|Middelburg’s mayor Koos Schouwenaar popped the gun for the 43th ENECO Tour. Non starters were Andreas Klier (went home to be with his wife who is delivering their first child) and Arvis Piziks. After seven k. the first attack of the day was an attempt by Gert Steegmans and Rene Andrle, but the bunch recaught them very fast. The first premium sprint in Vlissingen, after 9.4 km, was won by Bankgiroloterij-rider Gerben Löwik for Michael Sandstöd and Rafael Nuritdinov. Bert Hiemstra was the next attacker of the day. he quickly gained a 55 sec. advance and got chased by nine others riders. Hiemstra though did manage to stay clear and kept a small 30" lead. He increased his lead smoothly up to two minutes. Near the boni-sprint in Serooskerke (after 39.2 km) a crash left two major victime in Bram de Groot (Rabobank) and Antonio Cruz USPS.
The USPS-Berry Floor website tells: It was not exactly US Postal-Berry Floor’s day. Early on in the race, Tony Cruz fell, together with two other riders. Tony made it to the finish-line, but complained about serious pain at the tail-bone and also has a serious graze at the bottom. Towards the end of the stage, another fifteen riders fell, one of these being our Steffen Kjaergaard. Steffen made it to the finish-line as well, but complained about pain in the back.
“I can only hope we can recuperate Tony as well as Steffen for tomorrow’s stage”, Dirk Demol, who is Director Sportif during the Tour of the Netherlands, tells us. “Tony clearly was in pain all day long and only made it to Rotterdam through sheer willpower. Steffen as well barely made it to the finish-line, as he could only push his pedals with one leg after his fall.”
“There’s not much more to tell, except that Max van Heeswijk was very attentive during the sprint and in this way managed to get into the top ten. During the stage, Benoit Joachim took 1 bonus second during one of the two bonification sprints. Maybe this can be to our advantage later on…”
Hiemstra's lead led up to 3.30 min. (50 km) and down to the company of Michael Sandstöd, Rene Andrle and Ludo Dierckxsens. After 80 k. Andreas Klöden was the severest victim of a crash and was forced to quit the race. The lead of the four in the front was increased to six minutes. That was the cue for the bunch to counterattack. The gap dropped to 4.30 min. At the borders of Rotterdam the lead was just 2.30 min. which was quickly diminished to only 30 seconds when the four entered the three final laps of 4 k. The bunch caught the brave breakaways. When the last lap appeared, Gerben Löwik tried to get away, but his attempt remained unsuccessful. In the massive sprint it was Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) who beat all as if he does not get tired ever.
Results stage one and general classification:
1 . ITA19740103 PETACCHI, Alessandro ITA FAS 4:09:41 0:10 0:00
2. GER19700707 ZABEL, Erik GER TEL 4:09:41 0:06 0:00
3. AUS19720624 MCEWEN, Robbie AUS LOT 4:09:41 0:04 0:00
4. NED19700319 VIERHOUTEN, Aart NED LOT 4:09:41 0:00
5. EST19720522 AUG, Andrus EST DNC 4:09:41 0:00
6 . GER19790105 KOPP, David GER TEL 4:09:41 0:00
7 . ESP19760215 FREIRE, Oscar ESP RAB 4:09:41 0:00
8 . NED19730302 VAN HEESWIJK, Max NED USP 4:09:41 0:00
9 . BEL19801015 BOONEN, Tom BEL QSD 4:09:41 0:00
10. AUS19760224 McGEE, Bradley AUS FDJ 4:09:41 0:00