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Team Jumbo-Visma has been unable to live up to its ambitions in the penultimate stage of the Tour of Belgium. The stage that was indicated as the queen stage turned out to be not difficult enough to make a difference in the peloton. The hilly stage turned into a sprint with a reduced peloton.
Shortly after the start of the stage, six riders created a gap. The lead of the six grew to a maximum of five minutes. On the way, the riders had to face eleven climbs. Team Jumbo-Visma took the initiative to catch the early breakaway riders. The black and yellow formation tried to make the race hard. After the last climb at eight kilometres from the finish it became clear that a depleted peloton was going to sprint for the stage win.
The cards were not put on Dylan Groenewegen today, but the rider from Amsterdam managed to follow for a long time. However, the final hill proved too much for the Dutchman.
Koen Bouwman could not blame himself and his team. “As a team we rode well today. The course was not difficult enough for a group to break away and really race. There was no point in the race where we could really make a difference. We did have those plans. I tried to get it going in the first local lap. In the end, there were too many teams that could survive the hills with a sprinter. So there was a lack of enthusiasm in the peloton today to make it a hard race.”
"There was a lack of enthusiasm in the peloton today to make it a hard race."
The lack of support meant that Team Jumbo-Visma was left empty-handed for the long haul. “In retrospect we probably should have tried to survive the hills with Dylan and not make the race hard”, Bouwman said. “In the race itself it is difficult to estimate. If, for example, Gilbert joins the race, you get a different course. But they tried it with Caleb Ewan and that was successful. In any case, we did everything we could to get a good result today. Tomorrow we have another chance for a stage win with Dylan. Before we went to this race, our goal was to win a stage. A good classification is a nice bonus, but that was not the main goal.”