|Jorne Carolus taking it all in (Photo: DirectVelo)|
Belgian U23 RR Champion Jorne Carolus (Lotto-Belisol U23) won the opening stage of the Triptyque Monts et Châteaux stage race Friday ahead of Marco Benfatto (Astana CT) and Justin Van Hoecke (Wallonie-Bruxelles). The race itself was dominated by early breakaway groups that took all of the KOM spots and intermediate sprints before the peloton shut things down. The group of 4 that included Tanner Putt (USA) Nurbulat Kulimbetov (Astana CT) Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Belisol U23) and Adrian Gjolberg (Norway) remained out front for the last half of the race as Gjolberg took 3 out of 5 KOM spots to lock up the climber's jersey for tomorrow.
The peloton, who knew that today might be the only day for a bunch sprint, was keen to control the breakaway and never gave them a big gap and on the final big, flat circuit of the day, they were keen on bringing them back. The breakaway wasn't going to give it up easy either as they kept a gap into the final kilometers and going into flamme rogue, they still had 8 seconds on the peloton. Well I already gave away the thrilling conclusion...the peloton caught them with 300 meters to go and flew by them in full sprint. Carolus benefitted from having a teammate in the breakaway and was able to sit comfortably in the bunch without exerting too much. He was brought up to the front with a few kilometers to go by teammate Frederik Frison and launched his sprint with about 250 meters to go.
- Jorne Carolus (Lotto-Belisol U23)
- Marco Benfatto (Astana CT)
- Justin Van Hoecke (Wallonie-Bruxelles)
- Boris Vallee (Color Code-Biowanze)
- Bert van Lerberghe (Ventilair-Steria)
- Edward Theuns (VL Technics)
- Maxime Farazijn (EFC-OPQS)
- Asbjorn Kragh Andersen (Denmark)
- Nick van der Lijke (Rabobank Devo)
- Nicolas Bertuille (Ottignies-Perwez)
A few notes...
- Carolus is a pretty shrewd character for his age. He was thinking about leaving Lotto U23 this past off season as he was a bit of a hot commodity with his U23 RR Championship but when they renegotiated their terms, he twisted some arms into being guaranteed a stagiaire position with the Lotto-Belisol WT squad this August. Not too bad for a 21-year old.
- Benfatto has been having a consistent year sprinting so far with five top-5 placings so far but has not been able to seal the deal. This is a make-or-break year for him as he is 25 this season.
- There were a surprising amount of DNF's today including some bigger names like Wouter Wippert (3M), Oskar Svedsen (Norway) and Alex Kirsch (Leopard-Trek). Wippert gets a free pass as he just came off the Driedaagse De Panne but something seems off about him.
Tomorrow morning is the split stage that includes a 10km TT in the morning followed by a hilly road stage in the afternoon.