Chaotic opening to Eneco Tour

Mon 11 Aug 2014

A chaotic finish took ORICA-GreenEDGE out of contention on a dramatic first day of the Eneco Tour today.

Strong winds, heavy rain and several crashes affected the first day of racing, including a nasty crash to sprinter Matt Goss in the final ten kilometres. 

Fellow sprinters Aidis Kroupis and Leigh Howard survived in the first group along with Jen Keukeleire, but lost each other in the run in to the final.

“The guys did pretty well to be up there under the circumstances,” sport director Matt Wilson said.

“We lost about half the team by the time the sprint even came around. They just lost each other at the finish and that was it. 

“No team was able to formulate a sprint train today, it was just too crazy.  There were crashes at every corner into the final and with the rain and the wind it was pretty hectic.”

A breakaway of three escaped early in the stage but didn’t look too threatening as they were given a maximum lead of over eight minutes before the peloton began to pull them in.  Caught with 17km left to ride, sprint trains looked to move into position as roundabouts played havoc on the road.

Crashes and several late solo attacks in the final kilometres put the pressure on before Andrea Gaurdini (AST) crossed the line for the win in a messy bunch sprint.

Ahead of the Tour Wilson predicted the elements would play a role in the day’s racing and he wasn’t wrong, Damien Howson also the victim of one of the multiple crashes.

“We knew it was a flat stage and that it would maybe be a bunch sprint,” Wilson said.

“But with the wind the way it was and the open roads we knew it was going to be very nervous and hectic and certainly not a straight forward run in.

“Both Damien (Howson) and Gossy (Matt Goss) are both hurt but nothing looks broken at this stage. We might go for a scan or two tonight but they look OK to start tomorrow.”

Tomorrow's stage looks set to be another opportunity for the sprinters, with the hope of a less dramatic finale. 

“On paper it is a very similar stage to today,” Wilson said.

“The weather looks very similar, but probably it is a little more sheltered and not quite as open where we are going tomorrow so I would expect at this stage a more controlled and orderly finish.

“But who knows, it’s very unpredictable up here.”