Saturday, March 30, 2013

Triptyque: Theuns blasts TT; Craddock solos to victory

Saturday was an action-packed day in Hainaut as the general classification was flipped on its head two times. The two stage winners today were previous stage winners at this race but perhaps not where you would have expected them...

Edward Theuns
The morning time trial provided a big surprise as Edward Theuns (VL Techniks-Abutriek) pulled off a major coup by besting Rabobank Development riders Dylan van Baarle and Ruben Zepuntke in the 10 kilometer test. Theuns and van Baarle were the only two riders to go under the 13 minute mark while Theuns averaged nearly 46.5 km/h on the technical course. Do you remember my preview of the race? Well if you were one of the amazing people that read that piece, you will notice that this isn't Theuns' first taste of success at this race. In 2010, Theuns, in his first year of riding for VL Techniks as a U23, pulled an upset on the final stage of the race by outsprinting the likes of Taylor Phinney, Jetse Bol and John Degenkolb in what is the finest victory of his U23 career. His time trial win today is surprising in that this is his first ever TT victory but after placing 6th on the first stage, it was obvious that he was in good form. I, personally, like Theuns as a rider because he has held off on turning pro because he is a full-time student right now studying physio-therapy at the University of Gent.

Top 5 (stage & GC) (Full Results)
  • 1. Edward Theuns (VL Techniks)
  • 2. Dylan van Baarle (Rabo Devo) +3"
  • 3. Ruben Zepuntke (Rabo Devo) +5"
  • 4. Jeroen Lepla (Ventilair-Steria) +6"
  • 5. Bert Van Lerberghe (Ventilair-Steria) +7"
While I know that split stages can be a pain in the ass for riders, they also provide some awesome racing, especially when the course is tough enough to cause a selection. The afternoon stage was one of those stages. The opening part of the stage was very controlled as Rabobank and De Rijke-Shanks were keen on keeping things together. No attacks were able to stick until with 35km to go, a group of four including Leopard-Trek's Fabio Silvestre was able to get a gap. The active peloton was not going to let this group go and as the race hit the hills, a group of nine was able to bridge to the leading four. The yellow jersey Theuns had bad luck as he flatted with 15km to go and was not able to join in any attacks and eventually finished the stage 3'05" down. Then as the kilometers ticked down and the group began to think of the sprint, there was an attack...

Lawson Craddock attacked with 2km to go and instantly got a gap. The Texan has had a slower build up to his season this year and after riding Alentejo last week and after only managing 20th in the TT, Craddock unleashed his fury on the run-in into Mont de l'Enclus and made no doubts about his form, adding to his advantage into the final kilometer and cruised to his first win in Europe since 2011 and with it, secured the yellow jersey.



Top 10

1. Lawson Craddock (USA)
2. Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise) +11"
3. Fabio Silvestre (Leopard - Trek continental) all s.t.
4. Nicky Van der Lijke (Rabobank Development)
5. Eugenio Alafaci (Leopard - Trek)
6. Maxim Farazijn (EFC - Omega Pharma - Quick Step)
7. Niels Godderis (Soenens - Construkt Glas)
8. Olivier Chevalier (Wallonie Bruxelles)
9. Frederik Verkinderen (Team 3M)
10. Stig Broeckx (Lotto Belisol U23)


The main bunch ended up being 65 riders that finished 36 seconds down on the streaking Craddock.
G.C. 


1. Lawson Craddock (USA)
2. Jeroen Lepla (Ventilair-Steria) +1"
3. Fabio Silvestre (Leopard-Trek) +3"
4. Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen) +7"
5. Eugenio Alafaci (Leopard-Trek) +18"
6. Nick van der Lijke (Rabobank Devo) +20"
7. Stig Broeckx (Lotto Belisol U23) +22"
8. Dylan van Baarle (Rabobank Devo) +23"
9. Ruben Zepuntke (Rabobank Devo) +25"
10. Bert van Lerberghe (Ventilair-Steria) +27"

Full Results (Stage + GC)

All that I can say for certain is that tomorrow is going to be a hell of a stage. There are 10 climbs and once the race gets going, there are zero areas on the course that would allow a detente.

  • It was some shit luck for Theuns as he was active in some moves today and was keen to defend his jersey. I tell you this though, this will not be the last time you hear his name. His performances thus far this week have justified his pursuit for a national team place in bigger U23 events.
  • While Craddock pulled an amazing move today for the win, tomorrow's stage will be even more difficult because a) the additional climbs and b) his USA team will have to be attentive at the front because Jeroen Lepla and Fabio Silvestre could take the jersey off of Craddock's shoulders merely by taking some bonus seconds at an intermediate sprint.
  • Speaking of Lepla, he is perhaps the biggest surprise of this stage race so far as he has been active in every stage so far. This is perhaps a breakthrough race for the Ventilair-Steria rider along with his teammate Bert van Lerberghe.
  • The two most dangerous men, in my opinion, in the top 10 are Fabio Silvestre and Dylan van Baarle. I might sound like a homer when it comes to van Baarle but he is only 23 seconds back and after his exploits so far this season, I never count him out. Silvestre could benefit from negative racing and with his Leopard-Trek team having he, Alafaci and Sean de Bie all sitting in the top 15, they could capitalize on other teams burying themselves early in the race.


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