 1 - Cell 2|
|3||Kévin Reza (Fra) FDJ.fr||Row 2 - Cell 2|
|4||Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team||Row 3 - Cell 2|
|5||Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka||Row 4 - Cell 2|
|6||Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal||Row 5 - Cell 2|
|7||Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||Row 6 - Cell 2|
|8||Pieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step||Row 7 - Cell 2|
|9||Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 8 - Cell 2|
|10||Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sky||Row 9 - Cell 2|
|11||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team||Row 10 - Cell 2|
|12||Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica GreenEdge||Row 11 - Cell 2|
|13||José Gonçalves (Por) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||Row 12 - Cell 2|
|14||Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha||Row 13 - Cell 2|
|15||Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step||Row 14 - Cell 2|
|16||Andre Cardoso (Por) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||Row 15 - Cell 2|
|17||Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida||Row 16 - Cell 2|
|18||Miguel Angel Rubiano (Col) Colombia||Row 17 - Cell 2|
|19||Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Astana Pro Team||Row 18 - Cell 2|
|20||Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka||Row 19 - Cell 2|
|21||Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team||Row 20 - Cell 2|
|22||Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team||Row 21 - Cell 2|
|23||Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal||Row 22 - Cell 2|
|24||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin||Row 23 - Cell 2|
|25||Romain Sicard (Fra) Team Europcar||Row 24 - Cell 2|
|26||Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team||Row 25 - Cell 2|
|27||Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky||Row 26 - Cell 2|
|28||Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha||Row 27 - Cell 2|
|29||Sergio Luis Henao (Col) Team Sky||Row 28 - Cell 2|
|30||Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||Row 29 - Cell 2|
|31||Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Team Katusha||Row 30 - Cell 2|
|32||Rafal Majka (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo||Row 31 - Cell 2|
|33||Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team||Row 32 - Cell 2|
|34||Fabrice Jeandesboz (Fra) Team Europcar||Row 33 - Cell 2|
|35||Omar Fraile (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||Row 34 - Cell 2|
|36||Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team||Row 35 - Cell 2|
|37||Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale||Row 36 - Cell 2|
|38||Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal||Row 37 - Cell 2|
|39||Kenny Elissonde (Fra) FDJ.fr||Row 38 - Cell 2|
|40||Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||Row 39 - Cell 2|
|41||Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team||Row 40 - Cell 2|
|42||Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky||Row 41 - Cell 2|
|43||Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team||Row 42 - Cell 2|
|44||Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing||Row 43 - Cell 2|
|45||Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Astana Pro Team||Row 44 - Cell 2|
|46||David Arroyo (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||Row 45 - Cell 2|
|47||Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Soudal||Row 46 - Cell 2|
|48||Alberto Losada Alguacil (Spa) Team Katusha||Row 47 - Cell 2|
|49||Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek Factory Racing||0:00:17|
|50||Jesper Hansen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo||0:00:32|
|51||Tiago Machado (Por) Team Katusha||0:00:38|
|52||Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step||0:04:57|
|53||Amets Txurruka (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA||Row 52 - Cell 2|
|54||Leonardo Duque (Col) Colombia||Row 53 - Cell 2|
|55||Olivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ.fr||Row 54 - Cell 2|
|56||Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling||Row 55 - Cell 2|
|57||Carlos Verona Quintanilla (Spa) Etixx - Quick-Step||Row 56 - Cell 2|
|58||Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale|