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Gilbert wins De Brabantse Pijl

Stephen Farrand

Sprint finish decides race

Philippe Gilbert and his BMC team showed that they are on form and ready for the Ardennes Classics with a impressive victory at the De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne on Wednesday.

Gilbert missed a key attack and spent vital energy making a futile lone chase. However, he had something left for the high-speed finale. He was well placed after the attacks on the climb to the finishing straight and then managed to beat Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) in a close sprint. Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol) was third ahead of Simon Geschke (Giant-Shimano) and Björn Leukemans (Wanty - Groupe Gobert).

Gilbert led out the sprint, blocking the best line down the barriers. When Matthews came off his wheel, he cleverly moved across the road just enough to hold off the Australian and win with a bike throw.

"Matthews was the fastest, but I played it well because he had to close the gap to (Björn) Leukemans and (Wout) Poels in the descent and that cost him power," Gilbert said. "I also saw he was closed in in the last corner, but I waited, because I knew from the last times (up the climb), I didn't want to make the same mistake. It was perfect."

It was Gilbert's first race in Belgium this year and his first win of the season. He smiled as he headed back to the podium area and thanked his teammates who had ridden so hard to put him back in the race after a dangerous attack slipped away in the final hour of the race.

Matthews is on form and showing he is far more than just a sprinter in recent weeks, with victory at the Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja and a stage win at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. He has been assured the sprinter's role at the rapidly approaching Giro d'Italia and seems ready to show his huge potential.

"I had Simon Gerrans in the break, which took the pressure off. Then I had Daryl Impey to take me around the course and put me in good position. I had a good sprint to the finish, but Gilbert was just quicker today," he said sportingly, unconcerned that Gilbert moved him across the road.

"The sprint sort of worked out. My plan was to lay off and then come off the wheels at 50 metres to go. But I didn't quite have the legs to finish it off. It was a clean sprint, he clearly beat me."

Tony Gallopin came back from a late puncture to take third, the best of the rest, behind Gilbert and Matthews.

"I had a puncture with 25km to go, the worst moment. It was very hard to get back on and I made it with six or seven kilometres to go. That's the best I could have done," he said on television after the race.

"I had a break after the Tour of Flanders and this was a good race for me. I'm ready for the Classics. I want to do the best I can in the Ardennes, maybe even a podium, we'll see. Today's result confirms the form is there."

How it happened

The De Brabantse Pijl race traditionally marks the start of the Ardennes races, with the cotes of central Belgium, south of Brussels, replacing the cobbled climbs of Flanders.

The race start in the shadows of the spectacular central square of Leuven and ends with three circuits of a hilly 23.4km loop. Each one includes the Hagaard, Hertstraat, Holstheide, Ijsklerdaam climbs, with and the final Schavei - 720m long with a maximum gradient of 11 percent.

An early break shaped much of the race, with Perrig Quémeneur (Europcar), Mattia Pozzo and Giorgio Cecchinel (Neri Sottoli), Matthias Brändle (IAM), Christopher Williams (Novo Nordisk) and Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) spending much of the day out front.

They opened a maximum lead of 6:50, but the Lotto Belisol and Garmin-Sharp teams led the chase and the gap was down to just over a minute with two laps to go.

The climbs sparked constant attacks, with Kevin Reza (Europcar) very aggressive. He was joined by Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and several others with 25km to go, seemingly launching the attack that would go onto fight for victory. However Gilbert had missed the move and BMC had other ideas. The six break riders worked well together as the climbs and kilometres ticked down, but BMC was even stronger and then Gilbert tried to jump across the 15-second gap alone.

He didn't make it and was caught by an equally aggressive peloton, but that put the break within range and the whole race came back together with 10km to go.

Several riders tried further attacks but BMC, Orica-GreenEdge and Giant-Shimano were now riding as units and hoping for a sprint finish.

Wout Poels (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) tried to split the peloton on the final climb but he was kept in check.

A group of 20 or so riders took the final climb and the final corner together into the finishing straight. Gilbert was the only former winner in the race and clearly knew the finish well. He lead out along the left side of the road, forcing Matthews to go around him as he tried a late surge. However, Gilbert timed his own sprint perfectly and hung on to win by less than a wheel.

Full Results

# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 4:54:26  
2 Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica Greenedge    
3 Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol    
4 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano    
5 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
6 Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin Sharp    
7 Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Polsat Polkowice    
8 Julien Vermote (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
9 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling    
10 Alexey Tsatevitch (Rus) Team Katusha    
11 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Team Giant-Shimano    
12 Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team Europcar    
13 Jeffry Johan Romero Corredor (Col) Colombia    
14 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:04  
15 Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
16 Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
17 Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
18 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
19 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar    
20 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka 0:00:10  
21 Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia    
22 Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
23 Alexander Rybakov (Rus) Team Katusha    
24 Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
25 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
26 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory Racing    
27 Nathan Brown (USA) Garmin Sharp 0:00:12  
28 Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise 0:00:16  
29 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
30 Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
31 Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp - Endura    
32 Guillaume Levarlet (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 0:00:22  
33 Mauro Finetto (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
34 Petr Vakoc (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
35 Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF    
36 Kirill Pozdnyakov (Rus) RusVelo    
37 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek Factory Racing    
38 Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:25  
39 Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling    
40 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp - Endura    
41 Patrick Schelling (Swi) IAM Cycling    
42 Alex Howes (USA) Garmin Sharp 0:00:28  
43 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise 0:00:33  
44 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Androni Giocattoli 0:00:34  
45 Zico Waeytens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise 0:00:39  
46 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica Greenedge    
47 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge    
48 Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Trek Factory Racing 0:00:50  
49 Andrei Solomennikov (Rus) RusVelo 0:01:16  
50 Kevin Ista (Bel) IAM Cycling 0:01:57  
51 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Garmin Sharp    
52 Peter Stetina (USA) BMC Racing Team    
53 Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing Team    
54 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Garmin Sharp    
55 Yannick Eijssen (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
56 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp    
57 Jan Bakelants (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
58 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
59 Kévin Reza (Fra) Team Europcar 0:02:43  
60 Michel Kreder (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:03:30  
61 Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling    
62 Marc de Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
63 Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
64 Adrian Honkisz (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice    
65 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano    
66 Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice    
67 Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing    
68 Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice    
69 Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
70 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team    
71 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica Greenedge    
72 Edwin Alcibiades Avila Vanegas (Col) Colombia    
73 Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Belisol    
74 Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano    
75 Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert 0:04:28  
76 Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team 0:05:19  
77 Lawrence Warbasse (USA) BMC Racing Team    
78 Frantisek Padour (Cze) Team NetApp - Endura    
79 Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
80 Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani-CSF    
81 Antonio Parrinello (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
82 Stephen Cummings (GBr) BMC Racing Team    
83 Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
84 Andrea Zordan (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
85 Artem Ovechkin (Rus) RusVelo    
86 Francis De Greef (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
87 Daniele Colli (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
88 Angelo Pagani (Ita) Bardiani-CSF    
89 Javier Megias Leal (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk    
90 Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice 0:07:33  
91 Adrian Kurek (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice    
92 Dennis Van Niekerk (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
93 Roman Maikin (Rus) RusVelo    
94 Juan Esteban Arango Carvajal (Col) Colombia    
95 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert    
96 Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling    
97 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:09:38  
98 Thierry Hupond (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano    
99 Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
100 Petr Ignatenko (Rus) Team Katusha    
101 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
102 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
DSQ Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano    
DNS Martin Wesemann (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka    
DNF Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Morgan Lamoisson (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Caleb Fairly (USA) Garmin Sharp    
DNF Benjamin King (USA) Garmin Sharp    
DNF Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Damien Howson (Aus) Orica Greenedge    
DNF Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica Greenedge    
DNF Adam Yates (GBr) Orica Greenedge    
DNF Simon Yates (GBr) Orica Greenedge    
DNF Cheng Ji (Chn) Team Giant-Shimano    
DNF Sea Keong Loh (Mas) Team Giant-Shimano    
DNF Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha    
DNF Mikhail Ignatyev (Rus) Team Katusha    
DNF Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha    
DNF Rudiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha    
DNF Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing    
DNF Fabio Silvestre (Por) Trek Factory Racing    
DNF Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing    
DNF Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF    
DNF Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani-CSF    
DNF Filippo Fortin (Ita) Bardiani-CSF    
DNF Mateusz Taciak (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice    
DNF Jérémy Bescond (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
DNF Edwig Cammaerts (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
DNF Julien Fouchard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
DNF Stéphane Poulhies (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
DNF Clément Venturini (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
DNF Rodolfo Andres Torres Agudelo (Col) Colombia    
DNF Duber Armando Quintero Artunduaga (Col) Colombia    
DNF Edward Fabian Diaz Cardenas (Col) Colombia    
DNF Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling    
DNF Jonathan Fumeaux (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Ferekalsi Debesay Abrha (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Linus Gerdemann (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Martin Reimer (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Jaco Venter (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka    
DNF Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Giorgio Cecchinel (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Samuele Conti (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Luigi Miletta (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Mattia Pozzo (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Mirko Tedeschi (Ita) Yellow Fluo    
DNF Ivan Balykin (Ita) RusVelo    
DNF Leonid Krasnov (Rus) RusVelo    
DNF Timofey Kritskiy (Rus) RusVelo    
DNF Alexander Serov (Rus) RusVelo    
DNF Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team NetApp - Endura    
DNF Jonathan McEvoy (GBr) Team NetApp - Endura    
DNF Erick Rowsell (GBr) Team NetApp - Endura    
DNF David Lozano Riba (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk    
DNF Kevin De Mesmaeker (Bel) Team Novo Nordisk    
DNF Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo Nordisk    
DNF Thomas Raeymaekers (Bel) Team Novo Nordisk    
DNF Martijn Verschoor (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk    
DNF Christopher Williams (Aus) Team Novo Nordisk    
DNF Arthur Vanoverberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise    
DNF Jonathan Clarke (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Davide Frattini (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Ken Hanson (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Martijn Maaskant (Ned) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team