There’s a huge amount of tradition in Belgian cycling and its first weekend of racing on the Belgian calendar. Part of that tradition was the racing performances of the Etixx-QuickStep-riders of Patrick Lefevere. Per usual, they bounce back in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday after missing out on the flowers on Saturday in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The first part was no different this season. On Saturday they were always trailing and team leader Tom Boonen finished eleventh.
On Sunday the Belgian team created the final selection but eventually Boonen was blown backwards by the solo effort from young Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and there was no Marcel Kittel in Kuurne for the team to work for in a bunch sprint. Lukasz Wisniowski was their highest finisher in fifth place.
There was no fourth win in Kuurne for Boonen and he agreed that the results weren’t great but for him personally it seemed like he gained a lot of confidence in the last two days.
“I come out of this weekend much better than I entered it. Today it was decent. I’m going to put it like that. It was certainly not super but better than yesterday. Compared to yesterday it was a big difference. I’ve still got a lot of work to do but there’s still a lot of time. We’ve got about a month to go and the world was built in a week,” Boonen said, with a big smile on his face. This wasn’t a disappointed rider.
“Before the final lap Jasper attacked and I thought, ‘that’s foolish, that’s way too early’, but he nicely managed to hold onto his lead. The difference was that he went flat out while we were hesitating and cursing each other.”
Stuyven completed the 17 kilometres and won Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. It was a hard edition of the semi-classic, as Boonen explained. “As expected it was very hard because of the wind. Everybody wasted a lot of energy along the way. It might have gone unnoticed but it was a very hard race. The early breakaway was quickly formed which is atypical for Kuurne. In the hills it was fun racing and I raced with my heart. Late in the race we were ahead with about thirty riders. This group just started to fall apart because everybody was attacking. There was no co-operation. I figured to try my luck and go along with a move. Then we were ahead with a smaller group and it was looking good; I thought we would stay ahead,” Boonen said. In the end Stuyven was the only rider from the breakaway who managed to hold off the peloton. “It’s typical ‘Kuurne’. They come back, or they don’t come back. It was a nice race with a deserved winner.”