Keukeleire returns to top ten at Eneco TourThu 14 Aug 2014
Belgian Jens Keukeleire has returned to the top ten overall at the Eneco Tour courtesy of two bonus seconds claimed during stage four today.
Keukeleire started the stage in 11th position, 23seconds off the pace and finished 21seconds adrift in 10th position.
A nasty crash, involving defending champion Zdenek Stybar (OPQ), tarnished the finish that saw Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) come up with the victory.
Awarded the same time as a result of the crash being within the final three kilometres, Keukeleire benefited from the bonus seconds gained in the final intermediate sprint opportunity of the stage.
“It wasn’t really the plan,” sport director Matt Wilson said of the bonus seconds grab.
“We were just trying to get him (Keukeleire) through unscathed and not losing any time.
“The plan was to take an opportunity if we saw one, it was just an opportunity we didn’t think would be there, so Jens did very well to take the initiative to go for those.
“Normally the breakaway is away and those bonus seconds are not up for grabs. But as it was there was only one rider off the front and he was coming back, the other teams started to sprint and the opportunity was there.
“Damien Howson did a great job to get Jens up there for that sprint and grab a couple of seconds.”
Contrary to the opening two road stages, the majority of the race played out in calm conditions with the day’s major breakaway a solo effort by Frederick Veuchelen (WGG).
“It was a pretty tranquil day compared to the last two road stages,” Wilson said.
“But I think once we hit the circuits everyone was so fresh that it made them even more dangerous.
“You have 180 guys trying to get to the front rather than a field of guys who are tired where maybe only a quarter of them are thinking about the win. That made it a bit stressful on the final circuit.”
Attention now turns to an important stage five, the first of the stages expected to have a major role in shaping the overall results.
“Tomorrow will be a very very selective day and a very crucial day for us,” Wilson said.
“Jens (Keukeleire) knows the roads very well and is great at this sort of racing.
“Our plan will be to try and get him in the best position possible and we will be trying to go for a stage win.”