Tim Wellens of Lotto-Soudal took charge of the ENECO Tour with a dominant solo win in Houffalize today and looks set for his second consecutive overall victory in the race tomorrow. Wellens launched a powerful attack with 22km to go over a small climb and an even more powerful solo effort from there over rolling terrain, easily outdistancing Greg Van Avermaet of BMC, Simon Geschke of Giant-Alpecin, and the chasing peloton including overnight leader Wilco Kelderman of LottoNL-Jumbo.
Wellens sat back for much of the day's tricky, disorganized, rain-soaked stage as one rider after another tested the isolated Kelderman, putting the Dutchman on the defensive, though he battled gamely to chase down attacks and stay in contact. It might have all worked (probably not, but still), had Wellens not had the legs for his brilliantly-executed plan. But just like last year's Liège province stage, Wellens has established a dominant position, and the minute-plus Wellens now has in hand over all of his rivals has likely put the general classification out of reach, heading into the Flanders cobbles stage tomorrow. Wellens need only stay in contact with the front of the race to defend his lead and take home a second straight win.
- Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
- Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team, at 0:49
- Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin, at 0:51
- Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale, at 1:03
- Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team, at 1:07
- Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team, at 1:13
- Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal, s.t.
- Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing, s.t.
- Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team, s.t.
- Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo, s.t.
- Van Avermaet, at 1:03
- Kelderman, at 1:17
- Gilbert, at 1:40
- Felline, at 1:48
Heerlen - Houfalize 208.6 km
Not the pure L-B-L stage it used to be but still a testing Ardennes romp.
Grand Tourist of the Day: Philippe Gilbert
Not the boldest of predictions but the Eneco is no place for fun and games.