Saturday, March 29, 2014

Benfatto dodges carnage; takes Tour de Normandie sprint into Carentan

For the majority of the finale at the Tour de Normandie, it looked like there would be a coup on GC and that Lukasz Wisniowski would be unseated from the lead by Reidar Borgersen (Team Joker) but after the peloton hit the hyperdrive, the breakaway was caught in the final kilometer and even more chaos ensued. After a crash went through the peloton, that even delayed leader Wisniowski, it was Astana Continental's Marco Benfatto who was able to emerge victorious ahead of Kristoffer Skjerping (Joker) and Romain Cardis (Vendée U) in the mad dash to the line. Wisniowski, Sondre Holst Enger and Owain Doull were just some of the victims from the crash that swept through the peloton and none were able to participate in the sprint.

The stage, which included a ride along Utah Beach to commemorate D-Day, included multiple breakaways that attempted to wrestle the GC lead away from Wisniowski including a five-man breakaway containing Clement Kortezky (7th, Bretagne-Seche Environment). That breakaway, which was away for the majority of the day, was shut down and then a two man move including Borgersen (9th place) and Fridtjof Roinas (Sparebanken Sør) took off in the last 20 kilometers and got a maximum of nearly 40 seconds, which was more than enough to put Borgersen into yellow. As the kilometers began to click down, the gap plunged to under 20 seconds with 5 kilometers left. Still wanting the stage win, the two put their heads down and soldiered on but heading into the last kilometer, it was all for naught as the peloton went rushing by them. In the finale, there were two separate crashes that ended up causing a hell of a lot of chaos, which led to shuffling and re-shuffling as the sprint unfolded. Dan McLay hit the front too soon for Lotto-Belisol and was toasted by the time others launched their sprint. Benfatto swept past for his 1st win in 2 years with the Astana Continental, finally capitalizing on an big number of podium places. Following Skjerping and Cardis, it was last year's Belgian Top Competitie winner Nicolas Vereecken (Verandas Willems) in 4th and ex-Belgian U23 RR Champion Jorne Carolus (Lotto-Belisol) in 5th.

Tomorrow is the thrilling conclusion to the 34th Tour de Normandie that will include a 40 kilometer ride along Omaha Beach in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day as well as a likely sprint finish around the Hippodrome in Caen.

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