Belgian Mauri Vansevenant looked determined to show himself as one of Deceuninck-QuickStep's young champions, attacking from the start of La Flèche Wallonne and remaining as the last man standing off the front of the race into the final kilometres.
With echoes of Remco Evenepoel's victories in Tour de Pologne and Vuelta a Burgos, Vansevenant doggedly held onto a 30-second advantage as he approached the Mur de Huy for the final time, only to come to grief on the descent of the Côte de Chemin de Gueuses with only 4km to go.
Vansevenant escaped along with Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Mathijs Paaschens (Bingoal WB) and Marlon Gaillard (Total Direct Energie) in the first 10 kilometres of the 202km Classic and built a lead of over five minutes. The group imploded and the gap fell to just over a minute in the final 20 kilometres, but Vansevenant pushed on with Paaschens until he dropped his companion on the Côte d'Ereffe.
The 2019 winner of the Giro della Valle d'Aosta held tenaciously to a 40-second advantage over the top, but while Rigoberto Urán (EF Pro Cycling) chased solo behind, Vansevenant slid out in a turn on the descent and flipped headfirst into a ditch of weeds and bramble.
Fortunately he was able to right himself and remount his bike, but he had lost valuable time. Vansevenant was first caught by Urán, and then the peloton with 400m to the base of the Mur de Huy.
"I felt very good today and started with a lot of confidence, despite making my first presence in a World Tour Classic," Vansevenant said in a team press release.
"I worked in the breakaway, and then, when I realised that the gap was rapidly coming down, I accelerated and continued by myself. I could still tap a good rhythm in the last kilometers, but then I entered in that corner with too much speed and I crashed immediately.
"I got up and then on my bike and continued to push hard, but it was over. It's a pity, because I am confident that without that incident, I could have fought for a good result on the Mur de Huy."
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