Van Hecke wins Belgian road championship

Topsport rider beats Jurgen Roelandts in sprint finish

After a spectacular race around Tervuren near Brussels it was 32-year-old Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) who sprinted to the Belgian tricolor jersey. Together with Jürgen Roelandts (Lotto-Soudal) he survived from the long breakaway in a Gent-Wevelgem-like move and surprisingly beat the former Belgian champion in a two-man sprint. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) was a close third.

“This week I was thinking about the win. I knew I was going well but winning is something different. I’m a pro for 12 years with some alright results but this win adds colour to my palmarès,” Van Hecke told Sporza. “It’s not undeserved. I always did my work. So did Jürgen. I was up the road with someone who’s faster than me. We were riding very hard in the last three laps. After such a race, 250km in the attack, it’s the rider with just a little more power who wins. It’ll be a big party tonight.”

In the final kilometres the duo were able to hold back the comeback from Greg Van Avermaet and sprint for the victory. On paper Roelandts is the faster man but after 252km of racing in the heat over roads that were never flat, things were different. Van Hecke forced Roelandts into the lead in the final kilometre with Van Avermaet forcing Roelandts to keep up the pace as he was on their heels.

“I came close but not enough. I rode fast enough, about 400W most of the time, so I expected to come closer. They were riding very fast in front. I know what Preben does for it. It’s well deserved,” Van Avermaet told Sporza.

“I’m very disappointed. I felt good and we went from far out. It was good to move along in a group of 25 riders. I was a bit too confident. Greg Van Avermaet being just behind us probably ruined it for me. The moment I accelerated at 200 metres to go I felt that I blocked,” Roelandts said.

Lotto-Soudal outnumbered everybody in the lead group of 25 riders, forcing Etixx-QuickStep to work in the peloton. The tactical benefit didn’t result in the victory for Lotto-Soudal, nor for Etixx-QuickStep. They worked hard but in the end they had to settle for a anonymous eighth place for their leader Tom Boonen.

“We tried to make a sprint of it but on the climb you had to follow and make the best of it. During the last lap we were close enough. We rode away with a few guys on the climb but then riders from Lotto and Vlaanderen came back and countered every move. From there it was useless to keep trying,” Boonen told Sporza.

Big breakaway move goes in first lap

A large group of 25 riders went the distance during the first of 18 laps. There were a lot of interesting names in the group with Lotto-Soudal placing no less than six men in front, including Thomas De Gendt, Tosh Van der Sande and Jürgen Roelandts. Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise had four men including Edward Theuns and Preben Van Hecke. Etixx-QuickStep featured with two riders: Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and Iljo Keisse. The gap was more than seven minutes after three laps of racing before being brought down to three minutes thanks to the work from (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), BMC and eventually Etixx-QuickStep. With 100km to go the gap was down to 2:40.

After several scrimmages in front the numbers were brought down. With five laps and 90km to go ten men survived in front after an acceleration from Van der Sande. The group was once again dominated by Lotto-Soudal with four men and two men from Topsport Vlaanderen and Etixx. Two laps later Van der Sande accelerated on the Horenberg and only Van Hecke and Roelandts marked his move. Nobody returned from behind.

With 40km to go the three leaders Roelandts, Van der Sande and Van Hecke still had 2:40 on the Etixx-QuickStep-led peloton. A tired Van der Sande faded away from the front early on in the penultimate lap. Halfway that lap Stijn Devolder (Trek) launched a counter-attack with Jan Bakelants (AG2R La Mondiale) and Dimitri Claeys (Verandas Willems) marking this move. The gap slowly came down between the three groups. When hitting the final lap the two leaders had 50s on the three chasers and 1:07 on the peloton.

Van Hecke and Roelandts withstand counter-attacks

Just before the Horenberg Ben Hermans (BMC) took over the command in the peloton. The counter-attack with Bakelants, Devolder and Claeys was neutralized and the gap came down to half a minute just before the final climb up the Horenberg.

Greg Van Avermaet unleashed his move on the Horenberg with Boonen, Sep Vanmarcke (, Björn Leukemans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and defending champion Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) marking his move. At the top the gap was down to 15 seconds. The co-operation wasn’t good and several other riders bridged up soon after. Van Avermaet then accelerated three times. On the same false flat section where Devolder attacked one lap earlier he managed to get away. Vanmarcke and Boonen tried to bridge up, without success. The gaps remained the same. At 8km from the finish the two leaders were still 15 seconds ahead of the Boonen-group with Van Avermaet riding in between these two groups. Despite several counter-attacks the situation remained the same until the final kilometre.

Van Hecke sat on Roelandts’ wheel and beat him in the sprint. Van Avermaet was third. Gaetan Bille (Verandas Willems) escaped the peloton in the final kilometre and finished fourth. Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal) won the sprint in the peloton for fifth place. Tom Boonen finished eighth.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise5:12:20 
2Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:01 
3Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:06 
4Gaetan Bille (Bel) Verandas Willems Cycling Team0:00:13 
5Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:20 
6Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
7Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
8Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
9Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
10Oliver Naesen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
11Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
12Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
13Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
14Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
15Baptiste Plackaert (Bel) Roubaix Lille Metropole  
16Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
17Stijn Steels (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
18Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
19Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin  
20Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
21Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team  
22Tim De Troyer (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
23Tim Declercq (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
24Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
25Floris De Tier (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
26Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
27Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:00:26 
28Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:04:04 
29Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
30Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
31Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge  
33Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Verandas Willems Cycling Team  
34Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
35Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
36Johan Van Summeren (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
37Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
38Laurent Evrard (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
39Kevin Ista (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles0:07:47 
40Thomas Degand (Bel) IAM Cycling  
41Timothy Dupont (Bel) Roubaix Lille Metropole  
42Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN - Qhubeka  
43Kenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
44Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
45Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
46Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Roubaix Lille Metropole  
47Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
48Wout Van Aert (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental Team  
DNFSander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFStig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFJasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFBart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFThomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFKenny De Haes (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFBoris Vallee (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFJurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFTosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFJelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFLouis Vervaeke (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNFYves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNFPieter Serry (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNFGuillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNFStijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNFAmaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFKenny De Ketele (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFMoreno De Pauw (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFSander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFPieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFJarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFBert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFJef Van Meirhaeghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFArthur Van Overberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFOtto Vergaerde (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFJens Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFFrancis De Greef (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFTom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFBoris Dron (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFJan Ghyselinck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFRoy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFFrederique Robert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFJames Vanlandschoot (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFDylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
DNFLoic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
DNFDries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling  
DNFJonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling  
DNFDavid Boucher (Fra)  
DNFBert De Backer (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFMaarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFGert Steegmans (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFLouis Verhelst (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFMaxime Anciaux (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFOlivier Chevalier (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFLudwig De Winter (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFSébastien Delfosse (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFAntoine Demoitie (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFTom Dernies (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFGregory Habeaux (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFLoic Pestiaux (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFGaëtan Pons (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFJulien Stassen (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFAntoine Warnier (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFThomas Wertz (Bel) Wallonie - Bruxelles  
DNFJens Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental Team  
DNFJoeri Adams (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental Team  
DNFTim Merlier (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental Team  
DNFRob Peeters (Bel) Vastgoedservice - Golden Palace Continental Team  
DNFJoeri Calleeuw (Bel) Verandas Willems Cycling Team  
DNFOlivier Pardini (Bel) Verandas Willems Cycling Team  
DNFJim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team  
DNFTom Meeusen (Bel) Telenet - Fidea Cycling Team  
DNFKevin Pauwels (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team  
DNFDieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team  
DNFMichael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team  
DNFKlaas Vantornout (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team  
DNFGianni Vermeersch (Bel) Sunweb - Napoleon Games Cycling Team  
DNFWietse Bosmans (Bel) BKCP-Powerplus  
DNFDiether Sweeck (Bel) Corendon-Kwadro  
DNFLaurens Sweeck (Bel) Corendon-Kwadro  
DNFBenjamin Verraes (Bel) Cibel  
DNFDieter Bouvry (Bel) Roubaix Lille Metropole  
DNFSven Nys (Bel)  
DNFSven Vanthourenhout (Bel)  
DNFXandro Meurisse (Bel) An Post - Chainreaction  
DNFKevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) Torku Sekerspor  
DNFBen Berden (Bel)  

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