Groenewegen sprints to victory in Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen

Dylan Groenewegen continued the dream start to his WorldTour career by taking his second victory since joining LottoNL-Jumbo in the bunch sprint on stage 1 of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen. The Dutchman managed to hold off Tosh van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) and Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie) while Tom Bohli (BMC) finished safely in the peloton to retain his lead.

This season Groenewegen won the very first sprint he contested for LottoNL-Jumbo at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and he finished fourth in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and sixth in Le Samyn.

The results made him confident for this week’s Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen where he was the star sprinter in a field with lots of fast riders. Today he proved his status as he came out on top in the bunch sprint on stage 1.

At the start of the first lap of the 10.6km finishing circuit that was to be covered thrice, an 8-rider breakaway of Elia van Brusseghem (Verandas Willems), Nico Denz (Ag2r), Jeremy Cornu (Direct Energie), Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quick Step), Louis Vervaeke (Lotto-Soudal), Jonathan Restrepo (Team Katusha), Nicolas Baldo (Team Roth) and Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen) had an advantage of 1.45. Here Vervaeke won the final intermediate sprint, holding off Rickaert and Restrepo. Steven Lammertink (LottoNL-Jumbo) who was sixth overall, had been dropped from the peloton and crossed the line more than 3 minutes behind the leaders.

BMC, Cofidis and LottoNL-Jumbo had done the chase work until now. ONE also started to chase and they joined forces with Cofidis and Crelan. Those three teams led the peloton to the finish at the end of the second lap 1.17 behind the leaders.

Vervaeke who had been active early in the stage, again tried to attack but was joined by Denz, van Brusseghem, Cornu and Restrepo. The quintet put 20 seconds into Alaphilippe, Rickaert and Baldo whle the peloton was now only 50 seconds behind.

With 12km to go, the chasers were caught and the peloton had reduced the gap to 40 seconds. It was 30 seconds at the start of the final lap and now riders were getting dropped frm the peloton.

A crash in the peloton took out sprinters Bert Van Lerberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise), Jonas Ahlstrand and Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis) but that didn’t slow the bunch down. As they approached the front group, Vervaeke attacked again and only Denz could respond.

With 5km to go, the leading pair were five seconds ahead of their chasers while the peloton was at 15 seconds. Denz made the next attack and he managed to distance his companion.

However, it was all in vain and with less than 3km to go, it was all back together for a bunch sprint. Here LottoNL-Jumbo did the perfect job to deliver Groenewegen to victory.

Race leader Tom Bohli finished safely in the bunch to retain his 6-second advantage over Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo). He now just needs to survive the final stage which will see the riders cover the climbs of Goeberg, Rodeberg, Monteberg, Kemmelberg and Scherpenberg at the midpoint before they end the race by doing three laps of a 13.8km finishing circuit that includes the small Keiberg and Catteberg climbs. However, the final top comes 5km from the flat finish where the sprinters are again expected to shine unless the wind comes into play.

Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen 2016 – stage 1 results (Brugge – Harelbeke):

1 Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNl-Jumbo)


2 Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto Soudal)


3 Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie Bruxelles)


4 Timothy Dupont (Veranda’s Willems)


5 Gediminas Bagdonas (AG2R)


6 Gerry Druyts (Crelan-Vastgoedservice)


7 Borut Bozic (Cofidis)


8 Amaury Capiot (Topsport Vlaanderen)


9 Yauheni Hutarovich (Fortuneo – Vital Concept)


10 Danilo Napolitano (Wanty – Groupe Gobert)  ,,