29-May-2014: The peloton caught the 2nd stage breakaway with 5.6km to go, leaving the leadouts to then establish position for the sprint. Despite attacks out of the peloton with just 2.3km to go, the peloton was determined for the group arrival and shut all moves down. Tom Boonen won his second consecutive stage on Thursday, with Gert Steegmans 2nd.
OPQS, once again, had perfect position. The position was so ideal that Steegmans — the final leadout man for Boonen — had a small gap due to his massive effort with several hundred meters to go. Boonen, seeing riders behind him gaining on Steegmans on the uphill finish, was able to launch his sprint and cross the line in the leader’s jersey with the victory. Steegmans was close behind for 2nd. Theo Bos (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) was 3rd.
This is the 34th victory for OPQS, in three disciplines, in 2014. Boonen has won five races this year.
Tony Martin, defending two-time Baloise Belgium Tour overall winner and three-time UCI World Time Trial Champion, will be going for another top OPQS result at the 16.8km time trial on Friday. Niki Terpstra, another strong time trialist, will also do his best for a good result.
“My goal was to win these two stages,” Boonen said. “I’m so happy I won today. Yesterday really gave me confidence, so I can say this win really feels good on top of that! This final was really tricky though, with the finish being uphill. Steegmans went early and had a gap, but I saw he couldn’t make it to the line. That’s when I went, right at the end. You can’t make mistakes here. Last year I was 2nd as I made a crucial mistake, and I didn’t want to let this happen again. It was really hectic, but in the end I made it. I have to thank my teammates for helping me today as well. Tomorrow I will go full gas in the time trial. It will be a test for me in this leader’s jersey, but we all know it’s Tony’s time to shine tomorrow.”