DIFFERDANGE, Luxembourg (AFP) – Leopard-Trek’s Linus Gerdemann won the Tour of Luxembourg 200km second stage from Schifflange to Differdange on Friday.
Gerdemann crossed the line on his own, nine seconds ahead of the peloton, led in by Arthur Vichot (Française des Jeux). Gerdemann’s win put him into the leader’s jersey, which he inherited from his Swiss teammate Fabian Cancellera, continuing the Luxembourg-based team’s control of its home-country tour.
The second and longest stage of the Tour covered 200.7 kilometers of hilly terrain. The route featured eight categorized climbs including the short but steep Côte de l’Europe on the final circuit in Differdange.
“The whole team did incredible work today,” said Gerdemann. “It was a perfect day. We knew we wanted to make the stage hard. We wanted to win the stage and we wanted to keep yellow. We accomplished all of this.”
After several attacks early on in the stage, a group of three riders were given the green light to stay away. The trio would eventually build a lead of 6:30 as Leopard-Trek manned the front to control the gap. After the first four KOMs, the break had been reeled back, and it was gruppo compatto heading into the fifth and final climb before the circuit.
As riders crossed the finish line to enter the local circuit, the field had broken into four distinct groups. Fränk Schleck, who won this stage last year, was joined by Cancellara, Gerdemann, Jakob Fuglsang and Maxime Monfort in the first group on the road. Three 9.4 kilometer laps, each requiring an ascent of Côte de l’Europe, stood between the field and the finish.
“We went up the climb on the circuit for the first time, and I accelerated,” explained Gerdemann. “Two riders [Anthony Charteau (Europcar) and Jurgen Van Goolen (Veranda’s Willems Accent)] followed me. We went away and gained over a minute. Inside two laps to go, I attacked after the climb, and I was able to stay away.”
“I chose to attack there because I was confident in my time trail skills,” continued Gerdemann. “I knew I could make a difference on the flats. I would get my gap on the flat road, and then I could defend it on the climb.”
Gerdemann’s strategy proved successful. After riding away from his breakmates, he never looked back. Gerdemann rode the final lap of the finishing circuit alone.
“On the last time up the climb, I thought about Wouter and his family,” continued Gerdemann. “I wanted to do this for myself and for the team, but I especially wanted to make sure I could do it all the way to the line for Wouter.”
Gerdemann won the stage ahead of Arthur Vichot (FDJ) and Jérémie Galland (Saur-Sojasun). It is Gerdemann’s first win since he won the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico last year.
The effort and subsequent result involved a change in the overall between teammates Cancellara and Gerdemann. Cancellara rocketed into the leader’s jersey after the Skoda Tour’s opening prologue on Wednesday.
Saturday’s third stage is a 185km run between Eschweiler and Roos.