Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) proved strongest in the final sprint between his breakaway companions to win Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday. The Dutch champion led the race onto the final section of the Schavei climb and then launched an unmatched early sprint to take the win ahead of Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) in second, Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) third and Michael Matthews (Sunweb) fourth.
"I'm very happy and also proud to be there with three big names in front, and to finish it off like this is kind of like a dream," Van der Poel said in a post-race flash interview.
"I'm really happy and I said before this Classics season that this race suits me the best and I'm glad I could prove that."
Van der Poel, who had been one of the most active during the race, formed part of the winning breakaway when he, along with Alaphilippe, Wellens and Matthews, bridged across to lone escapee Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) on the final lap of three finishing circuits in Overijse that include climbs over Hagaard, Hertstraat, Holstheide, Ijskelderlaan and finally Schavei.
Wellens attacked the five-man breakaway over the Holstheide, and even though he was quickly followed by Alaphilippe, Van der Poel and Matthews, the move distanced Impey with just over 10km to go.
The quartet held a mere 20 seconds on the peloton but they managed to work well enough together to keep the speeds high and the chasing field at bay.
As they approached the final two climbs, however, Alaphilippe jumped over the top of the Ijskelderlaan but it wasn't enough to drop Van der Poel, and Wellens and Matthews clawed their way back up.
Van der Poel led the breakaway onto the final climb of the Schavei then and under the flamme rouge with Matthews, Alaphilippe and Wellens on his wheel.
The four slowed, and looked at one another, which forced an impatient Matthews to take the lead. No one wanted to make the first move, however, and as they looked back, they could see the reduced field barrelling up the climb behind them.
Van der Poel retook the lead with 250 metres to go and then wound up his sprint in pursuit of the day's win. Alaphilippe, Wellens and Matthews tried to respond, but neither had enough left in the tank to come around the Dutch champion and were forced to settle for minor places on the podium.
How it unfolded
Brabantse Pijl's 196.2km between Leuven and Overijse is positioned mid-week, following the end of the cobbled Classics at Paris-Roubaix and the start of the Ardennes Classics – Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The day's main breakaway included Dries De Bondt (Corendon-Circus), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Gobert), Francesco Bongiorno (Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM), Arjen Livyns (Roompot-Charles), Edward Planckaert (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Andrea Peron (Novo Nordisk) and Ludovic Robeet (Wallonie-Bruxelles). At the 100km to go mark, they held steady at three minutes ahead of the main field.
At 70km to go, however, the route hit the finishing circuit that included three laps of the 23.3km loop with five climbs.
The seven men raced onto the final circuits with a slim lead of 35 seconds ahead of the peloton led by Lotto Soudal. As the breakaway hit the Hagaard climb, with pitches of 16 per cent, their gap pushed back out to 55 seconds.
Attacks came out of the main field from Lotto Soudal's Tosh van der Sande and then followed by Deceuninck-QuickStep's Mikkel Honore. Another attack came from Van der Poel over the Herstraat climb, in what was an unsuccessful attempt to connect with the Van der Sande and Honore.
Van der Poel cleared the field again over the Holstheide, and this time he made it across to Van der Sande and Honore, only to find out that the pair didn't want to work with him, and they were eventually brought back into the peloton.
As the race hit the 11 per cent pitches of the Ijskelderlaan, the original breakaway split apart with Backaert, De Bondt, Livyns, Planckaert remaining out front. They the Schavei climb and then through the finish line with only 35 seconds, but their efforts came to an end with 30km to go.
Impey attacked several times during the second lap around the finishing circuit, but he couldn't quite get the gap he wanted until the Ijskelderlaan. He cleared the field and built his lead to 15 seconds as he raced up the Schavei and into the final circuit (23km to go).
Alaphilippe jumped out of the field over the top of the Hertstraat with Wellens, Matthews and Van der Poel in pursuit. The four men reached Impey to form what was the winning move.
Working for sprinter Sonny Colbrelli, Bahrain-Merida sent five men to the front of the peloton in an attempt to bring back the heavy-hitters, but the gap stretched out to 30 seconds with three climbs to go - Holstheide, Ijskelderlaan, and Schavei.
With Impey distanced on the Holstheide, the race came down to four men racing for the win with two climbs remaining. They worked well together until they reached the Schavei, where Van der Poel won both the tactical battle and the sprint to the finish line.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus||4:35:11|
|2||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|3||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|4||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb|
|5||Bjorg Lambrecht (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:00:11|
|6||Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First||0:00:12|
|7||Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Dimension Data|
|8||Alexander Kamp (Den) Riwal Readynez Cycling Team|
|9||Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|10||Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Roompot-Charles|
|11||Justin Jules (Fra) Wallonie Bruxelles||0:00:18|
|12||Quentin Pacher (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel|
|13||Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles|
|14||Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy|
|15||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Dimension Data|
|16||Nick van der Lijke (Ned) Roompot-Charles|
|17||Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|18||Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy|
|19||Patrick Müller (Swi) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel|
|20||Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Wanty-Gobert|
|21||Marc Hirschi (Swi) Team Sunweb|
|22||Rui Costa (Por) UAE Team Emirates|
|23||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Corendon-Circus||0:00:23|
|24||Davide Gabburo (Ita) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM|
|25||Dion Smith (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott|
|26||Jérémy Maison (Fra) Arkéa Samsic|
|27||Petr Vakoc (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|28||Huub Duijn (Ned) Roompot-Charles|
|29||Anthony Perez (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|30||Thomas Boudat (Fra) Direct Energie|
|31||Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|32||Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk|
|33||Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert||0:00:28|
|34||Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles|
|35||Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|36||Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|37||Clément Russo (Fra) Arkéa Samsic||0:00:37|
|38||Simone Petilli (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|39||Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM|
|40||Mathias De Witte (Bel) Roompot-Charles|
|41||Dayer Quintana (Col) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM||0:00:41|
|42||Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:43|
|43||Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise||0:00:48|
|44||Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||0:00:49|
|45||Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Corendon-Circus|
|46||Bryan Coquard (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel|
|47||Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy|
|48||Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott||0:00:54|
|49||Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida|
|50||Cameron Meyer (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott|
|51||Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott|
|52||Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Roompot-Charles|
|53||Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Gobert||0:01:05|
|54||Simone Velasco (Ita) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM|
|55||Kevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise||0:01:09|
|56||Amael Moinard (Fra) Arkéa Samsic|
|57||Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Wanty-Gobert||0:01:15|
|58||Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Charles||0:01:18|
|59||Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:01:25|
|60||Stijn Devolder (Bel) Corendon-Circus||0:01:30|
|61||Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First|
|62||Nathan Brown (USA) EF Education First||0:01:33|
|63||Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct Energie||0:01:42|
|64||Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb||0:02:02|
|65||Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Gobert||0:02:14|
|66||Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida|
|67||Kevin Reza (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel|
|68||Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott|
|69||Andreas Nielsen (Den) Riwal Readynez Cycling Team||0:03:17|
|70||August Jensen (Nor) Israel Cycling Academy||0:03:32|
|71||Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Corendon-Circus||0:07:05|
|72||Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM||0:07:17|
|73||Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Direct Energie||0:08:13|
|74||Mikkel Frølich Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:08:35|
|75||Emil Nygaard Vinjebo (Den) Riwal Readynez Cycling Team|
|76||Dries De Bondt (Bel) Corendon-Circus|
|77||Dennis van Winden (Ned) Israel Cycling Academy|
|78||Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|79||Daniel Turek (Cze) Israel Cycling Academy|
|80||Callum Scotson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott|
|81||Rein Taaramäe (Est) Direct Energie|
|82||Aime De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert|
|83||Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|84||Arjen Livyns (Bel) Roompot-Charles|
|85||Kim Magnusson (Swe) Riwal Readynez Cycling Team|
|86||Logan Owen (USA) EF Education First|
|87||Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal|
|88||Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|89||Angelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie||0:08:54|
|90||Brice Feillu (Fra) Arkéa Samsic|
|91||Romain Le Roux (Fra) Arkéa Samsic|
|92||Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida||0:08:57|
|93||Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida|
|94||Lennard Kämna (Ger) Team Sunweb|
|95||Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida||0:08:59|
|96||Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida|
|97||Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|98||James Whelan (Aus) EF Education First||0:12:08|
|99||Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates|
|100||Clément Carisey (Fra) Israel Cycling Academy||0:12:29|
|101||Jay Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data||0:13:02|
|102||Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida|
|103||Tom Bohli (Swi) UAE Team Emirates|
|104||Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|105||Aaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|106||Jonas Aaen (Den) Riwal Readynez Cycling Team|
|107||Arnaud Courteille (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel|
|108||Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles|
|109||Roberto González (Pan) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM||0:13:09|
|110||Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles||0:13:13|
|DNF||Umberto Poli (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk|
|DNF||Stephen Clancy (Irl) Team Novo Nordisk|
|DNF||Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel|
|DNF||Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|DNF||Fabien Grellier (Fra) Direct Energie|
|DNF||Francesco Manuel Bongiorno (Ita) Neri Sottoli–Selle Italia–KTM|
|DNF||Jerome Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Gobert|
|DNF||Jesper Hansen (Den) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk|
|DNF||Tom Wirtgen (Lux) Wallonie Bruxelles|
|DNF||Emils Liepins (Lat) Wallonie Bruxelles|
|DNF||Loic Chetout (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Corendon-Circus|
|DNF||Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Torkil Veyhe (Den) Riwal Readynez Cycling Team|
|DNF||Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||Nicolai Philip Brochner Nielsen (Den) Riwal Readynez Cycling Team|
|DNF||Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Rasmus Tiller (Nor) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Roberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Mehdi Benhamouda (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk|
|DNF||Lars Bak (Den) Dimension Data|
|DNF||Brian Kamstra (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk|
|DNF||Simon Sellier (Fra) Direct Energie|
|DNF||Alan Riou (Fra) Arkéa Samsic|
|DNF||Sam Brand (GBr) Team Novo Nordisk|
|DNF||Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Alex Howes (USA) EF Education First|
|DNF||Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb|
|DNF||G Lawson Craddock|
|DNF||Maxime Daniel (Fra) Arkéa Samsic|
|DNF||Emiel Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNS||Arthur Vichot (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel|