Tom Pidcock claimed his first major road victory with Ineos Grenadiers, taking out the Brabantse Pijl ahead of the more experienced Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates).
The slight Briton timed his sprint perfectly from the leading trio - patiently waiting as a chasing group began to close in and letting Van Aert start the surge for the line.
Pidcock came off the Gent-Wevelgem winner's wheel with ease and punched the air in celebration.
Trentin, clearly out of gas, drifted in for third.
"I know that sprinting at the end of races like that is not like sprinting for a town sign. I always go into a sprint with confidence," Pidcock said after the race.
He knew that the chasing group, led to the line by Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe), was coming in fast but bided his time.
"I was getting nervous, they were coming from behind. I waited and waited. Wout went - I kind of got a little boxed in and then rushed to Wout and came past him."
Having taken a podium in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and fifth at Strade Bianche, it was only a matter of time before Pidcock - a U23 world champion in cyclo-cross and mountain bike - climbed onto the top step of a road podium. To win ahead of a rider like Van Aert makes it even more remarkable, but Pidcock suggested that the Belgian may have done too much work.
"Wout was pulling super hard every time we got away. I was doing the same watts to get on his wheel. He was pulling super hard, but maybe too hard in the end.
"I knew I was going well into this race, I had a good week's training with no interruptions. I knew I was going to be good and it's nice to actually be good until the finish."
The lumpy circuit in Overijse was peppered with short, steep climbs, with five in each of the three local laps. Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers closed in on the early attackers on the penultimate circuit before the eventual podium finishers put in their first attack.
Pidcock, Van Aert and Trentin linked up briefly with the earlier escapees but then, after Trentin put in a solo attack with 27km to go. Pidcock and Van Aert waited until the final lap to bridge across and worked together until the final few hundred metres to hold off the rest.
"We showed we were the three strongest riders in the race - it's a deserved win," Trentin said of Pidcock's effort.
Van Aert was disappointed to miss out on a win but said it was a fair fight. "Only Tom was better," Van Aert said. "I felt that a few times with his accelerations. In the sprint my legs filled up and he came over the top.
"It does suck that I missed out on the win again. I was in the selection again but I also came up short again. That's not nice."
How it unfolded
Riders rolled out of the historic centre of Leuven under overcast skies and chilly spring temperatures and got off to a quick start to warm up the legs.
The early breakaway went clear not long after the start, with Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels p/b KTM), Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe), Julian Mertens (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles), Anders Skaarseth (Uno-X), and Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal) escaping first, and after a lengthy chase they were joined by Emmanuel Morin (Cofidis) and Kevin Van Melsen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux).
The peloton allowed the leaders to gain over six minutes before getting to work reeling them back after the midpoint of the 201.7km race.
First Overijse lap
Once they entered the local laps in Overijse after 120km of racing the gap had been slashed in half to 3:25 with Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates) and Robert Stannard (Team BikeExchange) attacking out of the peloton in pursuit on the first ascent of the newly resurfaced but still steep Moskesstraat.
Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quickstep) and Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) bridged across to Stannard and Bystrøm to create a four-man chasing group dangling tantalisingly ahead off the peloton with 65km to go.
Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix) then attacked and opened up a gap to the field as the leaders held an advantage of 1:47. He gained two companions in Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroën) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) as the group of four chasers added to their lead, now 40 seconds up on the main bunch.
After the Hertstraat with 59km to go, Van Melsen had to let go of the leaders. Coquard and then Morin then lost touch with the leaders on the Moskestraat, while further down the climb, the four chasers caught Van Melsen. When the peloton got to the top of the climb, it was 37 seconds from the leaders to the Bystrøm group, 1:16 to Teuns' group and 1:32 to the peloton.
On the Holstheide with 52km to go, the Teuns group made it up to Bystrøm's as Morin was caught to make an eight-man chase. Just behind, Eddie Dunbar (Ineos Grenadiers) put in a stinging attack, pulling away an elite group with Van Aert, Matthews and others but the move was marked out of existence.
With 48km to go, the leaders were 1:38 up the road and the seven chasers in no-man's land in between. On the S-Bocht, the leaders began to come unglued, with Mertens dropped and Meeus and Van Moer having to chase as Leknessund drove the pace.
Two to go
With two laps remaining, the eight-man chase was at 22 seconds and the bunch at 1:12. It soon became nine as Mertens linked up. Meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers conspired to bring the gap below the minute mark to the group of now five leaders.
On the fast approach to the Hertstraat with 38km to go, a massive crash disrupted the peloton, with a pair of Deceuninck-Quickstep riders, Luxembourg champion Kevin Geniets all coming to grief when an EF-Nippo rider touched wheels and went down in the middle of the bunch.
Matthews was held up in the melee while up ahead, Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) went on the attack.
The leaders, chasers and Van Aert's trio all came together with 33km to go to make it 16 at the front. They had 24 seconds on a reduced peloton as Cosnefroy put in a dig on the Holstheide with 30km to go, not getting a gap but shattering the group and leaving only ten remaining.
In a curious move, Trentin clipped off the front with 27km to go and gained a dozen seconds as the nine chasers couldn't agree who would work. This allowed the group of dropped riders to bring them in sight.
On the final lap, it was Trentin, 18 seconds ahead of the Van Aert group, being joined by Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) while the rest of the chasers were in sight of the peloton about a minute down on Trentin.
Trentin's gap was at 25 seconds as the chasers reached the Hertsraat but Pidcock and Van Aert surged on the climb, forcing Stannard and Cosnefroy to lead the chase. Their move lopped 12 seconds off Trentin's advantage.
There were still three climbs to go and the peloton not entirely out of reach as Cofidis' Christoph Laporte surged but 52 seconds was a big ask.
Van Aert and Pidcock brought Trentin to heel ahead of the Moskestraat while the chase - led mainly by Cavagna - kept the trio to 10 seconds.
The climbs began to bite as Van Aert led the trio up the 25th ascent, the Moskestraat. Teuns could see the head of the race and surged with Cosnefroy, distanced their companions, and set off in pursuit of the leaders.
On the Holstheide with 8km to go, there were mere seconds between the three leaders, two chasers and remnants of the escape but Pidcock, Van Aert and Trentin's relentless pace broke the others. Cosnefroy and Teuns went back to the chase, a distant 30 seconds behind with 5km to go. The podium was up the road.
Ahead of the S-Bocht, Pidcock tightened his shoes, Trentin drifted to the back of the trio, leaving Van Aert to lead the way into the final kilometre.
The leaders looked back to see Cosnefroy attacking down the climb and Trentin eased to the front. With 350m to go, he was closing in but Van Aert opened up his sprint early. Pidcock used his draft to get pulled away and had enough to beat the Belgian.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers||4:36:27|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma|
|3||Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||0:00:02|
|4||Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:00:07|
|5||Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo|
|6||Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|7||Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious|
|8||Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|9||Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix|
|10||Andreas Leknessund (Nor) Team DSM||0:00:12|
|11||Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:25|
|12||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team||0:00:48|
|13||Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|14||Valentin Madouas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|15||Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|16||Sylvain Moniquet (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|17||Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos||0:00:51|
|18||Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis||0:00:53|
|19||Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|20||Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|21||Aurélien Paret Peintre (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|22||Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|23||Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|24||Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix|
|25||Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal|
|26||Simon Carr (GBr) EF Education-Nippo|
|27||Sander Armée (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|28||Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|29||Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|30||Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|31||Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers|
|32||Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie|
|33||Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange|
|34||Luc Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal WB|
|35||Rob Power (Aus) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|36||Floris De Tier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|37||Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious|
|38||Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo|
|39||Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation|
|40||Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|41||Cyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM||0:01:10|
|42||Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo||0:01:17|
|43||Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:01:20|
|44||Frederik Wandahl (Den) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:01:22|
|45||Stokbro Andreas Nielsen (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|46||Valentin Ferron (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|47||Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis|
|48||Kevin Vermaerke (USA) Team DSM|
|49||Henri Vandenabeele (Bel) Team DSM|
|50||Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates|
|51||Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation|
|52||Ryan Gibbons (RSA) UAE Team Emirates|
|53||Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|54||Connor Brown (NZl) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|55||Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|56||Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|57||Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|58||Paul Martens (Ger) Jumbo-Visma||0:01:25|
|59||Bob Jungels (Lux) AG2R Citroën Team|
|60||Kobe Goossens (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|61||Ben Tulett (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix|
|62||Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:01:28|
|63||Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB||0:01:31|
|64||Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious|
|65||Stephen Williams (GBr) Bahrain Victorious||0:01:43|
|66||Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM||0:02:04|
|67||Alex Howes (USA) EF Education-Nippo||0:02:18|
|68||Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||0:02:19|
|69||Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|70||Anders Skaarseth (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|71||Jonas Abrahamsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||0:02:27|
|72||Syver Wærsted (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|73||Benjamin Thomas (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||0:03:11|
|74||Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-up Nation||0:06:34|
|75||Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Jumbo-Visma|
|76||Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|77||Luke Rowe (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|78||Alexis Renard (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation|
|79||Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|80||Aaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|81||Marijn van den Berg (Ned) Groupama-FDJ|
|82||Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Ineos Grenadiers|
|83||Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ|
|84||Sébastien Grignard (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|85||Eddy Fine (Fra) Cofidis|
|86||Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|87||Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education-Nippo|
|88||Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal WB||0:06:38|
|89||Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:06:42|
|90||Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|91||Rune Herregodts (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise||0:07:00|
|92||Patrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|93||Alexander Konychev (Ita) Team BikeExchange|
|94||Kenny Molly (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|95||Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|96||Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|97||Antonio Tiberi (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:07:13|
|98||Leonardo Basso (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers||0:08:53|
|99||Michal Golas (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers|
|100||Edo Goldstein (Isr) Israel Start-Up Nation|
|101||Barnabás Peák (Hun) Team BikeExchange|
|102||Tom Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal WB|
|103||Ian Garrison (USA) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|104||Emmanuel Morin (Fra) Cofidis|
|105||Martin Bugge Urianstad (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|106||Kristian Kulset (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|107||Marlon Gaillard (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|108||Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) EF Education-Nippo|
|109||Julian Mertens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|110||Jack Bauer (NZl) Team BikeExchange||0:09:12|
|111||Alex Edmondson (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:09:16|
|112||Felix Gall (Aut) Team DSM|
|DSQ||Gijs Leemreize (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|DNF||Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|DNF||Mikkel Honoré (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|DNF||Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|DNF||Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Odd Christian Eiking (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Damien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|DNF||Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|DNF||Eros Capecchi (Ita) Bahrain Victorious|
|DNF||Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious|
|DNF||Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Martin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Thomas Champion (Fra) Cofidis|
|DNF||Nathan Haas (Aus) Cofidis|
|DNF||Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis|
|DNF||Hideto Nakane (Jpn) EF Education-Nippo|
|DNF||Logan Owen (USA) EF Education-Nippo|
|DNF||Julius van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-Nippo|
|DNF||Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ|
|DNF||William Bonnet (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|DNF||Cameron Wurf (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Norman Vahtra (Est) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Finn Fisher-Black (NZl) Jumbo-Visma|
|DNF||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|DNF||Marco Brenner (Ger) Team DSM|
|DNF||Martin Salmon (Ger) Team DSM|
|DNF||Leon Heinschke (Ger) Team DSM|
|DNF||Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|DNF||Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|DNF||Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Michel Ries (Lux) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Petr Vakoc (Cze) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Boris Vallee (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Aaron Van Poucke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Ward Vanhoof (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Frederik Backaert (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Bert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Julien Morice (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Alexandre Geniez (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Florian Maitre (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
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