Cavendish sprints to Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne win

Mark Cavendish claimed his second win in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne after out-sprinting Alexander Kristoff (Team Katusha) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky) on Sunday, saving Etixx-QuickStep’s blushes after the team's capitulation Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite. 

One of the beautiful aspects – and there are many - to the opening weekend of racing in Belgium’s cauldron of cobbles is that teams can quickly make amends for mistakes they’ve made in the first race. And Etixx-QuickStep, with Cavendish providing an exemplary lesson in sprint tactics – helped the team exorcise their demons with a win that will have done his contractual position at the team the world of good.

Cavendish was everywhere he needed to be during the race – first making contact with a dangerous break that formed on the slopes of the Côte de Trieu and then, more crucially, on Kristoff’s wheel with 200 metres to go. Even when Etixx did falter – eventually running out of gas in the last kilometre – Cavendish swooped to edge out Kristoff.

“The team were incredible the whole day. We talked this morning and Wilfried Peeters didn’t think I could make but the riders all believed in me,” Cavendish rather controversially said after crossing the line before returning to a more expected party line. “We went full gas on the Oude Kwaremont but there was a headwind so the group was always going to come back. Then it was up to me in the sprint.”

With Katusha controlling the front of the peloton for most of the two final circuits through Kuurne, Etixx were forced to burn matches as they tried to position Cavendish where he needed to be. Trentin lost contact with just over five kilometres remaining and when Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) launched an dangerous attack and quickly gained 11 seconds, the sprinters' teams were forced to respond.

Having controlled the most telling break of the day, cracks in Etixx’s train were beginning to understandably surface but Cavendish used his experience as well as his speed to make sure he was positioned on Kristoff’s wheel.

“We used our guys too early because of the headwind in the last corner. Tom [Boonen] went to go but I already left him to go onto Kristoff’s wheel. I thought that was better. I knew it was going to be hard but I’ve been going well all year. I’m super proud to get this victory for Etixx QuickStep.”

Pride for Cavendish but relief for Patrick Lefevere who had found himself on the back foot last night after Ian Stannard had singlehandedly taken apart his team in Omloop, a feeling that Cavendish will not doubt remind his boss of when the pair sit down for contract negotiations later this year. Next stop, as Cavendish confirmed is Milan-San Remo, and another shoot out with the defending champion, Kristoff. All roads lead to via Roma.

How it unfolded

On a cold, fresh morning the peloton regrouped on Sunday with the majority of yesterday’s players returning for act two of the opening weekend in Belgium.

It took over 30 kilometres for the opening break to forge clear with Mattia Pozzo (Nippo - Vini Fantini) Sjoerd van Ginneken (Team Roompot), Jimmy Engoulvent (Europcar), Xandro Meurisse (AN Post), Fredrik Backaert, Dimitri Peyskens (Team 3M), Thomas Vauborzeix (Veranclassic-Ekoï) Eugert Zhupa (Southeast Pro Cycling) jumping clear.

Over the first climbs the eight-man move maintained a three-minute lead over a peloton that had elected for Katusha and Etixx to position a man each on point.

A relative armistice was maintained until the bunch reached the Côte de Trieu, where Tom Boonen and Sep Vanmarcke both accelerated from the field. They brought riders with them but by the time the race hit the next climb of the Oude Kwaremont weaknesses in the main field were exploited once more with both Etixx and Vanmarcke’s LottoNL-Jumbo team creating a group of 19 riders.

Etixx were well represented with Boonen and Cavenish among their troop, Vanmarcke had one teammate, Gilbert another, Kristoff was on his own, while Ian Stannard had Team Sky’s Elia Viviani for company. On another day it may been enough to settle the race but with such a long run in to the finish – 51km from the crest of the final climb of the Nokereberg to the finish – and with MTN, Cofidis and AG2R in hot pursuit, the group could only manage to establish a lead of just over a minute.

By now the remnants of the break were being picked up in their ones and twos and when the break of Vanmarcke and Boonen was eventually brought to heel the chances of a bunch sprint looked all but certain.

The only rider unwilling to read from that script was Gilbert, who tore off with just under five kilometres of racing remaining.

Katusha, Team Sky, and then Lotto Soudal took turns of slowly pulling the BMC rider back but the effort took its toll with fragmented leadouts emerging from the final corner. Katusha and Kriftoff still looked to be in the best position as Viviani remained in contention but locked onto Kristoff’s wheel was Cavendish and Etixx’s much needed victory.


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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx - Quick-Step4:29:00
2Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team KatushaRow 1 - Cell 2
3Elia Viviani (Ita) Team SkyRow 2 - Cell 2
4Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 3 - Cell 2
5Daniele Colli (Ita) Nippo - Vini FantiniRow 4 - Cell 2
6Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing TeamRow 5 - Cell 2
7Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 6 - Cell 2
8Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - QhubekaRow 7 - Cell 2
9Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team RoompotRow 8 - Cell 2
10Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM CyclingRow 9 - Cell 2
11Jarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 10 - Cell 2
12Antoine Demoite (Bel) Wallonie - BruxellesRow 11 - Cell 2
13Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN - QhubekaRow 12 - Cell 2
14Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 13 - Cell 2
15Kevin Ista (Bel) Wallonie - BruxellesRow 14 - Cell 2
16Jonas Vangenechten (Bel) IAM CyclingRow 15 - Cell 2
17Nicolas Vereecken (Bel) Team3MRow 16 - Cell 2
18Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 17 - Cell 2
19Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Argon 18Row 18 - Cell 2
20Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 19 - Cell 2
21Pier Paolo De Negri (Ita) Nippo - Vini FantiniRow 20 - Cell 2
22Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar:04
23Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto SoudalRow 22 - Cell 2
24Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing TeamRow 23 - Cell 2
25Oliver Naesen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 24 - Cell 2
26Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 25 - Cell 2
27Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La MondialeRow 26 - Cell 2
28Pierre-Luc Perichon (Fra) Bretagne-Séché EnvironnementRow 27 - Cell 2
29Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 28 - Cell 2
30Sean Downey (Irl) An Post - Chain ReactionRow 29 - Cell 2
31Johan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ.frRow 30 - Cell 2
32Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team KatushaRow 31 - Cell 2
33Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 32 - Cell 2
34Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Team KatushaRow 33 - Cell 2
35Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 34 - Cell 2
36Adrian Kurek (Pol) CCC Sprandi PolkowiceRow 35 - Cell 2
37Michael Vingerling (Ned) Team 3MRow 36 - Cell 2
38Mauro Finetto (Ita) SoutheastRow 37 - Cell 2
39Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 38 - Cell 2
40Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team KatushaRow 39 - Cell 2
41Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 40 - Cell 2
42Dimitri Peyskens (Ger) Team 3MRow 41 - Cell 2
43Daniel Schorn (Aut) Bora-Argon 18Row 42 - Cell 2
44Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto SoudalRow 43 - Cell 2
45Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) FDJ.frRow 44 - Cell 2
46Olivier Chevalier (Fra) Wallonie - BruxellesRow 45 - Cell 2
47Sjoerd Van Ginneken (Ned) Team RoompotRow 46 - Cell 2
48Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - BaloiseRow 47 - Cell 2
49Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 48 - Cell 2
50Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM CyclingRow 49 - Cell 2
51Luke Rowe (GBr) Team SkyRow 50 - Cell 2
52Johan Van Summeren (Bel) AG2R La MondialeRow 51 - Cell 2
53Scott Thwaites (GBr) Bora-Argon 18Row 52 - Cell 2
54Gert Dockx (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 53 - Cell 2
55James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 54 - Cell 2
56Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ.frRow 55 - Cell 2
57Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto SoudalRow 56 - Cell 2
58Rick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing TeamRow 57 - Cell 2
59Michel Kreder (Ned) Team RoompotRow 58 - Cell 2
60Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 59 - Cell 2
61Dominique Rollin (Can) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 60 - Cell 2
62Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 61 - Cell 2
63Alessandro Malaguti (Ita) Nippo - Vini FantiniRow 62 - Cell 2
64Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 63 - Cell 2
65Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - QhubekaRow 64 - Cell 2
66Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN - QhubekaRow 65 - Cell 2
67Ian Stannard (GBr) Team SkyRow 66 - Cell 2
68Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN - QhubekaRow 67 - Cell 2
69Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 68 - Cell 2
70Youcef Reguigui (Alg) MTN - QhubekaRow 69 - Cell 2
71Julien Stassen (Bel) Wallonie - BruxellesRow 70 - Cell 2
72Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 71 - Cell 2
73Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 72 - Cell 2
74Simone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 73 - Cell 2
75Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar:25
76Tom Goovaerts (Bel) CCT p/b Champion SystemRow 75 - Cell 2
77Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step:30
78Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 77 - Cell 2
79Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 78 - Cell 2
80Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 79 - Cell 2
81Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 80 - Cell 2
82Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 81 - Cell 2
83Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky:42
84Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky:44
85Pim Ligthart (Ned) Lotto Soudal:47
86Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits:51
87Thomas Vaubourzeix (Fra) Veranclassic - EkoiRow 86 - Cell 2
88Etienne Van Empel (Ned) Team RoompotRow 87 - Cell 2
89Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 88 - Cell 2
90Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 89 - Cell 2
91Dmitrii Kozonchuk (Rus) Team KatushaRow 90 - Cell 2
92Christian Knees (Ger) Team SkyRow 91 - Cell 2
93Marco Haller (Aut) Team KatushaRow 92 - Cell 2
94Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar1:28
95Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 94 - Cell 2
96Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe GobertRow 95 - Cell 2
97Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Katusha1:50
98Xandro Meurisse (Bel) An Post - Chain Reaction1:55
99Iljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 98 - Cell 2
100Reinier Honig (Ned) Team RoompotRow 99 - Cell 2
101Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 100 - Cell 2
102Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 101 - Cell 2
103Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits2:35
104Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Team Sky2:43
105Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Lotto Soudal2:59
106Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling6:07
107Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-StepRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFChristopher Sutton (Aus) Team SkyRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFGatis Smukulis (Lat) Team KatushaRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFRick Flens (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFMike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNL-JumboRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFMarcel Aregger (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFSimon Pellaud (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFVicente Reynes (Spa) IAM CyclingRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFDavid Boucher (Fra) FDJ.frRow 114 - Cell 2
DNFAnthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ.frRow 115 - Cell 2
DNFOlivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ.frRow 116 - Cell 2
DNFYoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ.frRow 117 - Cell 2
DNFChristophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 118 - Cell 2
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 119 - Cell 2
DNFJonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 120 - Cell 2
DNFFlorian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 121 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing TeamRow 122 - Cell 2
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 123 - Cell 2
DNFGediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La MondialeRow 124 - Cell 2
DNFMaxime Daniel (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 125 - Cell 2
DNFDylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team RoompotRow 126 - Cell 2
DNFAndré Looij (Ned) Team Roompot