After a midweek of Magnus Sheffield winning and team dominance, along with an Amstel Gold success, Ineos Grenadiers had showed they were truly on the road to being a classics squad by taking the big one.
|1||VAN BAARLE Dylan||INEOS Grenadiers||500||275||5:37:00|
|2||VAN AERT Wout||Jumbo-Visma||400||200||1:47|
|3||KÜNG Stefan||Groupama – FDJ||325||150||,,|
|4||DEVRIENDT Tom||Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux||275||120||,,|
|5||MOHORIČ Matej||Bahrain – Victorious||225||100||,,|
|6||PETIT Adrien||Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert Matériaux||175||90||2:27|
|7||STUYVEN Jasper||Trek – Segafredo||150||80||,,|
|8||PICHON Laurent||Team Arkéa Samsic||125||70||,,|
|9||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||Alpecin-Fenix||100||60||2:34|
|10||LAMPAERT Yves||Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team||85||50||2:59|
Dylan Van Baarle proved that three attacks is too many but two just enough when he made his way across to the 2nd threatening break of the day and dropped them to head into Roubaix with a hefty winning margin.
The truth is that this was a win set up nearer the start than the finish of the race. In a slight crosswind his team put all 7 riders into a move that took until the 2nd sector of cobbles to pull back. Pre-race favourites Mathieu Van de Poel and Wout Van Aert had to use more riders than they would have hoped in getting it back.
This left the Grenadiers with plenty of riders on the front foot and at the head of the race. In their old more defensive style of riding, the travails of Fillipo Ganna would have been enough to derail their plan, but whilst it was bad news for the Italian, the mechanicals that had him dropped and having to chase alone didn’t affect the strategy. They had riders in abundance.
There were, however, riders clear at the key point in Arenberg forest and Milan San-Remo winner Matej Mohoric was proving to be no one trick pony in forcing the pace at the front. But with Ben Turner pushing on behind in the group of favourites and keeping things in check, Ineos didn’t panic.
Mohoric came back to them when hW Hs a puncture and Van Baarle made his first move driving the final selection away. This was despite the spirited Tom Devrient remaining clear from the initial breakaway.
The second Van Baarle attack was clinical and final with only Van Aert trying to respond, the rest were on their knees at this point.
But despite having Devrient, Stefan Kung and Mohoric back after his mechanical, they couldn’t get close to the Dutchman whose lead grew all the way through the final sectors and on into Roubaix.
Seeing Sir Dave Brailsford and Van Baarle embrace in the famous velodrome at the end of the race showed that despite having won Amstel and Liege-Bastogne-Liege (with Wout Poels) this was the one they wanted. And it was worth the 12 year wait to get it.
The fact that Quickstep continued their nightmare spring might have added a bit of gloss to the win and the feelings of joy perhaps? who knows?
But with the Ardennes coming up it will be interesting to see if that drought can end for the Belgian super team.