I told you it would be a sprint. And it was. If everyone would just listen to me about everything, things would just go much more smoothly.
On what was the easiest day of the Triptyque, Rabobank Development's Andre Looij used his leadout by Mike Teunissen to sprint to a comfortable ahead of Tiesj Benoot and took the opening stage of the 2014 edition. The Dutchman took out the sprint by a comfortable 2 bike lengths over Benoot and Michael Goolaerts (Verandas Willems).
The day started out with a breakaway of four riders that took off after the first climb including Owain Doull (GB National Team), Maxime Anciaux (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Stef Van Zummeren (3M) and Francesco Van Coppernolle (Verandeas Willems). Anciaux and Van Zummeren, the winner of the KOM competition in Tour de Normandie, were battling for the rest of the hill points on offer while Doull was getting the majority of the intermediate sprint points. While they were able to fight it out for a little while, the group was sucked up with over 50 kilometer to go, which included three laps of the finishing circuit.
On the 1st passage of the finish line, Mike Teunissen (Rabobank Development) took the sprint ahead of Bert Van Lerberghe (EFC-OPQS) and Kristian Haugaard (Giant-Shimano). Teunissen got 3 seconds bonus while the others for 2 and 1, respectively. On the 1st circuit, there were a few attacks including a solo one from Michael Goolaerts but everything was brought back because of the bonus seconds on offer. Haugaard won the final intermediate sprint for a 3 seconds bonus ahead of Daan Myngheer (EFC-OPQS) and Rob Leemans (Lotto-Belisol U23). While some attacks tried to get away on the final circuit, Astana Continental and Color Code-Biowanze shut everything down and the sprint was imminent.
T.Palm-PCW was amassing on the front for their sprinter Andrew Ydens but in the finale, it was Mike Teunissen who beautifully set-up Andre Looij with a brilliant leadout and with 200 meters to go, Looij lept off the Limburg man's wheel and was able to win by 2 bike lengths over Lotto's Benoot and Gollaerts. It was a brilliant win for Looij, who is a 1st year U23 with Rabobank, and a confirmation of his good form that he showed at Ster van Zwolle. Benoot definitely helped his GC chances with his strong sprint to take a 6 second bonus headed into tomorrow's TT and hard RR.
There were only a few riders that finished off the back of the peloton and only 6 DNF's but one of those did include Lotto's sprinter Dan McLay.
Tomorrow will start off with a 10 kilometer time trial in the morning, which should pick out those GC men that are on form, and will conclude with a 95.5 kilometer stage in the afternoon that is back-loaded with 7 climbs in the final 45 kilometers. Benoot, Teunissen and Haugaard all looked good today but many riders could have been using today to play it coy and go all out tomorrow.