Keukeleire climbs on GC as Hepburn animates the breakaway

Fri 11 Aug 2017

An active and productive fifth stage for ORICA-SCOTT at the BinckBank Tour saw Australian time trial specialist Michael Hepburn lead the day’s breakaway move before teammate and GC hopeful Jens Keukeleire marked the late attacks to finish with the leaders.

A hilly parcours around the Limberg region of the Netherlands mirrored the Amstel Gold Race with Hepburn a key component of the early seven-rider attack that led the race for nearly 130kilometres.

Late accelerations from Team-Sunweb brought the race back together with 25kilometres to go before an attack by a small group of race favourites broke clear to contest the stage win.

Keukeleire was attentive and made the split with the other contenders after a brief chase. Attack after attack followed with Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo) soloing to the stage win and moving into the race lead as Keukeleire climbs to ninth overall going into the last two day’s of racing.

“It was another nervous day for us,” said sport director Laurenzo Lapage. “This was a tough parcours on narrow roads with lots twists and turns and sharp climbs and we were always conscious that the weather might change. In the end it worked out well.”

“Michael did a great job making it into the early breakaway, but the general pace never really let up and the rest of the team did well to look after Jens and keep him up near the front in anticipation of the late attack.

“When the move finally went we were alive to it and Jens only had to chase for a short distance to make contact with the other favourites. They were all marking each other really closely and we are happy with how it played out and our position now going into what will be two really hard day’s of racing over the weekend.

“The top ten guys are all close together and they are only separated by seconds not minutes, but Jens showed today that he has good legs and as a team we are up for it and highly motivated to get a result.”

How it happened:

After an aggressive first hour of racing on stage five a seven-rider breakaway finally formed and began to develop a lead on the peloton.

Hepburn was part of the move for ORICA-SCOTT and as the race hit the Cauberg after 50kilometres had been covered their lead was around three minutes.

Today’s stage started and finished in the Tom Dumoulin Bike Park in Limburg, the venue of this year’s inaugural Hammer series event, on the first passage of the finish line with 70kilometres remaining the Hepburn group were still holding a lead of three minutes.

The peloton split as the speed of the chase increased over the last 40kilometres, ORICA-SCOTT made the split on the right side with Hepburn still out front and Team-Sunweb dictating the pace over the short climbs.

Gradually the break began to falter with 20kilometres to go and as the group behind reformed Hepburn attacked, followed by Petr Vakoc (Quick-Step-Floors) and the duo pushed on holding 20seconds.

The pair was caught by a group of favourites ten strong inside the final 12kilometres as Hepburn dropped off, the selection was formed and importantly Keukeleire had made the bridge into the move.

More attacks followed as the leaders started to test each other in the closing kilometres, Boom accelerated into a late attack with two kilometres to go and managed to hold on for the win.

Keukeleire finished a couple of seconds later with the lead group and moves up the general classification ahead of the final two days of racing.

BinckBank Tour stage five results:

1. Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo) 03:43:46

2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 00:00:03

3. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) ST

15. Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-SCOTT) ST

General classification after stage five:

1. Lars Boom (LottoNL-Jumbo) 15:23:17

2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 00:00:02

3. Tom Dumoulin (Team-Sunweb) 00:00:08

9. Jens Keukeleire (ORICA-SCOTT) 00:00:35

Photos courtesy of ©