Tim Merlier won on the first stage of the Tour du Benelux in a sprint in a small group of about twenty riders at the end of a stage marked by curbs and the mechanical problem of a Remco Evenepoel who lost more than ‘one minute.
The first stage of this Tour of Benelux took the riders on the Dutch roads between Surhuisterveen and Dokkum on a very flat course of 169.6km. But the race is not always easy. The wind is blowing very hard and will play an important role.
A group of seven riders quickly broke away from the peloton and spent most of the stage in the lead. Julien duval (AG2R Citroen), Logan Owen (EF Education – Nippo), Guillaume Boivin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Luke Durbridge (Team BikeExchange), Everyday Livyns and Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB) et Ward Vanhoof (Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise) will have a maximum of three minutes ahead of the peloton but the wind gives them no chance.
As expected, the wind is playing its part and the edges are there. Under the impetus of several teams, the peloton exploded completely at 70km from the finish and a group of around thirty riders took the lead and resumed the breakaway.
A little less than 30km from the finish, Remco Evenepoel yet in the right group is a victim of mechanical boredom. The change of the front wheel takes forever and the Belgian loses more than a minute.
The time lost seems difficult to be able to recover as the pace imposed by the Bahraïn-Victorious and Team Qhubeka is high.
Peter Sagan is also having a difficult day. Trapped in the curbs, the Slovakian champion suffered a fall a few kilometers away.
In the Golden km, it accelerates again in the leading group with in particular Benoot, Colbrelli and Asgreen but the leading group regroups. Stuyven and Campenaerts also try their luck but fail to create a gap.
Postlberger tries his luck 1.5km from the finish and takes a few meters but is picked up at 700m. The first stage will therefore be played in a sprint and this little game, Tim Merlier is the fastest and wins in front Phil Bauhaus and Alvaro Hodeg. Remco Evenepoel loses a minute on the first group.