The Tour de Luxembourg finished in a stage victory for Lotto-Belisol’s Jurgen Roelandts while Jakob Fuglsang took the overall – a much-needed boost for RadioShack-Nissan. As conditions on the last stage were nothing less than horrific, the GC race was neutralised after the first of the final eight 6.8km laps, leaving Fuglsang with a two and five-second lead over Wout Poels (Vacansoleil-DCM) and teammate Frank Schleck respectively and the race win.
RadioShack director sportif Kim Andersen had made the team’s objective very clear at the start of the race.
I don’t care who of the team will take the overall, as long as it is a Radioshack-Nissan-Trek rider.
Prologue: Luxembourg, 2.7km
The opening TT course may have been short – 2.6km – but it was incredibly technical, with sharp corners and a final steep 300m cobbled finish that was won by Saur-Sojasun rider Jimmy Engoulvent, finishing ahead of both RadioShack’s Gregory Rast and Saur teammate Jonathan Hivert by three seconds. Best young rider kudos went to Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano), who finished just seven seconds down from the leader.
Stage 1: Luxembourg to Hesperange, 181km
This was a stage for the Gorilla. Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) came into the race red-hot from a trio of sprint wins in the Tour of Belgium and he continued his winning ways by sprinting clear of the bunch on stage one.
This, however, was to the disappointment of a legion of Jens Voigt fans, as the Jensie showed off the RadioShack jersey by going on a breakaway ride that spun itself out to a maximum three-minute lead before being reeled in, setting the stage for the bunch sprint. Engoulvent kept the yellow jersey, as did Dumoulin with the best young rider jersey.
The Jensie was sanguine about the loss of the stage:
It hurt, of course it did, but with pain it’s always better to be at the winning side of it, instead of receiving pain.
Stage 2: Schifflange to Leudelange, 184km
Greipel seemed to be on a mission as he took another sprint finish, beating Sky’s Ben Swift by more than a bike length. His teammate Roelandts came in third. RadioShack controlled the race throughout, letting a few little minnows through the net before reeling them back in with the help of Sky and Lotto-Belisol. It was as you were in terms of the GC and white jersey.
Stage 3: Eschweiler to Differdange, 205km
This tough stage – with three loops that included the Col de l’Europe with an average gradient of 7.6% (ouch) – was won by Wout Poels, after contesting a sprint finish with Fuglsang and Schleck the Elder. The aggressive stage was made even harder by RadioShack’s determination to take the yellow jersey, giving Voigt free rein to get on the front of the peloton and put down the pain. The strategy worked, as Fuglsang pulled on the leader’s jersey. Poels took the best young rider jersey from Dumoulin, never to relinquish it.
Stage 4: Mersch to Luxembourg, 153km
On a day perhaps more conducive to ark-building than bike racing, Jurgen Roelandts took a well deserved solo victory. If you remember, Roelandts broke a vertebra in the Tour Down Under, then had a blocked artery, keeping him out of the peloton until the Tour of Belgium a fortnight ago.
Fuglsang’s GC win was special for him as well, after the disappointment of having to pull out of the start of the Giro with a bad knee. As the RadioShack Tour de France roster is up in the air, this must bode well for Fuglsang to be coming out of the starthouse in Liege on 30 June.
RadioShack really needed to make a statement in this race, not least because Luxembourg is the home of both the team and the Schleck brothers. Perhaps the performance will start to calm frayed nerves on the countdown to the Tour de France, but I’m not putting any money on that. Even today, Andy Schleck made a few comments after the Dauphiné prologue on how disappointed he was that Johan Bruyneel seemed to be playing out his agenda in the press.
As for Frank, he finished the race in third, so hopefully this means his shoulder is truly on the mend. But I can’t help but think that, with his negative, wishy-washy talk in the press before the race –”I’m not very confident for the Tour of Luxembourg” – that Schleck the Elder could use a few sharp words from Yoda, Jedi Master. (The weather conditions even look like the race today!)
1. Jakob Fuglsang (RadioShack-Nissan) 17:08:40
2. Wout Poels (Vacansoliel-DCM) +0:02
3. Frank Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) +0:05
4. Jonathan Hivert (Saur-Sojasun) +0:20
5. Tom Dumoulin (Argos-Shimano) +0:24
6. Samuel Dumoulin (Cofidis) +0:25
7. Sebastien Delfosse (Landbouwkrediet-Euphony) +0:28
8. Maxime Monfort (RadioShack-Nissan) +0:29
9. Bob Lungels (Luxembourg) same time
10. Martin Elmiger (AG2R La Mondiale) +0:32