Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite 2018

February 24, 2018, Ghent, Belgium, Road - WorldTour

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Sadhbh O'Shea

Welcome to live coverage of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

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Start list

Race preview

Gilbert points to Molenberg as key climb in new Omloop Het Nieuwsblad course

Van Avermaet: It's more difficult for me without Sagan

Cyclingnews Podcast

 

  1. 11:01:58 CET

    Happy Classics to you all. It's that time of year again where we switch tarmac for cobbles. In half an hour, the riders will be off for the start of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. 

  2. 11:05:20 CET

    After many riders began their seasons in Australia or the Middle East, today will be a bit of a shock to the system. It is brass monkeys (really cold) out there with the temperatures dipping below zero this morning. 

  3. 11:12:59 CET

    There are lots of big Classics names are in attendance today with Greg Van Avermaet, Philippe Gilbert, Mat Hayman, Michael Matthews, Oliver Naesen, Sep Vanmarcke among the starters today. Peter Sagan, John Degenkolb and Alexander Kristoff are not here this weekend, with the latter racing out in Abu Dhabi. 

     

  4. 11:15:48 CET

    You can peruse the full start list here and pick your favourites for the win.

     

  5. 11:21:12 CET

    This year's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad route has een given a bit of a shake-up with the Muur van Geraardsbergen the penultimate climb of the day. It is the Molenberg with 56km to go that Gilbert believes will be key.

     

  6. 11:25:06 CET

    Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is not the only racing going on today. We've also got the stage 4 time trial in Abu Dhabi, which is well underway. Nikias Arndt has the fastest time at the moment with an hour before the final riders set off. 

     

  7. 11:31:12 CET

    The last few of the teams have been through the 't kuipke velodrome in Gent and the neutral start is in a little over five minutes. Today's presentation has had a slightly different feel with the women's teams being presented to the crowd along with the men for the first time. The two start lines are next to each other too. It is a good step forward for the women's race, which often started on the other side of town to the men's event.

     

  8. 11:38:11 CET

    I will keep you posted on the progress of the women's race too and you can take a look at the start list here

     

  9. 11:39:27 CET

    The men's peloton is on their way and picking their way through the neutral start.

     

  10. 11:45:51 CET

    There are 13 climbs, or hellingen, today - including three ascents of the Leberg. The climbs are: the Leberg, Den Ast, Katteberg, Leberg (2), Kokkerelle, Wolvenberg, Molenberg, Leberg (3), Berendries, Valkenberg, Tenbosse, Muur van Geraardsbergen, Bosberg.

     

  11. 11:48:46 CET

    The women's race is now underway as the men close in on kilometre zero. It is a seven-kilometre neutral zone for both pelotons with the actual start in Merelbeke. 

     

  12. 11:52:04 CET

    Here is a shot from our very own Josh Evans, who is in Belgium today. It might be toe-numbingly cold, but there is sunshine out there. 

     

  13. 11:57:21 CET

    It has been a fast start to today's racing and eight riders have broken clear of the bunch. They are: Marco Mathis, Michael Van Staeyen, Kenneth Van Bilsen, Brian van Goethem, Edward Planckaert, Michael Svendgaard, Dries De Bondt and Ludwig De Winter.

     

  14. 11:59:05 CET

    Alexejs Saramotins and Tim Ariesen have jumped across the gap so we now have 10 riders up front. 

     

  15. 12:03:33 CET

    Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi Ilnu Zakarin has just rolled down the start ramp and we've got fewer than 30 riders to begin their efforts. Rohan Dennis is the current leader but there are some strong riders still to come, namely Tom Dumoulin who is the next rider to go. 

     

  16. 12:09:52 CET

    The advantage of the 10 out front has expanded to two minutes. A quick reminder of who is out there: Marco Mathis, Michael Van Staeyen, Kenneth Van Bilsen, Brian van Goethem, Edward Planckaert, Michael Svendgaard, Dries De Bondt, Ludwig De Winter, Aleksejs Saramotins and Tim Ariesen.

     

  17. 12:14:44 CET

    Behind these 10 it is Iljo Keisse pulling for Quick-Step Floors. Here is Keisse at the team presentation a little earlier on. The toy is a nod to Quick-Step's 'wolfpack'

     

  18. 12:18:54 CET

    Quick-Step Floors has a very strong team, as always. Gilbert is the big leader for them today but there are several riders who could take out victory today. 

     

    91 Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
    92 Fernando Gaviria (Col)
    93 Dries Devenyns (Bel)
    94 Iljo Keisse (Bel)
    95 Yves Lampaert (Bel)
    96 Zdenek Stybar (Cze)
    97 Niki Terpstra (Ned)

     

  19. 12:23:25 CET

    Philippe Gilbert is a former champion at Omloop and is going for his third title, as is Greg Van Avermaet. Three riders have won the race three times and they are all Belgian. They are, Ernest Sterckx, Joseph Bruyère and Peter van Petegem. 

     

  20. 12:27:39 CET

    Interestingly, no rider has ever won Omloop and then gone onto win the Tour of Flanders. Van Avermaet was close last year, but didn't stand a chance after he crashed with Peter Sagan and Oliver Naesen as they chased down Philippe Gilbert. Could they have caught Gilbert without the crash? We will never know. 

     

  21. 12:30:42 CET

    In the women's race, it has been a quick start too and after 17km we don't yet have a breakaway. 

     

  22. 12:34:22 CET

    The gap to the escapees is now three minutes. BMC Racing has sent a man up towards the front to help with the work. Everything under control for now ahead of the first climbs. 

     

  23. 12:37:53 CET

    Jens Keukeleire is racing for Lotto-Soudal today. The Belgian had his young son at the start. His son did get off the bike before the riders rolled out this morning...

     

  24. 12:42:10 CET

    Lotto Soudal has two leaders with Benoot and Wellens. The latter is not a Classics regular but has been in sterling form so far this season. while Benoot has been training at altitude recently so we wait to see how he is going.

     

    71 Tiesj Benoot (Bel)
    72 Jasper De Buyst (Bel)
    73 Jens Keukeleire (Bel)
    74 Lars Ytting Bak (Den)
    75 Lawrence Naesen (Bel)
    76 Jelle Wallays (Bel)
    77 Tim Wellens (Bel)

     

  25. 12:49:43 CET

    Out in Abu Dhabi, Rohan Dennis has taken victory in the time trial and moved himself into the overall lead. We'll have a report, results and a gallery from there very soon. 

     

  26. 12:52:01 CET

    After an average speed of 41.5kph over the first hour of racing, the 10 leaders have a gap of 4:50 over the peloton.

     

  27. 13:01:18 CET

    Not long now until the first climb of the Leberg, Before that, though, is a 2km stretch of cobbles, the first of this cobbles season. 

     

  28. 13:03:34 CET

    For results and the report from today's Abu Dhabi stage, click here

     

  29. 13:09:05 CET

    It really is a cold day out there and Niki Terpstra explained to Belgian television channel Sporza that he's taken to spreading vaseline on his face to try and protect it from the cold. Needs must and all of that. 

     

  30. 13:17:47 CET

    Today's profile in a stem-sized chunk, courtesy of Team Sky.

     

  31. 13:25:57 CET

    The leaders have hit the first climb of the day the Leberg, while the peloton behind is tackling the cobbles of the Haaghoek.

     

  32. 13:29:06 CET

    Sep Vanmarcke finished on the podium at last year's race. This is what he had to say at the start today. 

     

    ""What kind of race? Ah, the first Classic race is always different to the last races we’ve seen. It’s going to be like every Classic, just full gas when the hills come, early breaks, it’s going to be interesting.

     

     

    "[The Muur-Bosberg] is going to be the last important bit, but if you wait until there then you’re last I think. Way more early there are important parts and there you also need to go."

     

  33. 13:34:46 CET

    The gap is still hanging just below the five-minute mark for the leaders. After the Leberg there are 30 kilometres before the next climb of the day. 

     

  34. 13:37:42 CET

    In the women's race Keira McVity had a go off the front of the bunch. She was only able to get 10 seconds before she was brought back in. Still no breakaway.

     

  35. 13:43:40 CET

    A look at today's finish line. Who will be crossing here first?

     

  36. 13:47:29 CET

    A mechanical for Vanmarcke on the Leberg. He'll be hoping that is the only one of the day. 

     

  37. 13:49:48 CET

    In the women's race, it remains together, but the high pace is doing some damage and on the Jagerij cobbles there are some riders in trouble. 

     

  38. 13:56:52 CET

    Chantal Blaak is showing off her rainbow jersey today. The world champion has twice finished second here and is part of a very strong Boels Dolmans team today. 

     

    "I’m super excited, first of all to show the jersey, and second because it’s a new season and I’m always excited for this race.

     

     

    "I’ve been wearing the kit since I started training, it’s a special feeling, but I think it’s even more special to wear it for a race. It gives a rest also. I don’t have to win or make the podium, I’m happy when I can show the jersey and race well.

     

     

    "It’s always hard, the first race because you never know where you stand. I trained hard and the team is good but you don’t know what the others are doing but we go for a good race and hopefully we’re in the finale and make"

     

  39. 14:00:52 CET

    The latest time check has the leaders with a four-minute advantage over the peloton. 

     

  40. 14:06:26 CET

    The peloton clearly thought that four minutes was not enough and they have eased up a little to allow the break to go back out to five minutes.

     

  41. 14:11:06 CET

    Astana has a number of in-form riders with them at Omloop, with Magnus Cort and Alexey Lutsenko here off the back of a brilliant Tour of Oman. However, they have a cloud hanging over them after their team manager Alexandre Vinokourov confirmed that their team is in financial trouble. Read the full story here

     

  42. 14:15:49 CET

    The women's race is really breaking into pieces with a larger elite group out front and two or three more smaller groups now trailing behind. 

     

  43. 14:22:30 CET

    After a quick start to the day, the riders are passing through the feed zone to have a spot of lunch. Cold hands will make collecting things a little difficult so let's hope they get through there ok. 

     

  44. 87km remaining from 196.2km

    14:28:28 CET

    The gap has been chopped down very quickly by the bunch as we approach the crux of the race. With just under 90km to go, the Quick-Step led peloton is just 2:46 behind the 10 leaders. 

     

  45. 14:32:17 CET

    Having taken to the front right at the start of the day, Keisse is still pulling for Quick-Step. Team Sky has come forward to lend a hand though, along with a couple of other teams. 

     

  46. 14:34:51 CET

    Bahrain-Merida is another team up near the front. They're riding for Sonny Colbrelli today who had a really strong Classics campaign in 2017. 

     

    31 Grega Bole (Slo)
    32 Borut Bozic (Slo)
    33 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita)
    34 Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa)
    35 David Per (Slo)
    36 Kristijan Koren (Slo)
    37 Luka Pibernik (Slo)

     

  47. 14:36:52 CET

    the pace is really high in the bunch and Giacomo Nizzolo riders has come down after a collision with one of the Wanty riders. He lets out a rather loud curse word and stands in someones drive as he tries to collect himself. He seems ok though. 

     

  48. 14:37:42 CET

    As I write, there is another crash as the peloton bunches up on a corner. This time it is one of the Lotto Soudal riders and one of the Sunweb riders. 

     

  49. 81km remaining from 196.2km

    14:38:33 CET

    All these crashes are happening as the peloton gets ready for the climbs to come. The huge injection of pace has cut the gap to the escapees to just 1:34 and it's coming down fast. 

     

  50. 14:39:23 CET

    The leading group has split into two with Mathis, Ariesen and Van Staeyen getting dropped ahead of the second ascent of the Leberg. 

     

  51. 14:40:54 CET

    It's almost like the build-up to a sprint finish as the peloton drives on. Position on these climbs is hugely important because you can lose a lot of time if you're in the wrong place. 

     

  52. 14:42:10 CET

    Greg Van Avermaet has won this race twice in the past two years and he has big expectations of today's edition. 

     

    "Last year I was a top favourite too but then I was able to hide away due to my crash. I expect a lot from this race. When I have high expectations I often run into bad luck so I have be awake. The weather? You can dress against the cold. I can handle these temperatures," he said at the start. 

     

  53. 14:44:50 CET

    News from Trek-Segafredo is that Nizzolo has abandoned after that crash. Hopefully it is nothing too serious. Not a great start to the Classics for the team. 

     

  54. 14:47:04 CET

    There is 25k to go in the women's race and there is a group up the road with an advantage of 45 seconds. Will bring you a list of names as soon as I can. 

     

  55. 14:48:20 CET

    Meanwhile, in the men's race, some of he dropped riders are being brought back into the peloton. AG2R La Mondiale putting in a stint in the front as the gap has leveled out at just over two minutes. Plenty of riders struggling ogg the back of the bunch now. 

     

  56. 14:50:12 CET

    Philippe Gilbert went on a short attack a few kilometres ago. He didn't get too far but he has certainly forced the pace. 

     

  57. 72km remaining from 196.2km

    14:51:57 CET

    Up front, we have just six riders remaining. They are: Saramotins, Van Bilsen, van Goethem, Edward Plackaert, De Bondt and De Winter. 

     

  58. 69km remaining from 196.2km

    14:54:48 CET

    There are plenty of riders back in the cars as the peloton ups the pace again. Irish national champ Ryan Mullen is doing the damage on the front for Trek-Segafredo. Meanwhile, Perichon takes a tumble on a corner but he's on his way again.

     

  59. 67km remaining from 196.2km

    14:57:38 CET

    The gap had dropped once again to the escapees. The remaining six have just 1:45 on the pack behind. 

     

  60. 15:00:23 CET

    Michael Matthews is racing today, although the Australian says that he's working for teammate Edward Theuns today. He had this to say at the start. 

     

    "I’m just here to gain more experience. I really don’t know too much about these races, so it’s hard to say I’ve come here to do something in particular. For sure I just want to have a good race. We’re riding for Eddy today and we’ll see what we can do to put him in a position to win.

     

     

    "It’s super special. It’s not just opening weekend, its my first race of the season also. I’ve been training since the middle of November basically for today so hopefully it all comes together. The sun’s out, so that’s already a start.

     

     

    "We have a lot options and it’s also a little bit about racing with your feeling and I think we’re pretty good at that."

     

  61. 15:01:21 CET

    Another push by Philippe Gilbert, he's getting impatient. He is well marked but each move does some damage behind. The bunch splits briefly but Sky pulls it back together. 

     

  62. 64km remaining from 196.2km

    15:02:04 CET

    Relentless from Quick-Step. No sooner is the group back together does Stybar attack. Now it is BMC doing the chasing. 

     

  63. 15:02:43 CET

    Kung closes the gap for BMC but the peloton is strung out now and it's losing riders all the time. 1:30 is the latest time check for the breakaway. 

     

  64. 15:03:27 CET

    Over in the women's race, the leaders have been brought back for the Geerardsbergen. This is going to be a blistering finale. 

     

  65. 15:05:56 CET

    We're almost into the last 60 kilometres and there is no respite for the riders from here to the finish. The leaders are onto the Wolvenberg, which will be quickly followed by a cobbled section. 

     

  66. 15:07:08 CET

    Another crash in the bunch and it looks like one of the Bora-Hansgrohe riders is down just before the Wolvenberg. 

     

  67. 15:08:28 CET

    One rider to keep an eye on today is cyclo-cross world champion Wout van Aert. He's riding his first concerted Classics campaign this year. 

     

  68. 15:09:09 CET

    Up front, Van Goetham has been distanced by his break companions. He's trying to chance but the peloton is closing in behind. 

     

  69. 15:10:35 CET

    It won't surprise you to know that Quick-Step Floors is pulling the peloton still. They've been relentless all day, but can they finish it off? The gap is just 1:10 now. 

     

  70. 59km remaining from 196.2km

    15:11:27 CET

    A rear wheel problem for one of the Sky riders on a corner. Meanwhile, Kung now goes on the attack.

     

  71. 15:12:36 CET

    Kung is joined by several riders but the peloton is not too far behind. It doesn't look like he's snapped the elastic just yet. 

     

  72. 56km remaining from 196.2km

    15:15:13 CET

    Lots of little digs coming off the front, which is cutting chunks out of the advantage of the escapees. BMC's Jempy Drucker has a poorly timed puncture. He has to drop back for a wheel change. 

     

  73. 15:17:02 CET

    We saw Stybar on the attack a little earlier on. Stybar has no experience with the old Ronde van Vlaanderen final which features in the 2018 edition of the Omloop. He was still dominating cyclo-cross.

     

    “I rode my first spring classics in 2013 so I’ve never done the Tour of Flanders on this course. The last climbs, the Muur and Bosberg, are closer to the finish. It should suit me better than the old Omloop course. That’s the theory though,” Stybar told Cyclingnews at the start in Ghent. The 32 year-old Czech rider felt that the cold would have a major impact. “Everybody is still motivated at the first of the spring classics.” A few moments later, at the start line, Stybar was spotted putting a newspaper underneath his shirt.

     

  74. 15:18:30 CET

    Van Goethem has been brought back to the peloton now, leaving just five riders from the original 10 that went on the attack this morning. 

     

  75. 53km remaining from 196.2km

    15:19:46 CET

    It looks like we've got a brief hiatus in hostilities in the peloton as the gap drops to below a minute. This won't last too long, I'd wager. 

     

  76. 15:21:06 CET

    And Van Avermaet has gone on the attack, wih Stybar in his wheel. 

     

  77. 15:21:33 CET

    One of the Vital Concept riders is there too, it looks like it might be Bryan Coquard. 

     

  78. 15:23:04 CET

    Van Avermaet went as the peloton closed in on the top of the Molenberg. The peloton still looks to be about 40 riders though. 

     

  79. 51km remaining from 196.2km

    15:23:54 CET

    De Bondt is now brought back to the peloton as Dillier has a small dig off the front. It comes to nought though. 

     

  80. 15:25:12 CET

    A group of six riders have gone off the front. In there are Stybar, Juul Jensen, Dillier, Kung, Rast and a rider from Katusha-Alpecin. 

     

  81. 15:25:37 CET

    Their gap is just a handful of seconds for now. 

     

  82. 15:26:31 CET

    Another small group has set off in chase of them. 

     

  83. 15:27:06 CET

    That second group is strong with Naesen, Matthews, Demare and what looks like Tim Wellens. 

     

  84. 47km remaining from 196.2km

    15:28:57 CET

    Without a rider up there, it has been left to Bahrain-Merida to do the chasing. They've missed out on this crucial split. 

     

  85. 15:29:39 CET

    Dillier attacks and nobody appears to be chasing. Stybar throws his arm up in frustration before a chase is mounted. 

     

  86. 15:30:33 CET

    There is just over 10 seconds between the main peloton and the second group on the road, which is 26 seconds behind the leaders. 

     

  87. 44km remaining from 196.2km

    15:33:20 CET

    It's just Saramotins up front now as the chasers mop up the rest of the breakaway with 44km to go. 

     

  88. 15:34:34 CET

    That chasing group has been all but brought back but Tim Wellens isn't having any of it and goes on the attack with Stybar and one of the LottoNL riders. 

     

  89. 42km remaining from 196.2km

    15:37:58 CET

    It's all back together after Saramotins is caught with 42km to go. The bunch is beginning to split once again as they bring him back. 

     

  90. 15:39:02 CET

    Over in the women's race, Christina Siggaard has taken the victory ahead of Alexis Ryan. 

     

  91. 15:40:24 CET

    Saramotins not giving up just yet, he is joined by Alexis Gougeard and they have a small gap on the bunch. 

     

  92. 15:42:03 CET

    The gap to our two leaders is just 11 seconds. Saramotins' chance of holding onto this for too much longer is slim but he's giving his teammates a big of a break back in the peloton. 

     

  93. 15:42:51 CET

    Bahrain-Merida pulling hard now and it looks like they've got this pair now. 

     

  94. 15:43:22 CET

    The leaders are caught on Barendries and Tim Wellens goes for it now. He's been very active today. 

     

  95. 15:43:45 CET

    Van Avermaet has set off in chase of Wellens and easily passes him. 

     

  96. 15:44:34 CET

    Van Avermaet has been so strong this February. He told me earlier this month that he thinks he can hold it all the way through to the middle of April. 

     

  97. 36km remaining from 196.2km

    15:45:37 CET

    That move on Berendries has broken things up with Van Avermaet, Vanmarcke, Stybar and a few others surging clear. 

     

  98. 15:46:26 CET

    It looks like Colbrelli, Wellens and Benoot are all in there too. Sunweb, Dimension Data and Trek all have representatives there.

     

  99. 15:47:44 CET

    Theuns is the Sunweb rider in that leading group. He is the team leader today. 

     

  100. 15:48:12 CET

    Benoot has attacked that leading group now. Lotto Soudal are playing their numbers. 

     

  101. 15:49:08 CET

    The peloton has come back together behind Benoot and he's about to be brought back in too. 

     

  102. 33km remaining from 196.2km

    15:51:01 CET

    Benoot stil holding a small gap. He has been joined by Theuns and Thwaites, who he distances as he hits the Valkenberg. 

     

  103. 15:52:57 CET

    That kick from Benoot has dropped his companions and he's alone once again. Thwaites is trying to chase but it's not going anywhere. 

     

  104. 15:54:32 CET

    This is how the women's race ended a short while ago

     

    1 Christina Siggaard (Den) Team Virtu Cycling Women
    2 Alexis Ryan (USA) Canyon-SRAM Racing
    3 Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Valcar PBM
    4 Chloe Hosking (Aus) Ale Cipollini
    5 Coryn Rivera (USA) Team Sunweb Women
    6 Nina Kessler (Ned) Hitec Products-Birk Sport
    7 Jeanne Korevaar (Ned) Waowdeals Pro Cycling Team
    8 Jolien D'Hoore (Bel) Mitchelton Scott Women
    9 Marta Cavalli (Ita) Valcar PBM
    10 Audrey Cordon Ragot (Fra) Wiggle High5

     

  105. 29km remaining from 196.2km

    15:55:35 CET

    Benoot has given himself a 27-second gap. Quick-Step and BMC Racing are chasing behind. 

     

  106. 15:56:57 CET

    The Tenbosse is the next climb on the menu and then the riders will face the Muur, which will surely see a vital selection for the finale. The winner could well break clear here. 

     

  107. 26km remaining from 196.2km

    15:58:50 CET

    Only 16 seconds left for Benoot as he approaches Tenbosse. How much longer can he hold on?

     

  108. 15:59:58 CET

    BMC leading the peloton and they can see Benoot just ahead. Eberybody looks relatively calm right now. Benoot glances over his shoulder and continues on. 

     

  109. 16:00:38 CET

    Magnus Cort now pushing on the front for Astana. He collects a drink from the side of the road.

     

  110. 25km remaining from 196.2km

    16:01:23 CET

    The Tenbosse has been dispatched with and Astana brings back Benoot. Gruppo compatto, for now. 

     

  111. 16:02:00 CET

    Next up is the Muur. For now, it is the calm before the storm. There are still some 50 or 60 riders in the peloton, but that will change soon. 

     

  112. 16:04:56 CET

    After seeing Benoot on the attack, let's hear what he had to say at the start of the day. 

     

    “It’s like a first school day but I didn’t look forward to school like this. It’s been a while since I raced in Argentina," said Benoot.

     


    His teammate Tim Wellens added: “I think the Muur suits me. At the Eneco Tour we rode over the climb a couple of times and I never struggled on it.”
     

     

  113. 16:06:14 CET

    As we prepare for the all-out war that will be the Muur, riders are taking the chance to drop back to the team car to leave some extra layers behind. It's cold out there but nobody wants to be faffing with clothes when the race enters its most important part. 

     

  114. 16:07:55 CET

    All the key teams trying to put riders in the front. The roads onto the Muur are twisting and once the riders hit the cobbles there will be little space for passing. 

     

  115. 16:09:40 CET

    Speaking to Eurosport, Oliver Naesen says that he hopes his rivals will go early, "but that will kill them for sure." 

     

    The Belgian champion is looking strong today, but how can he do? He only managed seventh in this race last year. 

     

  116. 19km remaining from 196.2km

    16:11:16 CET

    Just three kilometres until the Muur. For now, the peloton is riding together and we've not had any attempts to break clear. It has to be the longest period without an attack since we started this run of climbs. 

     

  117. 16:12:50 CET

    And we've had a crash. Garcia, Claeys and a Sunweb rider have all hit the deck. That's their day done. 

     

  118. 16:13:19 CET

    The riders are into Geraardsbergen and the climb is not too far away. 

     

  119. 16:13:39 CET

    FDJ moces to the front with Demare as we pass through town. 

     

  120. 16:14:05 CET

    As we start to climb, the pace really starts to ramp up and BMC now pushes on. 

     

  121. 16:14:39 CET

    This climb happens in a couple of stages with the last rise to the chapel a brutal ride. 

     

  122. 16:15:14 CET

    Drucker has pulled out a small gap on the peloton. He carries on but it's not  serious attack. Astana is chasing behind. 

     

  123. 16:15:56 CET

    Drucker has been caught and Vanmarcke attacks with Van Avermaet following. 

     

  124. 16:16:20 CET

    This is a serious move from Vanmarcke and Van Avermaet can't hold onto his wheel. 

     

  125. 16:16:55 CET

    There's a good 10-15 seconds between Vanmarcke and the chasers and Stybar now digs deep and passes Van Avermaet. 

     

  126. 16:17:37 CET

    We're over the top and the peloton has been decimated by Vanmarcke's attack. Only around 10 riders behind as Stybar bridges the gap to Vanmarcke. 

     

  127. 16:17:52 CET

    Van Aert is in that chasing group, which is a huge effort from him. 

     

  128. 15km remaining from 196.2km

    16:18:16 CET

    Naesen is now trying to get across. This is hotting up nicely. 

     

  129. 16:19:14 CET

    Astana is putting in a big shift behind and they're closing down this Vanmarcke/Stybar attack. 

     

  130. 16:20:40 CET

    Astana has several riders in that chasing group, including the quick finisher Michael Valgren. 

     

  131. 16:21:39 CET

    They also have Lutsenko and Gatto in there, both quick finishers under these conditions. 

     

  132. 11km remaining from 196.2km

    16:23:03 CET

    Vanmarcke and Stybar have been caught as Wisniowski and Lampaert join from the back. We begin the Bosberg.

     

  133. 16:23:44 CET

    Naesen, Vanmarck and Van Avermaet have now gone off the front of the leading group on the Bosberg. 

     

  134. 16:24:38 CET

    A shot of the main bunch shows Benoot in there. Lotto Soudal have really missed out after all that work earlier on. The Van Avermaet group is caught but Naesen goes on the attack once again. 

     

  135. 16:25:12 CET

    Naesen is brought back and he flicks the elbow to try and make the Astana riders work. They have three riders in this move. 

     

  136. 10km remaining from 196.2km

    16:26:02 CET

    The gap back to the peloton has grown to 34 seconds. This looks like it could be the winning move. 

     

  137. 16:27:43 CET

    It looks like this group has settled in to try and pull out this gap. They've got plenty of time to attack each other so why not make sure they keep this chasing group behind. Arnaud Demare is leading the chase as Yves Lampaert drops back. 

     

  138. 8km remaining from 196.2km

    16:29:08 CET

    Well, that hiatus didn't last long. Astana have attacked now. They have to be careful because there is just 33 seconds to the group behind. 

     

  139. 16:30:14 CET

    While it is small, that gap is holding very steady. It's all back together out front for now as Naesen pushes the pace again. 

     

  140. 16:31:52 CET

    Trentin is keeping his nose very clean in this leading group. He's one of the favourites if he can make it to the line in this group. Colbrelli will be tough to beat too. 

     

  141. 16:33:24 CET

    This is such an interesting group. Guys like Van Aert, Oss,Stybar and Vanmarcke will have to attack if they hope to win while there are plenty in there who will fancy their chances in a sprint. 

     

  142. 16:34:44 CET

    Despite the concerted chase behind, the second group has not been able to make any inroads into the leaders. The gap remains over 30 seconds with just four kilometres to go. 

     

  143. 16:35:22 CET

    One of the Astana riders attacks and it's Valgren

     

  144. 16:35:51 CET

    Valgren is barely out of the saddle before he is caught by his companions. 

     

  145. 16:36:39 CET

    It looks like we're playing cat and mouse now. Vanmarcke looks over his shoulder waiting for the nest move to happen. That little moment has lost them a few seconds to the chasers but they're safe for now. 

     

  146. 2km remaining from 196.2km

    16:36:46 CET

    Vanmarcke attacks

     

  147. 16:36:59 CET

    Stybar follows, as does Van Aert.

     

  148. 16:37:17 CET

    Valgren attacks again now

     

  149. 16:37:46 CET

    Trentin leading the chase but it's not a serious effort as he looks behind at the others to help. Is this the move?

     

  150. 16:38:24 CET

    Vanmarcke attacks now but Valgren has a good gap

     

  151. 16:38:51 CET

    The bunch is now almost upon them as they try to chase Valgren down. 

     

  152. 16:39:06 CET

    It looks like Valgren will have this

     

  153. 16:39:27 CET

    He shakes his head. He can't believe it. Valgren has won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

     

  154. 16:39:47 CET

    Wisniowski comes second and Vanmarcke takes third. 

     

  155. 16:40:51 CET

    Astana would have been kicking themselves if they hadn't been able to use their numbers. They had three riders in that group. Perfect move by Valgren, relying on the chasers not getting their act together quickly enough. 

     

  156. 16:45:20 CET

    There will be a lot of head scratching in Belgium after that with Vanmarcke their best placed rider. They had some serious talent in that group but they waited a few seconds too long when Valgren attacked. 

     

  157. 16:49:56 CET

    Valgren had this to say after his victory.

     

    "After the Muur we got away in a big group. We had three guys and we needed to do something because we had some fast riders. We had Oscar there and Lutsenko who is also fast, so it was up to me to attack. I counter attacked Sep Vanmarcke and they were looking at each other for just five seconds and I was away. It was bloody hard and I am super happy.

     


    "I would like to be up there in the big ones like the Tour of Flanders. It’s the only the second time that I’ve done these races, last year was the first time and I was 11th in the Tour of Flanders. You also need to be lucky about the crashes and these races are stressful and full-gas, but they are a lot of fun."
     

     

  158. 16:53:02 CET

    This is how it ended after the peloton caught the chasers in that final stretch. 

     

    1 Michael Valgren (Den) Astana Pro Team
    2 Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Sky
    4 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
    5 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
    6 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
    7 Edward Theuns (Bel) Team Sunweb
    8 Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
    9 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
    10 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe

     

  159. 17:02:34 CET

    If you missed the result of the women's race earlier on, you can take a look at how things finished here

     

  160. 17:07:55 CET

    This was the moment that Valgren crossed the line.

     

  161. 17:20:58 CET

    Siggaard took her win from a bunch sprint and was in tears after crossing the line. This is by far the biggest win of her career so far. 

     

  162. 17:33:04 CET

    You can re-live today's action with our report, here

     

  163. 17:38:04 CET

    "One guy caught me from Sky, second or third, it’s all right. It doesn’t matter from those two places if you don’t win but you’re still on the podium," Sep Vanmarcke said after the finish.

     

  164. 17:51:45 CET

    If you missed the Abu Dhabi Tour result earlier today then I won't spoil it for you but you can catch up on all the action from the time trial here

     

  165. 18:07:37 CET

    The top three on the podium a little earlier on. Vanmarcke is the only one of the three to have been on the podium in the cobbled Classics before. Valgren has, of course, finished second at Amstel Gold before.

     

  166. 18:14:33 CET

    There has been a whole lot of racing today and Romain Bardet got his first win of the season at the Classic de l'Ardeche. You can find the full results here

     

  167. 18:24:36 CET

    Don't forget it is Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne tomorrow and we will have full live coverage of that too. This is what the map looks like for tomorrow's offering. 

     

  168. 18:42:03 CET

    That is it from our live coverage today. Tune in at 11:15 CET tomorrow for live coverage of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. 

     

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