Bredene Koksijde Classic: 12th for Jake Stewart

Praise for Jake Stewart from his boss at Groupama-FDJ, Yvon Madiot “What Jake did today is really good. Once he gets some more strength and experience, I think he’ll be a very good Classics rider”

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Bredene Koksijde Classic: 12th for Jake Stewart

At Koksijde this Friday, Jake Stewart was unable to break into the top 10 as he has been doing so far this season. He finished 12th in the Bredene Koksijde Classic

The result may not have been what he and his team were chasing, but he again showed himself at the front in a weary and selective Belgian Classic. For a long time in the chasing group, the 21-year-old British rider from Coventry came back to the front of the race in the final and was able to take part in the sprint for the win.

Left: Lewis Askey next to Jake Stewart and other members of the FDJ team

With his sprint blunted by 200 kilometers of hard effort, Jake crossed the line in twelfth place, only metres away from the winner. In his second race of the week on the cobbles for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team, two days after the Nokere Koerse, the Bredene Koksijde Classic was two hundred kilometres long with two crossings over the Kemmelberg around mid-race.

It was expected that the action would kick off early, but with crosswinds, that came true even earlier. “The wind made the scenario interesting,” said Jake Stewart, sixth at Nokere and again protected in Friday’s race.

After taking note of the weather forecast, we knew it was going to blow and the start was suddenly very tense. It was super hectic, everyone wanted to be in a good position. The first eighty kilometres to the Kemmel were at full throttle! Due to the cross winds and the speed of the race, the peloton was divided into three before even reaching the difficulties of the day.

“In the first part of the race, it went pretty well for us,” said Yvon Madiot. Jake was pretty well surrounded by young riders, especially our guys from the Conti team, Lewis (Askey) and Rait. We passed over the bergs without too many problems. On the other hand, we found ourselves in a little more difficulty on the first passage of Mont Kemmel. The race had started very early and the guys weren’t in a good enough position.”

Around 120 kilometers from the finish, a very strong group of thirteen riders went clear of the peloton. “I was a little too far behind at the foot and just missed it” Jake confirmed. “So I made sure I was well placed for the second ascent and was able to take my place in the counterattack” he added.

Along with about fifteen other riders, the British rider was initially – and rightfully – quite discreet. “I was alone, without a teammate so I tried to conserve some energy,” Jake said.

“At the start, I told him not to overdo it,” added Yvon. The group had brought the gap down quite quickly at first, less than forty seconds. Unfortunately, it started to accelerate up front again, so he had to ride a little harder with everyone.”

The gap was around 40 seconds over nearly a hundred kilometers, it just didn’t want to close up so the chasers left a lot of energy in the chase.

It was then, via a local circuit devoid of any real difficulty, to be covered three times, that the event was concluded. On the first crossing over the line (33 km to go), the gap was 45 seconds, then 25 seconds on the next lap, due in part to poor work in the leading group.

A further acceleration in the chase group subsequently brought the gap to the breakway down. The junction finally took place shortly before the start of the last lap with Jake Stewart being one of the instigators: “I made a little effort to make the jump because the gap hovered around 20 seconds and I wanted be sure to come back to the front” Jake explained.

“It was a very tough race, racing all day. Above all, it should be remembered that he was in front, for his first real year in the big league. Once he gets some more strength and more experience, I think he’ll be a very good Classics rider.” Yvon Madiot

Once the regrouping had taken place, it was nevertheless necessary to chase behind Pöstlberger. The chase was a bit messy, but the Austrian still surrendered shortly before the red flame. A sprint between the riders in the small group took place. “I tried to position myself well,” Jake added, “but I was done for the finish. I couldn’t deliver a good sprint “.

Around tenth as he entered the home stretch, the Briton more or less stayed in his place and ended up in twelfth.

What Jake did today is really good”, Yvon Madiot said. “He told me he was dead, that he had no legs,” added Yvon. He tried to keep up with the sprint but had nothing more to give. It’s no wonder. He’s still young, he’s only 21. He logically lacks a bit of stamina, but what he did today is really good.”

“It was a very tough race, racing all day. Above all, it should be remembered that he was in front, for his first real year in the big league. Once he gets some more strength and more experience, I think he’ll be a very good Classics rider.” Yvon Madiot

The rider, already runner-up in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad at the end of February, also wanted to focus on the positives. “I can be happy with my race,” he assured. “It was a long day and I learned a lot today. I hadn’t ridden the bergs very much so it was good to be there ahead of the race.”

“I can head into the next Classics with a little extra experience” Jake finished with.

“In general, we still lacked a little experience, but that’s normal, said Yvon. We had a very, very young group today (the second youngest on the line). The oldest one was Olivier Le Gac, who is only 27 years old. In any case, it is the type of race that will be useful for them in the future, but it will also be useful for Olivier who needed to ride and put in some effort with a view to the coming events”.


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