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De Brabantse Pijl 2019

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Live coverage of the 2019 Brabantse Pijl, the hilly one-day race that bridges the gap between the cobbled and Ardennes Classics.

 

Hello there and welcome to the Cyclingnews live race centre. The cobbled Classics ended on Sunday with Paris-Roubaix, and the Ardennes only really start this coming Sunday with Amstel Gold (even if that's not technically in the Ardennes). But to plug the gap we have De Brabantse Pijl-La Flèche Brabançonne, which sort of acts as a transition. 

105km remaining from 196km

The breakaway riders are:

There are some big hitters out there today. Last year's champion and perennial Ardennes aggressor Tim Wellens is racing, along with Julian Alaphilippe, the Milan-San Remo champion and the outstanding rider in the world this year. Then there's the young sensation Mathieu van der Poel, who was immense in his debut cobbled Classics campaign and is racing here and at Amstel before the spring is out. 

The average speed after two hours was 40.5km/h. The breakaway riders got away early on and quickly built a lead of 4:30, but that has since been reduced after a brief surge in pace in the peloton.

A little word on the route...

The pace is upped in the peloton. They've just climbed Hertstraat for the first time and will also do Holstheide, Ijskelderlaan and Schavei before officially entering the circuit. Anyway, it's hotting up and the gap has ducked below the two-minute mark.

84km remaining from 196km

I've mentioned Alaphilippe, Wellens, and Van der Poel, but there are plenty of other candidates today. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) won the race in 2017, Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First) won the Tour of Flanders 10 days ago, Michael Matthews (Sunweb) can climb and sprint and is in form.

Colbrelli's Bahrain teammates come to share the workload with QuickStep as the gap comes down to 1:20. 

A little more about the race, before things get serious...

74km remaining from 196km

Some news today in that Team Sky will become Team Ineos not at the Tour de Yorkshire but the Tour de Romandie, which starts two days earlier. Well, the name will change, but the new kit will wait for Yorkshire. It's all a bit complicated and strange but we've tried to explain in our story from this morning. 

70km remaining from 196km

The peloton come across the line now and the gap is down to just 35 seconds. 

Lotto Soudal have come to the fore and are now leading the peloton with five riders in a line.

68km remaining from 196km

A timing error, perhaps. The peloton are now counted at 55 seconds back.

Lotto Soudal, whose leader is Wellens, sent a wildcard up the road in Tosh Van der Sande, who goes clear on Hagaard.

Alaphilippe's QuickStep see the move and decide to do the same. 

It's Mikkel Honore for QuickStep, and he links up with Van der Sande.

The breakaway riders hit Hertstraat. It's 700m long, 4.5% average, 8% max. And it's cobbled.

Van der Poel accelerates!

The 24-year-old doesn't like to wait around and puts in a huge surge. 

The bunch strings out to breaking point after Van der Poel's acceleration just over the top of that climb. 

60km remaining from 196km

After one of many sharp descents, the peloton has bunched back up. 

The escapees now head onto Holstheide, which is 955m with an average gradient of 5.4% and maximum of 12%.

And now the peloton hit it and Van der Poel attacks!

57km remaining from 196km

In next to no time, Van der Poel is across to Van der Sande and Honore. 

Pieter Serry tried to respond to that attack but was let floundering. 

Van der Poel comes straight to the front of that trio. His director Michel Cornelisse told us last month that the Dutchman's biggest strength was his ability to recover rapidly from those kind of intense efforts. Here's the full story if you're interested.

57km remaining from 196km

And they're back. So the peloton, which has been strung out and reduced, is now 35 seconds behind the seven-man break. 

Robeet punctures and that's the end of his time in the break. 

Waste of energy from Van der Poel? Perhaps, but then one of his biggest strengths is his natural aggression and his willingness to take the race on from far out. It's what is bound to make him one of the stars of world cycling in the coming years. 

52km remaining from 196km

Hermans accelerates in the peloton. 

Van der Sande looks keen to go again.

The climb sees a further selection in the break. Backaert, De Bondt, Livyns, Planckaert are the only four who remain out front. 

The riders wind through town and head towards the Schavei climb. 

47km remaining from 196km

The pace in the peloton has calmed somewhat.  

De Bondt, Planckaert, Backaert, and Livyns cross the finish line for the second time. 

Onto Hagaard for the break. Backaert leads the way. 

Attacks again in the peloton behind, and again it's Lotto Soudal. Bjorg Lambrecht accelerates for the Belgian team.

Again it's tracked by a QuickStep rider. It's Petr Vakoc. 

It's not a big gap for Lambrecht but plenty of riders have been spat out of the back of the bunch. 

Lambrecht and Vakoc - a former winner of this race, as it goes - are joined by a Sunweb rider. Van der Poel's Corendon-Circus team are sending someone across now.

It's Marc Hirschi for Sunweb and Gianni Vermeersch for Corendon. 

Mitchelton-Scott fire a rider across now. 

It's Cameron Meyer for the Australian team and he's across in no time. 

41km remaining from 196km

Onto Hertstraat now, where they're using the smooth gutter to avoid the cobbles. 

The pace picks up in the peloton on the climb and those chasers are being dragged back. 

It's massively strung out over the top, with plenty of little gaps. 

Bahrain have pulled that Lambrecht group back. 

40km remaining from 196km

Still not digested Paris-Roubaix? Here's our latest podcast in which we dissect 'The Hell of the North' and speak to a number of the key protagonists. 

It's a bit chaotic in the peloton between the climbs, with plenty of accelerations stringing it out before a bit of a lull. 

36km remaining from 196km

We're climbing again, and it's Holstheide, and the peloton strings out once more. No big attack for now. 

As I write that, Daryl Impey attacks. 

Impey draws a couple of riders out. There's no real gap, but the peloton is single file now. Over the top they go.

34km remaining from 196km

De Bondt doesn't want to five up on this and accelerates once more, just as the junction was being made. 

I've thrown plenty of names out there, but there are always more. Take a look at the full start list and let me know who you're backing. Link here

29km remaining from 196km

QuickStep lead onto Ijskelderlaan

Impey attacks again!

The South African has a gap this time. No big reactions in the group behind. 

Impey heads over the top on his own.

QuickStep still on the front of the peloton. No one wants to try and bridge over to Impey at this point. 

Impey snakes through the road that twists around the church in Overijse. He's about to take on the Schavei. 

25km remaining from 196km

Impey hits the climb and springs out of the saddle. His lead is growing. 21 seconds now. 

And now the moves come as the peloton hit the climb. A Neri Sottoli rider reaches out. 

It's Simone Velasco and he has drawn out QuickStep's Dries Devenyns along with a rider from Vital Concept and Corendon-Circus. 

23km remaining from 196km

And now come the peloton. That small move came to nothing. The gap is 22 seconds. 

Impey his Hagaard for the final time. One really brutal stretch here on a narrow road. 

Vakoc leads the way up in the peloton. 

Van der Sande comes through to the front over the top of the climb. 

21km remaining from 196km

19km remaining from 196km

17km remaining from 196km

They turn onto the cobbled climb and the Milan-San Remo winner and pre-race favourite immediately surges clear. 

Wellens follows. 

Matthews looks to come across now.

Van der Poel rips past Matthews on his way to the selection.

That's a big move and a big moment in this race. They reach Impey. 

They have a big gap already and this could be a decisive selection with 16km to go. 

So, the leaders are:

Colbrelli's Bahrain-Merida teammates hit the front and mount the chase. 

15km remaining from 196km

Three climbs to go - Holstheide, Ijskelderlaan, and Schavei.

Bahrain are all-in for the chase here but the leaders are working well together. 

The gap comes down to 21 seconds. 

This is hanging in the balance. It'c coming down to 16 seconds. 

Wellens attacks!

The defending champion senses the advancing peloton and rips out a big attack at the foot of Holstheide. Alaphilippe is first to respond.

11km remaining from 196km

Alaphilippe picks it up again and for a moment it looks like he'll attack but the quartet settle down now. 

10km remaining from 196km

These riders have already invested and their best chance will be to stay away. Once one looks to sit in and conserve, though, the move can crumble. 

EF hit the front of the now-25-rider peloton for Bettiol. 

Still 20 seconds for the quartet with 9km to go.

The four leaders are still riding strongly and it looks like plenty of matches have been burned in the chase behind. 

This could be it... the impetus drains from the chase as the riders in the main peloton - albeit a very reduced one - all look around at each other. 

The peloton has in fact split in two. 

7km remaining from 196km

6km remaining from 196km

Weening's attack has drawn a six-rider chase group out, but there's no collaboration, with representatives from QuickStep, Lotto Soudal and Sunweb. They'll just be marking, and Weening goes again. 

4km remaining from 196km

Alaphilippe attacks over the top!

Van der Poel reacts. Gap to Wellens and Matthews

Wellens gets back on. Matthews now, too, but he looks to be suffering. 

Alaphilippe and Van der Poel look cool and composed. 

3km remaining from 196km

The quartet look around but keep rolling through as they tick off the lightly downhill roads past the church and towards the foot of the climb. 

Wellens attacks, sensing he needs to go from range

Matthews is straight on it and the group continues together. 

Into the final 2km. 

The gap is still just 20 seconds and they keep looking over their shoulders.

A brief dig from Wellens but it's short-lived.

They swing onto the cobbles now at the foot of Schavei. Here we go!

1km remaining from 196km

Van der Poel is on the front and looks around. No big attacks just yet.

Matthews come through to the front now. And accelerates!

Van der Poel on the wheel, Alaphilippe, then Wellens.

They're all still together. 

The climb continues to drag into the left-hander and the final 200 metres.

Lambrecht attacks from the chase group but it's going to be too late

Here we go then. Sprint for the win

Van der Poel launches it

And takes it!

Mathieu van der Poel wins De Brabantse Pijl

Alaphilippe was second but couldn't match the Dutchman's sprint. Wellens edges Matthews for third.

Van der Poel slumps to the ground beyond the finish line. What a ride, and what a rider. To win that against those riders, having already ripped it up with some big attacks earlier in the day....simply extraordinary. The is his first classics campaign on the road, and he has taken it by storm. A star has well and truly been born this spring, and we've still got Amstel to come this weekend. 

It's just an incredible sprint. Alaphilippe, who won a bunch kick at Tirreno and then won Milan-San Remo, cannot get near him. 

Matthews isn't happy. He found himself up against the barriers as Alaphilippe moved slightly right into Van der Poel's slipstream, and had to hold up to avoid crashing. He raised his arm in remonstration with the Frenchman as they crossed the line. It's difficult to ssee how Van der Poel would have been beaten but that certainly took Matthews out of the equation. 

Top 10

Van der Poel speaks

Here's our report page

This is your finish line shot

Van der Poel's victory comes 34 years after his father, Adri, won this same race. He's also Raymond Poulidor's grandson. Some genes...

That's it from us for today. A great race. Join us again here on Sunday for live coverage of Amstel Gold Race, where Van der Poel will be out in force once again. In the meantime, keep an eye on Cyclingnews for all the news and reaction from the racing, and the build-up to the Ardennes. 

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