Magnus Sheffield soloed to victory at De Brabantse Pijl as his Ineos Grenadiers squad made their numbers count in the winning move. The American, still a week shy of 20th birthday, attacked from the seven-man break with 3.5km remaining and he held firm on the final climb into Overijse to claim victory at the end of a breathless, rain-soaked race.
Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R Citroën) won the sprint for second place, 37 seconds down on Sheffield, while Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic) was awarded third place after Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) was relegated to ninth for deviating from his line in the closing metres.
An exasperated Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) crossed the line with a hand raised in protest, while Sheffield’s teammates Ben Turner and Tom Pidcock rolled home with their arms held aloft.
Indeed, it was Turner who created the pivotal selection when he accelerated on the cobbled ascent of Moskesstraat with 50km remaining. When the dust settled over the other side, he had nine riders for company, and it was quickly apparent that this was the race-defining move.
The three laps of the hilly finishing circuit around Overijse became something of a slugging match, with the front group constantly fragmenting and reforming amid attack and counter-attack on the succession of climbs.
Evenepoel was twice dropped on ascents of the cobbled Hertstraat, but he fought his way back on each time, and he remained a constant menace on the flat roads. His aggression was not limited to his volley of attacks, and he escaped with a warning from the commissaires for pushing Turner when they were part of an earlier escape with 70km remaining.
Ineos’ young trio were present at all of the key moments and they combined well in the finale. The defending champion Pidcock, by his own admission, was struggling after his exertions at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday, to the extent that Turner was the team’s option in the event of a sprint.
Sheffield, for his part, was pedalling smoothly all afternoon, and he had the nous and the strength to press on when a gap opened behind him on the final approach to the finish. Cosnefroy and Evenepoel each made attempts to bridge across, but their efforts were tightly marked by Turner and Pidcock. Sheffield’s lead grew accordingly, and the 19-year-old dealt comfortably with the final rise into Overijse to claim his second win in Ineos colours.
“I just followed a move with Wellens, and when he swung off, I found myself alone,” Sheffield said. “I knew I wanted to press on and force the other guys to chase, so I could let my teammates sit on. But everybody was just kind of looking at it, because it was in the final kilometres. I just put it in my biggest gear and tried to go full gas to the finish.”
Evenepoel’s onslaught notwithstanding, it was another trying Classics outing for QuickStep-AlphaVinyl. World champion Julian Alaphilippe missed the decisive split and he was later knocked from his bike in a crash that was occurred when his own team car was attempting to pass the peloton and make its way up to the break. The Frenchman initially sat on the ground clutching his shoulder, though he was subsequently able to remount and continue.
How it unfolded
Brabantse Pijl offers a point of confluence for cobbled Classics and Ardennes specialists alike, and that selling point was exacerbated in 2022 by the shift in dates that sees Paris-Roubaix take place next Sunday. The weather conditions, meanwhile, proved rather less amenable than forecast, and the constant rain added considerable difficulty to an already technical course. “The weather forecast did not say rain, it said there was a 15% chance, but instead we had rain all day,” Pidcock said. “It was horrid.”
The early part of the race was animated by a three-man move featuring Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Ander Okamika (Burgos-BH), but they were never granted much leeway and their adventure was effectively doomed when Ben Turner launched a probing move on the first time up the Herstraat with 80km remaining.
Turner’s band of attackers, which included Sheffield, drew the interest of Evenepoel over the other side, and the Belgian cruised across the gap in the company of Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious). The presence of so many dangermen in front doomed that attack, though not before Evenepoel petulantly pushed Turner off Victor Campenaerts’ wheel. Another rider might have faced a heftier sanction than a warning from the race jury.
That counter-attack was brought back soon afterwards, while the last of the early escapees were caught as the race crossed the finish line in Overijse for the first time with 65km to go.
Alaphilippe and UAE Team Emirates were aggressors on the first of three laps of the finishing circuit, but the critical move came on the Moskesstraat with 50km remaining, as Turner’s acceleration split the bunch.
Over the other side, a group of ten took shape, as Turner was joined by Pidcock, Sheffield, Evenepoel, Teuns, Campenaerts, Wellens, Barguil, Cosnefroy and Robert Stannard (Alpecin-Fenix). With only UAE Team Emirates committed to the chase behind, it was soon apparent that this was the winning move, and their advantage quickly stretched out towards a minute.
Those ten riders still led with two laps to go, although they lost a strongman shortly afterwards when Teuns suffered a puncture and then endured a slow change of his disc wheel from the neutral service bike.
With 37km to go, Sheffield forced the pace on the Hertstraat, where Evenepoel was dropped on the cobbles in the company of Barguil and Campenaerts. He led them back on once the road levelled out, but it was a sign of his unease on that specific kind of terrain.
Evenepoel attack soon afterwards on the climb of Holstheide, whittling the group down to seven riders as Campenaerts and Stannard were irretrievably distanced, but he would again endure problems on Hertstraat on the final lap. Distanced once again, he battled his way back on with Barguil.
“I thought it was a road race, but it looked like a cyclo-cross today,” Evenepoel laughed afterwards. “It was really slippery, really hard to stay up on the bike and not crash. On the cobbles, I wasn’t really comfortable. I wouldn’t really like to do the Flemish Classics, because I was already in trouble with two cobbled sections here.”
The final lap was again punctuated by attack and counter-attack, with Cosnefroy and Sheffield among those trying their luck in the last 12km, though Evenepoel played a significant role in stitching the race back together on each occasion.
When Sheffield went with 3.5km to go, however, there was no immediate response, and the American quickly established a winning gap. Teuns, Xandro Meurisse (Alpecin-Fenix) and Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) bridged across to the chasers in the final kilometre to contest the minor placings, but by then, the race was already Sheffield’s to lose.
“I really like these races, with the technical corners and the bad weather,” Sheffield said. “They’re not for the mentally soft kind of person. You had to fight all day out there."
|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||Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkea-Samsic|
|4||Ben Turner (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:40|
|5||Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:41|
|6||Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|7||Michael Matthews (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco|
|8||Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious|
|9||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|10||Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:00:51|
|11||Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-EasyPost||0:01:46|
|12||Laurens De Plus (Bel) Ineos Grenadiers|
|13||Daryl Impey (RSA) Israel-Premier Tech|
|14||Mauri Vansevenant (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|15||Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team|
|16||Hugo Houle (Can) Israel-Premier Tech|
|17||Jenno Berckmoes (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|18||Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Israel-Premier Tech|
|19||Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team|
|20||Vito Braet (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|21||Tony Gallopin (Fra) Trek-Segafredo|
|22||Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|23||Juan Ayuso Pesquera (Spa) UAE Team Emirates|
|24||Alexis Renard (Fra) Cofidis|
|25||Cedric Beullens (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|26||Marc Hirschi (Swi) UAE Team Emirates|
|27||Tom Devriendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|28||Alexandre Delettre (Fra) Cofidis|
|29||Franck Bonnamour (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM|
|30||Jonas Gregaard (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|31||Stefano Oldani (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix|
|32||Marco Haller (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|33||Jan Bakelants (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|34||Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Bahrain Victorious|
|35||Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|36||Bryan Coquard (Fra) Cofidis|
|37||Ben Healy (Irl) EF Education-EasyPost|
|38||Julian Mertens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|39||Lukasz Owsian (Pol) Arkea-Samsic|
|40||Winner Anacona (Col) Arkea-Samsic|
|41||Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:02:01|
|42||Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:02:15|
|43||Kévin Vauquelin (Fra) Arkea-Samsic||0:04:44|
|44||Jesus Ezquerra Muela (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|45||Tobias Bayer (Aut) Alpecin-Fenix|
|46||Johnatan Cañaveral Vargas (Col) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|47||Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-EasyPost|
|48||Robert Stannard (Aus) Alpecin-Fenix|
|49||Eliot Lietaer (Bel) B&B Hotels-KTM|
|50||Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||0:04:46|
|51||Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel-Premier Tech||0:05:32|
|52||Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Soudal||0:05:50|
|53||Finn Fisher-Black (NZl) UAE Team Emirates||0:05:52|
|54||Tobias Halland Johannessen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team||0:06:18|
|55||Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:06:22|
|56||Larry Warbasse (USA) AG2R Citroen Team||0:07:10|
|57||Rémi Cavagna (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|58||Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB||0:07:44|
|59||Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix||0:08:01|
|60||Ivo Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates|
|61||Alexander Kamp (Den) Trek-Segafredo||0:08:49|
|DNF||Mikaël Cherel (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team|
|DNF||Sébastien Grignard (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Ruben Apers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Ander Okamika Bengoetxea (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|DNF||Oscar Pelegri Ferrandis (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|DNF||Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Adrien Petit (Fra) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Alexander Molenaar (Ned) Burgos-BH|
|DNF||Aaron Van Poucke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|DNF||Jetse Bol (Ned) Burgos-BH|
|DNF||Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroen Team|
|DNF||Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team|
|DNF||Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bahrain Victorious|
|DNF||Kevin Van Melsen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Luke Rowe (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Torstein Træen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Torjus Sleen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Jacob Madsen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Ådne Holter (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Cameron Wurf (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Christophe Noppe (Bel) Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|DNF||Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|DNF||Andrea Bagioli (Ita) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|DNF||Jack Haig (Aus) Bahrain Victorious|
|DNF||Davide Ballerini (Ita) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team|
|DNF||Idar Andersen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Nicholas Schultz (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco|
|DNF||Chun Kai Feng (Tpe) Bahrain Victorious|
|DNF||Martin Marcellusi (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|DNF||Jakob Egholm (Den) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Davide Gabburo (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|DNF||Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|DNF||Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Quentin Jauregui (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM|
|DNF||Jack Bauer (NZl) BikeExchange-Jayco|
|DNF||Alessio Martinelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|DNF||Luke Durbridge (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco|
|DNF||Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-EasyPost|
|DNF||Cyril Gautier (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM|
|DNF||Luka Mezgec (Slo) BikeExchange-Jayco|
|DNF||Dion Smith (NZl) BikeExchange-Jayco|
|DNF||Alan Boileau (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM|
|DNF||Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Filippo Baroncini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Floris De Tier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Jan Maas (Ned) BikeExchange-Jayco|
|DNF||Tom Paquot (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB|
|DNF||Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) Burgos-BH|
|DNF||Mathijs Paasschens (Ned) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB|
|DNF||Giovanni Aleotti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Dimitri Peyskens (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB|
|DNF||Jonas Koch (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Israel-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious|
|DNF||Tom Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB|
|DNF||Sander Armée (Bel) Cofidis|
|DNF||Davide Cimolai (Ita) Cofidis|
|DNF||Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB|
|DNF||Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB|
|DNF||Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis|
|DNF||Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-EasyPost|
|DNF||Alex Tolio (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|DNF||Martin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNS||Markus Pajur (Est) Arkea-Samsic|
|DNS||Filip Maciejuk (Pol) Bahrain Victorious|
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.
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