|Vermeulen takes the flowers and smooches again (Photo: @AllardEngels)|
After trying his hardest to keep the leader's jersey over the past few days, Coen Vermeltfoort finally ceded the Royal Smilde Olympia's Tour lead to Metec's Jeff Vermeulen as the man from Rotterdam took the sprint win on stage three in Gendringen. Vermeltfoort, who has been a one-man show as his De Rijke-Shanks team has lacked some depth, tried valiantly to keep the white leader's jersey but only managed one bonus sprint win and thanks to the finishing bonus seconds, Vermeltfoort sits at 3 seconds behind Vermeulen.
The Thursday stage was water logged as it rained from kilometer zero until the end of the stage. The rain gave the riders in the peloton a brief respite as the average speed for the stage was just 45.5 km/h average for the 158 kilometer stage. (The average speed for this race, as it stands now, is a whopping 46.65 km/h.) A group including Rens Te Stroet (Jo Piels), Leander Schreurs (RDW), Joey van Rhee (Metec) and Patrick Ruckert (Parkhotel) were the main breakaway of the day but with the rain and poor conditions, they were being reeled in relatively early with 50km to go as the race hit the local laps around Gendringen. Jim van den Berg (Koga) lept out of the pack and it was Te Stroet and Schreurs who joined him as the other two were swallowed by the peloton.
Being just 32 seconds down on GC, Te Stroet assumed the leader on the road status as the gap grew to over a minute for the Jo Piels rider. His lead was short lived as De Rijke-Shanks, 3M and Ked-Stevens ramped up the pace and took the break back with one lap left to race. Coming into the finale, Vermeulen had decided to go solo and said post stage that he told his team that he's "got this". The cockiness was backed up with legs because when Wouter Wippert (3M) hit out, Vermeulen went past him and then easily held off Wim Stroetinga (Koga) to take the win. In the last three days, Vermeulen has gone 1st, 2nd and 1st in an impressive display of sprinting. The question is will it get him the attention he needs to get a pro contract...
Stage 3 Full Results along with Full GC Results
Stage 4 will be the decider (probably..what do I know?) as the race has 15 "KOM" sprints as it goes around Massright and Valkenburg in the heart of Limburg. It will be a doozy and my money is on Raboabnk Development to blow the doors off the race.