Debusschere wins Dwars door Vlaanderen

Coquard beaten in photo finish

Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) made his first win of 2016 a big one, taking out a hectic bunch sprint in a photo finish ahead of Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie). Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) was third.

On a day marked by mourning for the victims of the Brussels bombings, the Belgians could celebrate their resilience with Debuscchere's success. The Lotto Soudal rider rode a cagey finale, biding his time as the peloton caught late attacker Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) in sight of the line.

Fernando Gaviria started the sprint perhaps too early, and after his Etixx-Quickstep team did much of the chasing he finished a distant 10th. Debusschere blasted up the left side, carrying a huge turn of speed to pass Oscar Gatto (Tinkoff), Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo), Filippo Pozzato (Southeast) and finally Theuns and Coquard, all in the final 100 metres.

It was an uncomfortable experience for the peloton to race in light of the serious nature of the attacks on the country by terrorists, and Debusschere reflected on the feeling of grief that afflicted the country.

"I'm really satisfied with this victory, but you cannot be deeply happy at the moment. I think everyone in Belgium is shocked and don't feel 100 percent in these times. I'm satisfied I could take the victory because I've worked hard for this. I hope everyone can pick up our lives again, and get back to their jobs like they used to do, I hope they get through this really quick."

Debusschere seemed an unlikely winner as the peloton rounded the final corner with Trek-Segafredo leading out last year's runner-up Edward Theuns ahead. The former Belgian champion was outside of the top 10 as they closed in on Van Avermaet and he had to come from a long way back. The sprint seemed to go on forever, as Gaviria hit the front with 200m to go but quickly faded. Coquard hit out with 100m to go and started to prepare his victory salute only to see the red blur of Debusschere flying past on his left.

"I didn't expect to pass everyone. I was hoping for a podium coming out of the last corner because I was so far away. I could manage to go to the front and win, so that's super nice."

How it unfolded

The peloton was not in full force for the start of the 199.7km route from Roeselare to Waregem, as a number of riders were waylaid by travel difficulties resulting from the bombing of the Zaventem airport in Brussels. The entire Giant-Alpecin team withdrew because only three of their riders were available to start, and Movistar were down to four.

Two riders didn't start: Gerald Ciolek (Stolting) due to illness and Yves Lampaert (Etixx-Quickstep) due to an injury to his Achilles tendon. A total of 161 riders rolled off the line after a moment of silence, most of them wearing black armbands for the bombing victims.

A rapid start to the race meant the breakaway took some kilometres to form, but after half an hour of flat-out riding the peloton was ready for a rest and Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Jesper Asselman (Roompot - Oranje Peloton), Alex Kirsch (Stölting Service Group), Phil Bauhaus (Bora-Argon 18), Igor Boev (Gazprom-Rusvelo), and Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty - Groupe Gobert) were allowed to go free.

The six quickly built up a lead of almost eight minutes, but as they entered the second half of the race, filled with cobbled climbs and sections of pave, the leaders began to suffer.

The back-to-back Kattenberg and Holleweg with 90km to go halved the advantage of the leaders, while unsuccessful attacks from the peloton by Preben van Hecke and Kevin Van Bilsen started to drive wedges into the peloton behind.

Etixx-Quickstep worked diligently to control the pace, bringing back the attackers and steadily reeling in the leaders down to just over three minutes at the Haaghoek section of cobbles.

But an attack from Mike Teunissen (LottoNl-Jumbo) put a spanner in the works, and though he nearly crashed in a sharp left turn, he pulled out enough of a gap to be tempting to those wishing to form a second move.

Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen) came across, and soon after former u23 time trial world champion Luke Durbridge flew across, making it three chasers gaining steadily on the six leaders between the Berendries and the Valkenberg climbs.

The chasing peloton was in tatters, but the gaps between the leaders and the next group were both shrinking, though the trio with Durbridge was slowly clawing its way toward the leaders.

The Eikenberg and Taaienberg with 60km to go began to crack the lead group, with Gougeard losing contact first, and Boev joining soon after. Up over the Oude Kwaremont with 35km to go, Van Melsen left his previous companions behind and forged ahead alone with four climbs still remaining.

On the Paterburg, the long line of riders in the third group started to make contact with the chasers in the second group, and new attacks formed including Oscar Gatto (Tinkoff) with Durbridge, Teunissen and Rickaert sweeping up Kirsch along the way.

But a group led by Van Avermaet was not giving up, and worked to claw back a gap of less than a minute to the larger group ahead. At the Holstraat with 15km to go the leaders were Nikolas Maes (Etixx-Quickstep), Durbridge, Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18), Giacomo Nizzolo, Loic Vliegen (BMC), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) and a tenacious Van Melsen, who had been swept up by the chasers.

A lack of cooperation in the leading group led to all of the groups within shouting distance coming together with 10km to go. With just the Nokereberg standing between them and the finish line, there was little impetus to attack until Van Avermaet launched his move with just under 9km to go.

The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner opened up an impressive gap, and flew around the turns to gain a dozen seconds on the chase on the Nokereberg and it seemed he was en route to yet another win this year, but a furious chase by Etixx-Quickstep and Trek-Segafredo put paid to his efforts.

Trek-Segafredo led into the final turn with three riders at the fore, and seemed only to lead out young favourite Fernando Gaviria, but the distance and heavy racing schedule seem to have sapped the Colombian's speed, and his sprint fizzled as soon as it started. Coquard, in his first race back from injury, put in a surprising bid for victory, but started to celebrate too soon and was pipped on the line by Debusschere.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal4:48:27 
2Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie  
3Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
4Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
5Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge  
6Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
7Oscar Gatto (Ita) Tinkoff Team  
8Scott Thwaites (GBr) Bora-Argon 18  
9Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
10Fernando Gaviria (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step  
11Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
12Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie  
13Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
14Amaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
15Mads Pedersen (Den) Stölting Service Group  
16Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
17Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
18Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
19Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
20Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
21Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
22Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
23Tim Declercq (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
24Stefan Kueng (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
25Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
26Andrey Amador (CRc) Movistar Team  
27Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
28Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling  
29Alex Kirsch (Lux) Stölting Service Group  
30Antoine Duchesne (Can) Direct Energie  
31Vegard Breen (Nor) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
32Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
33Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
34Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal  
35Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:11 
36Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:12 
37Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:38 
38Daniel Mclay (GBr) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
39Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
40Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo  
41Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha  
42Leigh Howard (Aus) IAM Cycling  
43Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-GreenEdge  
44Sondre Holst Enger (Nor) IAM Cycling  
45Ralf Matzka (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
46Kenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
47Raymond Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
48Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-GreenEdge  
49Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
50Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Stölting Service Group  
51Juan Jose Lobato (Spa) Movistar Team  
52Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
53Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
54Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
55Kenny De Haes (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
56Floris Gerts (Ned) BMC Racing Team  
57Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff Team  
58Ivan Savitskiy (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
59Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
60Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling  
61Simone Ponzi (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
62Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team  
63Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
64Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff Team  
65Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
66Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step  
67Andrei Solomennikov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
68Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
69Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale  
70Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal  
71Vladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team Katusha  
72Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) IAM Cycling  
73Brian Van Goethem (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
74Simone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
75Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Bora-Argon 18  
76Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
77Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
78Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale  
79Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Direct Energie  
80Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-Segafredo  
81Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
82Juraj Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team  
83Ryan Anderson (Can) Direct Energie  
84Yohann Gene (Fra) Direct Energie  
85Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
86Steven Tronet (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
87Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
88Dmitrii Kozonchuk (Rus) Team Katusha  
89Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
90Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha  
91Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
92Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar Team  
93Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:00:50 
94Twan Castelijns (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
95Wesley Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
96Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step  
97Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
98Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
99Sjoerd Van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
100Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
101Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
102Tom Bohli (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
103Benoit Jarrier (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
104Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha  
105Moreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
106Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
107Berden De Vries (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
108Shane Archbold (NZl) Bora-Argon 18  
109Michel Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
110Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
111Nils Politt (Ger) Team Katusha0:01:46 
112Stijn Steels (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:03:20 
DNFBartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFAdrian Kurek (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFKai Reus (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFEugert Zhupa (Alb) Southeast - Venezuela  
DNFMirko Trosino (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
DNFMirko Tedeschi (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
DNFGiuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
DNFMatteo Draperi (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
DNFAndrea Dal Col (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
DNFLiam Bertazzo (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
DNFJosef Cerny (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFEryk Laton (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
DNFMamyr Stash (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
DNFEvgeny Shalunov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
DNFSergey Nikolaev (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
DNFRoman Maikin (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
DNFViktor Manakov (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
DNFIgor Boev (Rus) Gazprom-Rusvelo  
DNFJonas Tenbrock (Ger) Stölting Service Group  
DNFMichael Carbel Svendgaard (Den) Stölting Service Group  
DNFMichael Reihs (Den) Stölting Service Group  
DNFRasmus Christian Quaade (Den) Stölting Service Group  
DNFBoris Vallee (Bel) Fortuneo - Vital Concept ,  
DNFJean-Marc Bideau (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
DNFFranck Bonnamour (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
DNFMitchell Docker (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFSam Bewley (NZl) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFJay McCarthy (Aus) Tinkoff Team  
DNFMichal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff Team  
DNFMichael Gogl (Aut) Tinkoff Team  
DNFErik Baska (Svk) Tinkoff Team  
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal  
DNFSvein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFOliver Naesen (Bel) IAM Cycling  
DNFVicente Reynes (Spa) IAM Cycling  
DNFMichael Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFJonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFHugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFJulien Morice (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFRomain Cardis (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFTimo Roosen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
DNFQuentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFMaxime Daniel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFSergey Lagutin (Rus) Team Katusha  
DNSYves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNSGerald Ciolek (Ger) Stölting Service Group  

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