Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise took one-two at the Dwars door Vlaanderen with Jelle Wallays attacking a four-man breakaway with one kilometre to go and taking the victory, while his teammate Edward Theuns secured second place after winning the three-man sprint behind. Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin) and world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) were forced to settle for third and fourth, respectively.
Wallays' win was even more remarkable considering he was part of an earlier breakaway, and distanced his previous companions on the Eikenberg with 58km to go. Kwiatkowski bridged across to him after attacking on the Taaienberg, and pulled Theuns and Van Baarle along. The world champion did the lion's share of the work to establish the gap from a large chasing group, but fell victim to tactics in the end.
"I had lost quite a bit of strength from the early breakaway," Wallays said to Sporza. "My only chance was to connect with a small group. It was perfect that Edward (Theuns) was there."
Wallays, who won Paris-Tours last autumn, intended to sacrifice his efforts for Theuns, but when nobody chased his solo attack, he seized his chance for a top result. "I did not have as much strength left. In the last four kilometers I even had slight cramps. I really just wanted to get Edward in as good a position as possible.
"Edward felt very strong and he's super good lately. He's very quick, I am a bit slower. My only chance was with a late attack. Big thanks to Edward, because thanks to him we are 1 and 2."
"This is a very important victory for me. I would like to get into a World Tour team. With two big wins, I hope they will notice."
The four leaders’ gap was never secure, and undulated between 30 seconds and 1:12 minutes with 30km to go and three climbs remaining over the Paterberg, Hellestraat and the Nokereberg. With less than 10km to go, they had only half a minute on a strong chasing group, but the wind went out of the second group's sails when they realized they wouldn't close the gap in time.
Lotto Soudal's Tiesj Benoot, who did a huge amount of work in the chasing group for Belgian champion Jens Debusschere, regretted that he didn't get more help from the other chasers.
"If there was one or two men riding along like me, we could have closed the gap," Benoot said. "We should have followed, that was our fault. I don't understand why they wouldn't work. I think that they weren't good enough. "
Wallays still looked strong as he led Kwiatkowski, Van Baarle and Thuens over the final climb of the day, Nokereberg, with under eight kilometres to go. The leaders continued to rotate pulls up until three kilometres to go but they started to jockey for position as they neared the one-kilometre flag. It was Wallays who surprisingly made the first attack but neither Kwiatkowski or Van Baarle responded to the move.
As Wallays threw his arms up in a victory salute, his teammate Theuns put in a bid for second place and won the three-man sprint to the line, leaving Van Baarle with third and Kwiatkowski with fourth.
A frustrated world champion later said on Twitter, "Lesson from today... I need to remember that not everybody goes for the win. Some guys are content to be just 2nd!"
How it unfolded
It was a dreary day for the Dwars door Vlaanderen as the peloton started in Roeselare and looped back around to Waregem for 200km in cold, rain and overcast conditions… just what one would expect from a Belgian classic.
The peloton contested 12 hellingen including the Nieuwe Kwaremont (88km), Kattenberg (107km), Leberg (116km), Berendries (120km), Valkenberg (125km), Eikenberg (140), Taaienberg (144km), Oude-Kwaremont (162km), Paterberg (165km), Hellestraat (181km) and the Nokereberg (192km).
The race kicks off the start of the cobbled classics, and is just 10 days ahead of the next Monument, the Tour of Flanders on April 5. The riders started the day with enthusiastic attacks through the first portion of the race, however, there were also several crashes on the wet and slippery terrain.
IAM Cycling’s Jerome Pinaeu and Marcel Aregger were involved in an early crash, and while Pineau was able to get back up and make his way back to the field, Aregger was taken to hospital with more serious injuries.
Etixx-QuickStep lined up with a powerful team including two-time winner and defending champion Niki Terpstra but there were also three other past winners on the start line who aimed for another shot at the win including Oscar Gatto (Androni-Giocattoli), Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).
An initial breakaway with 11 riders formed with Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), Joey Rosskopf (BMC), Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal), Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Sven Erik Bystrom (Katusha), Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Guiseppe Fonzi (Southeast), Michael Reihs (Cult Energy), Jay Thomson (MTN-Qhubeka), Brian Van Gosthem (Roompot) and Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha).
The move was short-lived and pulled back into the field prompting a series of new attacks, which made way for a more successful breakaway with Wallays, Boris Dron (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Adrien Petit (Cofidis), Brian Van Goethem (Roompot), Gert Dockx (Lotto-Soudal), Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge), Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling), Martin Mortenson (Cult Energy) and Ruben Zepuntke (Cannondale-Garmin), who later crashed and rode the rest of the race with torn shorts and exposed abrasions.
The nine riders opened a gap of 2:40 minutes at the halfway point of the race and increased it to over three minutes by the time they reached the Kattenberg. But the peloton reacted and ate into their time, leaving the escapees with only 20 seconds with 80km to go.
Alex Kirsch took advantage of the small gap and jumped across to the leaders but with the peloton so close behind the move was cut short and most of the breakaway riders were reabsorbed into the mix - with the exception of Wallays and Dockx, who continued on out front over the Eikenberg.
Wallays attacked his companion through the town of Eitkhove and managed to pick up an additional 35 seconds in a solo effort, however, the lone move seemed slightly ambitious with just under 60km to race.
The reduced peloton rolled over the Taaienberg where world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) put pressure on the field with a swift pace, he was joined by Theuns and Van Baarle, and it didn’t take long for the trio to catch Wallays and form a new lead group of four.
A larger chase group split in two but reunited as one with roughly 45km to go. It included Breschel, Nairo Quintana and Andrey Amador (Movistar), Lars Boom (Astana), Sven Erik Bystrom, Alexandre Kolobnev and Rudiger Selig (Katusha), Nikolas Maes (Etixx-QuickStep), Tiesj Benoot, Lars Bak and Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal), Marcus Berghardt and Jempy Drucker (BMC), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing) and Bändle.
The chase wasn’t powerful or organized enough to bring the breakaway back, as Kwiatkowski pulled Van Baarle, Thuens and Wallays over the Kwaremont, building the gap out to roughly 40 seconds.
Behind, Boom made a move over the cobbled ascent and looked sure to bridge across to the leaders, however, his attempted was halted after he crashed into a farmer’s field. A few seconds later, Devolder crashed on the same patch of slippery road and rolled off to the ditch.
Quintana, who joined the race to gain experience on the cobbles ahead of the Tour de France this year, also lost contact with the group as he struggled on a stretch of cobbles.
By this time, Kwiatkowski, Van Baarle, Thuens and Wallays’ breakaway was established and working well together in an effort to get to the finish line ahead of the chase, which had reshuffled to include Nikolas Maes (Etixx-QuickStep) and his teammate Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Andrey Amador (Movistar), Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jempy Drucker (BMC), Tiesj Benoot and Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), former winner Oscar Gatto (Androni-Giocattoli) and Katusha riders Alexey Tsatevich and Vyacheslav Kuznetsov.
Kuznetsov tried to motivate the chase group with a small attack but no one took the bait and they let him go in pursuit of the breakaway riders with 10km to go.
No one skipped a turn until one kilometre to go when Wallays made his winning attack for the finish line in Waregem, and Kwiatkowski looked to Van Baarle to help chase, but the Cannondale-Garmin rider refused. Once in sight of the line, Kwiatkowski attempted to attack to catch Wallays but it was far too late, and he instead led out Theuns for a Topsport 1-2 with Van Baarle claiming the final podium spot.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise||4:35:59|
|2||Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise||0:00:02|
|3||Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team|
|4||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step||0:00:04|
|5||Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step||0:01:20|
|6||Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:01:29|
|7||Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|8||Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|9||Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step|
|10||Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus) Team Katusha|
|11||Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team|
|12||Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|13||Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team|
|14||Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha|
|15||Oscar Gatto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|16||Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Katusha||0:04:46|
|17||Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step|
|18||Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step|
|19||Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha|
|20||Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step|
|21||Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|22||Gedeminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale||0:06:50|
|23||Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) IAM Cycling|
|24||Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|25||Sjoerd Van Ginneken (Ned) Team Roompot|
|26||Jarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|27||Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team|
|28||Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale|
|29||Tim Kerkhof (Ned) Team Roompot|
|30||Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|31||Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team|
|32||Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Roompot|
|33||Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|34||Michael Reihs (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling|
|35||Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Team Roompot|
|36||Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|37||Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|38||Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo|
|39||Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal|
|40||Oliver Naesen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|41||Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team|
|42||Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN - Qhubeka|
|43||Stefan Kueng (Swi) BMC Racing Team|
|44||Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling|
|45||Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|46||Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar|
|47||Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team|
|48||Gert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|49||Angelo Tulik (Fra) Team Europcar|
|50||James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|51||Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|52||Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN - Qhubeka|
|53||Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|54||Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing|
|55||Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|56||Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team|
|57||Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica GreenEdge|
|58||Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|59||Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|60||Troels Ronning Vinther (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling|
|61||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx - Quick-Step|
|62||Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal|
|63||Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|64||Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek Factory Racing|
|65||Iljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step|
|66||Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team|
|67||Mauro Finetto (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling|
|68||Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|69||Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|70||Vegard Breen (Nor) Lotto Soudal|
|71||Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|72||Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise|
|73||Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits||0:07:02|
|74||Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar|
|75||Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot|
|76||Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team|
|77||Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team|
|78||Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team|
|79||Jack Bauer (NZl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team|
|80||John Gadret (Fra) Movistar Team|
|81||Wesley Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot|
|82||Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge|
|83||Gert Steegmans (Bel) Trek Factory Racing|
|84||Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar Team|
|85||Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team|
|86||Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team|
|87||Jonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|88||Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team||0:07:06|
|89||Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||Rafael Andriato (Bra) Southeast Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Michael Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|DNF||Alessio Taliani (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|DNF||Tiziano Dall´Antonia (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|DNF||Juraj Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|DNF||Fabio Taborre (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|DNF||Alberto Nardin (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|DNF||Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team|
|DNF||Campbell Flakemore (Aus) BMC Racing Team|
|DNF||Boris Dron (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert|
|DNF||Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek Factory Racing|
|DNF||Jesse Sergent (NZl) Trek Factory Racing|
|DNF||Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team|
|DNF||Marco Benfatto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|DNF||Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing|
|DNF||Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing|
|DNF||Mirko Tedeschi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Ivar Slik (Ned) Team Roompot|
|DNF||Brian Van Goethem (Ned) Team Roompot|
|DNF||Rasmus Christian Quaade (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Mads Pedersen (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Martin Mortensen (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Alex Kirsch (Lux) Cult Energy Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Russell Downing (GBr) Cult Energy Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Eugert Zhupa (Alb) Southeast Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|DNF||Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team|
|DNF||Andrea Dal Col (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana Pro Team|
|DNF||Arman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|DNF||Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|DNF||Rudiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha|
|DNF||Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Cult Energy Pro Cycling|
|DNF||Vladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team Katusha|
|DNF||Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo|
|DNF||Rick Flens (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo|
|DNF||Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo|
|DNF||Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo|
|DNF||Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo|
|DNF||Nick Dougall (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo|
|DNF||Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo|
|DNF||Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar|
|DNF||Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha|
|DNF||Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica GreenEdge|
|DNF||Matt Brammeier (Irl) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling|
|DNF||Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha|
|DNF||Jérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling|
|DNF||Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling|
|DNF||Marcel Aregger (Swi) IAM Cycling|
|DNF||Edward King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Theo Bos (Ned) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Louis Verhelst (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Kristoffer Skjerping (Nor) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Yannick Martinez (Fra) Team Europcar|
|DNF||Tony Hurel (Fra) Team Europcar|
|DNF||Maxime Daniel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Antoine Duchesne (Can) Team Europcar|
|DNF||Quentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|
|DNF||Jens Mouris (Ned) Orica GreenEdge|
|DNF||Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar|
|DNF||Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdge|
|DNF||Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Dominique Rollin (Can) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits|
|DNF||Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Andreas Stauff (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge|
|DNF||Adam Blythe (GBr) Orica GreenEdge|
|DNF||Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Joseph Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team|
|DNF||Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale|