During the finale of Wednesday’s Dwars door Vlaanderen, Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin) featured in the race’s winning breakaway along with world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) and two Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise riders; Edward Theuns and eventual winner Jelle Wallays. In the last kilometres, Wallays attacked and Kwiatkowski realized that Van Baarle wasn’t planning to help close the gap. It left both riders behind as Wallays rode away with the victory, and Kwiatkowski with a lot of frustration.
After the finish, Kwiatkowski reached out to Van Baarle, expressing his disappointment about his lack of co-operation. Later on Twitter, Kwiatkowski stated that not everybody goes for the win as some riders are content with second place. However, Van Baarle noted that his victory at the Tour of Britain last year should have indicated that he was capable of riding for the win again in Waregem.
“Kwiatkowski knew me from the Tour of Britain. Today I proved that my victory in the Tour of Britain wasn’t a one-off shot,” Van Baarle stated after the race. The 22-year-old Dutchman won the general classification in the Tour of Britain in September 2014, just two weeks before the World Championships in Ponferrada where Kwiatkowski would go on and win the road race and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) would win the individual time trial. Van Baarle managed to hold off both of them despite the final short time trial in London.
“In the Tour of Britain I beat two world champions, two weeks ahead of the World Championships so they couldn’t say they weren’t well prepared. That was special. I received a lot of reactions. Straight away you put yourself on the map. It’s becoming a bigger race each year. You see that in our team. It’s a race in which young riders like me can win,” Van Baarle told Cyclingnews.
In Dwars door Vlaanderen, he beat Kwiatkowski again but not in the sprint for the victory. The pair were trying to lure one another into closing the gap down on attacker Wallays, and they ended up with Van Baarle in third and Kwiatkowski in fourth place. After the race, Kwiatkowski and his Etixx-QuickStep team faulted Van Baarle for the outcome. Van Baarle said that he hoped for a better place, but that he is pleased with a podium finish.
“I beat the world champion in the sprint but I’m third. I hoped for more but I can be pleased with this result," Van Baarle explained. "I didn’t expect the late attack. Then I gambled on Kwiatkowski. Sadly enough, he also gambled that I would close it down. He looked at me and then Jelle was gone. He’s the world champion and wants to show his jersey. I want to win here too. Early on I was impressed by the presence of the world champion but later I just wanted to win the race. Theuns and Kwiatkowski aren’t slow but I didn’t know how fast I was,” Van Baarle said.
During the post-race interview Van Baarle was shivering from the cold – and the champagne shower on the podium. Several riders pulled out of the rain-soaked race due to crashes or just because of the demanding conditions. Grand Tour rider Nairo Quintana (Movistar) was present in Dwars door Vlaanderen to prepare for the Tour de France cobbles in July. But with his 187cm and 78 kg, Van Baarle said that he is better suited for the classics.
“A rider like Quintana is too light for the cobbles. He wants to gain experience. I already know this is my terrain since the junior category. I knew straight away I wasn’t a Contador. I feel great on the cobbles. I’m hoping this will become my specialty,” Van Baarle said, adding that the circumstances were difficult to assess.
“It was cold in the rain. When the breakaway move went up the road at the Nieuwe Kwaremont [at 112km from the finish] I already got rid of some clothing which was quite early as it started to rain and get cold again. Eventually I got warm enough. I can stand the cold quite well,” Van Baarle said. “I’m gunning for the spring classics in the future. This was the shortest of all the classics. I’m hoping to move up the ladder. I’m leading the team together with Sebastian Langeveld. Today I was lucky enough to be in the decisive move. I’ve got the future, he’s got the experience.”