Naesen claims Belgian road race title

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

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale5:18:29
2Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Cannondale-DrapacRow 1 - Cell 2
3Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 2 - Cell 2
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 - BaloiseRow 6 - Cell 2
8Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:00:48
9Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 8 - Cell 2
10Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:01:20
11Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Beobank - CorendonRow 10 - Cell 2
12Timothy Dupont (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 11 - Cell 2
13Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 12 - Cell 2
14Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 13 - Cell 2
15Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 14 - Cell 2
16Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 15 - Cell 2
17Roy Jans (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua ProtectRow 16 - Cell 2
18Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 17 - Cell 2
19Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 18 - Cell 2
20Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team SunwebRow 19 - Cell 2
21Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 20 - Cell 2
22Bert De Backer (Bel) Team SunwebRow 21 - Cell 2
23Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 22 - Cell 2
24Alexander Geuens (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice Continental TeamRow 23 - Cell 2
25Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro TeamRow 24 - Cell 2
26Michaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 25 - Cell 2
27Daan Soete (Bel) Telenet Fidea LionsRow 26 - Cell 2
28Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 27 - Cell 2
29Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 28 - Cell 2
30Mathias De Witte (Bel) Cibel - CebonRow 29 - Cell 2
31Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 30 - Cell 2
32Christophe Noppe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 31 - Cell 2
33Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 32 - Cell 2
34Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 33 - Cell 2
35Iljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 34 - Cell 2
36Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Fidea LionsRow 35 - Cell 2
37Robin Stenuit (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 36 - Cell 2
38Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 37 - Cell 2
39Julien Vermote (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 38 - Cell 2
40Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 39 - Cell 2
41Jarl Salomein (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 40 - Cell 2
42Laurens De Plus (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 41 - Cell 2
43Serge Pauwels (Bel) Dimension DataRow 42 - Cell 2
44Maxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect0:01:26
45Olivier Pardini (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua ProtectRow 44 - Cell 2
46Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Fidea LionsRow 45 - Cell 2
47Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 46 - Cell 2
48Floris De Tier (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 47 - Cell 2
49Pieter Serry (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 48 - Cell 2
50Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Cibel - CebonRow 49 - Cell 2
51Brecht Ruyters (Bel) Cibel - CebonRow 50 - Cell 2
52Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Fidea LionsRow 51 - Cell 2
53Jan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 52 - Cell 2
54Kevin Ista (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect0:01:29
55Emiel Vermeulen (Bel) Roubaix - Lille MetropoleRow 54 - Cell 2
56Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 55 - Cell 2
57Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 56 - Cell 2
58Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 57 - Cell 2
59Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 58 - Cell 2
60Wout Van Aert (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 59 - Cell 2
61Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNl-JumboRow 60 - Cell 2
62Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 61 - Cell 2
63Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Era - Circus0:01:38
64Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:01:46
65Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 64 - Cell 2
66Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Floors0:01:53
67Lawrence Naesen (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect0:01:57
68Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-AlpecinRow 67 - Cell 2
69Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 68 - Cell 2
70Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 69 - Cell 2
71Gregory Habeaux (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua ProtectRow 70 - Cell 2
72Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua ProtectRow 71 - Cell 2
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 SoudalRow 75 - Cell 2
77Michiel Dieleman (Bel) Cibel - Cebon0:03:27
78Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:04:03
79Michael Goolaerts (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 78 - Cell 2
80Stijn Steels (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:04:06
81Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac0:05:30
DNFRemy Mertz (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 81 - Cell 2
DNFMaxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 82 - Cell 2
DNFThomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 83 - Cell 2
DNFJelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 84 - Cell 2
DNFLouis Vervaeke (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 85 - Cell 2
DNFSander Armee (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 86 - Cell 2
DNFEnzo Wouters (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 87 - Cell 2
DNFBen Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 88 - Cell 2
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Quick-Step FloorsRow 89 - Cell 2
DNFJenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-AlpecinRow 90 - Cell 2
DNFRobby Cobbaert (Bel) Cibel - CebonRow 91 - Cell 2
DNFThomas Degand (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 92 - Cell 2
DNFBoris Vallee (Bel) Fortuneo - Vital ConceptRow 93 - Cell 2
DNFEli Iserbyt (Bel) Marlux Napoleon GamesRow 94 - Cell 2
DNFKevin Pauwels (Bel) Marlux Napoleon GamesRow 95 - Cell 2
DNFDieter Vanthourenhout (Bel) Marlux Napoleon GamesRow 96 - Cell 2
DNFKlaas Vantornout (Bel) Marlux Napoleon GamesRow 97 - Cell 2
DNFJens Adams (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice Continental TeamRow 98 - Cell 2
DNFGerry Druyts (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice Continental TeamRow 99 - Cell 2
DNFJulien Stassen (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua ProtectRow 100 - Cell 2
DNFRob Peeters (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice Continental TeamRow 101 - Cell 2
DNFLudovic Robeet (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua ProtectRow 102 - Cell 2
DNFDennis Coenen (Bel) Cibel - CebonRow 103 - Cell 2
DNFQuinten Hermans (Bel) Telenet Fidea LionsRow 104 - Cell 2
DNFDaan Hoeyberghs (Bel) Beobank - CorendonRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFTom Meeusen (Bel) Beobank - CorendonRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFDiether Sweeck (Bel) Era - CircusRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFJoeri Calleeuw (Bel) Roubaix - Lille MetropoleRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFLander Seynaeve (Bel) Roubaix - Lille MetropoleRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFNicolas Vereecken (Bel) Roubaix - Lille MetropoleRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFLaurent Van Den Bak (Bel) LPCRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFRob Leemans (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice Continental TeamRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFXandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFKenny De Ketele (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 114 - Cell 2
DNFMoreno De Pauw (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 115 - Cell 2
DNFLindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 116 - Cell 2
DNFKevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 117 - Cell 2
DNFEdward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 118 - Cell 2
DNFRuben Pols (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 119 - Cell 2
DNFJonas Rickaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 120 - Cell 2
DNFJens Wallays (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 121 - Cell 2
DNFAntoine Warnier (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua ProtectRow 122 - Cell 2
DNFTom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 123 - Cell 2
DNFAime De Gendt (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 124 - Cell 2
DNFKevin Van Melsen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 125 - Cell 2
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 126 - Cell 2
DNFGaetan Bille (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 127 - Cell 2
DNFSander Cordeel (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 128 - Cell 2
DNFJappe Jaspers (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 129 - Cell 2
DNFElias Van Breussegem (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 130 - Cell 2
DNFOtto Vergaerde (Bel) Veranda's Willems CrelanRow 131 - Cell 2
DNFThomas Deruette (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua ProtectRow 132 - Cell 2
DNFJimmy Duquennoy (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua ProtectRow 133 - Cell 2
DNFFrederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 134 - Cell 2

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