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Wallays wins Dwars door Vlaanderen

Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise took one-two at the Dwars door Vlaanderen with Jelle Wallays attacking a four-man breakaway with one kilometre to go and taking the victory, while his teammate Edward Theuns secured second place after winning the three-man sprint behind. Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Garmin) and world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) were forced to settle for third and fourth, respectively.

Wallays' win was even more remarkable considering he was part of an earlier breakaway, and distanced his previous companions on the Eikenberg with 58km to go. Kwiatkowski bridged across to him after attacking on the Taaienberg, and pulled Theuns and Van Baarle along. The world champion did the lion's share of the work to establish the gap from a large chasing group, but fell victim to tactics in the end.

"I had lost quite a bit of strength from the early breakaway," Wallays said to Sporza. "My only chance was to connect with a small group. It was perfect that Edward (Theuns) was there."

Wallays, who won Paris-Tours last autumn, intended to sacrifice his efforts for Theuns, but when nobody chased his solo attack, he seized his chance for a top result. "I did not have as much strength left. In the last four kilometers I even had slight cramps. I really just wanted to get Edward in as good a position as possible.

"Edward felt very strong and he's super good lately. He's very quick, I am a bit slower. My only chance was with a late attack. Big thanks to Edward, because thanks to him we are 1 and 2."

"This is a very important victory for me. I would like to get into a World Tour team. With two big wins, I hope they will notice."

The four leaders’ gap was never secure, and undulated between 30 seconds and 1:12 minutes with 30km to go and three climbs remaining over the Paterberg, Hellestraat and the Nokereberg. With less than 10km to go, they had only half a minute on a strong chasing group, but the wind went out of the second group's sails when they realized they wouldn't close the gap in time.

Lotto Soudal's Tiesj Benoot, who did a huge amount of work in the chasing group for Belgian champion Jens Debusschere, regretted that he didn't get more help from the other chasers.

"If there was one or two men riding along like me, we could have closed the gap," Benoot said. "We should have followed, that was our fault. I don't understand why they wouldn't work. I think that they weren't good enough. "

Wallays still looked strong as he led Kwiatkowski, Van Baarle and Thuens over the final climb of the day, Nokereberg, with under eight kilometres to go. The leaders continued to rotate pulls up until three kilometres to go but they started to jockey for position as they neared the one-kilometre flag. It was Wallays who surprisingly made the first attack but neither Kwiatkowski or Van Baarle responded to the move.

As Wallays threw his arms up in a victory salute, his teammate Theuns put in a bid for second place and won the three-man sprint to the line, leaving Van Baarle with third and Kwiatkowski with fourth.

A frustrated world champion later said on Twitter, "Lesson from today... I need to remember that not everybody goes for the win. Some guys are content to be just 2nd!"

How it unfolded

It was a dreary day for the Dwars door Vlaanderen as the peloton started in Roeselare and looped back around to Waregem for 200km in cold, rain and overcast conditions… just what one would expect from a Belgian classic.

The peloton contested 12 hellingen including the Nieuwe Kwaremont (88km), Kattenberg (107km), Leberg (116km), Berendries (120km), Valkenberg (125km), Eikenberg (140), Taaienberg (144km), Oude-Kwaremont (162km), Paterberg (165km), Hellestraat (181km) and the Nokereberg (192km).

The race kicks off the start of the cobbled classics, and is just 10 days ahead of the next Monument, the Tour of Flanders on April 5. The riders started the day with enthusiastic attacks through the first portion of the race, however, there were also several crashes on the wet and slippery terrain.

IAM Cycling’s Jerome Pinaeu and Marcel Aregger were involved in an early crash, and while Pineau was able to get back up and make his way back to the field, Aregger was taken to hospital with more serious injuries.

Etixx-QuickStep lined up with a powerful team including two-time winner and defending champion Niki Terpstra but there were also three other past winners on the start line who aimed for another shot at the win including Oscar Gatto (Androni-Giocattoli), Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

An initial breakaway with 11 riders formed with Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), Joey Rosskopf (BMC), Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal), Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Sven Erik Bystrom (Katusha), Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Guiseppe Fonzi (Southeast), Michael Reihs (Cult Energy), Jay Thomson (MTN-Qhubeka), Brian Van Gosthem (Roompot) and Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha).

The move was short-lived and pulled back into the field prompting a series of new attacks, which made way for a more successful breakaway with Wallays, Boris Dron (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Adrien Petit (Cofidis), Brian Van Goethem (Roompot), Gert Dockx (Lotto-Soudal), Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge), Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling), Martin Mortenson (Cult Energy) and Ruben Zepuntke (Cannondale-Garmin), who later crashed and rode the rest of the race with torn shorts and exposed abrasions.

The nine riders opened a gap of 2:40 minutes at the halfway point of the race and increased it to over three minutes by the time they reached the Kattenberg. But the peloton reacted and ate into their time, leaving the escapees with only 20 seconds with 80km to go.

Alex Kirsch took advantage of the small gap and jumped across to the leaders but with the peloton so close behind the move was cut short and most of the breakaway riders were reabsorbed into the mix - with the exception of Wallays and Dockx, who continued on out front over the Eikenberg.

Wallays attacked his companion through the town of Eitkhove and managed to pick up an additional 35 seconds in a solo effort, however, the lone move seemed slightly ambitious with just under 60km to race.

The reduced peloton rolled over the Taaienberg where world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) put pressure on the field with a swift pace, he was joined by Theuns and Van Baarle, and it didn’t take long for the trio to catch Wallays and form a new lead group of four.

A larger chase group split in two but reunited as one with roughly 45km to go. It included Breschel, Nairo Quintana and Andrey Amador (Movistar), Lars Boom (Astana), Sven Erik Bystrom, Alexandre Kolobnev and Rudiger Selig (Katusha), Nikolas Maes (Etixx-QuickStep), Tiesj Benoot, Lars Bak and Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal), Marcus Berghardt and Jempy Drucker (BMC), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), Stijn Devolder (Trek Factory Racing) and Bändle.
The chase wasn’t powerful or organized enough to bring the breakaway back, as Kwiatkowski pulled Van Baarle, Thuens and Wallays over the Kwaremont, building the gap out to roughly 40 seconds.

Behind, Boom made a move over the cobbled ascent and looked sure to bridge across to the leaders, however, his attempted was halted after he crashed into a farmer’s field. A few seconds later, Devolder crashed on the same patch of slippery road and rolled off to the ditch.

Quintana, who joined the race to gain experience on the cobbles ahead of the Tour de France this year, also lost contact with the group as he struggled on a stretch of cobbles.

By this time, Kwiatkowski, Van Baarle, Thuens and Wallays’ breakaway was established and working well together in an effort to get to the finish line ahead of the chase, which had reshuffled to include Nikolas Maes (Etixx-QuickStep) and his teammate Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, Andrey Amador (Movistar), Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jempy Drucker (BMC), Tiesj Benoot and Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis), former winner Oscar Gatto (Androni-Giocattoli) and Katusha riders Alexey Tsatevich and Vyacheslav Kuznetsov.

Kuznetsov tried to motivate the chase group with a small attack but no one took the bait and they let him go in pursuit of the breakaway riders with 10km to go.

No one skipped a turn until one kilometre to go when Wallays made his winning attack for the finish line in Waregem, and Kwiatkowski looked to Van Baarle to help chase, but the Cannondale-Garmin rider refused. Once in sight of the line, Kwiatkowski attempted to attack to catch Wallays but it was far too late, and he instead led out Theuns for a Topsport 1-2 with Van Baarle claiming the final podium spot.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise4:35:59
2Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:00:02
3Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
4Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:04
5Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:01:20
6Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:01:29
7Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
8Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
10Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus) Team Katusha
11Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
12Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
13Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team
14Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha
15Oscar Gatto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
16Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Katusha0:04:46
17Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
18Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step
19Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha
20Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step
21Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
22Gedeminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale0:06:50
23Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
24Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
25Sjoerd Van Ginneken (Ned) Team Roompot
26Jarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
27Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team
28Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale
29Tim Kerkhof (Ned) Team Roompot
30Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
31Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
32Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Roompot
33Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
34Michael Reihs (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
35Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Team Roompot
36Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Soudal
37Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
38Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
39Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal
40Oliver Naesen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
41Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
42Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN - Qhubeka
43Stefan Kueng (Swi) BMC Racing Team
44Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
45Jay Mccarthy (Aus) Tinkoff-Saxo
46Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar
47Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
48Gert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Soudal
49Angelo Tulik (Fra) Team Europcar
50James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
51Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
52Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN - Qhubeka
53Sean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal
54Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
55Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
56Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team
57Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
58Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
59Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo
60Troels Ronning Vinther (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
61Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx - Quick-Step
62Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal
63Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
64Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek Factory Racing
65Iljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
66Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team
67Mauro Finetto (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling
68Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo
69Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
70Vegard Breen (Nor) Lotto Soudal
71Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
72Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
73Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:07:02
74Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar
75Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot
76Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team
77Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
78Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team
79Jack Bauer (NZl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
80John Gadret (Fra) Movistar Team
81Wesley Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot
82Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge
83Gert Steegmans (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
84Adriano Malori (Ita) Movistar Team
85Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team
86Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team
87Jonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
88Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team0:07:06
89Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFRafael Andriato (Bra) Southeast Pro Cycling
DNFMichael Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
DNFAlessio Taliani (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFTiziano Dall´Antonia (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFJuraj Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo
DNFFabio Taborre (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFAlberto Nardin (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFMarcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
DNFCampbell Flakemore (Aus) BMC Racing Team
DNFBoris Dron (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek Factory Racing
DNFJesse Sergent (NZl) Trek Factory Racing
DNFRohan Dennis (Aus) BMC Racing Team
DNFMarco Benfatto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Ned) Trek Factory Racing
DNFStijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing
DNFMirko Tedeschi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling
DNFIvar Slik (Ned) Team Roompot
DNFBrian Van Goethem (Ned) Team Roompot
DNFRasmus Christian Quaade (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
DNFMads Pedersen (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
DNFMartin Mortensen (Den) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
DNFAlex Kirsch (Lux) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
DNFRussell Downing (GBr) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
DNFEugert Zhupa (Alb) Southeast Pro Cycling
DNFJakub Mareczko (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo
DNFLars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team
DNFAndrea Dal Col (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling
DNFAndrea Guardini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFArman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFRuslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFRudiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha
DNFGiuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling
DNFFabian Wegmann (Ger) Cult Energy Pro Cycling
DNFVladimir Isaychev (Rus) Team Katusha
DNFMoreno Hofland (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFRick Flens (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFBertjan Lindeman (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFMike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFMaarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFNick Dougall (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFMaarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFJos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo
DNFAlexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFMarco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
DNFMatt Brammeier (Irl) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFAleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling
DNFAlexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha
DNFJérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling
DNFDries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling
DNFMarcel Aregger (Swi) IAM Cycling
DNFEdward King (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
DNFSebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
DNFTheo Bos (Ned) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFLouis Verhelst (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFKristoffer Skjerping (Nor) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
DNFYannick Martinez (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFTony Hurel (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFMaxime Daniel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFDamien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFAntoine Duchesne (Can) Team Europcar
DNFQuentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFJens Mouris (Ned) Orica GreenEdge
DNFThomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFLeigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
DNFFlorian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFDominique Rollin (Can) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFChristophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFJay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFAndreas Stauff (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge
DNFAdam Blythe (GBr) Orica GreenEdge
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) MTN - Qhubeka
DNFJoseph Rosskopf (USA) BMC Racing Team
DNFSébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale

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Kirsten Frattini

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.

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