Saturday, March 23, 2013

Zabel & Zirbel zoom to wins in Normandie & Alentejo

Zabel Sprint To Win in Bagnoles de l'Orne

Rick Zabel (Rabobank Development), the son of famed sprinter Erik, sprinted to his first win of the year in the 5th stage of the Tour de Normandie in Bagnoles de l'Orne. Silvan Dillier (BMC U23) kept his leader's jersey but both Alexander Blain (Raleigh) and Dylan van Baarle (Rabobank Development) were able to gain a couple seconds on Dillier, as both are respectively at 5" and 9".

The first hour of racing was blistering as the pack averaged over 49 kph and no breaks were able to be established. A break of 7 finally got away at kilometer 80 with Fothen (NSP) Zhandos (Astana CT) Krainer (Vendée U) Schoonbroodt (De Rijke) Remme (Joker-Merida) Cort Nielsen (CULT Energy) and Lodewijks (Verandas Willems) and got a maximum gap of 3 minutes. As they reached the finishing loops in Bagnoles de l'Orne, the gap was quickly reduced and the break was caught before they crossed the finish line for the first time.

The pace in the peloton quickened once again in town and the peloton was broken into multiple groups, leaving Dillier isolated in the front group. Former junior world champion Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier attacked the front group by was brought back with 2km to go. Zabel was led-out by teammate Nick van der Lijke and easily took the stage over Tony Hurel (Europcar) and Marco Benfatto (Astana CT).


Dillier retained his lead but he and his BMC U23 squad will have to be on their toes as both Alexander Blain and Dylan van Baarle could theoretically take his lead away from him with time bonuses.

Zirbel zooms to solo win in Alentejo

Picture courtesy of Volta ao Alentejo site, pad.pt
Tom Zirbel (Optum) took the solo win into Odemira, the 2nd win in as many days for Optum, after attacking his breakaway mates Diogo Nunes (Carmin-Tavira) and teammate Scott Zwizanski in the final kilometers. Zwizanski dropped Nunes for 2nd place. While it was sweet victory for Zirbel in the end, the beginning of the stage was a miserable affair. Buckets of rain during the first half of the race made it a miserable affair but eventually, the rain left and the sun emerged. Bontrager was intent on keeping the race together for race leader Jasper Stuyven so that he could consolidate his lead. They did just that as Stuyven added 4 seconds to his lead thanks to winning one sprint point and getting 3rd on another.

With 20 kilometers left in the stage, Zirbel, Zwizanski and Nunes attacked the peloton and instantly got a gap. Efapel drove the peloton behind as the trio gained time on them. Zirbel put in an attack on the final rise before the descent into Odemira and Zwizanski played the good teammate, sitting on Nunes. After Zirbel gained a good gap, Zwizanski attacked Nunes and went in solo for 2nd.



Sammy Caldeira (OFM) won the bunch sprint for 4th, some 32 seconds behind Zirbel, with Unai Iparraguirre (Euskadi) and Stuyven coming in 5th and 6th. Tomorrow is the final stage of the 5 stage race and will be a circuit race around Santiago do Cacém, which will feature a category-4 climb that will be raced over 5 times, with the race finishing on the climb.

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