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Naesen claims Belgian road race title

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Oliver Naesen was overjoyed to land the biggest result of his career

Oliver Naesen was overjoyed to land the biggest result of his career
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty - Groupe Gobert)

Jérôme Baugnies (Wanty - Groupe Gobert)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC) disappointed with fifth place

Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC) disappointed with fifth place
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott) rode to fourth

Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott) rode to fourth
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC)

Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac) driving the breakaway

Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac) driving the breakaway
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Yves Lampaert does some early work

Yves Lampaert does some early work
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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BMC's Ben Hermans set the pace

BMC's Ben Hermans set the pace
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott) in the bunch

Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott) in the bunch
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Stijn Steels (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise)

Stijn Steels (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) attacks

Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) attacks
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Baptiste Planckaert (Katusha-Alpecin)

Baptiste Planckaert (Katusha-Alpecin)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)

Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen (AG2R) celebrates with brother Lawrence

Oliver Naesen (AG2R) celebrates with brother Lawrence
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen (AG2R) had plenty of celebrating to do

Oliver Naesen (AG2R) had plenty of celebrating to do
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen (AG2R) receives a hug from Vanmarcke

Oliver Naesen (AG2R) receives a hug from Vanmarcke
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen (AG2R) riding the podium

Oliver Naesen (AG2R) riding the podium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)

Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) waving

Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) waving
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Silver medallist Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac)

Silver medallist Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Quick-Step Floors control the tempo

Quick-Step Floors control the tempo
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Quick-Step Floors all over the front of the peloton

Quick-Step Floors all over the front of the peloton
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Frederik Backaert (Wanty - Groupe Gobert)

Frederik Backaert (Wanty - Groupe Gobert)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Kevyn Ista (WB-Veranclassic-Aqua Protect) leads the breakaway

Kevyn Ista (WB-Veranclassic-Aqua Protect) leads the breakaway
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) wondering what could have been

Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) wondering what could have been
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty - Groupe Gobert)

Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty - Groupe Gobert)
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen on the podium

Oliver Naesen on the podium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Naesen had friends and family to celebrate with

Naesen had friends and family to celebrate with
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen on the podium

Oliver Naesen on the podium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen on the podium

Oliver Naesen on the podium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen raises his arm in celebration

Oliver Naesen raises his arm in celebration
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Naesen checks to make sure he got it

Naesen checks to make sure he got it
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The contrasting emotions of first and second place after the sprint for the line

The contrasting emotions of first and second place after the sprint for the line
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Naesen jumps round

Naesen jumps round
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Sep Vanmarcke leads out the sprint

Sep Vanmarcke leads out the sprint
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Naesen kisses the Belgian jersey

Naesen kisses the Belgian jersey
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen with his gold medal

Oliver Naesen with his gold medal
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The final podium

The final podium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen pulls an accidental wheelie as he throws his bike

Oliver Naesen pulls an accidental wheelie as he throws his bike
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen celebrates

Oliver Naesen celebrates
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Quick-Step spent most of the day on the front of the peloton

Quick-Step spent most of the day on the front of the peloton
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Oliver Naesen on the podium

Oliver Naesen on the podium
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)

Oliver Naesen (AG2R) is the new Belgian champion. The 26 year-old won the sprint from a five-man group in Antwerp. Naesen jumped his front wheel in the air and narrowly beat Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac) to the line. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) was third ahead of Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott) and Nathan Van Hooydonck (BMC).

"It's unbelievable. This was the piece of the puzzle that I was waiting for since the spring; it finally all came together. I squeezed out the last bit of energy that was in me during that sprint," Naesen said in the post-race flash interview.

The race started on the same location as the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the historical main square of Antwerp. Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) was the defending champion. After a neutralized start, the riders reached the 17 kilometres long circuit which they had to cover fourteen times, totalling 238 kilometres. The course was completely flat though 1500 metres of cobbles spiced up the challenge at the backend of the course.

Early on, Lotto-Soudal was in a comfortable position. They had Jürgen Roelandts in the breakaway group, allowing them to save all other riders. Roelandts had to work hard as he was only joined by Jonas Rickaert (Sport Vlaanderen) and Kevyn Ista (WB-Veranclassic-Aqua Protect). After six laps of racing the trio enjoyed their maximum lead of 7:30 on the peloton. From there, Tim Declercq (Quick-Step Floors) and Ben Hermans (BMC) joined forces to bring back their deficit.

At 57 kilometres from the finish the trio was caught back. Straight away, the attacks were flying around to create a new race situation. A move with Jelle Wallays (Lotto-Soudal), Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors), Quinten Hermans (Telenet-Fidea Lions), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Tom Van Asbroeck (Cannondale-Scott) was neutralized by the BMC-team. Several solo attempts followed, including a massive move from Philippe Gilbert at forty kilometres from the finish. When hitting the penultimate lap, everybody was still together.

Then, Jens Keukeleire made a move. He was joined by 2015 champion Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise) and a few others. A second group joined up, creating a group of fourteen riders. The second group featured big names, including among others Oliver Naesen, Sep Vanmarcke, Jasper Stuyven, Tim Merlier (Willems Veranda's-Crelan), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Nathan Van Hooydonck and Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors). Suddenly, the peloton was a minute down on the leaders and their race was over. On the cobbles, Naesen accelerated and only Jasper Stuyven, Sep Vanmarcke, Nathan Van Hooydonck and Keukeleire were able to keep up. The Belgian teams were missing out in front.

During the final lap, the five worked well together, keeping the chasers and peloton at distance. On the final passages over the cobbles, Vanmarcke attacked twice but without success. A tired Van Hooydonck led out the sprint ahead of Naesen, Keukeleire, Stuyven and Vanmarcke. Vanmarcke started the sprint from far out, surprising the others. Naesen had the best reaction and waited until the final metres to pass Vanmarcke, throwing his front wheel over the line.

Naesen was massively excited, throwing his sunglasses and helmet in the crowd while celebrating the biggest win of his career. "I felt like I was the strongest rider in the group but then there were three really strong riders. Jens and Jasper are usually faster than me but after such a long, hard race, anything is possible; I was confident about that. Sep started from far out and had a good gap. He did what I did in E3 Harelbeke, while I did what Greg did. I was in the slipstream and came over him on the line. Hopefully this is my breakthrough victory. I knew I was ready for it," Naesen said.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale5:18:29
2Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac
3Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
4Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-Scott0:00:01
5Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:04
6Tim Merlier (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan0:00:47
7Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
8Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:00:48
9Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:01:20
11Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Beobank - Corendon
12Timothy Dupont (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
13Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
14Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
15Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
16Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
17Roy Jans (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
18Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
19Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team
20Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Sunweb
21Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal
22Bert De Backer (Bel) Team Sunweb
23Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
24Alexander Geuens (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice Continental Team
25Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
26Michaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
27Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions
28Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
29Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
30Mathias De Witte (Bel) Cibel - Cebon
31Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
32Christophe Noppe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
33Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
34Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
35Iljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
36Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions
37Robin Stenuit (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
38Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
39Julien Vermote (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
40Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
41Jarl Salomein (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
42Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
43Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension Data
44Maxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect0:01:26
45Olivier Pardini (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
46Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions
47Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
48Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
49Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
50Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Cibel - Cebon
51Brecht Ruyters (Bel) Cibel - Cebon
52Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions
53Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
54Kevin Ista (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect0:01:29
55Emiel Vermeulen (Bel) Roubaix - Lille Metropole
56Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
57Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
58Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
59Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
60Wout Van Aert (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
61Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
62Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
63Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era - Circus0:01:38
64Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:01:46
65Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
66Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:01:53
67Lawrence Naesen (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect0:01:57
68Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
69Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Lotto Soudal
70Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
71Gregory Habeaux (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
72Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
73Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect0:02:33
74Ludwig De Winter (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect0:02:58
75Stijn Devolder (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan0:03:20
76Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal
77Michiel Dieleman (Bel) Cibel - Cebon0:03:27
78Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:04:03
79Michael Goolaerts (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
80Stijn Steels (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:04:06
81Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac0:05:30
DNFRemy Mertz (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFMaxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFThomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFJelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFLouis Vervaeke (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFSander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFEnzo Wouters (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFBen Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
DNFJenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFRobby Cobbaert (Bel) Cibel - Cebon
DNFThomas Degand (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFBoris Vallee (Bel) Fortuneo - Vital Concept
DNFEli Iserbyt (Bel) Marlux Napoleon Games
DNFKevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux Napoleon Games
DNFDieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux Napoleon Games
DNFKlaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux Napoleon Games
DNFJens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice Continental Team
DNFGerry Druyts (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice Continental Team
DNFJulien Stassen (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
DNFRob Peeters (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice Continental Team
DNFLudovic Robeet (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
DNFDennis Coenen (Bel) Cibel - Cebon
DNFQuinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea Lions
DNFDaan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank - Corendon
DNFTom Meeusen (Bel) Beobank - Corendon
DNFDiether Sweeck (Bel) Era - Circus
DNFJoeri Calleeuw (Bel) Roubaix - Lille Metropole
DNFLander Seynaeve (Bel) Roubaix - Lille Metropole
DNFNicolas Vereecken (Bel) Roubaix - Lille Metropole
DNFLaurent Van Den Bak (Bel) LPC
DNFRob Leemans (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice Continental Team
DNFXandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFKenny De Ketele (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFMoreno De Pauw (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFLindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFKevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFEdward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFRuben Pols (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFJonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFJens Wallays (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFAntoine Warnier (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
DNFTom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFAime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFKevin Van Melsen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFGaetan Bille (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFSander Cordeel (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFJappe Jaspers (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFElias Van Breussegem (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFOtto Vergaerde (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFThomas Deruette (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
DNFJimmy Duquennoy (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
DNFFrederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert

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