Tom Boonen holds onto yellow jersey
Runner-up on Sunday in the Tour de Wallonie, Etixx – Quick-Step's rider will go into stage 3 as leader of the overall standings.
Stage 2 of the Belgian race was an undulating one, but despite the four categorized climbs on the course and the lumpy sections in the final part, it was still expected to come down to a bunch gallop. Franck Bonnamour (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Boris Dron (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Ludovic Robeet (Color Code-Arden'Beef), Mamyr Stash (Gazprom-RusVelo) and Antoine Warnier (Wallonie-Bruxelles) jumped from the field shortly after the flag was dropped and put more than six minutes between them and the peloton, which was controlled by Etixx – Quick-Step, who was shepherding Tom Boonen, Saturday's winner and the first leader of the race.
On Côte du Bourliquet, the day's first difficulty, the quintet couldn't stay together anymore, only Robeet and Warnier remaining up the road taking to Le Roeulx. The two managed to keep their big advantage until the last 50 kilometers, when the sprinters' teams got organized at the forefront and began chewing into the gap of the duo, eventually reeling them in at the 20-km to go mark, despite the fact that a crash disrupted the rhythm of the chase. The fast pace prevented any other attacks, so the stage winner was decided following a thrilling bunch sprint.
Tom Boonen came a close second, behind countryman Boris Vallée (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), and took some important bonus seconds which helped him stretch his lead in the general classification of the Tour de Wallonie, where the podium is rounded out by Sunday's winner and Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha). Another Etixx – Quick-Step rider who sits nicely in the overall rankings, just 16 seconds adrift, is Matteo Trentin; the 27-year-old Italian – victorious in a Giro stage this season – is in the mix also in the points classification, which has the same Boonen at the top.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele