Tour de Bretagne (Stages 2 & 3)
Riccardo Zoidl (Gourmetfein-Simplon) continued his breakout season on stage two of the Tour de Bretagne when he broke away with Rabobank Development's Nick van der Lijke from the leading breakaway and then proceeded to drop the Dutchman just before the line to take the stage victory and slide into the yellow jersey. Zoidl, the overall winner of the Circuit des Ardennes, has come on in the last two seasons and looks certain to gain a pro contract next year.
Zoidl and van der Lijke were apart of the day long breakaway including Petr Vakoc (Etixx-iHNed), Pierre-Luc Perichon (Bretagne-Séché), Julien Morrice (Vendée U) Yaan Botrel and Jacques Bouchevreau (Selection Bretagne). Windy conditions made it hard for the peloton to pull back the peloton and when Zoidl and van der Lijke attacked, they were gone for good and the peloton had to limit their losses. The group sprint was won by Marco Benfatto (Astana) over Luis Mas Bonet (Burgos BH) and Timothy Dupont (Ventilair-Steria).
Stage 2 highlights
Stage three saw a group of 4 powerful riders breaking away late and holding off the peloton with Timothy Dupont holding off Thüringer Energie's TT powerhouse Jasha Sütterlin and the Etixx-iHNed duo of stage 1 winner Louis Verhelst and Florian Senechal. Juan Villegas (4-72 Colombia) won the bunch sprint just 7 seconds behind with Marco Benfatto (Astana) and Eugenio Alafaci (Leopard-Trek) coming in behind him.
Stage 3 highlights
Skive Løbet & Himmerland Rundt (Denmark)
While the Himmerland Rundt has been around for a few years now, the organizers have added two races to make it more attractive to foreign teams. With the Skive-Løbet and Destination Thy joining the Himmerland Rundt, 33 teams showed up to the flat and windy Danish coast for racing.
Skive Løbet was won by Danish speedster Patrick Clausen (CULT Energy) over Remco Te Brake (Metec) and former World Tour rider Gorik Gardeyn (Doltcini-Flanders) from a 45-strong peloton. Wind decimated the race as echelons formed and a large group of nearly 60 was dropped from the leading back. On a sad note, this was the last race for Steve Schets (Doltcini-Flanders). After struggling to find motivation for this season, Schets fell and broke his elbow and immediately announced his retirement after the race. Schets was the winner of the inagural Handzame Classic in 2011.
Himmerland Rundt, the gem of the weekend, was won by Yoeri Havik (De Rijke-Shanks), winner of the ZLM Tour and 4th place the previous day at Skive. Riding near the west coast of Denmark, wind was once again the major factor of the day because by the time the final sprint was coming, the peloton was down to only 32 riders. Out of 187 starters, only 80 finished the race because after so many were dropped, it seems as if they were too tempted by passing the team cars on the finishing loops.
In the end, it was Havik taking the sprint convincingly over Norwegian Kristian Drynes (Øster Hus Ridler), Magnus Cort (CULT Energy) and Fridtjof Røinås (Plussbank). It is so nice to see an-all U23 podium in a race that is open to riders of all ages.
- Jeff Vermeulen (Metec) beat out breakaway partners Niko Eeckhout (AnPost-Chain Reaction), Grischa Janorschke (Nutrixxion-Abus) and Michael Vingerling (3M) in the final sprint for the win at the Zuid Oost Drenthe Classic I. Behind them, it was Wouter Wippert (3M) beating out Dylan Groenewegen (De Rijke-Shanks) in the bunch sprint. Groenewegen beat out Wippert for the win at the Ronde van Noord-Holland last weekend so this proves that the duel is not one sided between these two young Dutch sprinters.
- Federico Zurlo (Zalf-Euromobil) was 1st across the line at the Memorial Carlo Valentini but was last on the results sheet. Zurlo, a 1st-year U23 with Zalf, got into a fight with an unnamed Trevigiani rider just a few kilometers before the finish. Luckily for Zalf (and Zurlo), teammate Paolo Simion had come in 2nd to Zurlo and was promoted to the top step.