Keukeleire third on stage 1 of the Tour de l'Eurometropole

Thu 2 Oct 2014

Belgian Jens Keukeleire has finished third in a bunch sprint on stage one of the Tour de l’Eurométropole in his home country today.

The 25-year-old took the sprint responsibility of ORICA-GreenEDGE on a familiar and challenging finish but Arnaud Demare (FDJ) was too strong, claiming the victory.

“We had four local circuits and the idea was to go for Jens in the sprint because he has had success in this area before,” sport director Laurenzo Lapage said.

“It was not a traditional sprint finish, you had to line it up beforehand and have your leader in a good position at the bottom of the climb because it was a 400m uphill finish at around five to six percent.”

Calm weather conditions played into the hands of a bunch kick as the major sprint outfits jostled for position in pursuit of the first stage of the four-day tour.

“It was really messy in the final because there was no wind today to break it up and there was a lot of teams still in the hunt trying to line up for the sprint,” Lapage said.

“Lotto Belisol was lining up for Jens Debusschere, the Belgian champion, Team Giant-Shimano for Marcel Kittel and was working for Demare. 

“Lotto Belisol was the first to open up for the sprint and Jens (Keukeleire) followed but Demare came from behind for the victory.”

A group of five riders – Niki Terpstra (OPQ), Jack Bauer (GRS), Angelo Tulik (EUC), Jan Ghyselinck (WGG) and Tom Dernies (WBC) – formed the main escape group of the day but the stage always look set for a bunch sprint as the peloton refused to get them a significant lead.

The break began to attack each other within the final 40km as the advantage, which had reached a maximum of just over four minutes after 88km, began to tumble.

Dernies found himself alone at the front, distancing his breakaway companions alongside Tulik before the latter crashed.  With two finish circuits and 30km remaining, Dernies had an advantage of just 47seconds and shortly after the race was back together.

The Tour de l’Eurométropole continues tomorrow with a 171km stage two journey from Estaimbourg to Nieuwpoort.