World Ports Classic: Wallays wins stage 1 as peloton sent off course


Belgian Jelle Wallays (TopSport) was the lone survivor of a five-man breakaway, winning the first stage into Rotterdam at the end of the first stage of the World Ports Classic.

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In one fell swoop, the 24-year-old Flemish rider and 2010 Paris-Tours Espoirs champion got his first pro win and pulled on the blue jersey as the leader of the general classification thanks to a little help as the peloton was sent off course.

2013 Jelle Wallays

Photo: ASO.

The sun shone above the heads of Antwerp mayor, Bart De Wever, and his Rotterdam counterpart, Ahmed Aboutaleb, as they kicked off the second edition of the World Ports Classic in front of Antwerp’s Museum aan de Stroom this morning. Although today’s 165 km stage to Rotterdam presented no major difficulties, it did have four cobbled sectors for the Northern classic specialists in the 138-strong peloton to make their move.

The high pace set by André Greipel’s Lotto-Belisol teammates from the start deterred potential attackers from trying their luck in the first few kilometres and ensured the bunch reached the first intermediate sprint in Brecht (km 15.5) together. Sparks flew as Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Alessandro Petacchi came out on top ahead of Greipel and Belkin’s Renshaw. The veteran Italian (39 years old) snapped up a 3-second time bonus which could well prove decisive in the general classification.

The kilometres after the intermediate sprint saw a flurry of attacks at the front of the race, but it was not until km 44.5 that five men managed to sneak away from the peloton. The escapees, Belgians Van Bilsen, Wallays (TopSport) and Van Melsen (Accent Jobs), Dutchman Honig (Crelan) and American Rathe (Garmin), held a 2′15″ gap at the first cobbled sector in Galder (km 63). Shortly after the Rijsbergen feeding zone (km 71.5), the five breakaways were forced to stop due to an open bascule bridge, but the wheel of fortune turned back in their favour when their advantage ballooned to 4′45″ due to an error where the peloton were sent off course.

Meanwhile, in the main field, Bryan Coquard hit the deck at km 122, and alarm bells started ringing and the sprinters’ teams, with Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Lotto-Belisol at the fore going full gas chasing the leaders breaking the peloton into two parts.

The bunch soon regrouped and was just 1′15″ behind the five escapees with 25 km to go, when Jelle Wallays launched a well-placed attack to which his breakaway companions had no answer. The young Belgian held his ground and still had a 1′25″ gap with 10 km to go. He did not falter in the last few kilometres and took a solo win in Rotterdam, inaugurating his professional palmarès. André Greipel and Alessandro Petacchi led the peloton home 26 seconds back.

1 WALLAYS Jelle Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise 3:32:33
2 GREIPEL Andre Lotto Belisol Team 0:26
3 PETACCHI Alessandro Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
4 VAN HUMMEL Kenny Vacansoleil – DCM
5 CANTWELL Jonathan Team Saxo-Tinkoff
6 CIOLEK Gerald Team MTN Qhubeka
7 PORSEV Alexander Katusha Team
8 MAES Nikolas Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
9 VAN STAEYEN Michael Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
10 NAPOLITANO Danilo – Wanty
11 KREDER Raymond Garmin – Sharp
12 SCHNAIDT Fabian Champion System Pro Cycling Team
13 TSATEVITCH Alexey Katusha Team
14 VAN ASBROECK Tom Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
15 SCHWARZMANN Michael Team NetApp – Endura
16 VAN EMDEN Jos Belkin Pro Cycling Team
17 VEELERS Tom Team Argos – Shimano
18 VAN DIJK Stefan – Wanty
19 THWAITES Scott Team NetApp – Endura
20 VANSPEYBROUCK Pieter Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise

47 BRAMMEIER Matthew Champion System Pro Cycling Team
51 KEISSE Iljo Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
52 WETTERHALL Alexander Team NetApp – Endura
73 MCEVOY Jonathan Team NetApp – Endura
121 ROWSELL Erick Team NetApp – Endura
122 KITTEL Marcel Team Argos – Shimano


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