Monday, October 3, 2016

Olympia's Tour: Rabobank bow out in style

From 2002 to 2009, Rabobank Continental won 9 consecutive Olympia's Tour. It should have been renamed the Rabobank Invitational at some point because they took out 16 of the 21 overall podium places during that time. While Taylor Phinney interrupted that run in 2010, Jetse Bol and Dylan van Baarle kept the name going through 2013. The talent that Rabobank put out year after year was loading the pro peloton (and the big Rabobank team) and seemed like a never ending pipeline.

Yet with all of the success and the huge amount of talent still present, Rabobank Development will cease to exist after this year. The orange kits that have been present for nearly 20 years will not be found in 2017. With many riders still figuring out their 2017 plans (or at least not announcing them yet), why not go out with a bang?

After taking some precious bonus seconds finishing 2nd on stage 5, Cees Bol (who is joining SEG Racing Academy for 2017) was finally in the yellow jersey after multiple days of chasing Pavel Sivakov. With the hilliest stage on tap for the final day, Bol was in defense mode as only a handful of riders could challenge his lead.

Riding from Margraten, multiple breakaways tried to get away from peloton including a move that included 3rd-place Harthijs De Vries (Rabobank Devo) along with Michael Storer (Australia) and Geoffrey Curran (USA) but was shut down in favor of a two-man move with Remi Cavagna (Klein Constantia) and Ole Forfang (Norway), which got a couple of minutes lead. Racing was fast with the first couple of hours around 41 km/h.

Rabobank went to the front to tap out tempo as another move went up the road with Julius Jelmer, Fridtjof Røinaas and Julien Van Den Brande making the junction but the freedom was short lived as the speed was picking up fast. Soon enough, it was in with the old and out with the new, who took off with about 20km to go.

Dewulf was the highest on GC but was over three minutes back and with only 20 kilometers, there wasn't enough road left unless Bol, Sivakov and the others pulled over and had lunch.

Going into the finish, another move of 10 riders split off the front of the GC-controlled peloton, again none of the fighting over GC. The groups were splintering on the uphill finish and after 170 kilometers in cold, rainy weather, everyone was ready for the end.

To make it a fitting end to a fitting run, Martijn Budding took the final win in the Olympia's Tour for Rabobank Development in a tight sprint over Piet Allegaert and Stan Dewulf. Dewulf and Curran jumped 4 places each to finish 8th and 9th overall, which made them the biggest movers on the GC board for the places that mattered.

To make it an even more sweet end to the bittersweet departure, Cees Bol hung onto the overall GC after coming across the line with Sivakov and 3rd place De Vries, which was the status quo from before. While the finish was a little anti-climactic as the previous stages were filled with tight racing, it capped off a great weekend of racing before heading off to Doha.

-This is by far Bol's biggest win as a U23 after coming close in races like the Paris-Arras Tour and the Ronde de l'Oise. Going to SEG next year is a big signal that he is on track for a big contract as they tend to move a lot of riders up if they do relatively well.

-This was also the final race for Klein Constantia, which started off life as Etixx-iHNed back in 2013 and was actually the subject of Espoirs Central's first ever article. Patrick Lefevere forever bitched about having to carve out money from his budget to support a healthy development team but this is a team that actually worked so it is a shame that it isn't continuing.

-Pavel Sivakov is the most versatile U23 rider at this time

-Edward Planckaert is quite deserving of his Topsport Vlaanderen contract after SO MANY top 10 finishes from February to October. Pretty incredible.

-For not being a Nations Cup and it being October now, the talent level here at the Olympia's Tour was pretty impressive. Sprints, breakaways and time trials...what is there not to like??

On to Doha...

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to say it's been a pleasure following this blog through the season, and I hope you'll continue.