Sunday, March 30, 2014

Stefan Küng and BMC Devo pull coup; takes Tour de Normandie overall

Today, the Swiss broke their neutrality and launched an attack on Omaha Beach, which saw them take Normandie and give them good position for the coming assault on the Low Countries. Okay, maybe they actually launch an assault on the beach and perhaps they are not occupying northern France. But, BMC Development launched an assault today on the final stage of the Tour de Normandie that shredded the peloton and took leader Lukasz Wisniowski out of contention for the overall win.

The final stage of the Tour de Normandie started in Torigni-sue-Vire and headed north towards Omaha Beach, where the race would ride the entire length of the beach (roughly 40 kilometers) and then cut inland again towards the annual finish in Caen. This stage is usually just a sprint finish that has no impact on GC but BMC Development had other plans on Sunday. Stefan Küng and Tom Bohli went with a breakaway that took off early in the stage and with company such as Frederik Ludvigsson, Benoit Jarrier, Alex Kirsch, Reidar Borgersen and 12 others, the breakaway got a big gap and when it came time to reel it back it, the gap was not coming down quickly.

Entering the final stages of the race in Caen, the 2nd largest community in Normandie, the gap was still at a healthy 1'30". Etixx was feeling the pressure in the peloton and even Lukasz Wisniowski, the leader of the race, was taking massive pulls on the front to try and bring the gap down. With one lap to go, it was 1'05" and Küng and company were still relatively fresh. Coming into the final sprint, it was Benoit Jarrier who took the stage honors ahead of Olivier Pardini (Verandas Willems) and Cedric Delaplace (Sojasun Espoirs) with Küng riding across the line hoping that they had done enough. It wasn't until 51 seconds later that Dan McLay beat out Marco Benfatto for 19th place that Küng was able to properly celebrate, making it the 2nd BMC Development winner in Normandie in as many years. Lukasz Wisniowski, was was crestfallen about losing the yellow jersey on the final day, finished the race in 15th overall.

Stefan Küng put in two impressive bookend rides that really sealed him Tour de Normandie overall. He won the opening prologue and after a week of solid riding including taking some time bonuses here and there, he rode impressively on the final day to take the overall ahead of Jarrier and Borgersen. His BMC Development teammate Tom Bohli capped off a great week with a 5th overall and 2nd in the youth category (behind Küng) and CC Nogent sur Oise's Kevin Ledanois was my biggest surprise of the week by finishing 6th overall (courtesy of getting into the breakaway on the final day) and taking 3rd in the youth category. U23 Dan McLay won the points classification by 5 points over Marco Benfatto and Stef Van Zummeren capped a successful week by winning the KOM classification.

BMC Development won the teams classification over Bretagne-Seche Environment and it is just a testament to how well Rik Verbrugghe manages his squad. With Silvan Dillier winning last year and Küng's win this year, they definitely have their shit together.

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