UCI WorldTour : Tim Wellens wins the Eneco Tour
Belgium’s Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol) added his name to the list of talented young riders to take their first UCI WorldTour victory in 2014, securing overall victory at the Eneco Tour after an impressive solo victory on stage six and a consistent performance throughout the seven-days of racing.
The 23 year-old Belgian won alone on the hilly sixth stage to Aywaille, pulling back the time he’d lost during the earlier time trial stage and gaining enough time to take the race lead from Lars Boom (Belkin).
Boom and his Belkin teammates tried to unsettle the young Belgian during the final stage but Wellens was well protected by his own Lotto Belisol teammates and was crowned overall winner. Boom finished second overall at seven seconds, with fellow Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) third overall at 13 seconds.
Surprisingly, Wellens is the first Belgian to win the Eneco Tour in the ten-year history of the race.
“This is a very great victory for me. I didn’t know before the Tour if I was going to ride because I’d been a little sick, so I’m very happy to have won,” Wellens said after pulling on the red and white race leader’s jersey.
“It was important to control my rivals during the last stage but my teammates helped me a lot. They did so much work that I was never in the wind.”
“It is super nice for me but also for the team that I took 100 WorldTour points. People say I have a great future in the Grand Tours but I still have a long way to go. Though this is a good sign.”
Thanks to winning the Eneco Tour, Wellens climbed from 101st to 37th in the individual rankings of the UCI WorldTour and now has a total of 122 points.
Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) continues to lead the individual UCI WorldTour rankings with 462 points. Compatriot Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) is second with 407 points and Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is third with 392 points.
Movistar continues to lead the team ranking with 1100 points, ahead of Ag2r-La Mondiale (889 points) and Omega Pharma-QuickStep (872). Spain leads the nations ranking with 1250 points.
A great week of racing in Belgium and the Netherlands
The roads of Belgium and the Netherlands produced some exciting racing on each of the seven stages at the Eneco Tour, confirming the race deserves it place on the UCI WorldTour calendar.
Italian sprinter Andrea Guardini continued his run of recent success on stage one, then Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) won stage two to Vlijmen on wet and slippery roads, using his cyclo-cross skills to beat Lars Boom (Belkin) in his home town and so take the leader’s jersey. However Boom bounced back to take the race lead after the stage three time trial won by fellow Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano). It was also Dumoulin’s first ever WorldTour victory as he took the scalps of Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky).
Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ.fr) showed his sprinting skills on stage four, while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) conquered the legendry hills of the Flanders region of Belgium to win stage five. Wellens lit up stage six in the hills of the Ardennes, while yet another young talented rider – Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, of the Omega Pharma-QuickStep team won stage seven.
Wellens finished safely in the peloton at the end of stage seven, celebrating his victory with his loyal Lotto-Belisol teammates. Success confirmed him as a stage race rider for the future and he will surely continue to rise up the UCI WorldTour rankings in the remainder of the season.
The UCI WorldTour continues in August and September with a mix of stage races and one-day classics. The Vuelta a Espana –the third and final Grand Tour of the season, begins on Saturday August 23 in Jerez de la Frontera. The Vattenfall Cyclassics is held in Hamburg, Germany on Sunday August 24, followed by the GP Ouest France – Plouay in France on Sunday August 31.