Boom to target GC in sprint-heavy Dutch stage race
Robert Wagner (Blanco) dashed to victory in the prologue of the Ster ZLM Toer on Wednesday, and the German was followed up in the standings by Blanco team-mate Lars Boom. The duo completed a banner day for the home Dutch squad, getting a slight boost as rain showers moved in after each were completed with the 8km time trial.
Tobias Ludvigsson (Argos-Shimano) was perhaps most impressive in riding to third place, as the Swedish rider completed his lap around the streets of Goes in the wet, and finished just three seconds off Wagner. Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano) was fourth, and Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) rounded out the top five.
Wagner completed his 8km prologue loop around Goes in 9’40”, bettering Boom by two seconds and Ludvigsson by three. Times were tight on the short course, as Kittel went around in 9’45” and Fenn in 9’46”.
For Wagner, the prologue victory was his first time atop the podium in two years. To give himself the best chance, Wagner was one of many to drop out of the Critérium du Dauphiné early in the bad weather, and the German attributed the victory partly to that decision.
“I’m a decent prologue rider and therefore I stepped out of the Dauphiné early on Saturday,” Wagner said. “There was one more big mountain stage on the program, with really bad weather conditions. I wanted to save up for today. It might sound funny, but I exited there with good feelings. I had good legs, and today we saw just how good.”
Wagner was happy that his team could show so well, and that he could pick up a long-awaited win.
“This is a nice victory, especially with Lars coming second,” Wagner added. “As a team, we could not have hoped for a better start. For me personally, it’s a great accomplishment, as my last win came in 2011 when I won the German road championships.
“I know my job. I am going to help Lars to a good general classification, and I’m going to support Theo Bos in the sprints.”
Boom finished second overall in the Ster ZLM Toer a year ago, the first victim to Mark Cavendish’s first overall stage race victory. Boom will try to go one better, and is positioned well after the prologue.
“Second is nice, although I would naturally have preferred to win,” Boom admitted. “I am happy to defer to Robert. I simply did not go hard enough to win, but I have to say that the legs felt good. This is a good start. I started early on purpose because we knew rain was coming.”
Along with Wagner and Bos, Boom will have the support of Jetse Bol, Jos van Emden, Rick Flens, Jack Bobridge, and Graeme Brown.
For Ludvigsson, to come so close in spite of the rain was frustrating. “Of course I am a bit angry about the rain, but it’s nice to race again and I’m happy with the form,” Ludvigsson stated. “I’m looking forward to the next few days with the team.”
“It was a really good prologue today by both Tobias and Marcel,” said Argos-Shimano director Addy Engels. “Unfortunately Tobias started in the rain and lost some time, otherwise it would definitely have been a win. But I am very impressed, as they both had very strong prologues. This bodes well for the upcoming days, for Marcel in the sprints and it’s also useful for Tobias in the GC. I am very happy with today.”
Stage two takes riders 175 kilometres on a loop that starts and finishes in Breda.
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