Another day, another BMC Racing Team victory at the SkodaTour de Luxembourg with Greg Van Avermaet taking the honors in the final sprint for the line on stage 2 ahead of teammate Jempy Drucker, who holds onto his overall race lead.
After a fast start to the day’s proceedings, the peloton remained together heading towards the first intermediate sprint at KM 13. Van Avermaet was in the mix and sprinted for two bonus seconds and consequently moved up into second overall on the General Classification.
Just a couple of kilometers later, three riders found themselves in a position to go clear off the front of the main bunch. But, with the BMC Racing Team-led peloton keeping control of the race, their advantage never reached beyond 2’30” over the first 70km of the day.
The gap extended slightly heading into the second half of the stage and was sitting at 3’37” with 100km to go. However, the peloton quickly reacted, and soon the breakaway was being steadily reeled in.
Inside the final 60km, the leaders had been brought to within one minute before the catch was made just over 10km later.
With the peloton hitting the reset button, it didn’t take long for six riders to make a move off the front and try to build up an advantage.
With 24km to go, the leading group was holding onto a narrow advantage of 15 seconds, and it wasn’t allowed to extend much further with the final climb, the Côte de Bereldange, coming just 9km before the finish line.
The fast pace which had been set by BMC Racing Team saw the main bunch dramatically reduced in size with just 18 riders, including Drucker and Van Avermaet, remaining as they caught the late breakaway with 8km to go.
Despite some tentative attacks, the group remained altogether heading under the flamme rouge, and soon the riders were heading towards a final sprint for the line.
With around 200m to go, Van Avermaet was powering his way through the reduced bunch, and his strength over the rest of the field was evident as he lunged for the line to secure the stage victory.
Behind him, Drucker was also showing his strength, tucking neatly into Van Avermaet’s wheel to take second on the line and maintain his overall lead on the General Classification, just one second ahead of Van Avermaet.
The Winner’s Interview with Greg Van Avermaet
Congratulations, Greg. How are you feeling after today’s win?
“It’s always good to come back to racing with a victory. My spring was amazing, and I’m happy that I’ve started back again with some good results. Winning is always difficult, so every victory I can take, I’m happy with.”
Talk us through the final sprint.
“Jempy went with a group, so I was a bit behind, waiting a bit, but then we came back, and Jempy was riding to keep Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) close. Then I decided to go by myself in the sprint and I went from pretty far but I was able to keep it. And, then I saw that Jempy Drucker was also second in the end. It was not really the plan to go for the win with me. The race went, and I still felt fresh. I was waiting a little bit until they caught Jempy’s group back and I came in a good position. I started to sprint from far, and nobody came over me. So, that’s how it went.”
This is your first race back after the Classics, how were you feeling out on the course today?
“I felt ok on the climb. It was not super, but I’m good enough to follow. I’m not going to drop everybody, but it was good. In the end, I know I have a good sprint also, so it was a good stage for me. It was pretty hard with the climbs in the end, and only the strong guys survive. I’m one of the fastest of this group.”
Quotes From the Finish Line
“It’s always nice to have the yellow jersey on home soil in Luxembourg, so I really enjoyed my day. The team did a great job. Floris Gerts and Martin Elmiger controlled the first 130km almost and then at the end it was Loïc Vliegen doing the hard leg work with Nathan Van Hooydonck and Michael Schär. We had a nice day, we defended yellow, and Greg Van Avermaet is now sitting second on the GC, so we are in a good position.”
“For me, an uphill finish is always difficult. Maybe I will be in the mix tomorrow but I am not expecting the victory. But, we have Greg and he is in good shape and the most important thing is that the team has yellow on Sunday afternoon.”