Tour of Normandy: Two Top Ten Finishes on Stage 120. März 2017, Gonfreville-l’Orcher (FRA) — Development Team
Gone was the traditional prologue at this year’s Tour of Normandy with riders instead tackling an opening 143km stage from Bourg-Achard to Gonfreville-l’Orcher which saw Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo Vital Concept) take the win and Nathan Van Hooydonck and Pascal Eenkhoorn finish inside the top ten.
With strong winds expected on the exposed roads of stage 1 in Normandy, it was a nervous start to the day with the peloton setting a fast pace and remaining all together until the 70km to go mark when the race split in two.
A one-kilometer climb, with an average gradient of 10%, awaited the riders at the start of three local laps. and as they headed towards the finish line for the first time, Sivakov attacked. Anthony Delaplace (Fortunéo Vital Concept) and Justin Mottier (VC Pays de Loudéac) quickly joined him, and the trio were the given the freedom to extend a lead of 1'20" with 20km remaining.
Sivakov eventually dropped back as the duo accelerated onto the final 11km lap and with over a minute still separating them from the reduced bunch behind, it looked certain that they would contest the win.
Van Hooydonck and Eenkhoorn were part of the chase group behind and worked hard to minimize the time gaps at the line. The BMC Development Team pair finished fourth and eighth respectively, 26 seconds and 36 seconds behind new race leader, Delaplace.
Quote from the Finish Line
Nathan Van Hooydonck (leader of the Best Young Rider Classification after stage 1):
“The race was pretty hectic all day, and with it being the first stage no one wanted to take up the responsibility. Everyone wanted to be in the breakaway, but there wasn't one until after 100km of racing. In the end, only Pascal Eenkhoorn and I remained in the chase group of 25 riders, and we made the decision to try and not do too much of the pulling at the front and save ourselves a little for the finish. I think this was the right call as it means we are now in a good position with two riders in the top ten on the GC. We will see what the following days bring but the team is super motivated to race for a good result here.”
“It was a hectic start today with no one taking control of the race, and even though the pace was super high, there was still a fairly big front group with 40km to go. Pavel Sivakov attacked first and he was in a front with a group of riders on the first two laps, but then he slipped back. Nathan Van Hooydonck and I were then in the chase group behind the leaders, and we were able to stay in the wheel of the front five riders. I think everything will be more controlled from now on which will mean it's less stressful in the race. It’s good that we have two guys in the top ten for the GC. We are ready for the next six days of racing, and we will look out for opportunities to move up."
Pavel Sivakov (leader of the the Mountain Classification after stage 1):
“I attacked at 40km to go just before the local laps, and I was able to stay in front with the other two riders, but unfortunately, when they attacked again, I was empty. I am a little disappointed that I couldn’t go with the final move but I'm still happy with the form I showed today and to lead the Mountain Classification is good. It proves that my climbing legs are coming back. We have two guys in a good position on the GC after today so, we will work for them over the rest of the week and see what we can do."
Sports Director, Klaas Lodewyck:
“Today went pretty well for us. We started out riding at the front of the peloton, and Pavel Sivakov was able to take some points for the Mountain Classification. We also had an eye out for any early breakaways, but then, nothing happened. When the peloton hit the strong crosswinds section, the bunch split quickly, and both Martin Schäppi and Steff Cras were caught out."
"Everyone else was in the first group of riders, and Sivakov then attacked at the start of the local laps and was able to take more points as he rode in a group of three. Eventually, after putting in a lot of work on the climbs, Sivakov was dropped. In the end, there were some time gaps on the line, but Nathan Van Hooydonck and Pascal Eenkhoorn were able to do their best to minimize any time loss. They are still in a good position overall, and with six more days of racing still to come we will continue to race aggressively and see what we can do come Sunday.”
Tour of Normandy
Stage 1: Bourg-Achard > Gonfreville-l’Orcher, 143km
Top 3: 1. Anthony Delaplace (Fortuneo - Vital Concept) 2. Justin Mottier (VC Pays de Loudéac) 3. Justin Jules (WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect)
BMC Development Team Top 3: 4. Nathan Van Hooydonck 8. Pascal Eenkhoorn 66. Bram Welten