Following on from his two stage wins at the Four Days of Dunkirk, André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) continued his winning streak at the Baloise Belgium Tour (2.HC). On the opening stage in Buggenhout, the German beat the Italian Ricardo Minali (Astana Pro Team) and the Belgian Tim Merlier (Vérandas Willems-Crelan).

The first stage of the Baloise Belgium Tour in and around Buggenhout with its flat parcours suited the sprinters and despite the furious pace in the first hour of the race where 47 kilometres were covered, six riders managed to escape.

Aimé De Gendt (Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise), Conor Dunne (Aqua Blue Sport), Giovanni Carboni (Bardiani – CSF), Kenny Molly (Belgium), Michael Boros (Pauwels sauzen – Vastgoedservice Continental Team) and Dieter Bouvry (Cibel – Cebon) formed the breakaway but never gained much of an advantage.

It was mainly Lotto Soudal rider Jelle Wallays who led the peloton and who controlled the advantage of the escapees and later on, he was assisted by Team Astana and Vital Concept.

The peloton eventually caught the breakaway with nine kilometres to go. In the final kilometres, Daan Soete (Pauwels sauzen – Vastgoedservice Continental Team) tried to escape the peloton, but he was caught at the flame rouge. Lotto Soudal delivered a perfect lead-out and André Greipel rewarded the hard work of the team as he won the sprint ahead of Ricardo Minali (Astana Pro Team) and Tim Merlier (Vérandas Willems-Crelan).

“We wanted to win a stage, and we have already achieved that goal by now,” said Greipel afterwards. “I have to thank the whole team, everybody played its part in today’s victory. Especially Jelle Wallays did an amazing effort today. During the sprint preparations, I could stay on the wheels of De Buyst, Maes and Sieberg. There was some headwind at the finish so we had to time our effort really well, which we did.”

“A sprinter is only as good as the team in front of him. We have to use every race now to practise our sprint train and to trust each other towards the Tour de France. Tomorrow’s finish in Knokke-Heist should suit me as well, but I know it won’t be easy to get in a good position for the sprint. We will see what tomorrow brings.”


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