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Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2016

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Hello and welcome back for another day of racing coverage from Belgium. After the excitement of yesterday's edition of

we've returned for the 2016 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. The riders are busily signing on and the race is set to start in roughly 30 minutes. It should be another exhilarating day of racing.

 

Lets starts of with today's start list. Like yesterday we have another stellar line up with a few important additions. The full start list is here.

Defending champion Mark Cavendish is not here as he prepares for the World Track Champs later this week, so Peter Sagan wears number one. Like yesterday the World champion is supported by a strong Tinkoff line up. He was second yesterday and it will be interesting to see how he takes on today - if he has much left in the tank and if he will wait for a sprint finish.

 

1 Peter Sagan (Svk)
2 Daniele Bennati (Ita)
3 Manuele Boaro (Ita)
4 Maciej Bodnar (Pol)
5 Adam Blythe (GBr)
6 Nikolay Trusov (Rus)
7 Jay McCarthy (Aus)
8 Oscar Gatto (Ita)

Team Sky make a few small changes to their line up but they'll be working for Viviani here. He was tipped to win by one of the CN team in this week's podcast. They'll remain nameless until the final race is over. Rowe is riding again today after his fourth place.

11 Elia Viviani (Ita)
12 Christian Knees (Ger)
13 Luke Rowe (GBr)
14 Michał Gołaś (Pol)
15 Danny van Poppel (Ned)
16 Gianni Moscon (Ita)
17 Andrew Fenn (GBr)
18 Salvatore Puccio (Ita)

No Greipel here, he's still recovering from a recent crash and some injured ribs. The German leaves a big hole in the Lotto Soudal line up but they're stil stacked with talent and options for today. They'll look to break up the race as and when they can but they have options if there's a small group at the end of the race.

 

22 Jürgen Roelandts (Bel)
23 Gregory Henderson (NZl)
24 Sean De Bie (Bel)
25 Jens Debusschere (Bel)
26 Marcel Sieberg (Ger)
27 Jelle Wallays (Bel)
28 Stig Broeckx (Bel)

After suffering a mechanical yesterday Kristoff  - second last year - comes into the race with something to prove. The Katusha man has had an incredible start to the season once more but he'll want a result this weekend in order to lay down a marker ahead of the major Spring Classics. He ha strong support once again from the Russian team.

31 Alexander Kristoff (Nor)
32 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb)
33 Vladimir Isaychev (Rus)
34 Nils Politt (Ger)
35 Michael Mørkøv (Den)
36 Alexander Porsev (Rus)
37 Marco Haller (Aut)
38 Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus)

Another team that faltered yesterday was Etixx QuickStep who were essentially raced out of the game due to their tactics and crashes. The Belgian team didn't post a rider in the top ten so at the very least team manager Patrick Lefevere will want to see is an aggressive performance.

 

41 Tom Boonen (Bel)
42 Iljo Keisse (Bel)
43 Yves Lampaert (Bel)
44 Nikolas Maes (Bel)
45 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel)
46 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel)
47 Julien Vermote (Bel)
48 Łukasz Wiśniowski (Pol)

IAM are currently on the stage and signing on for the race. A few drops of rain this morning and that could be a feature throughout the day's racing. We had dry roads during yesterday's racing and the wet conditions will add to the tension.

Another rider to watch today is Caleb Ewan. This a real test for the young Orica rider who has started the season so well. There's a significant difference though between wining sprints in TDU and the national scene and sprinting in the spring cobble races. Can he make another huge leap in his career today? It's certainly not out of the question.
 

71 Caleb Ewan (Aus)
72 Mathew Hayman (Aus)
73 Jens Keukeleire (Bel)
74 Magnus Cort (Den)
75 Sam Bewley (NZl)
76 Mitchell Docker (Aus)
77 Alex Edmondson (Aus)
78 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den)

Fresh from yesterday's win BMC Racing come into today's race full of confidence. Van Avermaet is down to race again and Erik Zabel is in the mix. Without a pure sprinter it will be interesting to see how the team race.

 

BMC Racing Team

81 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel)
82 Rick Zabel (Ger)
83 Daniel Oss (Ita)
84 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux)
85 Manuel Quinziato (Ita)
86 Michael Schär (Swi)
87 Floris Gerts (Ned)
88 Tom Bohli (Swi)

The riders are starting to move towards the line now as the tension builds ahead of the race. We're just moments away from the start of Kuurne Brussel Kuurne.

And we're off. The flag drops and we have racing in Kuurne Brussel Kuurne.

Cold conditions today and the rides are wrapped up warm. Sagan almost missed the start but he's in the bunch and warming up with the rest of the field. No real action at this point in the race. That will come though.

There's a lot of wind aroun too, which could cause havoc out on the course. Bikes were being blown all over the road at the sign in earlier this morning according to our man on the ground, Patrick Fletcher.

Our other man on the ground, Brecht Decaluwe, reports that Rick Zabel out with bad flu. Christian Knees is also out.

Another rider out today is Matt Hayman - a blow for Ewan. The experienced Australian crashed yesterday and broke his arm.

Kristoff:

“I’m still not ready for this yet. Yesterday I was in the group with Etixx. Today it’s very windy. On the climbs it will split. The last 80 kilometres are not so hard so hopefully I’ll be able to come back.” A sprint against Caleb Ewan? “I’m more used to this weather than him but he didn’t race yesterday so he’s fresh. Last year I sprinted against him in Norway. I saw he was very fast in Australia.”

 

189km remaining from 200km

The peloton is still together with no attacks at this point. It's likely that the riders are just trying to warm up at this point in the race.

We have two riders off the front of the peloton but they have a slender lead at this point.

More riders have making the bridge up to the leaders and we now have 11 men in the move.

 

Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Turgot (AG2R), Trosino (Southeast), Boy van Poppel (Trek), De Vries and Van Ginneken (Roompot), Barker (One Pro Cycling), Boucher and Druyts (Crelan- Realty Service), De Man (3M) and Cardis (Direct Energy)

Tom Boonen:

“There’s many teams that didn’t win yesterday. We were the only team that tried to turn things around. Today will be even more nervous than yesterday because of the stronger wind. I hope everybody will be more tired so it will become a power sprint.”

 

One Pro will be pleased to have another rider in the move, justifying their inclusion in this race. AG2R have former Paris-Roubaix finisher Turgot in there and Trek Segafredo have a rider too.

Reports are in that Hayman actually fractured his elbow in yesterday's fall.

The leaders hit the first climb of the day, the Edelareberg, but their advantage over the peloton is under less than ten seconds.

169km remaining from 200km

Just under 170km to go in the race and the 11-man break can't seem to establish a healthy gap over the peloton.

Van Avermaet is neatly tucked in towards the front of the peloton. The Belgian was in high spirits yesterday after his win but admits that the Tour of Flanders is his major objective for the Spring.

"Even when I’m 35 I’ll still be able to win the Tour of Flanders."

Ewan is also near the front. Today in fact marks the Orica rider's first ever pro race in Belgium. This is some introduction for the sprinter, who will still be looking for a result if the race ends in a sprint. It typically does with the final climb coming around 50km from the finish. Wind and rain could of course break that pattern.

Another rider looking to make his mark today is Nacer Bouhanni. The Cofidis rider has recent form and perfect for these sort of sprint finishes.


Cyclingnews caught up with the Cofidis rider at the start this morning:

 

"I'm feeling good, and had my first victory of the season at Ruta del Sol last week, so the form's coming bit by bit. It's important for the confidence to win early, so i hope to keep building towards Paris-Nice and Milan-San Remo. It's going to be the first confrontation [with the likes of Sagan and Kristoff] so i hope to be up there with those guys doing a good sprint at the end of it."

161km remaining from 200km

The peloton has sat up and the gap to the break has moved out massively to just over eight minutes. It's at 8'15 with Roy Cuvers for Giant Alpecin stuck in the middle of the two groups and on his own.

The peloton have started to respond and are holding the break at 8'15. A reminder of the riders in the move:



Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Turgot (AG2R), Trosino (Southeast), Boy van Poppel (Trek), De Vries and Van Ginneken (Roompot), Barker (One Pro Cycling), Boucher and Druyts (Crelan- Realty Service), De Man (3M) and Cardis (Direct Energy)

Sky have won this race twice in their short history. Once with Sutton and once with Cavendish. Today they line up with Viviani as their leader.

 

"We are really confident about taking a big result. It's not easy because it's really windy and also we have a new climb after the second time up the Kwaremont. Luke Rowe is in really good condition and he'll stay with me, we'll stay at the front and try to do a good sprint. After Dubai I have a good shape, I've worked a lot on the track, I think I'm really explosive, maybe I lack some endurance, so we'll see how it is after 200km."

In case you missed it, we have video highlights from yesterday's race. You can watch them, right here.

There were also two major events in women's cycling yesterday - both featuring riders from Boels Dolmans.


In the afternoon Lizzie Armitstead won Omloop with another dominant racing performance. And later that evening her teammate Evelyn Stevens set a new UCI Hour Record in the US. Women's cycling continues to improve and grow. We're in for another excellent season of racing.

148km remaining from 200km

Team Sky have posted a man on the front of the peloton and in the last few minutes we've seen the leaders lose around 30 seconds of their advantage. The gap is still a rather healthy 7'45 though with just under 150km to go.

The status quo remains the same with the 11-man break still holding a lead of 7'45 over the peloton.

Tinkoff, Lotto Soudal and Etix are all close to the front of the peloton, more in a bid to stay safe rather than push the pace. The wind is still a factor out there but we've not seen any echelons form yet.

No news on whether the UCI tested any bikes this morning but they have told Cyclingnews that 139 bikes  - from both the men's and women's fields were tested between Friday and Saturday. No motors were found. The full story and video of a Lotto Jumbo bike being tested, is right here.

135km remaining from 200km

The bunch huddle together as the 11-man break plough on ahead. The gap hasn't moved in the last 25 minutes or so with the peloton content at the moment. Barker takes a long pull on the front of the break before slipping back into rotation. They're working well together.

A reminder of the start list for today's race. You can also download and listen to our weekly podcast. This week, featuring Gilbert, Kelly and Farrar. It's a cracker.

The break have passed through the feedzone, their lead over the peloton still over seven minutes. They've stuck to their task all morning and they'll be rewarded with some valuable TV time later on today.

Nizzolo (Trek) and Bennati (Tinkoff) have both pulled out of the race according to host broadcaster Sporza. That's certainly a surprise for the Trek Segafredo rider who was certainly capable of a result today.

Meanwhile Roy Curvers is still out there, between the peloton and the lead break. No time gaps on the rider at the moment but he's there. Somewhere.

The leaders are coming up to La Houppe and their gap to the bunch has come down. It's at 6'20 with 115km to go.

Although it remains cold and windy out there, at least the rain is holding off for the riders. We have blue skies and sunshine at the finish right.

Over the top of La Houppe and the gap holds at a steady 6'20. There are nine more bergs on the schedule for today but the final one comes almost 50km from the finish. We're still looking at a bunch sprint but there are still over 100km to go in the race.

Team Sky and Etixx sit near the front but there's a crash a little furhter back with two FDJ riders hitting the deck. The nerves are starting to creep in as riders start to fight for position.

After that fall a large group of around 50 riders lose contact with the rest of the field. The gap to them is around 35 seconds. Up ahead, and the break of 11 still have 6'20 over the main field.

A few more riders pull out of the race as we head into the final 100km of racing. Sam Bennett from Bora Argon is the latest to climb off his bike.

92km remaining from 200km

92km to go and the gap to the field is down to 5'24. The main field has come back together though as Etixx, Sky and BMC set the pace together.

The Cote du Triue is being climbed by the peloton and these short, punchy climbs are going to sap the legs of the peloton. A pocket of riders are dropped near the back of the field almost instantly as IAM and the Lotto Soudal teal start to join the pace setting at the front of the bunch.

Gene for Direct Energie gets it all wrong and comes down at speed. He's on his feet but his race looks over from where we are.

The leaders are climbing once more and there are a few riders starting to lose contact on the Kwaremont. The pace and the gradient are punishing.

A reminder of the riders in the break:

Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Turgot (AG2R), Trosino (Southeast), Boy van Poppel (Trek), De Vries and Van Ginneken (Roompot), Barker (One Pro Cycling), Boucher and Druyts (Crelan- Realty Service), De Man (3M) and Cardis (Direct Energy)

The peloton are flat out now as they race in towards the climb. Position is key at this point, and they hug the left hand side of the road, almost riding in the gutter as they fight for the first few places. The gap has come down as a result and stands at 4'08 with 85km to go.

It's Roelandts who leads onto the climb with at least one teammate on his wheel. That's where you want to be on this climb, right near the front. Further down the climb riders are suffering and starting to lose group. Viviani is there at the back though representing Team Sky.

82km remaining from 200km

And Sagan jumps to the front and lifts the pace. This is a bold move from the world champion but he's forcing the pace and causing splits all over the peloton. Only a handful of riders can go with him. There's complete panic behind.

Roelandts is leading the chase for the field and only one rider from Trek can handle Sagan's pace at the moment.

Still on the Kwaremont but it's all starting to come back together with Lotto pulling the world champion back to the peloton. A real sign of intent though from the Tinkoff leader.

Blythe and Cousin are both dropped from the pleton as we crest the climb. The main field is now down to around 30 riders and on the flat section it's Orica who take charge and start to set the pace. They hav Ewan there. Boonen is there, and Kristoff.

A few more riders reach the Sagan group and Rowe is one of them. He's really making the most of his chances this weekend. The gap to the break is at 3'11 with 79km to go. Still a long way to go in the race.

Etixx take control now, and they must sense that some of the sprinters have been dropped. We did see Viviani drop back through the peloton near the foot of the Kwaremont.

Roughly 30 riders in the Boonen, Ewan, Sagan, Rowe, Van Avermaet group but although there's more climbs to come we still have 50km from the final climb to the finish so plenty of time and road for this to all come back together.

There's no real cohesion in the Boonen group and too many riders just sitting at the back and having a free ride. It leaves the Etixx riders looking back and seeking help.

72km remaining from 200km

Ewan has at least two men with him in the Boonen group and Lotto Soudal are well represented as well. Kristoff for now just sticks on Sagan's wheel.

It looks like Sagan is alone and without teammates in this group. Boonen has three men with him including Terpstra who is taking a turn on the front right now. Durbridge is also there for Ewan, while Bouhanni and Kirstoff both have teammates with them. Fenn for Team Sky is also there.

However it's all about to be shut down with Lotto Jumbo pulling it back together. Team Sky then attack but that's brought back too.

67km remaining from 200km

The early morning break have 2'01 on the peloton and they're fighting for every second at this point.

Lotto Soudal now move up and use their numbers to good effect by setting the pace through a cobbled section. They're putting their rivals in the gutter at every opportunity and riders are being dropped constantly.

Lotto have the bunch on the pavement at the moment - always a risk but they make it through a tough section and back onto the main roads. The Lotto effort has split the field into a number of groups though. Roelandts on the front right now.

Sagan, Kristoff and most of the sprinters have missed this split but more riders are making their way over. The gap to the early morning break is a minute with 62kmt to go.

And Kristoff is having to make a huge effort to get back into the lead peloton. He was caught out there by Lotto Soudal but he should make it back.

Ewan has also made it back into the Boonen group, along with Kristoff. Onto the Holstraast, the penultimate climb in this year's race. The early morning break have 51 seconds on the next main group of pre-race favourites.

The early break have just 32 seconds on the main field with one climb left in the race before the flat run-in to the finish. 55km of racing left.

Orica up the pace this time. All in for Ewan here with three riders setting the pace for the Australian sprinter. Bouhanni, in skin suit, just sits near the back of the field at the moment as we head towards the final hour of racing today. 52km to go.

And the pace calms at the front of the field. Riders drop back to team cars, which allows a few more small groups to come back to the peloton. The morning break are on the final climb now.

There's a brief surge in pace from the peloton with a few riders going clear. Sagan is there once more, along with Van Avermaet, Puccio and five others. Roelants is one of them.

Vermote is there for Etixx but will they be happy with that group? The Etixx rider looks back to see if his teammates will chase.

It's Katusha though who are chasing as Sagan goes on the attack once more.

And Vermote goes with him, the rest of the break all sit up. Sagan makes it up to the early break and goes through them and right to the front.

The race is coming back together and that includes the Sagan move and the early break.

A number of riders attempt to go clear but nothing is sticking. Trek Segafredo try this time and they create a small gap but too many of the sprinters still have teammates so everything is chased down.

The crosswinds rise up and the peloton look like they could split at any moment. Four men have now gone clear with no single team able to take control.

Riders fluidly moving from group to group. We still have riders from the early morning move at the front of the race as Vermote takes off with one of them. There's now a crash with Broeckx down on the ground for Lotto Soudal. He was hit by a race moto. He's sitting up, thankfully.

33km remaining from 200km

At the front of the peloton it's Katusha who are setting the pace for Kristoff but the gap to the leaders is at 30 seconds with 33km to go.

We're hearing that Boonen is in the lead group now along with Sagan, who came across with Vermote earlier. Rowe is also there, along with Van Avermaet. The group has swelled to around 15 men.

So in the lead group we now have :

Boonen, Vermote, Van Avermaet, Stamsnijder, Kragh Andersen, Perichon, Rowe, Naesen, Trosino, De Vries, Ligthart, Castelijns, Cort Nielsen, Boy van Poppel and Duchesne.

Katusha are joined on the front of the peloton by IAM Cycling. However they continue to lose ground with the gap at 35 seconds as the lead group cross the line for the first time. They have one more circuit to complete.

The gap moves out to 41 seconds but more and mroe riders are making their way back to the peloton.

There are a few tired legs in the front group and it's starting to show wth a number of riders not working. The gap is back to 39 seconds with Van Poppel taking a turn for Trek Segafredo.

There are 16 riders in the front group, Boonen, Van Avermaet and Rowe all there. Can't see Sagan and race radio is saying he's no longer in there.

It's Lotto Soudal, who have just one man in the lead group, who now start to chase with the gap at 41 sceonds.

25km remaining from 200km

Katusha move up again too and join Lotto Soudal but the lead group are doing a fantastic job of holding them off. 25km to go and the gap is 39 seconds. Ewan and Bouhanni are in the chase group too but they're just sitting in at the moment.

It's Trek who continue to drive the first group on the road but do they have enough help for the closing 20km?  Vermote commits for Boonen but that's just one man as we see Boonen take a turn too.

Katusha and Lotto can't pull the gap back and it's still at 37 seconds with 21km to go.

20km remaining from 200km

Inside the final 20km of the and the gap still sits above 35 seconds. Boy van Poppel, who has been away all morning has a gap, but it's caused when the rider on his wheel gets a corner all wrong. Back together again with the Katusha-led field at 38 seconds.

Now Orica join the chase and they take 7 seconds off the lead group with the gap down to 29 seconds with 18km to go. At this race the Boonen group should be caught.

And Stuyven attacks from the lead group as the gap to the peloton continues to drop. Van Poppel has down his job for the day and pulls off. 16km to go and there are just 19 seconds between the lone leader and the peloton.

Stuyven continues alone while his teammates gather at the front of the peloton and try and slow the chase. The Trek rider was on the attack yesterday but crashed but he's looking strong now as he leans over the bars and moves his lead out to 36 seconds.

12km remaining from 200km

Stuyven has less than 12km to go now and the peloton cant react - the gap holding at 24 seconds to the Boonen group, the peloton at 40 seconds.

10km remaining from 200km

Inside the final 10km now and Stuyven continues to lead the race with no sign of the Boonen group or the peloton making contact.

Stuyven is simply time trialiing to the line and there's no response from Boonen, Van Avermaet or Rowe.

Just over 5km to go and the gaps aren't moving. Unless Stuyven totally cracks he should have this in the bag. He has 23 seconds on the Boonen group and 44 seconds on the main field.

Well the Trek rider almost loses it on a corner but he just about manages to keep it together. That was close.

Rowe is struggling to keep pace in the Boonen group and starts to slip back. Stuyven though has 25 seconds with 3.3km to go.

The Boonen group are about to be caught by the peloton, they have just 7 seconds. Stuyven though still has 31 with 2.3km to go.

There's an attack from the peloton but they're fighting for the minor places as Stuyven has just 1km to go and the gap is still at 30 seconds.

And the Trek Segafredo rider takes the win. A superb ride from Stuyven to win Kuurne Brussel Kuurne.

And Kristoff takes second on the line, for the second time in as many years.

Bouhanni took third in the sprint and Sagan makes the top ten too.

Here's today's top ten:

 

1 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
2 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
3 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
4 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
5 Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step
6 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team
8 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
9 Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
10 Scott Thwaites (GBr) Bora-Argon 18

What will please Trek even more is that they had three riders in the top ten today, while Boy van Poppel also played his part. That's a huge win for Stuyvens though who broke through with a Vuelta stage win last year. He's on the podium now and being handed his trophy and the Kuurne Brussel Kuurne donkey.

Thanks for joining us today. You can find our complete race report, results and photos, right here. We'll be back next week with live coverage from Strade Bianche.

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