Dutch rider Dylan Groenewegen won a nail-bitingly scrappy sprint in Bolsward to claim Stage 1 of the 2016 Eneco Tour in his home country. Freewheeling had predicted a strong finish for Cofidis rider Nacer Bouhanni, who came in second, ahead of European Champion Peter Sagan. With a flat stage to start the seven day race a bunch sprint was widely anticipated, although a five man break including riders from three Belgian teams (Bert Van Lerberghe of Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, Brian Van Goethem of Roompot Oranje Peloton and Frederik Backaert of Wanty-Groupe Gobert) joined by Laurens De Vreese of Astana and Matteo Bono of Lampre-Merida looked set to upset expectations before the sprinters’ teams began reeling them in during the final few laps of the course. By virtue of the breakaway, the combativity points were shared amongst the five leaders, with Bert Van Lerberghe leading the competition 28 points to 22 from fellow Belgian Laurens De Vreese.
Groenewegen, leading both the General Classification and the sprint competition, was delighted to outsprint the field to take the win, stating “it’s great to pull it off in the first stage…the sprint was long and hectic on a wide road. It was hard to judge your marks”. As the sprinters’ teams wound up for the final laps, there was a crash in the peloton with 15km to go, flooring several riders including Team Sky’s Danny van Poppel. The nervy bunch meant that no team took overall control of the sprint. “In the final kilometre I came through with the Oreca lead-out train and then followed Nizzolo. I turned out to have the best jump” said Groenewegen.
Tomorrow the riders will take part in an individual time trial of almost 10km, which could see another Dutchman on the stage winner’s podium as Giant-Alpecin’s Tom Dumoulin also looks for a win on home soil. Check out the Freewheeling prediction in the Preview section!