The race ended in a bunch sprint, but only after a long, tense chase as a leading quintet including Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) battled resolutely to stay out in front.
The catch was only made 1,600 metres from the line, after which the lead-outs began and Pedersen had the biggest kick to win by a couple of bike-lengths.
A large sprint finish was far from a foregone conclusion from the moment Van der Poel burst out of the peloton along with Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers), over 80km from the finish. The duo caught up to the day’s earlier breakaway, and, after a few of the weaker members had been dropped, formed a cohesive quintet with Artyom Zakharov (Astana Premier-Tech), Patrick Gamper (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Uno-X) that almost made it to the finish together.
Pedersen was a comfortable winner in the sprint that followed, sprinting for clear victory after being led out by teammate Jasper Stuyven.
Earlier in the day, it had looked as if he, plus many of the other sprinters, had already been dumped out of contention, after a large group of around 20 riders - among them Greg Van Avermaet, Dylan Teuns and Matteo Trentin - broke clear on the cobbled sections.
However, this group was caught by a peloton featuring Pedersen, and together they eventually managed to reel in the five-man leading group just in the nick of time.
How it unfolded
The second half of cycling’s Flemish ‘Opening Weekend’, the 2021 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne began on a mild afternoon without a cloud in the sky.
Artyom Zakharov (Astana Premier-Tech), Ludwig De Winter (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and the Bora-Hansgrohe duo of Maciej Bodnar and Patrick Gamper attacked at the start of the day.
They were soon joined by Tom Paquot (Bingoal Wallonie Bruxelles) and Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Uno-X) to form the day’s six-man breakaway group.
UAE Team Emirates took it upon themselves to lead the peloton, no doubt hoping for a bunch for their leader Alexander Kristoff, and the race remained calm during the first half of the race while they set the pace.
The calm was rudely disrupted at 83km to go when Van der Poel, whose Alpecin-Fenix team had just taken a few turns leading the peloton, launched an attack with Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers).
Victor Campanaerts (Qhubeka Assos) failed in his attempt to join them and form what would have been a formidable trio, but the presence of Van der Poel alone was enough to cause alarm bells in the peloton.
They quickly opened a lead of about one minute over the peloton, and, although they had to slow down for a short time as Van der Poel appeared to have a problem with his gearing, it continued to grow.
As the wind picked up a little and the riders climbed the Cote du Trieu, Deceuninck-QuickStep forced the pace in the peloton to temporarily cause a few splits, while also neutralising an attack from Jenthe Biermans (Israel-StartUp Nation).
By the Oude Kwaremtont at 63km from the finish, Van der Poel and Narvaez were just 30 seconds behind the break, and held a lead of 1:30 over the peloton.
The breakaway began to split into pieces on that climb, with De Winter going ahead and Van der Poel and Narvaez catching the stragglers. There was also a selection made in the peloton on the climb, with work from first Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and then Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) thinning it out.
By the time De Winter was reeled back in by the rest of the breakaway, their lead over the peloton was still around 1:30, but quickly fell to just one minute as the chase picked up in the peloton.
Aware of this, Van der Poel upped the pace again on the Kluisberg, dropping all but Narvaez and Hvideberg, although Zakharov and Gamper managed to rejoin a little later. On the same climb in the peloton, Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Victorious) attacked, although sat up when no-one managed to follow his wheel to be swallowed up by a group which by now contained around only 20 riders.
With the gap between the leading group and the chasers having stagnated at about 50 seconds, Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) attacked from this group on the final cobbled section, 35km from the finish. He failed to break up the group, but did bring the gap down to under 30 seconds.
Behind, several teams including Qhubeka Assos and Bahrain-Victorious were working well together to bring back a larger group into contention. As the riders reached the finish line for the first time, 16km from the finish, these three groups had almost come back together, with only around ten seconds separating the five-man lead group and the chasers, and only around another ten seconds between them and the third group on the road.
The second and third group merged with 12km left to ride, but the five leaders continued to stubbornly hold their lead of ten seconds, with Van der Poel inevitably doing most of the work. Rather than come down as the larger group behind chase, the gap in fact began to rise again, exceeding 20 seconds 7.5km from the line.
The chasing group could see the leaders on the long, straight roads of the final kilometres, but continued to struggle to make inroads.
With less than 4km to go, Kasper Asgreen attacked out of the peloton with Heinrich Haussler (Bahrain-Victorious). Though they were caught, the injection of pace brought the leading group back to within just a few seconds.
At last, just 1,600 metres from the line, the catch was made after a powerful turn from Asgreen. Soren Kragh Andersen (DSM) attempted to counter-attack, but the bunch remained intact, allowing Stuyven to lead-out Pedersen to victory.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo||4:37:04|
|2||Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|3||Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|4||Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|5||Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation|
|6||Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious|
|7||Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|8||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|9||Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|10||Erik Nordsaeter Resell (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|11||Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|12||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix|
|13||Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|14||Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|15||Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team BikeExchange|
|16||Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|17||John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal|
|18||Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|19||Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|20||Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ|
|21||Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM|
|22||Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo|
|23||Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|24||Tom Paquot (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|25||Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|26||Artyom Zakharov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|27||Michael Gogl (Aut) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|28||Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM|
|29||Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers|
|30||Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious|
|31||Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:00:09|
|32||Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious||0:00:13|
|33||Patrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|34||Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:00:16|
|35||Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious||0:00:49|
|36||Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:01:21|
|37||Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||0:01:48|
|38||Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|39||Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|40||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|41||Amaury Capiot (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|42||Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation|
|43||Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM|
|44||Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis|
|45||Carlos Barbero (Spa) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|46||Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|47||Lindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|48||Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|49||Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation|
|50||Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech|
|51||Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|52||Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech|
|53||Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-Nippo|
|54||Stijn Steels (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|55||Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ|
|56||Jannik Steimle (Ger) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|57||Kamil Gradek (Pol) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|58||Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech|
|59||Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Cofidis|
|60||Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation|
|61||Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|62||Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|63||Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-up Nation|
|64||Mark Padun (Ukr) Bahrain Victorious||0:01:56|
|65||Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|66||Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|67||Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:01:59|
|68||Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education-Nippo||0:02:02|
|69||Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:02:05|
|70||Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM||0:02:12|
|71||Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo||0:04:52|
|72||Anthony Jullien (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|73||Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis|
|74||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|75||Thomas Boudat (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|76||Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|77||Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ|
|78||Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|79||Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|80||Cyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|81||Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|82||Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange|
|83||Ryan Gibbons (RSA) UAE Team Emirates|
|84||Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix|
|85||Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Pol) Bingoal WB|
|86||Owain Doull (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|87||Benjamin Perry (Can) Astana-Premier Tech|
|88||Andreas Nielsen (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|89||Casper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM|
|90||Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ|
|91||Andreas Leknessund (Nor) Team DSM|
|92||Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|93||Rasmus Tiller (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|94||Anders Skaarseth (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|95||Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|96||Laurenz Rex (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|97||Alvaro Hodeg Chagui (Col) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|98||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|99||Etienne van Empel (Ned) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM||0:08:03|
|100||Tom Bohli (Swi) Cofidis|
|101||Ward Vanhoof (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|102||Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|103||Bram Welten (Ned) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|104||Edward Planckaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|105||Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|106||Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|107||Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|108||Boris Vallee (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|109||Julius van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-Nippo|
|110||Julien Morice (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|111||Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ|
|112||Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|113||Sander Armee (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|114||Ludwig De Winter (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|DNF||Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Markus Pajur (Est) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Tom Devriendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Marco Brenner (Ger) Team DSM|
|DNF||Bert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Sasha Weemaes (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Leonardo Basso (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Niki Terpstra (Ned) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Max Kanter (Ger) Team DSM|
|DNF||Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|DNF||Jens Reynders (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Jakob Egholm (Den) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Jakub Mareczko (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|DNF||Joab Schneiter (Swi) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|DNF||Marco Frapporti (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|DNF||Simone Bevilacqua (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|DNF||Davide Orrico (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|DNF||Søren Wærenskjold (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|DNF||André Carvalho (Por) Cofidis|
|DNF||Moreno Hofland (Ned) EF Education-Nippo|
|DNF||Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education-Nippo|
|DNF||Mitch Docker (Aus) EF Education-Nippo|
|DNF||Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-Nippo|
|DNF||Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain Victorious|
|DNF||Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ|
|DNF||Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Joel Suter (Swi) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Stephen Williams (GBr) Bahrain Victorious|
|DNF||Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis|
|DNF||Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Fabio Van Den Bossche (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Davide Martinelli (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech|
|DNF||Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Gilles De Wilde (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Dion Smith (NZl) Team BikeExchange|
|DNF||Callum Scotson (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|DNF||Michal Golas (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Szymon Sajnok (Pol) Cofidis|
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