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Eeckhout pipped for Etoile de Besseges stage win

Posted 04 February 2012


By Cillian Kelly,

An Post-Sean Kelly veteran Niko Eeckhout came agonisingly close to celebrating victory on stage four of the Etoile de Besseges after poor weather conditions reduced the stage to a 75 kilometre criterium.

The Belgian was pipped on the line by Marco Marcato of the Vacansoleil-DCM team who has a strong track record in the race having finished second overall in last year’s edition.

The riders were due to complete at 150 kilometre course from St. Genies-de-Comolas to Bagnols-sur-Ceze but the persistent adverse weather conditions led to a decision to revise the stage.

The An Post-Sean Kelly team worked well to put Eeckhout in contention but the 41 year old Beligan was unlucky not to repeat his success of 2010 when he picked off a stage win in the race.

A large number of riders were eliminated from the race having got caught out by splits in the field which made it difficult to finish within the time limit.

Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) meanwhile took part in his first race of the season in Tuscany today at the GP Costa Degli Etruschi, an Italian one-day race which was won by Elia Vivaini (Liquigas)

Roche hadn't raced since finishing 14th in the Tour of Lombardy last year and he returned to Italy today, which like most of Europe this week, has been gripped by sub-zero temperatures.

Roche enjoyed a comfortable start to his new season completing the race in 79th position in the main bunch.

The GP Costa Degli Etruschi is traditionally a race for the sprinters and this year was no different. Young Italian sprinter Viviani, who also won this race last year, finished first in the bunch sprint ahead of compatriots Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF) and Filippo Baggio (Utensilnord - Named).


Stage 3 Etoile de Besseges

1.  Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling 1:45:13  
2.  Niko Eeckhout (Bel) An Post - Sean Kelly  
3.  Julien El Fares (Fra) Team Type 1 - Sanofi  
4.  Jérôme Coppel (Fra) Saur - Sojasun  
5.  Jean-Marc Bideau (Fra) Bretagne - Schuller

 AN Post Sean Kelly Team:

19.  Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) 
44.  Mark McNally (GBr) 
HD.  Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel)    
HD.  Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel)  
HD.  Ronan Mc Laughlin (Irl)  
HD.  Sean Downey (Irl)

General classification after stage four:

1.  Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 10:44:48  
2.  Franck Vermeulen (Fra) Veranda Rideau U at 0:00:06  
3.  Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling at 0:00:08  
4.  Bobbie Traksel (Ned) Landbouwkrediet at 0:00:10  
5.  Julien El Fares (Fra) Team Type 1 - Sanofi at 0:00:16

An Post Sean Kelly team:

14.  Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) at 0:00:20
51.  Mark McNally (GBr)
72.  Niko Eeckhout (Bel) at 0:15:56 

Result - 2012 GP Costa Degli Etruschi

1. Elia Viviani (Liquigas)
2. Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF)
3. Filippo Baggio (Utensilnord-Named)
4. Gianluca Brambilla (Leopard-Trek)
5. Maximilian Richeze (Team Nippo)

79. Nicolas Roche (AG2R La Mondiale) 

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