Friday, March 22, 2013

Tour de Normandie: Van Baarle puts it on the line; Dillier rides into yellow

In what was expected to be another exciting day at the Tour de Normandie, the race was turned on its head in the first hour as a large breakaway of 16 riders escaped the peloton and put leader Alexander Blain and his Raleigh squad on the ropes. Among this group of 16 riders were riders high on G.C. such Frederik Ludvigsson (People4You-Unaas) and Dylan van Baarle (Rabobank Development). Raleigh led the peloton throughout the first half of the day but the gap still hovered around 2 minutes.

As the race entered Villers-Bocage for the four finishing loops, the peloton began to turn up the pace as  the gap between the breakaway and the peloton dropped. As the break rolled through with two laps to go, the gap was only at 1'10" and dropping fast. It should be noted that while the action was fierce today, the racers were lucky in that rain held off today, making the suffering more bearable.

The peloton rolls through the finishing straight in Villers-Bocage 
Dylan van Baarle, who started the day 51 seconds down on Blain, decided to put it all on the line and as the gap continued to drop between the two groups, the Dutchman attacked the breakaway and quickly gained 10 seconds on the rolling course around Villers-Bocage. Breakaway riders began to drop away as van Baarle turned the screws out ahead, attacking the race the same way he did when he won both Ster van Zwolle and the Dorpenomloop. Multiple riders tried to bridge up to van Baarle but any attempts to bridge only saw him push his gap further out on the chasing group.

Van Baarle carried a 20 second gap into the final lap but action was stirring behind him. A group of three riders, including Anthony Charteau (Europcar), former race leader Fabio Silvestre (Leopard-Trek) and Silvan Dillier (BMC U23), attacked the peloton and bridged to the chasing group. Charteau went straight through the chasing group and bridged to van Baarle, who was unaware of the action behind him. Charteau, a former Tour de France KOM winner, was at home on the hilly course and managed to bridge up to van Baarle with 3 kilometers left. Charteau was able to distance himself from an exhausted van Baarle and salvage the Tour de Normandie for the Pro Continental squad, who had been having a pretty horrible week up until now.

Photo by David Allais and Tour de Normandie

 The chasing group were led in by Maxime Renault (Sojasun Espoirs) at 23 seconds while the chasing peloton, which contained Blain and his Raleigh team, was led in Jérémy Cornu (Vendée U) at 43 seconds. Silvan Dillier, who had been apart of the bridging group with Charteau and Silvestre, gained enough time on Blain to take the leader's jersey off his back.

Stage Results (Full Results)

  1. Anthony Charteau (Europcar)
  2. Dylan van Baarle (Rabobank Development) +3
  3. Maxime Renault (Sojasun Espoirs) +23
  4. Tony Hurel (Europcar) all s.t.
  5. Julien Duval (Roubaix-Lille)
  6. Martin Mortensen (Concordia-Riwal)
  7. Fabio Silvestre (Leopard-Trek)
  8. Troels Vinther (CULT Energy)
  9. Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (Vendée U)
  10. Frederik Ludvigsson (People4You-Unaas)
  11. Silvan Dillier (BMC U23)
G.C. Overall
  • 1. Silvan Dillier (BMC U23)
  • 2. Alexander Blain (Raleigh) +7
  • 3. Dylan van Baarle (Rabobank Development) +10
  • 4. Fabio Silvestre (Leopard-Trek) +24
  • 5. Frederik Ludvigsson (People4You-Unaas) +31
  • 6. Jesper Hansen (CULT Energy) +34
  • 7. Tom Scully (Raleigh) +36
  • 11. Julien Duval (Roubaix-Lille) +50

The race really was turned upside down today with Raleigh not getting into the early breakaway. The break had some great cooperation on a difficult course and really facilitated the later action. Van Baarle once again showed some immense power to get himself back into contention for the overall. He could have been considered out of it after having his prologue ruined by rain and being held up on stage one with a crash but he did what he does best and took it to his competitors. The race is really wide open with BMC U23, Raleigh and Rabobank Development having the best opportunities to take home overall honors. I am blown away by the performance of Frederik Ludvigsson this week. This is a kid that is barely out of the junior ranks and is already putting up performances like this...mega talent!

Tomorrow's route will take the peloton along the sea before they turn inland and head over another lumpy route to Bagnoles de l'Orne, the famous spa town. As Sunday is a flat route into Caen, tomorrow will be the decisive day for the GC men and we will see if anyone can wrestle the jersey away from Dillier.

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