Eneco Tour Stage 3: Stybar Wins After Attacking in the Final
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Zdenek Stybar was in perfect position in the final kilometers, sitting behind the trains of several teams hoping to set up the field sprint for the 187.3km Eneco Tour Stage 3 on Wednesday. Several teams had four or five riders, while Stybar waited patiently behind them. Suddenly, a Lotto-Belisol rider accelerated in a final corner and Stybar went with the move.
Stybar, Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Lampre-Merida) and Lars Boom (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) remained off the front inside the final kilometer, with more than enough of a gap to decide the stage. Stybar's sprint won out, crossing the line with fists pumping for the 48th OPQS win (46th road) in three disciplines in 2013. Richeze was 2nd, Boom was 3rd.
Stybar moves up to 3rd in the GC with his victory, and Alessandro Petacchi is now 9th. Demare is the current race leader.
OPQS was the aggressor throughout the race, sensing windy conditions and splitting the peloton earlier in the stage. While the race came back together with 57km to go, they dictated the pace and were able to also control their position well in the final.
"We knew today there was a possibility of a windy stage, so in the last two laps we tried to make a split," Sport Director Wilfried Peeters said. "In the circuit there was also a head wind. So we gave up, it was impossible to make something good out of the action. We decided to go for Petacchi in the final. Petacchi was on the wheel of Greipel, but in the last corner there was a gap. Petacchi was intelligent to stay on wheel of Greipel and that maintained the gap that permitted Stybar to play his chance today. I think it is a great result after the surgery Styby had to pass. I am happy for him and the team. Now he is 3rd in the GC. On Friday we have a time trial and we will lose a few seconds for sure. But on Saturday and Sunday we have two stages where Styby can defend himself and why not, try to get something good in the GC. We will see day-by-day, step-by-step. Today is important enough and we are happy with this result."
"I am really happy because it's the first victory since the Tour de Pologne last year," Stybar said. "After the surgery I had on my knee I couldn't train as I normally would. I really hated the period after the surgery because I couldn't really follow a specific schedule. It wasn't easy, but in the last weeks I was able to train really well in the Czech Republic, and after that good period at altitude camp. I felt I was improving quickly at that point. I knew I was going better today but still, I have never sprinted in my life. Even in training I didn't practice. The sprint is not my strongest point but probably after today I will change my mind because I was able to win. Maybe it is because I am sleeping in the same room as Petacchi. Maybe his sprint power rubbed off on me (laughs)."
"About the sprint, I knew it was going to be tough," Stybar continued. "Because the lap before, I asked Alessandro to ride for me to take the bonification. Alessandro worked for me and making that sprint I understood it was really tough as there was a headwind from the left. It was a really difficult final. When I did the sprint in the final I waited, waited, and waited for the right moment. I let the other guys pass, jumped on the wheel of Richeze and then I came out from his wheel and I did my sprint in the very last moment to be powerful enough to pass him. It's really nice to have a win like this. It's especially nice because tomorrow we arrive in Essen where I live with my girlfriend when I am in Belgium. It's really nice to arrive there with the win. We will see now, as starting on Friday we will start the weekend for the GC. I am focused on the TT. I know I will lose something but I want to try to go full gas and try to go into the final two stages in a good GC position. In Tour de Pologne I was pretty OK on the climbs. I will try to do my best on Saturday, and Sunday, the finish is more for my skills."