Monday, March 23, 2015

Tour de Normandie Prologue: Bohli takes out a Scud Missle to win

The prologue of the Tour de Normandie is always a good test and seems to bring out the best U23 riders in the back as well as some of the older amateur riders still in the pack. The rolling Saint-Lô course has been a feature for the last four events and sets a tone for the race as many that have GC intentions for the week tend to show themselves here.

The course wraps itself around the small town of Saint-Lô, which was totally decimated in World War II, featuring a kick-up on the Rue Robert Kennedy of nearly 10% gradient before descending down the Rue Martin Luther King. The race has a small hill in the Avenue de Verdun before finishing back at the Place du General de Gaulle just meters aware from the start.

Last year, BMC Development rider Stefan Küng took the prologue win ahead of Itera's Sergey Nikolaev, who has been on fire this early season, and his teammate and U23 Tom Bohli. Küng has gone onto BMC's pro team while Bohli was back once again to line up against some of Europe's best. Standing in his way was Kiwi rider Tom Scully (Madison-Genesis), who won the prologue in 2013,  as well as teammates Thery Schir and Nathan Van Hooydonck.

Tom "Scud Missle" Scully but in a strong ride for Madison-Genesis and looked to be a winner but Tom Bohli improved upon his 3rd from last year to take the win and gave BMC Development their 2nd prologue win in a row and a good start to take their 3rd win overall here in a row.

Continental evergreen Olivier Pardini finished 3rd while U23 riders Jan Dieteren (Leopard-Trek) and BMC Devo rider Nathan Van Hooydonck finished 4th and 5th. 82 riders are within 20 seconds so the race itself is very much on still.

The GC is the same way that they finished on the stage so the only other interest from the stage was the KOM on the Rue Robert Kennedy. David Riviere of Vendee U was the quickest up the hill to take the KOM jersey followed by Peter Lenderink (Rabobank Continental) and Koen Bouwman (SEG Racing).

The action continues Tuesday with a 207 kilometer romp from Colombelles to the spa town of Forges-les-Eaux. The hilly final circuits will make it tough to see a sprint finish and will suit a solo breakaway or a small group sprint.

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