Küng Maintains Third Overall Heading into the Final Two Day of Racing17. August 2018, Lanaken (BEL) — Road Team
Stefan Küng continues to sit third overall on the General Classification heading into the the final day of racing at Binck Bank Tour after crossing the line safely in the peloton behind the day’s winner, Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana Pro Team).
On paper, Binck Bank Tour stage 5 was another one suited to the sprinters in the race but for a third consecutive day, they were denied the opportunity to battle for the stage win with the three remaining riders from the breakaway able to hold off the chasing bunch in the closing kilometres of the day.
Once again a breakaway went away early today with four-riders jumping clear off the front of the main bunch after just a handful of kilometers and opening up an advantage that was sitting at one four minutes 35km, of the 204.4km course.
Unlike yesterday however, the peloton, where all seven BMC Racing Team riders were sitting, allowed the leaders to stay out in front for the majority of the day with gap settling at around three minutes and staying there until the chase began to pick up approaching the 70km to go mark.
At the start of the first of three laps of a 10.3km circuit around Lanaken, the gap had fallen to 2’30” with the peloton, led by a mix of the sprinters’ teams and race leader, Matej Mohoric’s Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team teammates, cautiously pulling the breakaway back in order to not make the catch too early.
However, another miscalculation from the main bunch saw the leaders head onto the final lap with an advantage of 1’45” and it was Francisco Ventoso who came up to the front for BMC Racing Team to try and add some extra impetus to the chase.
In the end, the three remaining leaders were still over one minute up the road going under the flamme rouge and on the drag up to the line, it was Cort Nielsen who still had enough power in his legs to take the stage win.
The peloton sprinted for the minor places around 30 seconds later with Greg Van Avermaet and Küng BMC Racing Team’s first two riders across the line after another day of solid teamwork from the whole team.
Küng now heads into the first of two decisive days of racing third overall, 22 seconds Mohoric.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“Today was nice as it was a less stressful day for us. There was not much wind and we were pretty much going in one direction the whole day. It doesn’t seem like the sprinters’ teams can organize themselves and worked well together here and I think that’s why once again, the breakaway made it. It was good for us that they didn’t take too much time going over the line and the result in the end, was okay for us.”
“We tried to be up there with the team and we rode well together again. The guys did a good job. The next two days will for sure decide the race and we will what tomorrow brings but for sure it will be a critical stage through the hills of Limburg. We know the stage from last year and we know we need to be up there and vigilant all day. I’m sure with the team we have that we can fo something nice over the next two days.”
Greg Van Avermaet:
“It was again a bit strange today. I think with the local circuits, it is difficult to catch a group back and they were working well in front of us. It seems like the sprinters’ teams are not very well-organized or they just don’t have the power to pull them back. Today was sort of the same story as we saw in Antwerpen. For me, I just tried to stay in as good a position as possible without losing too much energy and now, we’re heading into the weekend. Tomorrow is not the hardest day but it definitely has something more than the previous stages and we will see how I feel going into the first of two decisive days.”
Binck Bank Tour
Stage 5: Sint-Pieters-Leeuw > Lanaken, 204.4km
Top 3: 1. Magnus Cort Nielsen (Astana Pro Team) 2. Julius Van Den Berg (Team EF Education First - Drapac p/b Cannondale) 3. Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 37. Greg Van Avermaet 42. Stefan Küng 58. Loïc Vliegen
Wyss Sprints to Fourth Place on Brutal Day in Norway
17 August, 218, Kjøllefjord (NOR)
Strong winds wreaked havoc on stage 2 of the Arctic Race of Norway by causing echelons on numerous occasions, which saw Danilo Wyss sprint to fourth place from a small group, and caused a shake up of the General Classification.
After taking more than an hour to form, eventually six riders made the first breakaway of the day and went more than two minutes down the road in the first half of the race.
The strong winds and difficulty of the stage, with three of the five climbs given category one status, saw the breakaway’s advantage quickly decrease before Damiano Caruso put the hammer down at the front of the bunch to split the field with 60km remaining.
The acceleration from BMC Racing Team brought the breakaway back to the reduced bunch with 40km to go, before Alberto Bettiol and Wyss went on the attack.
Another attack split the group and Bettiol found himself in the lead with Jakob Fulgsang and Sergei Chernetski (both Astana Pro Team) with 35km to go.
The trio worked well together to quickly gain a 45-second advantage over a small chase group with Wyss, Nicolas Roche, and Michael Schär, while the main bunch was caught out more than 1’30” behind.
The strength of the crosswinds made it difficult to bring the trio back but the chase group succeeded with 4.5km remaining, which set the stage for more attacks in the tough finale.
Wyss and Roche made the front selection, while Schär fought back in the closing kilometers of the stage and Bettiol continued to chase around 15 seconds behind.
Schär launched a solid attack under the flamme rouge which saw the small group stretched out before the sprint for the line which was eventually won by Colin Joyce (Rally Cycling).
Wyss was positioned well in the last 500m and crossed the line in fourth place which saw the Swiss rider move into fourth on the General Classification. Bettiol conceded 18 seconds on the line and sits in fifth place overall, while Roche moved up to eighth place to give BMC Racing Team three riders in the top ten with two stages remaining.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“It was a crazy day with a really hard start and lots of echelons. It was Damiano Caruso who broke everything up with around 60km to go and from there it was pretty chaotic. We had Alberto Bettiol in front with two other riders which was perfect for us, and then a good chase group behind with me, Nicolas Roche, and Michi Schär. We eventually caught Alberto’s group with around 4km to go and then Michi tried to attack, then Nicolas, and I tried to save a bit of energy for the sprint. To be honest, I was pretty cooked from the hard stage so I didn’t really have good legs.”
“There are only three WorldTour teams here so you notice that the level is a bit lower, splits open up faster than they do in WorldTour races. Even yesterday, we were pulling at a normal pace and the field was really lined out. But today was definitely a hard day compared to any WorldTour race. We will sit down tonight and see what the plan is for the last two stages. Today we were working for Alberto and he is still in fifth place overall. I think anything can happen here so we will see how the stage goes tomorrow.”
Arctic Race of Norway
Stage 2: Tana > Kjøllefjord, 195km)
Top 3: 1. Colin Joyce (Rally Cycling) 2. Dennis Van Winden (Israel Cycling Academy) 3. Markus Hoelgaard (Team Joker Icopal)
BMC Racing Team top 3: 4. Danilo Wyss 10. Nicolas Roche 11. Michael Schär