Tour of Belgium Stage 2: OPQS Takes Command, Boonen on the Podium Again
Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team dictated the actions of the race at the 178.8km Stage 2 of Tour of Belgium (Baloise Belgium Tour) on Thursday. OPQS put seven riders into a lead group with a little more than 30km to go. OPQS pushed on in a crosswind, completely shattering the peloton as a break was ahead and leaving GC leader Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) caught out in the chasing group.
OPQS put everything they had on the front, rotating riders as they kept the tempo high in hopes of putting themselves in the best position for a stage victory. After the final climbs of the day — including the Bosberg and the Congoberg— three riders went ahead: Niki Terpstra, Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) and Francesco Gavazzi (Astana). However, those three only had a lead of about 20" going into the final kilometers, and they were brought back with 1km to go.
Terpstra launched his sprint on the left side, while Belgian Champion Tom Boonen launched up the middle of the scrambling peloton. Greipel managed to catch him in the final meters, as did Danny Van Poppel (Vacansoleil-DCM).
Greipel won the stage by a bike throw, Van Poppel was 2nd, and Boonen 3rd. Terpstra was also 9th.
OPQS looks next to a 15km Stage 3 ITT on Friday. 2012 Tour of Belgium champion Tony Martin — UCI World TT Champion — will have his sights on this stage.
"Today was a very cold and rainy day," Boonen said. "So that made the race extremely hard. In the final we tried to split the group. It worked for a little bit, but not perfectly. Then in the end I jumped a little bit too early for the sprint because I made a mistake yesterday and I didn't want to do it twice. I think if the finish line was 20 meters earlier I would have made it. So, I just need to improve a little bit more."
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