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Eneco Tour prologue: Phinney delivers on his promise with prologue win

Prologue: Amersfoort, 5.7km

World under-23 time trial champion Taylor Phinney took his first major professional win by blitzing the 5.7km prologue of the Eneco Tour of Benelux. The 21-year old BMC rookie was the only man to complete the tricky, punchy course in under seven minutes, beating runner-up Edvald Boasson Hagen by seven seconds.

Setting off at one-minute intervals, the 175 riders faced an oval course including a number of roundabouts and narrow, tight corners, some of which were still drying from earlier rain. Sixth man out Robert Wagner (Leopard-Trek) set the initial benchmark of 7:15. That time stood for over an hour until RadioShack’s Jesse Sergent, a 23-year old time trial specialist from New Zealand, blasted round in 7:09.

Phinney notched his first major victory with a commanding prologue win

Sergent’s time was not seriously threatened until the final 25 riders set off. Sky’s Geraint Thomas then registered a 7:15 to squeeze into a temporary second spot between Sergent and Wagner, but the serious competition followed immediately after the Welshman as the next two riders both produced new best times. First Rabobank’s Jos Van Emden, exhibiting a textbook rock-solid flat time trial profile, stopped the clock at 7:08. Then HTC-Highroad’s Alex Rasmussen, who had finished second in the concluding time trial of May’s Giro d’Italia, went two seconds faster.

Four riders later Phinney set off, attacking each corner with visible aggression and maintaining his speed all the way to the line to finish in an astonishing time of 6:57.77, an average speed of 49.1kph. The American then had to wait as the last 18 riders, including most of the overall favourites and top time-trialists, each took a shot at his time.

Classics king Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) recorded an impressive 7:12, ultimately good enough for eighth. David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo), who had beaten Rasmussen in the Giro TT, took 7:05 to complete the course. He was soon followed by 2009 race winner Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), who went round in 7:04. And when penultimate man Lars Boom (Rabobank), the winner of the prologues at this year’s Tour of Qatar and Critérium du Dauphiné, could manage only 7:07, Phinney could finally start to celebrate.

The young American revealed that he had had a good feeling about the stage beforehand:

I’m super, super happy. I was surprised at how good I felt in my warm-up. I knew it was going to be a good day. This is a good race for me. Racing in Belgium and Holland is kind of my thing. It’s what I love to do.

In the absence of defending champion Tony Martin (HTC-Highroad), Gilbert is most experts’ favourite to claim the overall win, although he can expect fierce competition from other strong-man Classics contenders such as Boasson Hagen and Tour of Flanders winner Nick Nuyens. A strong time-trialist with decent climbing legs such as Millar may also fancy their chances of gaining an advantage in stage four’s 14.7km time trial and withstanding the inevitable attacks on the closing two stages.

The next two days see flat sprinters’ stages before Thursday’s parcours in the Ardennes which includes the climbs of the the Mur de Amay and Mur de Huy.

Prologue result:

1. Taylor Phinney (BMC) 6:57

2. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) +0:07

3. David Millar (Garmin-Cervélo) +0:08

4. Alex Rasumssen (HTC-Highroad) +0:09

5. Lars Boom (Rabobank) +0:10

6. Jos Van Emden (Rabobank) +0:11

7. Jesse Sergent (RadioShack) +0:12

8. Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) +0:15

9. Geraint Thomas (Sky) +0:18

10. Robert Wagner (Leopard-Trek) +0:18

Link: Official website

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

7 Responses to Eneco Tour prologue: Phinney delivers on his promise with prologue win

  1. Sheree says:

    It’s good to see the younger riders seizing the opportunity. Obviously with Phinney’s pedigree much is expected of him and while he’s unlikely to be a Grand Tour winner, he might well surpass the achievements of Fabulous Fabian.

    • Tim says:

      I must admit that I only really know Phinney by reputation and background rather than watching him perform, but he was excellent yesterday – strong, committed and very, very fast. Okay, no Cancellara and no Martin, but EBH and Lars Boom are pretty strong benchmarks to measure yourself against on the sort of course the riders faced yesterday. Do you know if he can climb at all?

  2. Sheree says:

    I saw him in the flesh at Melbourne last year, he’s a big lad. Too big to climb really well but then people probably used to say that about Thor Hushovd before he moved to Monaco. I would anticipate Taylor shining in the cobbled Classics in the future.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks Sheree. It will be interesting to see whether he has a go at Paris-Roubaix next year, or maybe the Ardennes classics.

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