Stybar Powers to Stage Victory and Race Lead at Eneco Tour
A three-rider breakaway, which had been reduced to a single rider with about 11 kilometers to go, was completely caught with 4.6 kilometers remaining of today's 177.4 kilometer stage 2 from Waalwijk to Vlijmen. A select group of riders, led by Belkin-Linksys and a dominant Omega Pharma - QuickStep team, remained to decide the stage. But attacks were still flying with 1.5 kilometer to go, with Stybar, Lars Boom (Belkin-Linksys), and Manuel Quinziato (BMC Racing Team) getting a small gap.
The Czech national champion was able to hang on to good position in the final meters and he outsprinted the Belkin-Linksys duo Boom and Sep Vanmarcke in a group sprint (watch video highlights in our videos section. Viewable from within USA only). Stybar's stage victory also got him the lead in the Eneco Tour general classification. Stybar is also the defending overall champion.
"I feel pretty relaxed now despite a very hectic stage final," Stybar explained after celebrating his victory and race lead on the podium. "Everything turned out well and I'm happy with my victory. In the final we were there with the whole team, and we started to make an echelon with the crosswind. We were just riding hard and in a perfect position."
"I knew in advance that I have to be in front on the cobblestones, especially because they were wet. There were only two lines on the cobbles where you could ride safely. Former world champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) tried to ride away on the left side in that movement. We were all on the right side. but we closed the gap."
"Then Vanmarcke tried on his own, so that was the moment when I jumped on someone's wheel. Then when we caught up to that move with 1.5 kilometers to go, I saw Boom and Quinziato going. So I immediately jumped on their wheel. They were giving everything and I knew that Lars would go full gas to the final to try and win in his hometown. I didn't work with the others because I knew if I did, I would lose the sprint," Stybar continued.
"In that moment Bauke Mollema (Belkin-Linksys) came back and he started his sprint a bit early. I took over on the front for the sprint probably at about 250 meters to go, in front of the turn. It was a really long sprint. At one moment I thought it was too long, but I managed to stay in front and take the win."
When asked to comment on his expectations for tomorrow's stage 3 individual time trial, Stybar said "I just have to see what will happen tomorrow in the time trial. I think it will be important to not lose too much time. I'm not a time trialist, but I practiced a lot on my Specialized Shiv. So, I'm curious how I'll do tomorrow and I'll do my best to defend my jersey and minimize any time losses."
"The condition is good, so I will try to go for it, whether that means winning another stage or winning the Eneco Tour general classification for the second year in a row."
Watch video highlights from the turbulent stage 1 of Eneco Tour 2014 in our Roadcycling video player (Viewable within USA only)