Thibau Nys wins at the Ullandhaug Tower
The belgian prodigy took his first pro win on the second stage from Valle to Stavanger
After a wet and cold day on the bike yesterday, many riders in the peloton surely appreciated being able to leave their rain jackets before the start of today's stage. After several breakaway attempts, a group of eight riders finally managed to get away. They were: Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM), Dries De Pooter (Intermarché - Wanty - Circus), Joel Nicolau (Caja-Rural Seguros RGA), Manuele Tarozzi (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè), Mathias Bregnhøj (Leopard TOGT Pro Cycling), Zeb Kyffin (Saint Piran), and Torbjørn André Røed (Norway). With 140 kilometers remaining to the finish line, they had built up a gap of just over two minutes. The INEOS Grenadiers took control of the peloton.
The KOM-sprint up Knuttjørn (category 1) was won by the Spaniard Joel Nicolau (Caja-Rural Seguros RGA), earning him 10 points in the fight for the polka dot jersey. Mathias Bregnhøj, Torbjørn Andre Røed, Manuele Tarozzi, Dries De Bondt, and Dries De Pooter followed him, earning 9, 8, 7, and 6 points respectively.
The breakaway never had more than just under three minutes advantage on the road from Valle to Stavanger, and it didn't seem like the peloton was willing to give them a chance to fight for the victory. In the intermediate sprint in Dirdal, there was a sprint among the riders in the breakaway, and Kevin Vermaerke (Team DSM) secured six points in the battle for the point jersey and also gained six bonus seconds. Torbjørn André Røed and Dries De Bondt followed in second and third place behind Vermaerke. On the second categorized climb up Seldal, Trek-Segafredo, with Asbjørn Hellemose at the front, increased the pace in the peloton after INEOS had controlled the majority of the stage. Once again, it was a battle between the three riders who took the top three places in the first mountain sprint. This time, Mathias Bregnhøj came out on top. Joel Nicolau, Torbjørn André Røed, Kevin Vermaerke, and Dries De Pooter took the remaining points. The breakaway had just over a minute's advantage when it passed the top of the climb.
With just under 30 kilometers to go, there was a crash in the peloton involving Jumbo-Visma's Attila Valter. At the same time, there was an attack at the front, where Dries De Bondt and Zeb Kyffin proved to be the strongest from the breakaway. The two worked well together and managed to increase the gap to the peloton, where Uno-X Pro Cycling Team also began to contribute to the chase.
The two escapees still had a one-minute lead with 10 kilometers remaining, but the peloton quickly picked up the pace, and several teams positioned themselves at the front to bring them back for the finale. Dries De Bondt made a final attempt to hold on in the last three kilometers, but it all came together for an exciting finish up the Ullandhaug climb. Rasmus Tiller (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team) tried an early attack, but Trek-Segafredo maintained a high enough tempo to prevent Tiller from gaining a big enough gap to stay away. In the sprint, there was no doubt about who was the strongest, and the Belgian prodigy Thibau Nys (Trek-Segafredo) secured his first professional victory. Behind him, Edward Planckaert (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Ben Tulett (INEOS Grenadiers) followed, with Tulett retaining the overall lead before it all is decided on tomorrow's final stage.