Stybar takes solo victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Van Avermaet second, Wellens third in chase-group sprint

Nearly man no more. Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep) soloed to victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with a canny attack in the closing kilometres to claim the first Flemish Classic of his career, while Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) won the sprint for second ahead of Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal).

Stybar was part of a five-man break that decided the honours on the approach to Ninove after they had extended their lead over the chasing group to more than half a minute on the final climbs of the Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg.

Van Avermaet was, by reputation, the quickest of their number, and the Olympic champion took it upon himself to close down an attack from Wellens with 3km remaining. Stybar had been waiting for this precise moment. As soon as Wellens was caught, the Czech attacked on the opposite side of the road. Van Avermaet, reasoning that he couldn't be expected to jump on every move, looked for help from Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida). It wasn't immediately forthcoming and Stybar suddenly had a winning gap.

"I had a good feeling all day, but of course you never know," said Stybar, who was prominent all afternoon. "It was a very strong break, but I still had teammates in the group behind, and I could benefit from that."

In 2018, while QuickStep racked up a remarkable 73 wins, Stybar managed to go the entire season without a victory, though he played a key supporting role in the team's Classics success. He started 2019 on the right foot last week by claiming the final stage of the Volta ao Algarve, and continued in that vein to win by 6 seconds in Ninove.

For all their dominance in the Flemish Ardennes over the years, QuickStep have often struggled on Belgian cycling’s Opening Weekend. Tom Boonen famously never won Omloop and the team’s last success in the race came back in 2005, when Nick Nuyens won an event that was still known as Omloop Het Volk.

"I only heard the day before yesterday at the press conference that QuickStep hadn't won Omloop for 14 years, which was amazing," Stybar said. "I am very happy that I could win here, for the team, but also for me. I was close to a victory like this last year and I'm happy to finally finish it off."

The winning move had its genesis in the forcing of Jumbo-Visma on the narrow ascent of the Molenberg with 40km remaining, which left 17 riders in front, including Stybar and his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Yves Lampaert, as well as Van Avermaet, Lutsenko, Wellens, Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), Oliver Naesen (AG2R), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) and Ian Stannard (Team Sky).

Despite the pursuit of Sunweb behind, it looked a decisive split, and the group was whittled down still further when Benoot crashed with a shade under 30km to go, leaving just six riders – Stybar, Van Avermaet, Lutsenko, Wellens, Teuns and Oss – out in front as they faced into the climb of the Elverenberg.

That sextet combined well to hit the Muur with a lead of 17 seconds on the chasers, and their raw strength told on the slopes of the hallowed climb, as Van Avermaet and Stybar’s pace-making proved too much for Oss and extended their lead over the chasers behind.

Van Avermaet and Stybar were again forceful on the Bosberg, and the five leaders crested the summit with 35 seconds in hand on a chasing group that was being policed by Deceuninck-QuickStep. It was a scenario familiar from last spring, only this time, Stybar found himself out in front rather than caught behind. He didn't squander the opportunity.

How it unfolded

The break formed early, with Roy Jans (Corendon-Circus), Tom Wirtgen (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Alex Howes (EF-Drapac) and Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) forging clear of the peloton shortly after it left the start town of Ghent. The ambling bunch allowed the escapees build up a lead of some 14 minutes by the time they reached first cobbled section of the Haaghoek after 38 kilometres of racing, at which point Deceuninck-QuickStep stepped forward to beginning paring down their advantage. Indeed, the bunch’s slow early pace had an inadvertent impact on the women’s race, which was briefly neutralised to avoid an overlap between the two events.

By the second ascent of the Leberg the break’s lead was down to six minutes. An attack from Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis) forced an early split in the peloton and reduced the break’s lead still further. Vanbilsen was joined by many riders, including Stybar, Naesen Ian Stannard (Sky), Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal), Jurgen Roelandts (Movistar) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo). The CCC-led peloton had to work hard for 20 kilometres to bring the Stybar group back at the Valkenberg. Meanwhile, Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie-Bruxelles) bridged across to the lead group.

The first move from the favourites came on the cobbles at Mater, with 50km to go, when Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) made a fierce acceleration. He was marked by Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) and Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Soon afterwards, Jumbo-Visma's Danny van Poppel hammered up the narrow Molenberg climb on the front, an effort that split the bunch into multiple groups, forming the elite move of 17. They soon caught Baptiste Planckaert, the sole remaining leader, after they hurtled over the cobbles of Haaghoek, 37km from the finish.

After Benoot's crash, only six riders remained in front. In the reduced peloton, Owain Doull (Team Sky) worked hard to bring the gap back down to 10 seconds at the foot of the Muur, but the power of the men in front proved telling and the margin opened once again. Van Avermaet and Stybar had looked to be the strongest for much of the afternoon, and so it proved, with the Czech winning the day.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep4:53:17 
2Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team0:00:09 
3Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
4Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
5Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida  
6Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Bora-Hansgrohe  
7Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
8Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
9Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott  
10Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
11Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
12Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb  
13Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma  
14Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky  
15Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First  
16Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
17Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team  
18Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ  
19Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin0:00:28 
20Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie0:00:29 
21Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:30 
22Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:32 
23Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:44 
24Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles0:01:52 
25Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar Team  
26Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky  
27Stijn Devolder (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
28Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky0:02:51 
29Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team  
30Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
31Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:04:16 
32Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:04:42 
33Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
34Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott0:04:44 
35Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida0:05:54 
36Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
37Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates  
38Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
39Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ  
40Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
41Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
42Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:06:17 
43Dries De Bondt (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
44Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
45Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Dimension Data  
46Boy van Poppel (Ned) Roompot-Charles  
47Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert  
48Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert  
49Pim Ligthart (Ned) Direct Energie  
50Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
51Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo  
52Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data  
53Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
54Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ  
55Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team  
56Aime De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert  
57Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ  
58Alex Howes (USA) EF Education First  
59Casper Pedersen (Den) Team Sunweb  
60Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
61Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
62Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First  
63Tom Bohli (Swi) UAE Team Emirates  
64Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-Alpecin  
65Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie  
66Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Wanty-Gobert  
67Kevyn Ista (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
68Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Team Sunweb  
69Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team  
70Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie  
71Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC Team  
72Jens Debusschere (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin  
73Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky  
74Damien Touze (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
75Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team  
76Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Corendon-Circus0:06:23 
77Sjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Charles  
78Dion Smith (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott  
79Timo Roosen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
80Lars Boom (Ned) Roompot-Charles  
81Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ  
82Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe  
83Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team  
84Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team  
85Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
86Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
87Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:06:27 
88Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
89Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma  
90Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana Pro Team  
91Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First  
92Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First  
93Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie  
94Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:08:36 
95Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale  
96Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Gobert  
97Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
98Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
99Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
100Emils Liepins (Lat) Wallonie Bruxelles  
101Lukas Spengler (Swi) Wallonie Bruxelles  
102Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
103Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
104Matti Breschel (Den) EF Education First  
105Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo  
106Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon-Circus  
107Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
108Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
109Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo  
110Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
DNFTiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFNikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFBrian van Goethem (Ned) Lotto Soudal  
DNFJordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFJoeri Stallaert (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
DNFPascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFValerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFRoy Jans (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
DNFYevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFFlorian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep  
DNFJerome Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Gobert  
DNFKenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFDavide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFZhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFRory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFMaarten van Trijp (Ned) Corendon-Circus  
DNFJuraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFTom Wirtgen (Lux) Wallonie Bruxelles  
DNFAsbjørn Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb  
DNFRomain Cardis (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data  
DNFRasmus Tiller (Nor) Dimension Data  
DNFJaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data  
DNFLars Bak (Den) Dimension Data  
DNFMathias De Witte (Bel) Roompot-Charles  
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Roompot-Charles  
DNFMitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First  
DNFJenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFAntonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFViacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFElmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot-Charles  
DNFMads Schmidt Würtz (Den) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFHarry Tanfield (GBr) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFJesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot-Charles  
DNFChristopher Lawless (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFLeonardo Basso (Ita) Team Sky  
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb  
DNFWesley Kreder (Ned) Wanty-Gobert  
DNFRoberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFNathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC Team  
DNFFrancisco Ventoso (Spa) CCC Team  
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) CCC Team  
DNFEdoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott  
DNFAlexandre Pichot (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFJan Bakelants (Bel) Team Sunweb  
DNFSven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFJohannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb  
DNFMarco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFJulien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data  
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFDaniel Hoelgaard (Nor) Groupama-FDJ  
DNFAlex Frame (NZl) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFPiet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
DNFImanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFEduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar Team  
DNFRüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFJuan Sebastian Molano (Col) UAE Team Emirates  

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