The Belgians in the Tour of Burkina Faso were close to a first stage victory yesterday in the opening stage. Rutger Wouters who started the stage race with high ambitions was beaten in the sprint by home rider Paul Daumont.

Wannes Heylen recounted the ride after the race. “It was windy all day. We were always in the breakaway but everything kept coming back together. At 20km from the finish we caught an escaped Burkinese rider by riding together as a team at the front. We then escaped with 15 riders. Rutger jumped away from behind me with 4 riders at about 10km from the finish. Due to the necessary stopping work, everything came together in the background. I won the bunch sprint on a sloping finish line and became 6th. Rutger finished 2nd. The whole team worked great and thanks to Sam Van de Mieroop and Guy Smet the lead on the escaped Burkinese did not exceed 2’15” and we could catch him back.”

Stef Rogier also made himself noticed throughout the day. He was regularly on the attack and together with Niels Vandyck did bear work to catch back some of the attackers.

For his part, Rutger Wouters was satisfied with the results.

“In the sprint I was beaten on my value. But for the classification, I’m doing a good job. As a team we always had a man with us from the start. We kept an eye on the Moroccans because on paper they have the strongest team. When they had one or more men with them, so did we.

Because of the strong headwind during the whole stage, it became a stage of running and standing still, but also because of the laxity of some teams to want to ride, which changed the course situation often.

Finally, I was able to ride away at 10km from the end with four others. It was just winner Daumont and I who kept up the pace. I set the sprint maybe from a little too far away and so Daumont was able to get over smoothly at the end.”

Rutger Wouters on the podium after stage 1 in Burkina Faso
Rutger Wouters on the podium after stage 1 in Burkina Faso

“Whether I am disappointed?

No rather satisfied. Both the team and I rode well and we are where we should be in the GC. That the yellow is with the Burkinese is not a bad thing for us.”

1. Paul Daumont (Burkina Faso)
2. Rutger Wouters BEL
6. Wannes Heylen BEL at 31″
12. Niels Vandyck BEL
17. Sam Van de Mieroop BEL
39. Stef Rogier BEL
45. Guy Smet BEL

Text: P. Van Gansen
Featured Image: Sam Van de Mieroop at the head of the pack
Photos: Unless otherwise noted in the photos – © Rutger Wouters

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