Team KATUSHA ALPECIN’S Maurits Lammertink took a strong sprint victory in a 2-man battle in Saturday’s stage 4 of the Baloise Belgium Tour, out-kicking his rival to win in Ans, a familiar finish as the final in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. It was the Dutch rider’s first team win and marks the eighth of the 2017 season for KATUSHA ALPECIN. Teammate Tony Martin also performed well, taking ninth on the stage and sitting in third place on GC at +.05 behind race leader Rémi Cavagna of Quick-Step Floors.
The stage was 167.8k and took place under hot conditions at 34C. “This is a really, really big surprise. After racing in Yorkshire I had some rest and only did some training. The first few days here I was not super, but today I had good legs and I’m happy with the victory today. We planned to go in the big groups today, so on the first climb when the original group was caught back, Tony told me to go. When I looked back at the top, we had a nice group, including (teammate) Rein Taaramäe. We worked well together and made a nice advantage. At one point I realized how good I felt and thought I could try for the victory. I waited for my moment to go, the guy from Trek came with me and I was strongest in the sprint,” said Maurits Lammertink, age 26. Second place went to Trek-Segafredo’s Ruben Guerreiro, both on the same time of 4:09:50 (40.299 km/h).
Tony Martin is building up for July’s Tour de France and likes how he is feeling in the Belgian tour.
“To be honest I wasn’t sure if I had the condition today so my goal was to look for wheels to follow. In the end things were not so bad, in fact they were good. I came here with intensive training and I’ve had this from the first day. Every day I feel better and better. Today I felt really good. It’s a pity I miss five-seconds to the lead. But I am happy with my condition and will continue my build-up for the Tour de France. I feel I’m going in the right way and feel no panic here about not having the lead. We had a nice stage victory here today and we have 2 riders in the top 10. Everything is OK and I’m still on my way to the Tour de France,” said team leader Tony Martin.
The win for Lammertink validates his hard work after a devastating crash last season.
“In the classics I missed something, maybe from last year’s big crash in the Tour of Switzerland. It was so hard to come back from that, over three months without racing, but I’ve been working hard and now I hope I have my good form back,” said Maurits Lammertink.
He holds sixth place on the classification at +.34. The final stage of racing takes place on Sunday. At 169.6k the road stage begins in Tienen and ends in Tongeren.