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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 1, 2020

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2019 Tour de France | 2019 Giro d'Italia

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. - Francis of Assisi

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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad team reports

We posted the report from 3rd-place Soren Andersen's Team Sunweb with the results.

Here's the report from winner Jasper Stuyven's Trek Segafredo team:

There is no better way to make amends for a disappointing 2019 Classics season than winning the opening race a year later.

The Trek-Segafredo Classics Team showed they have returned with a vengeance when Jasper Stuyven won a two-up sprint over Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step) to claim victory in the much anticipated first cobbled classic, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, his biggest win to date.

Jasper Stuyven

Jasper Stuyven celebrates his win. Sirotti photo

“I told the team that we needed to be in the front all day, and I think the focus from start to finish was excellent; we were always there,” said Stuyven. “And I got to finish it off today. It’s the best victory I’ve had!

“Last year was a disaster, but this is a good start. Today we showed as a team that last year was a mishap. We have a good group, and we finished the season well last year with Mads winning Worlds, and we were really motivated to keep this vibe going this year, We proved today that it worked out really well.”

The winning selection came unexpectedly early with 65 kilometers to go, but not for Stuyven, who showed his savviness in marking the right move.

“We said yesterday in the team meeting that the move could happen early in this weather, and with the crosswinds early on, there were already tired legs in the peloton,” explained Stuyven. “And then I was following some moves, and I saw a group going, and I saw all the big teams were there. I think it was very important to jump [into it] and not get into a defensive mode. Then I heard immediately in the radio that everything was slowing down behind, so it was a good group to go to the line with.”

It was a strong group of eight that moved clear, holding a two-minute advantage over the final 50 kilometers that never wavered much as the oomph gradually sizzled out of the chasing bunch behind.

But the Muur van Geraardsbergen still lingered. The iconic climb verified its decisiveness once again when over the top only three riders emerged: Stuyven, Lampaert, and Soren Kragh Andersen of Team Sunweb.

“Steven (de Jongh, director) encouraged me to try on the Muur,” continued Stuyven. “I wasn’t feeling the strongest, but I also knew everyone was tired. Once we started the Muur and no one accelerated, I thought I would try to accelerate myself, and we would see what happens – I only looked back at the top, and I think I made a good split.”

Coming into the final two kilometers, Lampaert and Stuyven traded blows, purging Andersen but not each other, and a sprinting dual decided the victor.

“After [the Muur] Soren was not really committed, and I was not sure if he was dying or playing a little bit, so it was hard – I didn’t want to do most of the work; I was not sure of the win, that’s for sure,” added Stuyven.

“Steven told me, ‘it’s your day, you’re the fastest, ’ and Yves was also telling me, “you’re the fastest,’ but I didn’t want to get overconfident. I was not 100 percent sure I would beat Yves in the sprint, but I managed it really well.

“When we started the sprint, Yves was on the left of my wheel, so I went a little more to the left and held my position, and I managed to close the door on him well.”

It was a massive win for Stuyven and the entire Trek-Segafredo Classics Team after two dry years.

“In 2018, I was always there but didn’t win, and so of course expectations were high last year, from everyone and also myself, to take that win, and that went really badly,” said Stuyven. “It’s super nice, especially since it’s the opening classic of the season and after the super teamwork today and how everything fell into place.

“It’s really nice to have a victory in the pocket already as that makes me even more relaxed,” he added.

Here's the report from second-place Yves Lampaert's Deceuninck-Quick Step team.

Saturday marked the start of the Classics season, which will stretch until late April, when the climbers and puncheurs will be in the spotlight at Liège–Bastogne–Liège. For now, it’s all about the cobblestone specialists, of whom some of the finest in the peloton sport the colours of Deceuninck – Quick-Step, the most successful Classic-orientated team of the century.

The curtain was again raised at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, where 13 hills and poor weather awaited the riders, who remained at all times alert, even when things seemed quiet once a five-man breakaway snapped the elastic. Echelons properly ignited the race with over 100 kilometers to go, splitting the pack and briefly spreading confusion, before everything came back together. Crosswinds appeared again as the race entered the Paddestraat, spelling the end of the road for the escapees, and our team made sure of having two delegates in that group.

With 80 kilometers to go, things relented, but jut a couple of minutes later, eight men got clear from a bunch incapable of reacting. Tim Declercq and Yves Lampaert were there for Deceuninck – Quick-Step, “El Tractor” living up again to his name and burying himself at the front to ensure a decent gap as the kilometers ticked down. This staggering effort laid down by Declercq, who powered through the pain with every climb left behind, helped the group start the Muur-Kapelmuur with a comfortable buffer over the chasers.

“My finish line was the Muur. I gave everything to make sure the group with Lampy would have the biggest lead possible there. Knowing the bunch was split, I kept going once I dropped out and tried to get a good personal result. It’s my first top 10 in the Classics and it feels very nice. I’m also happy I managed to do my job for the team. We took matters in our own hands again and showed a lot of character”, said the incredible Tim, who on top of his selfless work, finished Omloop in fifth place, just ahead of the reduced bunch.

Muur-Kapelmuur delivered the much-expected attacks, Yves Lampaert and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) cresting it with a handful of seconds over Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb), who returned on the run-in to Bosberg, the last hill of the 200km race. The status quo was maintained until with two kilometers to go, when Yves attacked and dispatched the Dane, making it a two-man battle for victory. In the sprint, Lampaert was the first to kick out, but was passed 50 meters from the line and had to settle for second. Just like last year, the Wolfpack had three riders in the top 10, Declercq and Florian Sénéchal, who sprinted to tenth from the remnants of the peloton.

Yves Lapaert

Yves Lampaert just after the race. Sirotti photo

“I’m happy with my race, but I would have loved to win so I could repay the team’s effort, and especially Tim’s huge amount of work. He was phenomenally strong, raced with his nose in the wind and still finished fifth. In that sense I am disappointed, although I can be satisfied too, because finishing on the podium at the first Classic of the year isn’t that bad. Overall, it’s nice to get a good result in the Opening Weekend, and to see the team so committed and strong, physically and tactically”, Yves Lampaert said after his first podium at Omloop.

Jempy Drucker's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this:

Marked by rain and crosswinds, the opening race of the Classics season proved once again to be a true test for the Peloton. After an early break was already caught with 100 km to go, Lukas Pöstlberger was always represented in the first groups for BORA – hansgrohe. When he missed the decisive break of seven riders, Lukas made a strong move, giving it is all to fight for a top ten result. Unfortunately, his effort didn’t pay off and the favorites went for a last attack on the Muur, where also the leading group felt apart. Three riders battled out the win with J. Stuyven taking the top spot on the podium. Sprinting in a first bigger chasing group, Jempy Drucker finally crossed the line in 12th place 1:28 behind the race winner.

From the Finish Line:
"I lost so much time after my puncture, I didn’t even want to continue the race that moment. But I gave it a try, rode my own race and managed to catch group after group. My shape is pretty good already, but of course I spent a huge amount of energy in that chase. In the finale I managed to stay with the favorites and contested in the sprint for 7th place. But on the final stretch I didn’t have enough power left." – Jempy Drucker

"For a long time the race went well for us. When the initial break was caught, I was part in every dangerous group. I think everybody was able to see that my shape is pretty good. Unfortunately, I missed the decisive move and also when I attacked later, there was no real cooperation in the group. I don’t know if the others couldn’t, or didn’t want to push, but as a consequence we have been caught with around 25 km to go. After that my race was basically over. We’ll see how the race goes tomorrow, but if there is a chance, I’ll go for it again." – Lukas Pöstlberger

"With the strong wind today we expected a really hard race. After the first break was caught, Lukas was always at the head of the race. Unfortunately, Jempy had a puncture in a quite difficult phase and as a result he was really far behind. To be honest, at that point I didn’t expect him to come back again, that was an impressive effort. But we missed the decisive break during that period and Lukas had only Ide Schelling with him. He went all in then and for some time it looked quite promising, but in the end his effort didn’t pay off. Jempy was our only guy in the chasing group at the end, sprinting for a top ten result. Unfortunately, it was not enough today." – Christian Pömer, Sports Director 

And here's the Team Jumbo-Visma report:

Team Jumbo-Visma has displayed their ambitions during the start of the classic spring. The yellow-black brigade animated the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. For a long time, the team had a good chance on a podium place with Mike Teunissen. He eventually became sixth. A strong Wout van Aert finished just outside the top ten. He clinched the eleventh place.

ert-Jan Lindeman

Jumbo-Visma rider Bert-Jan Lindeman on the Grammont. Sirotti photo

Due to the bad weather conditions, the first cobblestone sections and hills already made for a battle in the peloton. Five escapees were in the breakaway, but were caught by the main peloton well before the race was halfway.

Team Jumbo-Visma was constantly in the foreground and often showed initiative. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) sprinted to victory in Ninove.

The breakaway with Teunissen turned out to be the winning one. The ascent of the famous ‘Muur’ eventually became a little too much for him. “I gave everything, but at a certain point, I did not anymore. I felt that other guys were better. Wout and Pascal were very strong, so I told them that they could attack. We rode a good race. We really showed ourselves. Hopefully I can be strong at crucial moments in the coming weeks.”

Sports director Jan Boven had also seen a strong Team Jumbo-Visma. “We rode a very good race. We always had someone at the place where we were supposed to be. Of course we had hoped that Mike would have been just a little better on the ‘Muur’ because in that case he definitely would have competed for the win. We have shown that we are ready for this type of races.”

Just like Teunissen and Jansen, Van Aert made his first kilometres on the road this season. That meant his re-appearance on the road after his heavy crash in the Tour de France.

“The race went very well. The team always was in a good situation. It is a pity that Mike was not able to keep the pace on the ‘Muur, but at that moment, my group could not return to the front of the race. I tried to make it to the front, but at that moment there there was not enough support. In fact, the whole team raced well. We showed that we are ready for the classics. In races like this, you should be a bit lucky. That was not the case today.”

Amund Jansen had to abandon the race early due to a crash. A wound was treated in the hospital and he is doing well.

World champion Annemiek Van Vleuten wins Women's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Here's the report from Van Vleuten's Mitchelton-Scott team.

World champion Annemiek van Vleuten started the 2020 season off with a bang today, claiming an emphatic solo victory in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, her first race in the rainbow jersey.

Annemiek Van Vleuten

Annemiek Van Vleuten knows how to race a bicycle. Getty photo

In her signature style, Van Vleuten injected a fierce pace at the base of the Muur-Kapelmuur and rode away from her rivals, reaching the top of the climb with a large advantage.

With the rainbow stripes on her back, the Dutch star fought all the way to the line to take her first ever victory in the one-day Belgium Classic.

As the first race of the season for many, the race began with a nervous feel throughout the peloton. The 126km day began with a trio of riders jumping away and dangling 50seconds ahead of the bunch for the fairly flat opening 30kilometres.

With wind and cold rain adding to the day’s difficulty, the escapees didn’t last long out front and were swallowed up ahead of the first main cobble section.

Van Vleuten suffered a mechanical problem with 70kilometres remaining which caused her to chase back hard to get herslef back into contention. Overcoming the small set-back, the world champion re-joined the action just ahead of a decisive split and with the adrenaline pumping through her blood, the cold temperatures were out of mind.

After the iconic Molenberg and the tough Paddestraat cobbles, the front of the race whittled down to around 14 riders. Mitchelton-SCOTT were present with both Van Vleuten and Gracie Elvin in the group, before the race settled down again as the road surface returned to smooth concrete.

With this, a small group were successfully able to bridge across and increase the front group out to 21riders which played to Mitchelton-SCOTT’s advantage, with Van Vleuten’s teammate Sarah Roy making the junction to give the team extra strength in numbers.

On the much-anticipated climb of the day, the Muur-Kapelmuur, both Elvin and Roy worked to set a hard tempo into the base of the climb allowing the world champion to unleash.

Like a flash back to the world championships, Van Vleuten put the hammer down with a hard pace from the bottom of the brutally steep cobbled climb, which demolished the peloton.

Her injection of speed saw her rivals continuously lose distance with each pedal stroke and the time gap continuously increase. Van Vleuten was able to hold on to cross the line in Ninove for a very special victory.

Annemiek van Vleuten:
“I can’t believe this has happened because I am always such a slow starter and I know I usually grow into the season. So to start like this, I really didn’t expect to be solo over the Muur, I thought more girls would follow me.

“If you win solo you can really enjoy the last kilometres and I really enjoyed those moments today, it is my first win here and in the rainbow jersey is an incredible feeling.

"It was one of those races were the team did everything perfectly, we were always in position, we were there when we needed to be in front and I didn’t have to spend any energy and they first put me in an awesome position for the climb.

“I didn’t have any expectations, but my goal was to go hard from the bottom of the climb then check to see who was following me. Only then could I make a decision on what to do, just see what the situation was and then deal with it.

“At one point when I was solo coming into the final my director Martin (Vestby) said the time gap was 30seconds but then I started to doubt if he said 30 or 13seconds, so that made me a little bit insecure in the final kilometres.

"I felt like maybe I was losing time and they were chasing really hard behind me, but then I just looked a little bit to my watts on my Garmin and could see I had a lot of power, so I knew they need to chase really hard to catch me."

2020 Women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Results:
1. Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 3:34:55
2. Marta Bastianelli (Ale BTC Ljubljana) 0:42
3. Floortje Mackaij (Team Sunweb) ST

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