Rabobank’s Boy van Poppel won the bunch sprint to the line in Missouri’s state capital Jefferson City after the break was reeled in the final circuits. His teammate Michael van Stayen was second and Keven Lacombe (Kelly Benefit/Medifast) barely edged out Mark Cavendish (Columbia) for third.
“There were maybe five in front of me and then one rider attacked from the left side and he was taking a few meters, I go behind him and then I was thinking it’s too early but I was waiting for the guys behind me to come to the left but no one came and I was going ‘yes, I’m going to win’.” said van Poppel.
It was a hot and extremely humid day in Missouri but that didn’t stop the attacks for launching as soon as the race started in the 108-mile (174 km) road race, as Columbia hit again, and many riders are hoping for a break to make it the finish line. Finally, at about 20 miles (32 km) into the race, a break of twelve made it up the road which included Mark Cavendish (Columbia) who gobbled all the intermediate points to regain the green sprint jersey.
With about 19 miles (30 k) to go, the chase began in earnest with other teams lending firepower and the gap started to diminish. Cavendish stopped rolling through, resting and preparing the catch and the final sprint to the line.
Sensing the demise, Darren Lill (BMC), David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit/Medifast), Chris Wherry (Toyota-United) and Michael Creed (Rock Racing) launched from the beak to try and make it to the line.
“I was able to get into a good 12-rider breakaway. I was aiming for a stage win. When I saw that the peloton was not letting us go [to the line], I forced the issue, I told myself that I needed to go for the Most Aggressive jersey.” said Veilleux.
Lill made a move and Veilleux jumped on his wheel but the duo was caught in the final two circuits around the Capitol where an estimated 60K crowd was watching. It was packed folks.
In the final mad dash to the line, the twenty year old van Poppel got there first to get his first win in the United States.
No major changes to the overall classification, Christian Vande Velde is still in yellow with Columbia’s Mick Rodgers at 18 seconds back and Symmetrics’ Svein Tuft at 48 seconds back.
“Today was the perfect combination for our team. Luckily, our team didn’t do a tenth of the worklike yesterday, which means they are a little more fresh to help me defend the jersey tomorrow. There will be better morale on the team bus tonight. Nonetheless it was a hard race, no one is used to the humidity, it was noticeable as soon as we got off the bus at the start today.” said Vande Velde.
Roman Kreuziger of Liquigas is still the Best Young Rider, Dominique Rollin of Toyota-United held on to his KOM jersey and the most aggressive jersey went to Veilleux of Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast.
Saturday’s Stage 6 is one of the most rugged stages. The 110-mile (177 km) course includes 4 sprints and 3 KOM points plus two additional steep 1/2 km climbs. Columbia will be throwing everything they have at Garmin again.
Complete results here