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Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne - Live report

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The peloton has assembled in Kuurne for the second instalment of Belgium's Opening Weekend. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) triumphed in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad yesterday but Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne offers the chance of a do-over for those who fluffed their lines on Saturday. Once weighted in favour of the sprinters, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne changes in character for 2020, with a more demanding parcours on the agenda. The neutralised start is at 11.40 local time, with the race due to hit kilometre zero at 11.48.

The temperature is in single figures but the sun is shining over Kuurne as the peloton gathers on the start line.

Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) was one of many grandees to miss the decisive move yesterday at Omloop: "Yesterday was good but not good enough. I was ready to move along but it was still very far and the guys that jumped away didn't seem like the best guys, at first. I was worried that I would waste too much energy. In the main group we were with three AG2R riders but two of them were dead. In KuurnebI came close to the victory on many occasions but the course suited others more. The modified course is in my favour, with the Kwaremont being much closer to the finish."

There are 11 climbs on the agenda today. The top of Kluisberg is 51.1km from the finish in Kuurne.

The peloton navigates the neutralised zone in Kuurne, with three non-starters to report: Jonathan Dibben (Lotto Soudal), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis) and Tom Scully (EF Pro Cycling). 

Omloop winner Jasper Stuyven is the peloton today and before the start, he was greeted by his grandmother, who lives in Kuurne. 

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-196km

After that pairing are pegged back, Manuele Boaro (Astana) clips off the front and opens a 20-second lead.

-190km

An early crash, meanwhile, saw the on-form Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain-McLaren) among the fallers but he has rejoined the peloton. Haussler caught the eye with an assured display yesterday even if he had little to show for his efforts at day's end. "I haven't had these legs since 2009 and 2010. In hindsight I haven't raced very smart," Haussler said at the start in Kuurne.

-185km

Another Astana man, Laurens De Vreese, tries to forge clear but he, too, is quickly brought back by a speeding peloton. 

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Houle and Vallée bring the leading group to five, and this quintet is opening a gap over a peloton that appears content to let them go.

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Situation

The escapees are over the Volkegemberg and across the cobbles of Holleweg. The next climb on the agenda is the Eikenmolen. Their lead is, for now, stable at 1:40.

Brecht Decaluwe has an update from Sep Vanmarcke (EF Pro Cycling), who was briefly on the offensive in the company of Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) during Omloop. "I knew I wasn't already at my best and I felt that in the Omloop," Vanmarcke said. "Today I will suffer again. But that's not unexpected. The goal is to be at my best next month. During my attack with Wout van Aert, I felt that he was stronger than me."

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Gabriel Cullaigh (Movistar) rode the first Classic of his career yesterday at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the British neo-professional is back in action today in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Patrick Fletcher caught up with him to discuss his journey from sourcing a £100 Bianchi bike in the classified ads to the WorldTour. Read the full interview here.

It's been a rapid start to proceedings at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, with the break covering 44.3km in the first hour of racing.

-146km

Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) had to settle for 13th in Omloop yesterday after his teammate Matteo Trentin - 4th at the finish in Ninove - made it across to the decisive move. He will hope for better today. "I think the new course will be harder, and also with the wind like today, it can be a good chance for me, a second chance. I never had good result in Kuurne but hopefully I can change that today. [With Trentin] it wasn't planned who'd attack and who'd sit back - we both tried, and it will be the same today."

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Situation

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Jasper Stuyven endured a trying Classics campaign twelve months ago but he laid down a marker for the spring of 2020 by claiming the biggest win of his career yesterday. "I lost too much weight and then I got ill. I panicked that I had to get back too quickly to be ready for the next Classics. That ended terribly," Stuyven said yesterday of his 2019 spring campaign. Brecht Decaluwé has more here.

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Away from Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, UAE Team Emirates has announced that its riders and staff at the UAE Tour will remain in Abu Dhabi for the time being as a precaution following the coronavirus square that forced the cancellation of the race. It has been reported that four teams - Groupama-FDJ, Gazprom, Cofidis and NTT - remain confined to their hotel pending further tests, as well as many media and personnel from the race organisation, but the bulk of the teams have, it seems, managed to leave Abu Dhabi after a spell in quarantine. As yet, no case of Covid-19 has been confirmed at the UAE Tour. Read more here.

-109km

Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) is aboard a prototype Lapierre Aircode Disc today. Josh Croxton has more here.

-104km

Gianni Moscon (Ineos) was among the riders distanced by the peloton on the Mont Saint-Laurent but the Italian was dealing with a mechanical problem at the time. He has since rejoined the bunch.

-98km

Situation

-89km

A number of riders are losing contact with the peloton as the intensity ratchets up a notch or three on La Houppe.

-83km

The bunch is now tackling the Kanarieberg. Stefan Kung and Jasper Stuyven are among those well placed near the front, but there is no particular urgency apparent just yet.

-80km

Roy Jans leads the escapees onto the Kruisberg, which is followed almost immediately by the Hotond. The Tour of Flanders roadbook usually treats this as one climb, and Niki Terpstra launched his winning move in 2018 on the tough two-part ascent. 

-77km

The peloton is currently on the Kruisberg before swinging onto the very false flat that precedes the Hotond. It's notable that no team has yet taken up the reins of pursuit in earnest at the front. 

And at that, Gianni Moscon (Ineos) injects a bit of urgency ahead of the Hotond to stretch things out.

Junior world champion Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo) is still in contact with the main peloton as they tackle the Hotond. Some of the big contenders are beginning to show themselves near the front but the touchpaper has not yet been lit and the gap stands at 5:40.

-72km

-70km

There's a distinct increase in urgency in the main peloton on the approach to the Cote de Trieu, with delegations from EF, Deceuninck-QuickStep and Sunweb among those vying for position ahead of the climb.

Kasper Asgreen and Yves Lampaert are well placed for Deceuninck-QuickStep near the front.

-68km

A crash in the middle of the peloton sees a lot of riders held up on the Trieu, but the pace is still not especially high so those who avoided injury or mechanical mishap should succeed in chasing back on.

An acceleration from Israel Start-Up Nation over the top of the Trieu strings out the peloton and some splits are forming. Kasper Asgreen takes over for Deceuninck-QuickStep and the race is finally sparking into life...

-63km

Situation

The peloton has been split into at least three sizeable groups, with riders scattered in ones and twos between them.  The gaps aren't irretrievable, mind, but the pace is high on the approach to the Kwaremont, where we can surely expect the big contenders to show their hands.

-61km

Our leaders  Jonas Abrahamsen (Uno-X Norwegian Development Team), Roy Jans (Alpecin-Fenix), Hugo Houle (Astana) and Boris Vallée (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles) hit the Oude Kwaremont with a lead of 4:30 over the peloton.

Deceuninck-QuickStep are leading a reduced peloton of 50 or so riders into the base of the Kwaremont, 4:17 down on the break. A second portion of the peloton isn't far behind them.

Bjerg is swallowed by the peloton at the foot of the Kwaremont. Four riders remain in front.

The second part of the peloton has made the junction to the first, and there's still a bunch of 100 or more riders together as they hit the Oude Kwaremont, 4:22 down on the break.

Jens Keukeleire (EF Pro Cycling) leads on the first cobbles of the Kwaremont and ups the pace. Degenkolb, Van Avermaet and Zdenek Stybar are all placed near the front.

Keukeleire stretches things out on the Kwaremont, but no rupture in the peloton as yet, at least among the favourites.

Matteo Trentin hits the front on the Kwaremont and his effort strings things out further. 20 or so riders on his wheel seem to be opening a gap over the rest of the bunch.

This is a big effort from Trentin, who was in the winning move yesterday, and he leads a group of 20 or so riders over the top of the Kwaremont, 3:45 down on the break. 

Asgreen, Benoot, Degenkolb, Keukeleire, Vanmarcke, Kung, Van Avermaet and Trentin are among the 20 riders that forged clear of the peloton over the top of the Kwaremont, but more riders are scrambling to get back in contact. 

-55km

Word reaching us that Gianni Moscon has been disqualified from the race. It seems it may have been for aggressive behaviour, namely throwing away the bike of a fellow rider after he went down in the crash on the Trieu... 

We await confirmation of the precise reasons for Moscon's disqualification, but this looks like another addition to the long, long rap sheet of the Luis Suarez of professional cycling.

-52km

Heinrich Haussler is on the front of that reduced peloton on behalf of Sonny Colbrelli, but there is another, larger group about to catch them on the Kluisberg. 

Sporza has video footage of Moscon's latest winning behaviour here.

-50km

The peloton had expanded over the Kruisberg but it has been reduced significantly once again after Luke Rowe and others accelerated in the company of Keukeleire.

This elite chase group features Van Avermaet, Rowe, Keukeleire, Kung, Alexander Kristoff, Tim Merlier, Zdenek Stybar, Jasper Stuyven and Tiesj Benoot. There are 20 or so riders in that group, 2:30 down on the four leaders.  

-44km

There are no more climbs left on the route, and the four escapees are still collaborating smoothly. This is plenty of firepower in the second group on the road, however, but it remains to be seen if all those big names will be willing to work together all the way to the finishing circuit in Kuurne.

Patrick Fletcher has a news item on Moscon's disqualification here. There will, undoubtedly, be further updates to follow. 

Tiesj Benoot takes a long turn on the front of the chasing group. It appears his teammate Cees Bol is on board. Alexander Kristoff comes through and takes a turn with his own sprint chances in mind.

-41km

-40km

Deceuninck-QuickStep have Zdenek Stybar in the chasing group but they have Fabio Jakobsen in the third group on the road, and they look to be placing their trust in their sprinter. Asgreen, Jungels and Lampaert are now setting the pace in the third group, which is 2 minutes down on the break and 30 seconds behind Van Avermaet, Stybar, Stuyven et al.

-37km

Bob Jungels produced a long solo effort to claim victory in Kuurne a year ago. The Luxembourg champion is now laying the pace at the head of the third group on the road on behalf of Fabio Jakobsen.

-35km

Stuyven accelerates from the newly-expanded peloton on the Beerbosstraat and only Van Avermaet and Stybar can immediately follow...

More riders, including Jakobsen, Degenkolb and Rowe have come across, and that's enough to convince Stybar to commit to the pace-making.

-33km

The peloton is almost back together, but Stybar and Van Avermaet are among those still forcing the pace on the front in a bid to force further splits.

-31km

Kasper Asgreen has managed to solo across that 10-second gap to the breakaway and he immediately takes a turn on the front. Only Roy Jans and Boris Vallee can hold the Dane's wheel.

-29km

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Deceuninck-QuickStep are placed near the head of the bunch but not chasing as they have Asgreen in front. Will another team take up the reins? Their deficit has yawned out to 38 seconds...

-24km

Asgreen is doing the lion's share of the pace-making in this front group, though he is getting some turns from Jans and Vallée. The Dane's effort have seen the break stretch their buffer to 26 seconds over Vermote and 43 over a peloton that is being led by Ineos and Sunweb.

-21km

-20km

Sunweb, Lotto Soudal and Ineos are working on the front of the bunch on behalf of Cees Bol, John Degenkolb and Ben Swift on this run-in. 30 seconds the gap.

Fabio Jakobsen has plenty of Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates for company in this peloton, should their teammate Asgreen and his breakaway companions be pegged back.

-18km

Asgreen piles on the pressure and Roy Jans loses contact with the break. Vallee is struggling to hold Asgreen's wheel.

-16km

-15km

Tiesj Benoot (Sunweb) and Luke Rowe (Ineos) are very prominent in leading the peloton. Up front, Asgreen is doing just about all of the work as a tired Vallée seems content to come along for the ride.

-14km

-12km

Asgreen has produced a remarkable display here, but his and Vallee's advantage is gradually beginning to dwindle. It has just slipped below 20 seconds. 

Asgreen shakes his head in frustration at Vallée's reluctance to take a turn. It's worth noting, mind, that Vallée has already been off the front for over 100 miles.

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-9.5km

-8km

Vallée is caught by a 60-strong peloton that is still being led by Sunweb, Ineos and Lotto Soudal. They trail Asgreen by 20 seconds.

-7km

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Sunweb set are setting the pace in the peloton but a delegation from Groupama-FDJ is moving up.

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Asgreen draws upon his final reserves of energy. He is still holding a lead of 9 seconds as he approaches the final 3km.

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CCC are attempting to tee up Matteo Trentin, but they still have 9 seconds to make up on Asgeen.

-1km

Asgreen leads into the home straight... Who will lead out the sprint behind?

Haussler sets the pace in the peloton but it looks as though Asgreen is going to hang on...

Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) wins Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

It looked like Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT) beat Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) to second place, but Asgreen even had time to sit up and celebrate his victory as he crossed the line.

Asgreen is greeted by his teammate Yves Lampaert at the finish: "What a beast, eh." Roy Jans, a member of the break that Asgreen caught and then dropped, crosses the line as the Dane is being led towards the podium, and he apologises for not having the strength to take a turn. Not that it affected Asgreen. A remarkable display.

Result

Kasper Asgreen en route to victory at the 2020 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kasper Asgreen reacts to his victory, which had echoes of Bob Jungels' solo triumph here a year ago: “I was in the room with Styby [Zdenek Stybar] last night but Bob [Jungels] told me in the bus to do like he did last year. On the small roads, after we came back to the group with Styby in it, we knew it was possible to get away because the roads were so small. I tried to get away and make it to the finish. Otherwise, we had Fabio [Jakobsen] for the sprint.”

Asked when he realised he had victory in the bag, Asgreen says: "When I saw the 300m to go sign." 

Kasper Asgreen wins the 2020 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kasper Asgreen's break-out result was his second place finish at the Tour of Flanders last year, in what was his first full season at Deceuninck-QuickStep after joining their roster during an injury crisis in April 2018. The 25-year-old sat down for an in depth interview with Cyclingnews at the end of last season, where he discussed his path to the WorldTour and his rapid development at Deceuninck-QuickStep. “You’re aware that these are the guys you grew up watching on television, but that doesn’t mean I’m scared of taking them on,” Asgreen said then. “I just think it’s awesome that I’m there and racing with them now. And now the goal is to give them a run for their money.” Read more here.

Kasper Asgreen after winning the 2020 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

(Image credit: Brecht Decaluwe)

Ineos directeur sportif Gabriel Rasch has reacted to Gianni Moscon's latest disqualification. "I agree with the decision – it’s not something that should happen," he says. Patrick Fletcher the full story here

Thanks for joining our live coverage of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. A full report, results and pictures are available here, while Patrick Fletcher and Brecht Decaluwé will have all the reaction to Kasper Asgreen's win and Gianni Moscon's disqualification, as well as analysis of the entire Opening Weekend.

Result

KUURNE BELGIUM MARCH 01 Boris Vallee of Belgium and Team Wallonie Bruxelles Kasper Asgreen of Denmark and Team DeceuninckQuickstep during the 72nd KuurneBrusselKuurne 2020 a 201km race from Kuurne to Kuurne KBK20 KuurneBxlKuurne KBK on March 01 2020 in Kuurne Belgium Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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