It was another action packed day of racing on VOO Tour de Wallonie stage 2 with Jempy Drucker sprinting to a top five finish and Dylan Teuns moving into the leader’s yellow jersey.
For the second consecutive day, it was a battle to get into the breakaway in Belgium with multiple early attempts unable to escape the grasp of the peloton.
After 18km, 20 riders, including Teuns, Loïc Vliegen, and Miles Scotson, looked set to go clear and began to build up an advantage on the Côte de Thimister with the peloton in pieces behind.
However, with the bunch back together, a furious pace saw the group pulled back before, 60km into the 189.4km course, six riders were finally given the freedom to establish a solid lead over the rest of the field.
The leaders’ advantage continued to rise steadily over the next 50km before peaking at around three minutes going over the top of the Côte de Becco.
With 70km to go, the peloton began to apply pressure on the front of the race and, with BMC Racing Team helping to set the pace, the final breakaway rider was caught just 25km from the finish line.
A late attack with 10km to go forced a 10-rider group, which included Teuns, to gain some ground but, with a fast run into the finish, the race was quickly back together, and the stage was set for a bunch sprint that was won by Jasper De Buyst (Lotto – Soudal).
Drucker was well-positioned at the front of the bunch on the two technical corners going into the finishing straight before launching his sprint with 300m to go and eventually crossing the line fourth.
A decisive split in the peloton heading under the flamme rouge saw the race leader at the start of the day, Benjamin Thomas (Armeé de Terre), caught out. While Teuns, who also took bonus seconds at the first intermediate sprint, was protected by his teammates and finished safely in the front group to move into the overall race lead with three stages remaining.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“Today went well for us. In the beginning, I was in a big move, and as I was the only GC rider in this group, it put a lot of pressure on the other riders in the bunch. Miles Scotson and Loïc Vliegen did a perfect job in this group, and I could take some bonus seconds. The traditional breakaway then went clear, and Armeé de Terre was controlling the race. We waited until the final circuits before putting riders up at the front to help with the chase. In the end, I tried something on the final climb, but I knew it would be hard with a fast descent into the finish. It was good to try and take some time there even though it didn’t work out. From then, I wanted to maintain a good position at the front of the peloton to avoid being caught up in any splits and stay safe. In the end, this proved to be a really good decision.”
“I am really happy. It is great to wear the yellow jersey but the time gaps are small, and there is still three hard days of racing to go. We know the final climb of tomorrow’s stage from Liège-Bastogne-Liège but it is really early in the race so, we are never properly racing on it. It is not too long, but it is really steep, so it will definitely be a hard finish tomorrow.”
“It was a pretty hard day. It was always up and down with a fast finish. The final sprint was technical with wet roads and a downhill. With 500m to go, there were two turns, but I was in a good position. The speed went down a little after this and I hesitated a bit too long before starting my sprint. I think that’s where the other guys passed me. I felt good today, and on the last climb, I was able to follow the best so that is a good sign, but you always want to win.”
“There are a couple of other stages that could come down to a bunch sprint but, for us, the priority will be to keep the leader’s jersey. This is the most important thing for us, but we will see over the rest of the race if another opportunity comes up.”
Sports Director, Allan Peiper:
“It was a good day for us. It was a hard stage today with around 2000m of climbing so it could have gone either way in terms of the finish. At the start, a group of twenty riders went clear, and we had Dylan Teuns, Loïc Vliegen, and Miles Scotson in there which was good for us. They were able to stay away until the first sprint at KM 37 and Dylan took second place there and gained a couple of bonus seconds. Over the next 30km or so, there were a lot of attacks until finally, six riders went away. As we came onto the circuits, the group still had a lead of around 2’30”. It was a strong group, so we put Francisco Ventoso on the front to help pull. The gap was still at 1’10” at the start of the next lap so we put Nathan Van Hooydonck and Manuel Quinziato on the front too and they caught the leaders on the last climb.”
“It started to rain over the last 10km and after Dylan’s group was caught, it was a fast descent into the finish. With the weather, we saw the peloton split with Dylan well-positioned in the front group to take the leader’s jersey. It was also great to see Jempy Drucker up there in the sprint. He put in a really good ride today.”
“Tomorrow is going to be another hard stage with the finish on top of the Mur Saint-Roch. They do that climb in Liège-Bastogne-Liège every year so, the riders know it. It is going to be a hard day defending but it will also be a hard finish there. But, we have a good team and a couple of really experienced captains to look after us on the road.”