Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews coverage of the 2022 De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne.
As the Cyclingnews blimp takes height, the riders are completing the sign-on and gathering for the roll out from central Leuven.
There's a party atmosphere as Alaphilippe signs on and recalls winning his second world title in Leuven last year.
The Wolfpack salutes you from Leuven, the start town of #BP22! pic.twitter.com/kjvpkr6m2AApril 13, 2022
It's raining in Belgium but it is not cold. However the conditions should make the race even more selective.
Julian Alaphilippe is riding Brabantse Pijl as a warm-up for a shot at a fourth La Flèche Wallonne title and a first Liège-Bastogne-Liège victory after several near misses at La Doyenne.
The Frenchman is the headline name at Wednesday's race, which this year occupies a unique position in the calendar. It follows Amstel Gold Race but comes before Paris-Roubaix due to the French Presidential election. Alaphilippe will not ride Paris-Roubaix, his spring campaign is focused on the hilly Ardennes.
Alaphilippe headlines a QuickStep-AlphaVinyl squad desperate for a taste of Classics success having so far failed to make an impact or even take a podium spot during the recent Flanders Classics. He's in fine form, though, and has stayed free of the illnesses that have hit his teammates through the spring.
To read our full race preview, click below.
The riders roll out of Ladeuzeplein in Leuven. The views of the 15th-century town hall are incredible.
Filip Maciejuk of Bahrain Victorious is a late non-starter.
Daniel Ostanek is in Leuven for Cyclingnews and spoke to several riders at the start.
Remco Evenepoel comes from the other side of Brussels and knows the race route well. QuickStep are under pressure to win but the young Belgian is not feeling the stress.
"There is pressure on us from the outside, but we don't feel it ourselves, because this team has just had a good week in the Basque Country," he said.
"Of course we would love to win. I love this region and this route. A mix of Flanders and the Ardennes."
The riders face a 4.5km neutralised sector and then a 204.8km race.
The 25 short climbs start after 60km of the race.
When the flag dropped, an attack came straight away.
The race route heads south towards and beyond Waterloo and then returns to Overijse for the finishing circuits.
After 7.5Km the break already has a lead of 2:00. They have gone!
The riders in the break are:
Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB)
Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH)
195km to go
This was the roll out in the rain.
Last but (of course) not least, also the Men edition of @DeBrabantsePijl started 👊C’mon guys 💪@Filobaroncini @tonygallopin @AlexanderKamp1 @TolhoekAntwan @JulienBernard17 @Jakobegholm1 pic.twitter.com/bLnvYexuLUApril 13, 2022
Thanks for the welcome, Leuven!#BP22 pic.twitter.com/2wb85xwAmjApril 13, 2022
The gap is up to 2:45.
This was the roll out from a different view.
🇧🇪 #BP22And they're off racing for over 200 kilometres with @PhilippeGilbert and @Tim_Wellens on the front rows 🚩 pic.twitter.com/HfCQnzTFQJApril 13, 2022
190km to go
The trio of attackers lead by 3:00.
Will it be 2 from 2 for Tom?
#BPmen 2 for @INEOSGrenadiers's @Tompid today? 😏 #BP22 pic.twitter.com/4tylvwz9I8April 13, 2022
There are 50km to go in the women's race and a dangerous attack has gone clear after lots of failed attempts earlier.
The peloton is riding steady and so the attack's lead is up to 4:00.
The peloton has to be careful because the race is 204km today, not the usual 250km+ of the monuments.
Ineos Grenadiers has generously taken up the chase at the head of the peloton.
That could be a sign that Pidcock is on a good day.
Daniel Ostanek spoke to Michael Matthews before the start. The BikeExchange leader has been struggling to find peak form after suffering with COVID but is riding to win today.
“I think I’ll be going for the win," he said.
"We're here to win, we're here to do a good race, we've got a strong team to be on the offensive side.
"Hopefully we don't have to chase anything on the circuits. We'll be throwing guys up the road to see what can happen and yeah, I'll try and do my thing in the final."
165km to go
Cameron Wurf is doing the early work for Ineos.
Ineos Grenadiers also have Amstel Gold Race winner in their roster.
It should be Ineos - v - QuickStep later today.
Matthews won a stage at the Volta a Catalunya.
Matthews was seventh at the Amstel Gold Race. He was happy but also concerned about his form.
"I was happy to be in the front group at the Amstel Gold Race, all the strong, top ten guys were in the group. Unfortunately once I was there, I couldn't do much. I was fairly pinned after the climb that split the bunch," he explained.
"This season's been like that, I can make the split but from there, I can't do much more. Hopefully every single race is progressing better and better. I had Corona at the start of the year after Mallorca and then the sickness in Catalunya. It's been unfortunate because I'm not able to get my full potential out of the moment.
"I can I can feel I'm there. My legs want to go but something's holding me back. Whether it's the virus that is still in the body or not, we don't really know. We have to continue doing checks to see what's going on but it, seems to be getting better and better."
Despite his issues, Matthews confirmed he will ride Fleche-Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege next week.
165km to go
The pace has been fast but steady so far on the rolling roads south of Brussels, with the break covering 39.5 km in the first hour of racing.
Good vibes and happy faces at the start in @stadleuven. 🌈😁 Let's go 🚀 #BP22 #BPmen pic.twitter.com/nDmx5pIi2HApril 13, 2022
There are 27km to go in the women's race and the front group has split.
We have Demi Vollering and Pauliena Rooijakkers on the move. The chasers are 200m behind but this could be a tactical finale.
QuickStep are also helping with the chase of the attack, with Davide Ballerini doing the hard graft on the front along with Wurf for Ineos.
In the women's race, Demi Vollering and Pauliena Rooijakkers have extended their lead to 45 seconds, with 22km to go.
The bell rings in the women's race with 21km to go.
Demi Vollering and Pauliena Rooijakkers lead Juliette Labous (Team DSM) by 25 seconds with the group at 1:00.
#BPwomen 🇧🇪The front group has split once again and 2 riders lead a chasing group containing @alex_manly, @ane_santesteban and @AmandaSpratt by around 1 minute ⏱The bell rings for the final lap 🔔 20km to go! pic.twitter.com/fdgKQOVHBjApril 13, 2022
The final lap of the circuit includes some hard climbing, so the women's race could go either way.
Trek are trying to lead the chase, with world champion Elisa Balsamo sacrificing her chances for the team.
The circuit is technical in the rain, with the hills hurting after a long race.
The chasers are closing the gap on Demi Vollering and Pauliena Rooijakkers. It's down to 30 seconds as the climb Hertstraat.
It's a cobbled climb and so sparks several attacks behind.
In the men's race, The break starts the Alsemberg, the climb where the Brabantse Pijl was once decided.
The men climb 4 other hills before returning towards Overijse and start the finishing laps in the final 90km.
12km to go in the women's race.
Demi Vollering and Pauliena Rooijakkers lead Juliette Labous by 10 seconds, with the chasers at 20 seconds.
Coryn Labecki of Jumbo is chasing alone between Juliette Labous and the chasers.
The women start the Moskestraat climb and Demi Vollering has distanced Pauliena Rooijakkers.
She's solo on the steep, cobbled climb.
She's closing in!🙌🏻 @JulietteLabous now at just 7" off the 2 leaders as attacks fly in the select group behind where @LianeLippert is covering the moves. #BPWomen pic.twitter.com/pXJ4tQFTLFApril 13, 2022
Demi Vollering is in TT mode as she tries to ride solo to victory.
Behind, a select chase group is forming.
With 6.5km to go Vollering leads by 30 seconds.
Vollering has extended her lead to 40 seconds as she takes a final drink with 4km to go.
Rooijakkers is caught by the chasers but Vollering seems out of reach.
The final climb up to the finish will be decisive.
Demi Vollering was second twice this spring, at the Amstel Gold Race and Omloop het Nieuwsblad.
Here's Vollering on the attack.
Vollering starts the S-Bocht climb to the finish.
Katarzyna Niewiadoma attacks on the climb.
But Demi Vollering is clear and can savour her solo victory!
She waves in celebration and enjoys the moment.
Katarzyna Niewiadoma wins the sprint for second place.
We head back to the men's race. They have 125km to race.
Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) are still clear, with a lead of 3:25.
There is still 40km or so to ride before the Overijse circuits. Then each time, in just 21km, they face the climbs of the Hertstraat, Moskesstraat, Holstheide, S-Bocht, and the Hagaard.
The the race profile.
120km to go
Davide Ballerini continues to lead the peloton, he gets occasional help from Cameron Wurf (Ineos) and Chun Kai Feng (Bahrain Victorious).
Pidcock dropped back to his team car earlier. With the weather changing and rain stopping and starting, they keep changing their clothing to stay warm and as dry as possible.
95km to go
Pidcock's young teammate Magnus Sheffield is also in the team cars. He takes a bike change and quickly returns to the peloton.
With only 15km to the hillier circuit, it's time to be ready for the finale.
The gap to the three attackers is now 3:00.
The rain has stopped but the roads and especially the cobblestones are still wet.
That could be a factor later in the race.
We are entering the final 100 kilometers of #BP22 and @ballero_94 continues to work hard at the head the peloton.Photo: @GettySport pic.twitter.com/ao8MBjqSb7April 13, 2022
The rain is coming down heavy now. This is hard day out.
Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) still lead by 2:00.
The pace is higher in the peloton now, riders are concerned about positioning on the hilly circuits and in the rain.
The break is on the Hertstraat and the peloton is sprinting to hit it first too.
Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH) is quickly distanced from the break.
Ben Turner leads Sheffield up the Hertstraat, riding in the smoother gutter and splitting the peloton somewhat.
80km to go
Turner's surge has lined out the group. Some riders are perhaps 30 seconds behind Turner, despite being on the wheels.
Alex Kamp of Trek and Giacomo Nizzolo are with Campenaerts, Turner and Sheffield.
This is interesting.
The five are chasing the two attackers but are being chased by other riders.
QuickStep send a rider in pursuit of the attack. It's Remco, it's Remco Evenepoel.
He clearly wants to race.
Evenepoel joins the group and goes to the front. But what happens now?
Behind the peloton is splitting. This pace is hurting.
The races passes through Huldenberg and they will soon start the 3 21km circuits.
Remco Evenepoel seems a little nervous and pushes Ben Turner out of the way as they do a turn.
Nobody really wanted to work with Evenepoel and so the move is caught.
New attacks come straight away.
Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) still lead but only by 35 seconds as the next climb nears.
The rain is pouring as the break climbs the S-Bocht curves and then quickly onto Hagaard, which leads to the finish area.
65km to go
Four riders have attacked but others are going after them.
The peloton is just 35 down on the 2 atttackers as they ride through the finish area.
#BP22 🇧🇪After the first passage on the finish line, @Jan_Bakelants, @TomDevriendt & Baptiste Planckaert are part of the first group🏁 69km pic.twitter.com/0SbURruH9yApril 13, 2022
Now UAE kick-off things in the pack on the narrow climb before the Hagaard.
Alaphilippe is also up front.
Sunday's Amstel Gold Race winner Michal Kwiatkowski is dropped, clearly still tired after his big ride and big victory.
60km to go
The riders hit the Hertstraat and Jonas Koch of Bora crashes.
The race is on!
The Hertstraat has split the group.
There are only 20 or so riders in the front group.
The early break was caught, making this the head of the race.
EF are leading the chase in the peloton.
55km to go
Evenepoel, Alaphilippe and Pidcock are up there. Wellens too.
UAE have numbers, Matthews is there too.
The group is caught but here comes the cobbled and narrow Moskesstraat climb.
UAE and Ineos take over on the front.
Ben Turner opened a gap on the exit of the Moskesstraat and now Evenepoel goes after him, with others.
They climb the Holstheide, with the group splitting again.
The chasers are at 20 seconds but the race is going away from them.
44km to go
The attackers have 2 laps to go.
They lead by 30 seconds, with Israel leading the chase.
UAE also missed the move and so have to chase.
The riders are wet and dirty due to the heavy rain.
The riders climb the Hagaard climb. Each climb hurts more than the last.
Up front are Pidcock, Sheffield and Turner for Ineos, Lotto-Soudal have Campenaerts and Wellens.
There is Evenepoel, Barguil, Teuns, Cosnefroy and Stannard too.
Teuns has a front flat and stops for neutral service.
The mechanic uses an simple allen key and not a power tool.
Teuns is caught by the peloton.
The Hertstraat climb has split the attackers. Evenepoel is out the back!
Evenepoel, Campenaerts and Barguil have to suffer to close the gap as the Moskesstraat starts.
Pidcock and Turner up the pace on the front of the 10-rider group.
The Moskesstraat is steep and has rough cobbles. There are also huge crowds.
Even Pidcock suffers a little. Evenepoel looks better and even ups the pace. The group is splitting on the descent.
30km to go
Evenepoel is caught and so Ben Turner makes a move.
Evenepoel charges after him and ups the pace.
Rob Stannard of Alpecin is dropped, as is Campenaerts.
There are only six riders left in the attack.
#BPmen - 🏁 29,2 kmAll those climbs! 🥵🥵🥵 6 more to go after this one. #BP22 pic.twitter.com/Kp2oGed8xkApril 13, 2022
Benoit Cosnefroy is also in the move. He's clearly on form.
Evenepoel and Turner again play barbs at the back of the group, bluffing about who moves through.
Magnus Sheffield made it back to the group, making it 7 in the move and 3 from Ineos.
23km to go
They will climb the S-Bocht up to the finish to hear the bell for the final lap.
Everyone went deep to get into the attack and so there's a moment of control.
The 7 lead the peloton by a 1:00 with a lap to go. The winner will surely come from this group.
A team car hits Julian Alaphilippe as they go through the finish area.
There was a moment of traffic as the QuickStep car tried to pass the peloton to go up to Evenepoel in the finish line area.
A rider did not see the car and moved across into the car's path. That sparked a crash that included Alaphilippe.
Back to the front of the race, the 7 attackers lead by 40 seconds.
Pidcock is at the back and talking into the radio.
What is his and Ineos' final tactic?
These are race photos from our photographers in Belgium.
The 6 start the Hertstraat. This could split the group.
Wow. Evenepoel has been distanced again. He seems to struggle on the cobbles.
Sheffield is away with Cosnefroy. Now it is up to the others to chase.
Evenepoel is back and leading the chase.
These are the 7 attackers.
#BPmenThe 7️⃣ leaders go into the final lap. Who will win this race? 🤔 #BP22 pic.twitter.com/5bBRH34zMNApril 13, 2022
The gap to a group of chasers lead by Matteo Trentin is 40 seconds or even less.
10km to go
The 7 are back together and working together. This race is on a knife-edge.
They start the Moskesstraat climb. Who will go clear here?
Wow. Barguil is gapped. He lacks the power to punch over the pave.
Sheffield is strong and Wellens goes with him.
But Evenepoel closes the gap again.
Without Barguil the group is down to 6. Ineos still have 3 riders.
8km to go
Cosnefroy is a threat in a sprint finish. Ineos have to use their numbers and send off attacks.
Evenepoel will also have to attack somewhere and try to time trial to the finish.
Wow. Barguil fights his way back on. Respect.
The Frenchman cannot be ruled out now the cobbles are done.
For his first #BP22 presence, @EvenepoelRemco surely produces a stunning ride as he continues to be part of the main move ten kilometers from the line.Photo: @GettySport pic.twitter.com/mADuRk108eApril 13, 2022
This is the moment of the crash in the peloton.
5km to go
The chasers are at 30 seconds. Can they catch them?
The seven are together and it's impossible to predict how the race will play out and who will win.
Wellens accelerates but is marked.
The riders return to riding through but the tension rises.
3.5km to go
The pace drops and so Magnus Sheffield attacks alone. He has a gap.
Bam! Evenepoel chases after him.
Turner was sat on Evenepoel and so marks him, forcing him to sit up.
2km to go
Sheffield is going away.
There is just the climb to the finish.
The 19-year-old American leads by 10 seconds now.
The chasers seem defeated.
1km to go
Sheffield starts the final climb to the finish.
Behind they're racing for second place.
Sheffield leads by 12 seconds.
Teuns, Matthews and others come across.
Sheffield is clear and can savour his win!
This a huge day for him and for Ineos.
Behind the riders flick across the road as Evenepoel starts his sprint, He gets blocked and skids his bike. He waves his arm in anger and protest.
At the same time Ben Turner and Tom Pidcock celebrate their successful day out.
Benoît Cosnefroy won the sprint for 2nd, with Tim Wellens 3rd.
A reply shows what happened to Evenepoel. Benoît Cosnefroy and Tim Wellens moved across without seeing the Belgian.
They changed their lines but did not block Evenepoel intentionally.
A Magnus 𝓜𝓪𝓼𝓽𝓮𝓻𝓬𝓵𝓪𝓼𝓼 👌@MagnusSheffield takes a superb solo victory at #BP22 as the Grenadiers make it three big race wins in a row! 👏 pic.twitter.com/ghT4MpgnIFApril 13, 2022
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Magnus Sheffield (USA) Ineos Grenadiers||4:53:21|
|2||Benoit Cosnefroy (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team||0:00:37|
|3||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|4||Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkea-Samsic|
|5||Ben Turner (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:40|
|6||Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:41|
|7||Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|8||Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco|
|9||Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious|
|10||Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:00:51|
Speaking after the race, Remco Evenepoel was smiling again but was not happy with what happened in the sprint. However he praised Ineos and Magnus Sheffield for their win.
🏆 @MagnusSheffield 5⃣ @benjeturner 6⃣ @Tompid What an amazing display of teamwork from these young Grenadiers #BP22 pic.twitter.com/BlyVi8Xp58April 13, 2022
Magnus Sheffield celebrates his win.
Here's the moment Sheffield pushed clear in the final kilometres.
Magnus Sheffield wins the 2022 De Brabantse Pijl.
Sheffield turns 20 on April 19. What a lovely early birthday present.
Here's the moment Sheffield won.
🇺🇸 MAGNUS SHEFFIELD 🙌April 13, 2022
Tim Wellens switch across the road in a sprint have cost him dear.
He finished third but was then relegated to fourth. The latest results show he has been relegated to ninth, at the back of the group he finished in.
This is the final podium, with Barguil taking third.
Magnus Sheffield was emotional after his big win.
“I just felt unbelievable when I was off the front in the last kilometres. I didn’t expect to hold on. I was trying to lead out my teammate Ben but I went off the front and managed to hang on to the finish,” Sheffield said, who will turn 20 on April 19.
“I was able to win at the Ruta del Sol this season but to be able to win one of these semi-Classics is unbelievable. This season has been incredible. I feel fortunate to be healthy and to win today."
Sheffield is a rookie with Ineos at WorldTour level but loves the tough Classics racing.
“I really like these races, with the technical corners and the bad weather. They’re not for the mentally soft kind of person. You had to fight all day out there. I felt really good. I had two other teammates in the breakaway,' he said.
"I followed a move with Wellens. When he swung off, I was alone and knew to press it, to force the others to chase so that my teammates could chase. Everyone just looked at each other, so I put it in my biggest gear, went full gas and grinded my way to the finish."
As they say, a star is born.
Magnus Sheffield's win is a breakthrough moment in his young career.
He is the youngest ever winner of the race at just 19 and the first American since Tyler Farrar to win a major race in Belgium.
Next up is Paris-Roubaix.
As they say, dirty faces win bike races.
To read out full race report and see our growing photo gallery and full results, click below.
Thanks for joining us for the Cyclingnews full live coverage from De Brabantse Pijl.
We'll have further reaction and analysis from Daniel Ostanek at the race later.
We'll be back at the weekend for full live coverage of Paris-Roubaix Femmes on Saturday and then the men's Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.
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