Report: Van Avermaet wins Het Nieuwsblad

For the second year running, Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) wins Het Nieuwsblad as he beats, again, Peter Sagan into second place. Sep Vanmarcke is third

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Report: Van Avermaet wins Het Nieuwsblad

For the second year running, Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) wins Het Nieuwsblad as he beats, again, Peter Sagan into second place. Sep Vanmarcke is third

A thrilling race gradually unfurled, before blowing apart inside the final 65km. A combination of a mass pile-up on the Donderij cobbles and the punishing Taaienberg climb brought about a key moment in the race.

With half the peloton trapped behind, Rowe, Ian Stannard and Gianni Moscon toiled over the selective climb to bring themselves into play. Rowe found himself in the lead group briefly, but with the race stretched to breaking point, a punishing acceleration from world champion Sagan on the Eikenberg saw the elastic snap.Moments after Moscon and Stannard had regained contact, the Team Sky trio were immediately thrust into chase mode – and the pattern of the race was set.

A quartet of Van Avermaet, Sagan, Vanmarcke and Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale) pushed clear, and quickly opened out a gap of 42 seconds as the race headed into the final 40km.

In the group behind reinforcements arrived, but the gap wasn’t coming down. Rowe was among a number of riders to forge onwards over the Molenberg, but despite the deficit dropping down as low as 25 seconds, the margin proved insurmountable.

Team Sky rode hard early on to bring their leaders into position. Christian Knees and Michal Golas used their Classics experience in the bunch, with Danny van Poppel ensuring led the peloton onto the Kruisberg. Salvatore Puccio was unfortunate to be held up by the sizeable crash that also put paid to the chances of Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha-Alpecin).

Greg Van Avermaet: “The race was really hard. It was a beautiful race and we made it hard together with Peter Sagan. We opened up the race at the right time at Eikenberg. It was really nice to come with three guys to the finish and wonderful that I could finish it off. I had confidence from last year that I could win in a sprint on this finish and in the end, it was a good sprint and I am really happy with what I did today.”

How does it feel to be Olympic Champion and to win here at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad twice in a row?
“It’s an amazing feeling. Last year, my season started here with a big victory and now it’s the same this year. It’s nice to come home and to win the first race on home ground. It’s just such a nice feeling with so many fans out on the road and for me, it is the perfect start to the season.”

Does this give you confidence for the rest of the Classics season?
“Flanders is my biggest goal. It’s a hard race but if everything goes well I have a big chance. I’ve had a good start to the year already and this win gives me even more confidence.”

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How do you feel about this victory after a complicated winter with an injury?
“It was nice to win here because you always come to this race with a lot of expectations. I was a little bit behind on the schedule so you still have to see where you are at the big races and the races that suit me. This is a really good start and I am happy. Just like last year, this gives me confidence and takes some of the pressure off the other races. My big goal is Tour of Flanders and it is there that I have to be in top form and it’s there I want to make a good result.”

BMC Valerio Piva, Sports Director: “I am very happy about this result. Greg Van Avermaet was our leader and we knew he was super motivated for the win and so was the whole team. We had some bad luck as a team with the crash when we lost Daniel Oss and also Floris Gerts and then a mechanical issue with Stefan Küng. But we had a super Greg and he did a great job like last year and he deserved this win.

The team was strong and I am happy with the race. In cycling, one day you have luck and one day you have less but we won and Greg was really strong. When we start any race, we want to do the maximum and try to win. Greg will be able to enjoy the race after today but but we also have others on the team like Jempy Drucker and Stefan Küng who are really strong and I think everyone will have the chance to do something tomorrow at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.”

Peter Sagan: “You can’t win every day. It was a very hard race and I’m happy to be racing again after Australia. I worked a lot throughout the race, and we went to the finish in the first group and I just didn’t have the legs for the win. I had spent a lot of energy and it was hard to recover for the final sprint”.

“I’ve worked hard these past few weeks, but it was one month without racing – it’s like a copy of last season, but it’s promising for the races to come. The season is long and has just started. I consider this race a very good training and I look forward to the upcoming races.”

Sep Vanmarcke: “When we first got together with the three of us, I was at my max. But I got better as the race progressed. I felt good and put everything on the sprint. When Sagan swayed to the left at 300 meters to go, that messed up my sprint. I did get next to Van Avermaet, but I was already done by then.”

Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors): “I was close to the front of the peloton on the Haaghoek, but crashed when another rider moved from the right to the left without paying attention. He touched my front wheel and in the blink of an eye I was on the ground. At the 62km to-go mark, I was involved in another crash, but fortunately I didn’t went down this time. My derailleur and rear wheel got stucked in another guy’s bike, and at that point the race was lost.”

Two-time winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors): “I got stucked behind that crash prior to the Taaienberg, and from that moment on, I chased until the very end. It was an awkward race, but I’m satisfied for giving everything that I had. I didn’t race a lot before Omloop, so I was expecting not to be at 100%, but the important thing is that the sensations were there today, which is encouraging for the future.”

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Frederik Backaert (11th, Wanty Gobert): “In the beginning of the race the pace was high because it took a long time to establish a breakaway. Afterwards the speed dropped in the peloton. We tried to stay in front with four guys the whole time. On Kruisberg Offredo, Van Keirsbulck and I were in the first positions because we knew that there was a crucial point following with Taaienberg. ”

“On the Donderij Vanspeybrouck and I were involved in a massive crash. Around 15th position in the pack someone took a tumble and it was impossible to avoid. I lost one and a half minute over there. ”

“I rejoined the big chasing group only just before the third passage on Haaghoek. On the Molenberg I rode a decent pace, but I saved a little for an acceleration on top of the climb. That was the moment the chasing group of around fifteen riders took off.”

“In the battle for fourth place I chose the wheel of Jurgen Roelandts. Unfortunately it was a bad decision. He didn’t react when some riders took off in the final kilometers. Nonetheless I was happy with my sprint. Tomorrow no Kuurne for me but on Wednesday I want to ride a good result in Samyn. ”


Tomorrow sees the second race of this tough weekend in Belgium. The 200.7km Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne covers a hard course, with the climbs coming later in the day – including the fearsome Oude Kwaremont – when riders will really be feeling the distance and the previous day’s efforts.

1. Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team
2. Peter Sagan, Bora – Hansgrohe
3. Sep Vanmarcke, Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team
4. Fabio Felline, Trek – Segafredo @:43
5. Oscar Gatto, Astana Pro Team @ 50 secs
6. Luke Rowe, Team Sky,
7. Oliver Naesen, AG2R La Mondiale
8. Jasper Stuyven, Trek – Segafredo
9. Matteo Trentin, Quick-Step Floors
10. Adrien Petit, Direct Energie
11. Frederik Backaert, Wanty – Groupe Gobert
12. Mike Teunissen, Team Sunweb
13. Philippe Gilbert, Quick-Step Floors
14. Zdenek Stybar, Quick-Step Floors
15. Jurgen Roelandts, Lotto Souda

78. Ian Stannard, Team Sky
92. Ryan MullenCannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team
109. Adam Blythe, Aqua Blue Sport
115. Thomas Scully, Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team



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