Belgian Jelle Wallays denied marquee sprinters a chance for line honours at the World Ports Classic today celebrating a solo victory at the end of stage one.
Wallays finished 26 seconds ahead of five-time Tour de France stage winner Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) with Alessandro Petacchi (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) third. It was his first win since the 2010 Paris-Tours Espoirs.
The 24-year-old was part of a five-man break – including teammate Kenneth Vanbilsen as well as Reinier Honig (Crelan-Euphony), Jacob Rathe (Garmin-Sharp) and Kevin Van Melsen (Accent Jobs-Wanty) – that escaped earlier in the flat 165km race from Antwerp to Rotterdam.
Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) surged away from his fellow escapees within the final 25km not long after the peloton temporarily split due to an increase in pace.
The remnants of the break were swept up as Greipel’s Lott-Belisol teammates controlled the front of the main group with help from Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
Pundits had anticipated a battle royale between the sprint teams but Wallays still had about a minute on the field with three kilometres remaining. Riders do not have race radios at the two-day event but were receiving time checks along the course.
Wallays’s solo victory was not the only surprise of the day. An open bridge delayed the break for 40 seconds and sign confusion also saw it and the peloton, at another point, apparently go in different directions.
World Ports Classic 2013, stage one: Antwerp to Rotterdam
1. Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise 3-32-33
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol at 26 secs
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
4. Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM
5. Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
Overall classification after stage one
1. Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise 3-32-23
2. André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol at 28 secs
3. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 29 secs
4. Kenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise at 33 secs
5. Kenny Robert van Hummel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM at 36 secs