The first road stage of Olympia’s Tour got underway today with a 131 kilometre road stage starting and finishing in Assen. A flat course and one for the sprinters, the course was far from straightforward with various cobbled sections and difficult weather conditions making racing complex.
It was a fast and furious start to the stage with various attacks neutralised in the early stages of the race. After 65 kilometres a 13-rider group jumped clear of the bunch, edging their lead out to one and a half minutes. Having missed the group Development Team Sunweb led the chase in the peloton across the days challenging terrain. Wind caused splits in the peloton but Florian Stork, Jarno Mobach and Nils Eekhoff maintained position inside the first chasing group. Despite their strong efforts in the chase, the leading group worked well together and made it to the finish to take the victory. Team Sunweb finished the day inside the peloton.
In the final 12 kilometres Nils Eekhoff hit the deck in a crash and was forced to abandon the race. After a check-up at the hospital Nils has had two stitches on a laceration to his knee to speed up the healing process.
“Today’s stage was filled with a lot of wind and rain,” explained Florian Stork. After we missed the 13-rider break we tried to keep the gap as small as possible. Then the wind picked up and other riders joined at a crosswind section. The bunch really shrunk but me Nils and Jarno were up there. Jarno and I gave everything so that we didn’t loose more time but unfortunately Nils crashed out of the race. After a day with some bad luck, our race can only get better from here.”
Team Sunweb coach Tom Veelers said: “The racing was full gas from the go with a lot of wind. The guys had to chase because they missed the group and a few guys missed the splits in the bunch. We’ll evaluate on these things and take on board points for the coming stages. Unfortunately Nils crashed with 12km to go and is forced to abandon which is a blow for the team. We wish him a speedy recovery.”