Hermans holds off pack for Brabantse Pijl win

Ben Hermans (BMC) held off the chasers with a huge effort on the final climb to win De Brabantse Pijl- La Flèche Brabançonne.

The Belgian race traditionally marks the switch from the cobbled Classics to the Ardennes Classics and the tough, twisting final circuits usually inspire some aggressive racing.

Hermans was in a late attack with David Tanner (IAM Cycling) that seemed doomed to be caught but he dug deep and managed to win alone, as the chasers scrambled for the placings. Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) tried to lead out the sprint in pursuit of Hermans but could only finish second. 2014 winner and perhaps the BMC team leader for the race, Philippe Gilbert, finished third. Tony Gallopin (Lotto Soudal) was fourth and Davide Rebellin (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) was fifth.

Hermans needed time to catch his breath and understand what he had achieved before riding to the podium area. It was only the third win of his professional career, and the first since taking the Trofeo Inca in Mallorca back in 2011.

"The race was really hard in the beginning but I could stay on the wheels and save energy," he said. "I’ve done this race several times and I’d suffered in the past. But I told Philippe (Gilbert) that (I felt good) and said he should tell me if he wants to me to make the race hard and go in a counter-attack. That’s what I did and it went all good and I could win the race."

"I was very scared of being caught. You don’t have many chances to win a race in this way, if you’re not explosive and you don’t have a sprint like Philippe, you don’t have many chances. I was in a good position and had to push all the watts I had and lucky it was enough."

Matthews was disappointed to finish second for a second consecutive year but promised to try again in 2016.

"I had really good legs today and my team positioned me really well but unfortunately I had no teammates left in the last 15km. I just had to play my cards hoping that another team as going to bring it back. Unfortunately I won the sprint to the line but it was second, not for first."

"This is a race that suits me and that I enjoy racing. It’s really nice weather today and it’s a positive race to prepare for the Ardennes too. I’ll be back next year, trying to win it," he said.

How it happened

The 205km race route includes 26 tough climbs, with a loop south of Brussels via Waterloo after the start in the centre of Leuven, east of the capital. The climbs come thick and fast in the second half of the race on the tough 27km circuit that is covered four times.

Kirsch was dropped quite quickly as the climbs started to take their toll but the other two ploughed on, making the peloton chase hard and causing a natural selection out of the back of the race. They were eventually caught with 30km to go but other attacks quickly formed as the huge crowds cheered them up the climbs.

Tanner and Hermans went away as BMC set up its tactical plan for Gilbert, with others setting off in pursuit of the pair. The chasing group of eight riders included Fabio Felline (Trek Factory Racing) and Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) but the peloton was preparing for the final and pulled back mid-way through the final lap.

Only Hermans and Tanner remained out front and had a 30-second lead with seven kilometres to go. It seemed they would be caught and Tanner faded on a climb, but Hermans powered on alone. Behind the Etixx-QuickStep team set up an attack by Julian Alaphilippe but he was quickly caught as CCC Sprandi rode for Rebellin and BMC protected Gilbert.

Hermans focused on reaching the finishing straight and then eased up to savour his solo victory. Matthews lead out the sprint and won it well but it was second place, with Gilbert and the rest of the chase group just behind him.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team4:45:14
2Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge0:00:02
3Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 2 - Cell 2
4Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto SoudalRow 3 - Cell 2
5Davide Rebellin (Ita) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 4 - Cell 2
6Nathan Haas (Aus) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek Factory RacingRow 6 - Cell 2
8Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Team Roompot Oranje PelotonRow 7 - Cell 2
9Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 8 - Cell 2
10Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM CyclingRow 9 - Cell 2
11Paul Martens (Ger) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 10 - Cell 2
12Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Team EuropcarRow 11 - Cell 2
13Rudy Molard (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 12 - Cell 2
14Rasmus Guldhammer (Den) Cult Energy Pro CyclingRow 13 - Cell 2
15Michel Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot Oranje PelotonRow 14 - Cell 2
16Javier Megias Leal (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk0:00:14
17Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:00:16
18Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka0:00:19
19Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 18 - Cell 2
20Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 19 - Cell 2
21Floris De Tier (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:00:24
22Luis Angel Mate Mardones (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 21 - Cell 2
23Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM CyclingRow 22 - Cell 2
24Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:00:28
25Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:00:32
26Gianni Meersman (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 25 - Cell 2
27Huub Duyn (Ned) Team Roompot Oranje Peloton0:00:38
28Marco Canola (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling0:00:42
29Paul Voss (Ger) Bora-Argon 180:00:47
30David Tanner (Aus) IAM CyclingRow 29 - Cell 2
31Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Argon 180:00:52
32Serge Pauwels (Bel) MTN - Qhubeka0:00:53
33Sander Armee (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:01:02
34Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 33 - Cell 2
35Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 34 - Cell 2
36Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 35 - Cell 2
37Damiano Caruso (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 36 - Cell 2
38Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) IAM Cycling0:01:05
39Armindo Fonseca (Fra) Bretagne-Séché EnvironnementRow 38 - Cell 2
40Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:01:09
41Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) SoutheastRow 40 - Cell 2
42Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché Environnement0:01:23
43Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:01:32
44Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 43 - Cell 2
45Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF0:01:45
46Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar0:01:51
47David Lozano Riba (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk0:02:02
48Fabio Taborre (Ita) Androni Giocattoli0:02:06
49Mike Terpstra (Ned) Team Roompot Oranje PelotonRow 48 - Cell 2
50Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli0:02:16
51Julien Vermote (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:02:31
52Simone Ponzi (Ita) Southeast0:02:53
53Marc Demaar (Ned) Team Roompot Oranje PelotonRow 52 - Cell 2
54Dominik Nerz (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 53 - Cell 2
55Stefan Schumacher (Ger) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 54 - Cell 2
56Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Argon 18Row 55 - Cell 2
57Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN - Qhubeka0:02:58
58Kristof Vandewalle (Bel) Trek Factory RacingRow 57 - Cell 2
59Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 58 - Cell 2
60Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:03:03
61Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 60 - Cell 2
62Clément Venturini (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 61 - Cell 2
63Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar0:03:22
64Francis De Greef (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:04:39
65Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk0:05:53
66Arthur Van Overberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 65 - Cell 2
67Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Cult Energy Pro CyclingRow 66 - Cell 2
68Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo NordiskRow 67 - Cell 2
69Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro CyclingRow 68 - Cell 2
70Reinier Honig (Ned) Team Roompot Oranje PelotonRow 69 - Cell 2
71Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 70 - Cell 2
72Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro CyclingRow 71 - Cell 2
73Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek Factory RacingRow 72 - Cell 2
74Patrick Schelling (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 73 - Cell 2
75Natnael Berhane (Eri) MTN - QhubekaRow 74 - Cell 2
76Dennis Vanendert (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 75 - Cell 2
77Yannick Eijssen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 76 - Cell 2
78Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18Row 77 - Cell 2
79Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 78 - Cell 2
80Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 79 - Cell 2
81Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 80 - Cell 2
82Bartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 81 - Cell 2
83Branislau Samoilau (Blr) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 82 - Cell 2
84Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 83 - Cell 2
85Manuel Senni (Ita) BMC Racing TeamRow 84 - Cell 2
86Florian Vachon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché EnvironnementRow 85 - Cell 2
87Amaël Moinard (Fra) BMC Racing TeamRow 86 - Cell 2
88Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 87 - Cell 2
89Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 88 - Cell 2
90Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 89 - Cell 2
91Matej Mohoric (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:10:14
92Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 91 - Cell 2
93Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro CyclingRow 92 - Cell 2
94Thierry Hupond (Fra) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 93 - Cell 2
95Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 94 - Cell 2
96Marco Benfatto (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 95 - Cell 2
97Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 96 - Cell 2
98Nick Van Der Lijke (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 97 - Cell 2
99Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN - QhubekaRow 98 - Cell 2
100Matteo Busato (Ita) SoutheastRow 99 - Cell 2
101Caleb Fairly (USA) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 100 - Cell 2
102Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto SoudalRow 101 - Cell 2
103Thomas Degand (Bel) IAM CyclingRow 102 - Cell 2
104Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin0:10:35
105Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 104 - Cell 2
106Federico Zurlo (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Pro CyclingRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFCampbell Flakemore (Aus) BMC Racing TeamRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFJan Bakelants (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFBiel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFSébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFNikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFYves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFMatthias Brandle (Aut) IAM CyclingRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFPirmin Lang (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFThomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 114 - Cell 2
DNFGert Dockx (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 115 - Cell 2
DNFLouis Vervaeke (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 116 - Cell 2
DNFDamien Howson (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 117 - Cell 2
DNFBrett Lancaster (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 118 - Cell 2
DNFChristian Meier (Can) Orica GreenEdgeRow 119 - Cell 2
DNFCameron Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdgeRow 120 - Cell 2
DNFSvein Tuft (Can) Orica GreenEdgeRow 121 - Cell 2
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 122 - Cell 2
DNFRamunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling TeamRow 123 - Cell 2
DNFCheng Ji (Chn) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 124 - Cell 2
DNFFredrik Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-AlpecinRow 125 - Cell 2
DNFBrian Bulgac (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 126 - Cell 2
DNFBarry Markus (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 127 - Cell 2
DNFMoreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 128 - Cell 2
DNFMike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 129 - Cell 2
DNFGert Steegmans (Bel) Trek Factory RacingRow 130 - Cell 2
DNFJasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory RacingRow 131 - Cell 2
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory RacingRow 132 - Cell 2
DNFCalvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory RacingRow 133 - Cell 2
DNFFrancesco Chicchi (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 134 - Cell 2
DNFCarlos Galviz (Ven) Androni GiocattoliRow 135 - Cell 2
DNFAlberto Nardin (Ita) Androni GiocattoliRow 136 - Cell 2
DNFFrantisek Padour (Cze) Androni GiocattoliRow 137 - Cell 2
DNFSonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 138 - Cell 2
DNFSimone Andreetta (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 139 - Cell 2
DNFNicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 140 - Cell 2
DNFAndrea Piechele (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 141 - Cell 2
DNFStefano Pirazzi (Ita) Bardiani CSFRow 142 - Cell 2