Ludovic Robeet was quite willing to adapt to circumstances at Nokere Koerse on Wednesday, shifting from a supporting role for Bingoal Casino-Wallonie Bruxelles team leader Timothy Dupont to that of protagonist.
Just like any compelling drama, the 26-year-old defied the odds in the peloton and against the harsh elements of cold, wind and rain to take the first UCI 1.Pro victory of his career. Racing on home turf in Belgium, he used not one, but multiple attacks to ride aggressively and take a solo victory ahead of a reduced but charging peloton.
“I played my role as a teammate at Nokere and ultimately won. That doesn't mean that I don't remain the teammate I've always been. So I will return to my role from the next race,” Robeet said in a team statement following his victory.
“In Nokere, I was lucky that the breakaway went to the end, which is not always the case. But it nevertheless allowed me to go for the victory. I want to continue to do a good job serving the team, I think that's also how I'm progressing."
Robeet was alert to be part of the eight riders who became the main breakaway of the day after the first 50 kilometres of the 195km semi-Classic. The group worked together to build the lead to four minutes, but began losing chunks on the final lap headed to Nokere.
“The breakaway started after an hour of racing. I didn't have the best feeling in the peloton but the legs gradually came back when the tension eased a bit. I joined the eight-rider breakaway, which admittedly wasn't really my role. With me in the squad, the team situation was ideal as my teammates didn't have to ride in the peloton.
"Over the kilometers, I waited for our group to be taken back to be able to put myself at the service of our leader of the day, Timothy Dupont, with whom we had a great chance of victory,” said Robeet about the team strategy to ride for Dupont, a past winner of Nokere Koerce in 2016.
The Belgian then launched an attack with Gaudin (Total Direct Energie) on a section of cobbles with under 3km to go, and vaulted again with 2km remaining to the line.
“I felt a little stronger than him. We rode first to widen the gap a bit. And when I saw that the chasing group couldn't get us back, I knew we were going to play for victory together. I also knew that I had to let go if I wanted to play my card because he is stronger than me in the sprint. So I produced my effort two kilometers from the finish. I then realized that I was going to win," added Robeet.
He finished three seconds ahead of Gaudin, and another two seconds just in front of a charging pack of 31 riders, where Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) claimed third.
It was the second career win for Robeet, who had a solo stage win at Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali in 2019.
“I am very happy to have won at Nokere, as I had been during my first professional success in 2019 at Coppi e Bartali. I have to realize what I accomplished in Nokere, to really appreciate it. I can say that winning is good but winning when it is difficult is even better," Robeet reflected.
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