It was a brilliant weekend of racing in Belgium again this weekend.
With E3 on Friday and Gent-Wevelgem Sunday we got 2 classics in the truest sense of the word. Races fit to stand on their own merit as opposed to being just a practice before the Ronde.
Kasper Asgreen produced the best ride since he won in Kuurne in 2020 with a long lone attack taking in the Paterberg and Oude Kwaremont before looking cooked when the main favourites group reeled him back in.
However as Greg Van Avermaet and Mathieu van der Poel looked to have settled in for a sprint the Dane kicked again.
There was a bit of indecision in that main group. They had just seen Wout Van Aert fly off the front on on the last climb before being taken back and then shooting out the back.
Should they chase Asgreen hard and risk leaving the group disjointed and liable to slow letting Van Aert back on, or try and keep a reasonable tempo that stopped people getting on from behind giving them a better chance of catching the leader but with little wiggle room?
As it happens they kind of chose neither.
The 2nd group didnt get back on but they also managed to ship over 30 seconds to a man who had been out on his own over two of cyclings most hellish climbs.
It was brilliant from Asgreen. Cancellara or Boonenesque. He will now be a real threat in the Ronde at the weekend, no doubt.
|1||ASGREEN Kasper||Deceuninck – Quick Step||400||225||4:42:56|
|2||SÉNÉCHAL Florian||Deceuninck – Quick Step||320||150||0:32|
|3||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||Alpecin-Fenix||260||110||,,|
|4||NAESEN Oliver||AG2R Citroën Team||220||90||,,|
|5||ŠTYBAR Zdeněk||Deceuninck – Quick Step||180||80||,,|
|6||VAN AVERMAET Greg||AG2R Citroën Team||140||70||,,|
|7||VAN BAARLE Dylan||INEOS Grenadiers||120||60||,,|
|8||HOELGAARD Markus||Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||100||50||1:28|
|10||HALLER Marco||Bahrain – Victorious||68||42||,|
Gent-Wevelgem was a slightly more cagey and less attacking affair in the final.
The main group of favourites was away with around 70km to go and despite some forming and reforming of the peloton behind them that was about that.
It doesn’t mean there was no excitement however. Van Aert was keen to put E3 behind him and was key in driving the breakaway.
It was a sprinters paradise with Sam Bennett, Giacomo Nizzolo, Matteo Trentin, Sonny Colbrelli and Michael Matthews all present.
Lots of teams were covered and had no interest in chasing behind and that looked like it was that.
Bennett had some issues with his last feed and was sick. He was dropped from the front group and shot back through the chasers with no strength to hang on.
Deceuninck now found themselves going from the position of close to 100% certain to winning the race if it came to a spring with Bennett to not having a rider up front.
Their fierce chase couldn’t reduce the gap so late in the race and Yves Lampaert was their top finisher in 14th place.
The riders up top had settled for a sprint and all looked really tired.
When it came to the finish Van Aert was a lot fresher and faster having had Nathan Van Hooydonck in the group with him to do some of his turns.
It was a great win and bodes well for this weekend.
Who’s your money on?
|1||VAN AERT Wout||Team Jumbo-Visma||500||225||5:45:11|
|2||NIZZOLO Giacomo||Team Qhubeka ASSOS||400||150||,,|
|3||TRENTIN Matteo||UAE-Team Emirates||325||110||,,|
|4||COLBRELLI Sonny||Bahrain – Victorious||275||90||,,|
|5||MATTHEWS Michael||Team BikeExchange||225||80||,,|
|6||KÜNG Stefan||Groupama – FDJ||175||70||,,|
|7||VAN HOOYDONCK Nathan||Team Jumbo-Visma||150||60||0:03|
|8||VAN BAARLE Dylan||INEOS Grenadiers||125||50||0:52|
|9||TURGIS Anthony||Team Total Direct Energie||100||46||0:54|