Ludovic Robeet wins Nokere Koerse

Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal Casino-Wallonie Bruxelles) won Nokere Koerse from the breakaway, riding away from Damien Gaudin (Total Direct Energie) in the closing kilometres to celebrate victory on the Nokereberg cobbles.

Gaudin finished just behind in second, while a heavily reduced peloton was led home by Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) only a few seconds later.

Robeet had been part of an eight-man break in a windy edition of the Belgian semi-Classic. It took more than an hour to form but it proved worth the wait, as the 26-year-old went on to land the second, and biggest, win of his career.

The original group never gained a lead of more than four minutes, but the peloton was disorganized throughout, squandering a gap of just a minute on the last of three laps of the 30km finishing circuit.

It looked as though it was game over for the break as the race hit the Lange Ast sector (400 metres at five per cent) with 15km to go. The reduced peloton had finally started to mount a chase, and Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation) launched an attack on the uphill cobbles.

However, Robeet and Gaudin used the same launchpad to move clear of their breakaway companions, before profiting from more indecision in the fragmented groups behind. Mozzato and Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) went on the attack in the last 10km but only succeeded in hanging in between the leading duo and the bunch.

With 2km to go, and with 15 seconds still in hand, Robeet attacked Gaudin and held his small gap up the final ramp to the finish on the Nokereberg.

“A win is a win. I'm happy. Normally I always work for the sprinters but today I was in the breakaway. I never get the chance to go for the win and today was something different. I'm really happy,” Robeet said.

"In the last lap I felt really good, like I should try. We still had a bit of a gap, so I tried and succeeded. I was on Gaudin's wheel and it was relatively easy. I knew that I had to finish this on my own. It was amazing to be at the front and at the two-kilometre mark I knew that I could win.”

How it unfolded

It was a fast start to the race as the riders set off from Deinze with a tailwind on the way south towards Nokere. On the menu was a large loop to the south of the town, before three laps of the 30.5km finishing circuit, where the eight cobblestone sectors were found. The race centres on the cobbled Nokereberg climb, (350m at 5.7 per cent), the last time being the finishing straight.

It took some 50km – ticked off in little more than an hour – for a breakaway to form. As well as Robeet and Gaudin, it contained: Anthony Julien (AG2R Citroën), Sébastian Grignard (Lotto Soudal), Thibault Ferasse (B&B Hotels p/b KTM), Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF), Ward Vanhoof (Sport Flanders-Baloise) and Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise). There was one other chaser - Yiber Sefa (Tarteletto-Isorex) – but he never made it across.

The eight riders built a lead of four minutes but that started to fall once they hit the finishing circuit with 92km to go. In the peloton, it was the Norwegian second-division team Uno-X who took responsibility and dictated the tempo for much of the day.

Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) issued a small testing attack on the uphill Lange Ast cobblestones (400m at 5 per cent), but it was short lived. The peloton did briefly split but otherwise the opening lap passed by quietly, with the gap between break and bunch at two minutes as they hit the Nokereberg and crossed the line for the second time.

It was Lange Ast where the race ignited again on the second lap, after the gap to the break had gone out to 2:40 again. Groupama-FDJ took it up on the sector, sparking some splits but nothing race defining.

It set the tone, however, and on the next, flatter, sector there was more movement. On the narrow cobblestones a group of 11 riders clipped away, as a crash held up others behind. Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was in the front group but got caught in the potholes to the side of the cobbles and dropped back to a second group of 15. Out on the tarmac, the two groups merged together, ahead of other small groups behind.

Back at the finish line, where the bell sounded for the final lap with 30.5km to go, the breakaway had a lead of one minute over the front peloton of 25 riders. A second group of 20 riders – including Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) – wasn’t far behind, and did itself join forces with the front of the race after a few kilometres of the final lap.

The race then entered a period of disorganisation, with a series of vague accelerations and no sense of cohesion in the peloton. The gap to the break went back out to 1:20 in the absence of any concerted chase.

It was only with 15km to go that the pattern of repeated accelerations and lulls ended, and a proper chase was mounted, with Israel Start-Up Nation, Qhubeka-Assos, and Uno-X leading it. In three kilometres, the gap tumbled to 30 seconds, and Alpecin-Fenix upped the tempo even more on the approach to Lange Ast.

Gaudin and Robeet forged clear on the uphill cobbles, while Vanmarcke attacked from the bunch and made his way through the remnants of that break. The Belgian pressed on as the peloton split in three, but was soon caught by a split of 20 riders. 

There was another lull, however, allowing more riders to get back in, and allowing Gaudin and Robeet to move back out to half a minute.

The next attack came from Hayter and Mozzato, who linked up with Van Pouke from the break with 10km to go. They soon dropped Van Poucke but they caught Zoccarato and pressed on at 20 seconds from the leading duo, but only just ahead of the front peloton. 

Cavendish, who was in the second split, crashed on the flatter cobbled sector and his teammate Jannik Steimle soon hit the deck himself, and looked worse affected.

Alpecin-Fenix and UAE Team Emirates did the turns in the front peloton but the situation remained stable with 5km to go, and the tide quickly turned in favour of the break.

The leading duo turned on each other with 2km to go as Robeet launched a stinging acceleration. Gaudin looked to grind his big gear back into contention but soon the gap was established.

With 1km to go, Robeet led by a few seconds, with the Hayter group still 10 seconds in arrears and the peloton a further 10 seconds back. All that remained was the Nokereberg, and he duly finished it off. The cobblestones, the gradient, and the 195km breakaway all meant he could barely get two hands off the bars to celebrate, but that will do nothing to diminish the best day of Robeet’s career to date.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal WB 4:33:37
2Damien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:00:03
3Luca Mozzato (Ita) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:00:05
4Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe
5Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
6Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama-FDJ
7Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos
8Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
9Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
10Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
11Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates
12Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
13Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
14Pierre Barbier (Fra) Delko
15Wesley Kreder (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
16Eduard-Michael Grosu (Rom) Delko
17Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
18Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
19Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
20Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
21Matis Louvel (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
22Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
23Magnus Sheffield (USA) Rally Cycling
24Lindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
25Ward Vanhoof (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
26Josef Cerny (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep
27Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
28Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal
29Szymon Sajnok (Pol) Cofidis
30Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB
31Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Pol) Bingoal WB
32Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
33Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
34Amaury Capiot (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:00:24
35Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis 0:00:36
36Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:00:47
37Michal Golas (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:48
38Alfdan De Decker (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex 0:00:53
39August Jensen (Nor) Delko 0:01:01
40Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
41Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB 0:01:09
42André Carvalho (Por) Cofidis 0:01:23
43Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:01:25
44Etienne van Empel (Ned) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM 0:01:35
45Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Delko 0:01:36
46Valentin Ferron (Fra) Total Direct Energie
47Clément Davy (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
48Jeremy Cabot (Fra) Total Direct Energie
49Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
50Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
51Bram Welten (Ned) Team Arkea-Samsic
52Aaron Van Poucke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:01:49
53Sébastien Grignard (Bel) Lotto Soudal
54Anthony Jullien (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team 0:01:52
55Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:02:01
56Théo Delacroix (Fra) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
57Enzo Wouters (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
58Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
59Frederik Backaert (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
60Antonio Puppio (Ita) Team Qhubeka
61Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
62Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
63Rasmus Tiller (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
64Anders Skaarseth (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
65Erik Nordsaeter Resell (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
66Gilles De Wilde (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:02:10
67Davide Orrico (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM
68Shane Archbold (NZl) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:02:13
69Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) UAE Team Emirates
70Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Bingoal WB 0:02:15
71Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
72Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:04:16
73Cameron Wurf (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
74Thibault Ferasse (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
75Alexis Renard (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
76Andreas Nielsen (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos
77Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
78Simon Guglielmi (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:04:19
79Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ 0:04:27
80Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates 0:04:29
81Norman Vahtra (Est) Israel Start-up Nation 0:04:40
82Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:04:58
83Stijn Steels (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:05:50
84Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep
85Emmanuel Morin (Fra) Cofidis
86Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFIan Garrison (USA) Deceuninck-QuickStep
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
DNFJannik Steimle (Ger) Deceuninck-QuickStep
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFNicolas Prodhomme (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFErik Baska (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFPatrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFMartin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFJuraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFMatthew Walls (GBr) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFThomas Champion (Fra) Cofidis
DNFAlexys Brunel (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFOwain Doull (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFLudwig De Winter (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFJasper De Plus (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFBoy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFDanny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFTaj Jones (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFGuy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFFilippo Conca (Ita) Lotto Soudal
DNFMatthew Holmes (GBr) Lotto Soudal
DNFSylvain Moniquet (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFXandres Vervloesem (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFAlberto Dainese (Ita) Team DSM
DNFThymen Arensman (Ned) Team DSM
DNFAndreas Leknessund (Nor) Team DSM
DNFTim Naberman (Ned) Development Team DSM
DNFCasper van Uden (Ned) Development Team DSM
DNFIlan Van Wilder (Bel) Team DSM
DNFKevin Vermaerke (USA) Team DSM
DNFMatteo Pelucchi (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNFDylan Sunderland (Aus) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNFKoen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
DNFJakob Egholm (Den) Trek-Segafredo
DNFAlexander Kamp (Den) Trek-Segafredo
DNFAlex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
DNFTobias Bayer (Aut) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFLaurens De Vreese (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFEdward Planckaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFAlex Richardson (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFBert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
DNFJens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
DNFJulien Morice (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
DNFJonas Van Genechten (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
DNFNicolas Dalla Valle (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
DNFGiovanni Lonardi (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
DNFFabio Mazzucco (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
DNFAlessandro Monaco (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'
DNFMilan Menten (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFSean De Bie (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFClément Carisey (Fra) Delko
DNFJosé Gonçalves (Por) Delko
DNFDusan Rajovic (Srb) Delko
DNFStephen Bassett (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFPier Andre Cote (Can) Rally Cycling
DNFMatteo Dal-Cin (Can) Rally Cycling
DNFRobin Carpenter (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFAdam De Vos (Can) Rally Cycling
DNFEmerson Oronte (USA) Rally Cycling
DNFKenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFBenjamin Declercq (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFAlan Riou (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFChristophe Noppe (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFChristopher Lawless (GBr) Total Direct Energie
DNFMarlon Gaillard (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFFlorian Maitre (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFMorten Hulgaard (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFNiklas Larsen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFSyver Wærsted (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFAndrea Bartolozzi (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM
DNFJoab Schneiter (Swi) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM
DNFMattia Bevilacqua (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM
DNFAlessandro Iacchi (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM
DNFWout van Elzakker (Ned) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM
DNFMaxime De Poorter (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
DNFYlber Sefa (Alb) Tarteletto-Isorex
DNFBrent Van De Kerkhove (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
DNFElias Van Breussegem (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex
DNFJulien Van Den Brande (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex

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Patrick Fletcher
Deputy Editor

Deputy Editor. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2022 he has been Deputy Editor, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.

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