Second for Peter Sagan after late attacks shake up the BinckBank Tour GC race.
After three flat road stages, the BinckBank Tour got a lot harder today, with the terrain featuring eighteen challenging climbs and roads that would push the riders’ bike handling skills to the limit. In the lead up to the finale, attack after attack came, with the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, pushing ahead in a small group. While the Slovak rider was clearly aiming for the win, Peter was unable to chase down a late attack on his own, winning the sprint for second. Increasing his points lead and moving to second in the GC, the race is really starting to come alive now.
Like a miniature Spring Classics race, stage 5 gave riders a taste of some of the harder terrain the Netherlands has to offer, with some climbs familiar to those who had ridden the early season one-day races. The stage profile listed no fewer than eighteen hard ascents, and while these weren’t mountains, they were the infamous short, sharp and steep climbs the Classics are known for. Spaced out over the 167.3km route, they would tire out the riders and make contesting what had the potential to be a fast finale difficult. While the race organisers had changed the layout of the flat finish in case of rain, staying in touch to contest it was going to be more of a challenge.
Starting the day in good weather, the pace was fast – until the peloton hit the first climbs of the day. As the road turned skywards the peloton’s pace dropped, and this allowed a group of seven to make the break. Their advantage quickly ramped up to more than four minutes, but with the terrain so changeable, the peloton didn’t want to have to work to reel in too great a lead and worked to cut this back to a more manageable three minutes. With 50km remaining, there were still some hard climbs to come, making the catch all the more difficult. A few riders back in the main bunch, the UCI World Champion, Peter Sagan, was riding tempo, but with the pace high and the gap dropping, some splits started to form in the chasing group. Staying up front with his BORA-hansgrohe teammates, the gap came down to 1:20 and was dropping fast.
At the 20km to go mark, it was less than twenty seconds to the now splintering break, where only two riders remained. Attacks and counter-attacks came in the closing kilometres, with Peter jumping ahead himself with less than 10km to go, forming a very strong group on the front. This group posed a huge threat, and the peloton worked hard to try to close the gap, but on a downhill section with 6km to go, Peter went again, spurring the group on and showing how eager he was to take the stage. The riders in this small group were nervously eyeing each other to see who would go on the attack, but when Lotto-NL Jumbo’s Boom went, Peter was the only one who tried to go with him but was held back when none of the other riders in the group joined him. While Boom took the win, Peter fought it out to take second place, his efforts gaining him more points in the blue jersey contest, and the bonus seconds on the line moving him up to second in the GC.
It was a hard day for the UCI World Champion, but Peter was pleased with his performance and at his rise up the GC. "It was yet another hard and fast stage at the BinckBank Tour. The squad performed very well and, once again, put in a strong effort in the peloton. I was in the front group when the split took place, together with all the top riders. However, there wasn't a lot of collaboration in that group and Boom was able to attack, build a gap and win the stage. I took the sprint for second place and the six bonus seconds. I'm satisfied with today's result and I'm second overall, just two seconds behind the leader, with two more stages to go."
After a tough day on a demanding course, Head Sports Director, Enrico Poitschke, saw that the team worked well, with everything still to fight for. 'It was a tough stage today. The roads were narrow and the climbs weren't long, but because of the wet roads, you had to be always in a good position in the front. The stage started fast and then we worked together with Team Sky and BMC to control the breakaway. In the finale, we wanted to bring Peter in the front. The team worked very well together and, in particular, Peter was really strong today. He started some attacks but also controlled the other riders and their attacks. All in all, we are really happy with his second place in the stage, while in the GC he is only two seconds behind the new leader."
It’s another brutal and hilly day at the BinckBank Tour tomorrow, with 203.7km and fourteen climbs to deal with. With the efforts of the previous five days, the hard climbs and the long distance, the flat finish is one the sprinters will want to contest, but with such a hard day ahead of them, only the strongest will survive to fight for the win.