The German showed a good condition in the first road stage of the five-day race.
Four riders made it into the breakaway on Thursday – Jasper Hamelink (Metek-TKH), Merijn Korevaar (Rabobank Development), Wesley Kreder (Roompot Oranje) and Twan Van Den Brand (Cyclingteam Jo Piels) – and together they built a maximum gap of 5 minutes. In the second half of the stage which took place around Oss, the lead began to dwindle, but despite the combined work of Etixx – Quick-Step and LottoNL-Jumbo, three of the riders in that escape made it all the way to the finish, where Kreder took the win after outsprinting Van Den Brand and Korevaar.
The peloton came home ten seconds later, and Marcel Kittel was the one who crossed the line first, in 4th position on the stage, a result which was seen as reassuring by the 28-year-old German, despite the bitter taste it left him with: "It was a nice stage, which suited me, and it's disappointing to see the breakaway stay clear. On a positive note, the team was up there helping and protecting me, whilst I felt good throughout the day and in the sprint, and this gives me confidence for the next stages. Other chances will come."
A shake up of the general classification still led by Jos Van Emden (LottoNL-Jumbo) could be seen on Friday, when the peloton will travel to Buchten, over 200 kilometers which include 6 categorized climbs and two intermediate sprints. The terrain is fertile for attacks, but a regrouping could still take place in the last 40 kilometers.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele