Boy van Poppel sprinted to 5th place in the first stage of the Binckbank Tour Monday as the WorldTour race, previously named the Eneco Tour, started with a sunny, pleasant day in the Netherlands.
While van Poppel pounced on another chance to sprint for a result, an agreement made during the race between Edward Theuns and van Poppel, the rest of team guarded Jasper Stuyven and Matthias Brändle through the 170-kilometer flat parcours, explained team director Dirk Demol.
"We are starting the race with Jasper as leader for the GC, and also today we protected Matthias for the time trial tomorrow," said Demol. "It's a really strong field here, not just about sprinters but also with GC riders. It's going to be a tough race; there's a stage on the Amstel course, one in the Ardennes, and one on the Tour of Flanders parcours and there's also going to be some bad weather.
"We agreed in the meeting this morning that Edward and Boy had to talk to each other during the race because Edward had raced the European Championships yesterday, a race of 240kms, and had to travel immediately here after. So if he was not recovered, we give it at a go with Boy, and he was honest enough to say so during the race."
Boy van Poppel had a strong team helping him ahead of the sprint finish.
Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won his 98th race in a photo finish over Phil Bauhaus (Sunweb) as van Poppel again showed his sprinting prowess with a respectable fifth place.
"In this strong field, a fifth place is a good result for Boy," continued Demol. "A nice performance again after his two fourths last week in Poland. It looks like Boy is in a very good level. He's 100 percent a team rider all the time, and so it's nice that he can have his own chances once in a while."
Meanwhile, Stuyven (69th) and Brändle (164th) arrived safely across the line in the same time as the bunch, with many GC riders, as well as Matthias, strategically arriving near the back of the 176 riders to ensure an early start in Tuesday's time trial.
"It looks like the forecast is for rain starting from 2 to 2:30 tomorrow and the first rider off in the time trial is at 1:30. It could mean that some riders start the TT tomorrow in the dry, and it could be a big difference," pointed out Demol.