Report: Kuurne Brussel Kuurne

Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) attacks with more than 30 kilometers to go, catches and drops the members of the breakaway and hold off an entire peloton to solo to victory in Kuurne Brussel Kuurne.

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Report: Kuurne Brussel Kuurne

Kasper Asgreen notched up Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s eighth victory at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne after a towering effort which saw him attack with more than 30 kilometers to go, catch and drop the members of the breakaway and hold off an entire furious peloton, thus leaving an indelible impression on the Opening Weekend.

Photo : ©Tim De Waele / ©Getty Images

“It’s definitely the biggest victory of my career! Taking a classic is so important, because when I turned pro, I had the goal of developing myself into a classics-type of rider, and to win this hard but beautiful race, just two years into my pro career, means so much to me! We had such an incredible start of the season and we hope to rack up many more solid results”, a jubilant Kasper said immediately after his big day in Belgium.

Twenty-four hours after an untimely mechanical took him out of contention at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Asgreen was one of the prominent riders on Sunday, drilling the pace for the Wolfpack and getting himself involved in several moves that went clear on the challenging course comprising eleven hills. Crosswinds contributed to these skirmishes, with attacks happening everywhere inside the last 100 kilometers, and our squad always had at least one man in every single one of these groups.

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Riding just his second Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Asgreen married imagination and adventure in attacking with 44 kilometers to go, swiftly opening a small gap and catching the escapees, of whom two latched onto his wheel. Fully committed to pulling at the front of this newly-formed group, the 25-year-old single-handedly took the gap to 45 seconds, before riding the remains of the break off his wheel, with 16, respectively 9 kilometers to go, and going into time trial mode, tucked over the handlebars of his Specialized machine.

When the gap dropped to ten seconds inside the last kilometers, it looked like the catch would be inevitable, but Kasper gritted his teeth and kept pushing through the pain, going under the flamme rouge with the smallest of margins. The bunch drew closer in this nail-biting finale, but there was nothing else they could do, as the Dane finally eased up and stretched his arms to celebrate an incredible victory that came as testament of his bravery and determination.

Photo : ©Tim De Waele / ©Getty Images

“Bob told me in the bus this morning to do what he did last year, when he too attacked and claimed a solo victory here, so I just followed his advice, knowing the small and narrow roads would play into my favour. I jumped to counter an attack after the Kluisberg, joined the guys in the break and then dropped them one by one. It was really tough, my legs were screaming and I really suffered out there, but I kept going and began believing only at the 300-meter-to-go sign. The Opening Weekend was very good for us, we showed incredible teamwork and these results cement our confidence before the next Classics, when we want to be again up there”, said Kasper after his spectacular solo display, which saw him become just the second Dane in history to conquer Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Ben Swift: “Once we knew it was going to come down to a sprint, Luke and Ian fully committed straight away. I was up against strong sprint competition and I knew I had to attack from behind as there was a headwind. It was a really chaotic sprint with people swinging left, right, banging into each other with wheels rubbing. Once you found a bit of space you just ‘went’ and I knew I had to make up some places, my sprint could have been a little bit better, but I got a bit blocked in.”

“Overall, I felt like I had the legs to move when I wanted to move around in the peloton, but on the other side of it, I wasted a lot of energy and opportunities by making a few little mistakes, but hopefully that’s just a bit of inexperience in these races. It’s only my second time doing opening weekend and these races are all about knowing when to relax, when not relax and that constant fighting for position. I need to find my feet in these races, take the positives from this weekend and move forwards.”

Jasper Stuyven (5th): “It was again a very nervous day; every turn could be a possible danger for crosswinds. I think you could see that the legs in the whole peloton were tired from yesterday. In the beginning, I wasn’t feeling super good either. But towards the final, I felt better and better. We missed a little have the numbers in the final. I tried to make it hard in the small roads at the end with the crosswind, but it never went with a good group, and Quick-Step had the numbers.”

“Coming into the final I had to gamble and stop pulling with the other teams. I think I did a good sprint with not super legs after trying with the group before and trying to make a split at the end, so I think I have to be happy with 5th place. It was a good day for me.”

Alexander Kristoff  (3rd): “When I made the first selection over the Kwaremont climb I knew the legs were good. I went a bit early in the sprint but it’s still a good result for me. Yesterday didn’t go to plan so to get on the podium today is really nice. Bjerg had a strong ride too but had some bad luck with the puncture. With the high level here I think a podium is a good result for the opening weekend.”

Greg Van Avermaet: “I wanted to race as hard as possible because I had really good feelings today. I wanted to go away with a small group and try to finish it off in the end but I never came in this situation which is a pity. Overall, the weekend was quite good and I think we raced quite well. For me, personally, it was not the result I was hoping for. But, with Matteo’s result yesterday and the strange race today, it was hard to do better I think. My form is super good so we will see what happens in the next races.”

Cees Bol: “It was a hard race out there today,” said Bol at the finish. “We fought really hard for it as a team and were good throughout the afternoon but in the final I was too empty and made some mistakes. I’m super disappointed, the team deserved a good result today.”

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1. Kasper Asgreen
2. Giacomo Nizzolo
3. Alexandar Kristoff
4. Fabio Jakobsen
5. Jasper Stuyven

8. Ben Swift
62. Ian Stannard
63. Luke Rowe
75. Owain Doull
109 Gabz Cullaigh
115. Fred Wright


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