Van Avermaet wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite

Belgian beats world champion Sagan in breakaway sprint

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) claimed his first win of the season at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with a consummate performance that was capped by a sprint finish that saw off world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal).

The trio had been part of an elite group that had initially formed Taaienberg along with Luke Rowe (Team Sky). Despite a late charge from the peloton the break stayed clear.

In the sprint, Van Avermaet hit out first with Sagan and Benoot fighting for his wheel. The BMC Racing rider created a small gap and it was enough to seal victory with Sagan unable to respond in the closing metres.

Rowe held on for fourth place while fifth went to Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), who had been in the first break of the day. Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal ) led the peloton home just nine seconds later. There was disappointment for Etixx-QuickStep who saw Tony Martin crash and no riders finish inside the top ten.

However the day belonged to Van Avermaet, who laid down the perfect marker ahead of the spring Monuments. The Belgian finished second in this race two years ago and has perennially finished on the podium in several major spring races without claiming a win.

“I’m never really winning that much and it’s the first race in Belgium so far, so I’m pretty happy with this victory. If I could choose one, I would have picked, definitely, this one,” he said.

How it unfolded

At the start in Gent the sun and large crowds were welcoming of the 199 riders. Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep), world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and home rider Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) were clearly the favourites.

Twelve riders were well aware that their only chance to shine in the first race on the Belgian race calendar was to get in the breakaway, with Alexis Gougeard (AG2R), Kristian House (One Pro Cycling), Julien Morice (Direct Energie), Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty – Groupe Gobert), Maxime Farazijn (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Brian van Goethem (Roompot-Oranje Peloton), Zakkari Dempster (Bora-Argon 18), Benoit Jarrier (Fortuneo-Vital Concept), Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis, Solutions Crédits ), Brecht Dhaene, Stef Van Zummeren and Kai Reus (Veranda’s Willems) going clear.

The leaders collected a maximal lead of 5:30 over the peloton that was led by Etixx-QuickStep and Katusha.

Tiesj Benoot stated before the race that he needed to be ‘attentive once they reached the Kruisberg’. The racing certainly was more nervous. When approaching the Kruisberg there was a crash in the peloton that took down Tosh Van Der Sande (Lotto-Soudal), Magnus Cort Nielsen (Orica-GreenEdge) and Dennis van Winden (LottoNL-Jumbo). The latter was hospitalized.

Watch the video race highlighs

The winning move

The lead group was less than two minutes ahead and starting to lose numbers as the rest of the climbs came into view. Benoot was certainly attentive because one climb later he was there when Luke Rowe (Team Sky) set a blistering pace on the Taaienberg with only Benoot, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) swiftly marking his move.

World champion Peter Sagan impressed a little later as he bridged up alone, with Daniel Oss (BMC) blowing up his engine when trying to keep up.

In front, Dhaene, Gougeard, Reus and Morice were the remaining leaders after the Taaienberg. At 20 seconds from the leaders Van Avermaet set a fierce pace on the Eikenberg, putting Rowe briefly in trouble. On the cobbles of the Karel Martelstraat the four strong men bridged up with dropped riders Dhaene and Morice.

Etixx crash and crack

Tony Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) was riding in third position in the peloton when he slipped away when coming off the cobbles. He was able to continue his race although the chase lost valuable seconds as they were forced to reform.

Just before the cobbles of the Haaghoek the remaining two leaders were brought back, creating a new lead group of eight riders. They were Benoot, Van Avermaet, Rowe, Sagan and the survivors of the long breakaway move Reus, Gougeard, Morice and Dhaene.

Nearly a minute further back there was a crash at the back of the peloton that took out BMC riders Philippe Gilbert, Floris Gerts and Manuel Quinziato.

After the asphalted Boembeke, the final climb of the day at 32 kilometres from the finish the eight leaders were still nearly a minute ahead of the peloton led by Etixx-QuickStep’s Nikolas Maes, Lukasz Wisniowski and Stijn Vandenbergh. When they sat up Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) and Tosh Van Der Sande rode away from the peloton.

The final run in

The remaining obstacles on the roads to Gent were the long pavé sections of the Paddestraat, Lippenhovestraat and the Lange Munte. In front, Reus flatted and lost contact with the leaders. Behind, 23-year-old Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) rode away from the peloton on the Lippenhovestraat, blasting by Theuns and Van Der Sande. Stuyven quickly passed Reus, too, but the leaders were still 40 seconds ahead.

When heading to the Lange Munte, Stuyven was battling the headwind in no man’s land, riding at 35 seconds from the seven leaders and 15 seconds ahead of the small Etixx-QuickStep-led peloton. Stuyven’s efforts were ruined when he slipped on one of the multiple corners ahead of the Lange Munte. The riders leading the way in the peloton were Wisniowski, Martin, Vandenbergh, Nikki Terpstra and Tom Boonen.

Sagan upped the pace on the cobbles of the Lange Munte, quickly dropping Reus, Dhaene and Morice. A little later 22-year-old Gougeard was dropped too but he returned when Sagan came off the front. Coming off the cobbles the gap for the five leaders on the peloton was still more than 50 seconds. From there, there were no more small twisting farm roads but 17 wide national roads to the finish town Gent.

The peloton had one last roll of the dice, with several teams complimenting Etixx’s work on the front. With 10 kilometres remaining the gap to the leaders began to drop and with 5 kilometres remaining the peloton could sense blood. However, one long turn Sagan, followed by an important turn from Gougeard ensured that the break would stay away.

Van Avermaet started the sprint in fourth wheel but took an aggressive line into the final corners. It meant he was on the front coming around the last bend, with Sagan and Benoot desperately trying to respond. However, they couldn’t catch the BMC rider and the Belgian hung on for a deserved milestone victory.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team4:54:12 
2Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team  
3Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
4Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky  
5Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:05 
6Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:09 
7Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie  
8Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
9Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
10Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ  
11Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
12Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
13Oliver Naesen (Bel) IAM Cycling  
14Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
15Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky  
16Scott Thwaites (GBr) Bora-Argon 18  
17Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
18Oscar Gatto (Ita) Tinkoff Team  
19Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
20Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
21Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
22Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
23Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky  
24Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
25Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:13 
26Brecht Dhaene (Bel) Veranda's Willems Cycling Team  
27Florian Vachon (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
28Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
29Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) IAM Cycling  
30Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:15 
31Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step  
32Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:17 
33Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
34Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie  
35Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling  
36Julien Morice (Fra) Direct Energie  
37Antoine Duchesne (Can) Direct Energie0:00:24 
38Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:39 
39Mads Pedersen (Den) Stölting Service Group0:04:41 
40Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal  
41Timothy Dupont (Bel) Veranda's Willems Cycling Team  
42Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
43Tim Declercq (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
44Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Stölting Service Group  
45Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Direct Energie  
46Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus) Team Katusha  
47Sjoerd Van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
48Stef Van Zummeren (Bel) Veranda's Willems Cycling Team  
49Floris De Tier (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
50Sander Cordeel (Bel) Veranda's Willems Cycling Team  
51Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling  
52Alex Kirsch (Lux) Stölting Service Group  
53Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Tinkoff Team  
54Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling  
55Manuel Belletti (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
56Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky  
57Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
58Amaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
59Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff Team  
60Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling  
61Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
62Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek-Segafredo  
63Jesse Sergent (NZl) AG2R La Mondiale  
64Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo  
65Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
66Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling  
67Andrew Fenn (GBr) Team Sky  
68Adam Blythe (GBr) Tinkoff Team  
69Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-GreenEdge  
70Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
71Kai Reus (Ned) Veranda's Willems Cycling Team  
72Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
73Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
74Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
75Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
76Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
77Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
78Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha  
79Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge  
80Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo  
81Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
82Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ  
83Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ  
84Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ  
85Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
86Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ  
87Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
88Brian Van Goethem (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton0:05:13 
89Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice0:09:21 
90Ryan Anderson (Can) Direct Energie  
91Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
92Tony Martin (Ger) Etixx - Quick-Step  
93Timo Roosen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
94Simone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
95Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Argon 18  
96Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
97Daniel Mclay (GBr) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
98Riccardo Stacchiotti (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
99Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) FDJ  
100Nils Politt (Ger) Team Katusha  
101Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha  
102Matteo Busato (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
103Jerome Cousin (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
104Leigh Howard (Aus) IAM Cycling0:11:35 
105Kristian House (GBr) ONE Pro Cycling0:13:27 
106Eduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
107Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale  
108Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
109Michael Morkov (Den) Team Katusha  
110Sergey Lagutin (Rus) Team Katusha  
111Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Bora-Argon 18  
112Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff Team  
113Andrea Fedi (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
114Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
115Joeri Calleeuw (Bel) Veranda's Willems Cycling Team0:18:31 
116Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
117Michael Carbel Svendgaard (Den) Stölting Service Group  
118Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
119Peter Williams (GBr) ONE Pro Cycling  
120Franck Bonnamour (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
121Tomasz Kiendys (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
122Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
123Vegard Breen (Nor) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
124Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Katusha  
125Vladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team Katusha  
126Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-GreenEdge  
127Tony Hurel (Fra) Direct Energie  
128Olivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ  
129Sam Bewley (NZl) Orica-GreenEdge  
130Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Veranda's Willems Cycling Team  
131Sebastian Lander (Den) ONE Pro Cycling  
132Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale  
133Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
134Steele Von Hoff (Aus) ONE Pro Cycling  
135Michael Reihs (Den) Stölting Service Group  
136Marcin Bialoblocki (Pol) ONE Pro Cycling  
137Yanto Barker (GBr) ONE Pro Cycling  
138Steven Tronet (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
139Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
140Mirko Tedeschi (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
141Maxime Farazijn (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
142Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFManuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff Team  
DNFNikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff Team  
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
DNFSean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFNico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFDamien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFJean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team  
DNFFloris Gerfs (Ned) BMC Racing Team  
DNFPhilippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMarc Sarreau (Fra) FDJ  
DNFAlexander Edmonson (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFMathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFMoreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
DNFDennis Van Winden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
DNFMichal Golas (Pol) Team Sky  
DNFAlex Peters (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFElia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky  
DNFMarco Coledan (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFNiccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFShane Archbold (NZl) Bora-Argon 18  
DNFRalf Matzka (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
DNFPhil Bauhaus (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
DNFJosef Cerny (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFAdrian Kurek (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFEryk Laton (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFJaroslaw Marycz (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFGrzegorz Stepniak (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFBorut Bozic (Slo) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFGert Joeaar (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFKenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFRomain Cardis (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFYauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
DNFBenoit Jarrier (Fra) Fortuneo - Vital Concept  
DNFIuri Filosi (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNFYuma Koishi (Jpn) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNFNicolas Marini (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNFAntonio Viola (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini  
DNFJoshua Hunt (GBr) ONE Pro Cycling  
DNFMartin Mortensen (Den) ONE Pro Cycling  
DNFJesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFBerden De Vries (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFTim Kerkhof (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFMichel Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFWesley Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFIvar Slik (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFEnrique Sanz (Spa) Southeast - Venezuela  
DNFMirko Trosino (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela  
DNFEugert Zhupa (Alb) Southeast - Venezuela  
DNFAlexander Kamp (Den) Stölting Service Group  
DNFSven Reutter (Ger) Stölting Service Group  
DNFJonas Tenbrock (Ger) Stölting Service Group  
DNFRobin Stenuit (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFChristophe Premont (Bel) Veranda's Willems Cycling Team  


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