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.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal WB||4:33:37|
|2||Damien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct Energie||0:00:03|
|3||Luca Mozzato (Ita) B&B Hotels p/b KTM||0:00:05|
|4||Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|5||Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation|
|6||Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama-FDJ|
|7||Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|8||Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|9||Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers|
|10||Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation|
|11||Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates|
|12||Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis|
|13||Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo|
|14||Pierre Barbier (Fra) Delko|
|15||Wesley Kreder (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|16||Eduard-Michael Grosu (Rom) Delko|
|17||Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|18||Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates|
|19||Marc Sarreau (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|20||Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation|
|21||Matis Louvel (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|22||Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|23||Magnus Sheffield (USA) Rally Cycling|
|24||Lindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|25||Ward Vanhoof (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|26||Josef Cerny (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|27||Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|28||Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal|
|29||Szymon Sajnok (Pol) Cofidis|
|30||Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|31||Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Pol) Bingoal WB|
|32||Samuele Zoccarato (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|33||Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|34||Amaury Capiot (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic||0:00:24|
|35||Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis||0:00:36|
|36||Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Qhubeka Assos||0:00:47|
|37||Michal Golas (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers||0:00:48|
|38||Alfdan De Decker (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex||0:00:53|
|39||August Jensen (Nor) Delko||0:01:01|
|40||Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix|
|41||Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB||0:01:09|
|42||André Carvalho (Por) Cofidis||0:01:23|
|43||Gerben Thijssen (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:01:25|
|44||Etienne van Empel (Ned) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM||0:01:35|
|45||Evaldas Siskevicius (Ltu) Delko||0:01:36|
|46||Valentin Ferron (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|47||Clément Davy (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|48||Jeremy Cabot (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|49||Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ|
|50||Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|51||Bram Welten (Ned) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|52||Aaron Van Poucke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise||0:01:49|
|53||Sébastien Grignard (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|54||Anthony Jullien (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team||0:01:52|
|55||Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos||0:02:01|
|56||Théo Delacroix (Fra) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|57||Enzo Wouters (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex|
|58||Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|59||Frederik Backaert (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|60||Antonio Puppio (Ita) Team Qhubeka|
|61||Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|62||Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|63||Rasmus Tiller (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|64||Anders Skaarseth (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|65||Erik Nordsaeter Resell (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|66||Gilles De Wilde (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise||0:02:10|
|67||Davide Orrico (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|68||Shane Archbold (NZl) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:02:13|
|69||Juan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Col) UAE Team Emirates|
|70||Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Bingoal WB||0:02:15|
|71||Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|72||Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe||0:04:16|
|73||Cameron Wurf (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers|
|74||Thibault Ferasse (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|75||Alexis Renard (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation|
|76||Andreas Nielsen (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|77||Riccardo Minali (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|78||Simon Guglielmi (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||0:04:19|
|79||Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ||0:04:27|
|80||Aleksandr Riabushenko (Blr) UAE Team Emirates||0:04:29|
|81||Norman Vahtra (Est) Israel Start-up Nation||0:04:40|
|82||Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise||0:04:58|
|83||Stijn Steels (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:05:50|
|84||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|85||Emmanuel Morin (Fra) Cofidis|
|86||Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|DNF||Ian Garrison (USA) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|DNF||Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|DNF||Jannik Steimle (Ger) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|DNF||Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|DNF||Nicolas Prodhomme (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|DNF||Erik Baska (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Patrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Martin Laas (Est) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Matthew Walls (GBr) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|DNF||Thomas Champion (Fra) Cofidis|
|DNF||Alexys Brunel (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|DNF||Owain Doull (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|DNF||Ludwig De Winter (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Jasper De Plus (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|DNF||Taj Jones (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy|
|DNF||Guy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Filippo Conca (Ita) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Matthew Holmes (GBr) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Sylvain Moniquet (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Xandres Vervloesem (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|DNF||Alberto Dainese (Ita) Team DSM|
|DNF||Thymen Arensman (Ned) Team DSM|
|DNF||Andreas Leknessund (Nor) Team DSM|
|DNF||Tim Naberman (Ned) Development Team DSM|
|DNF||Casper van Uden (Ned) Development Team DSM|
|DNF||Ilan Van Wilder (Bel) Team DSM|
|DNF||Kevin Vermaerke (USA) Team DSM|
|DNF||Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|DNF||Dylan Sunderland (Aus) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|DNF||Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Jakob Egholm (Den) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Alexander Kamp (Den) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo|
|DNF||Tobias Bayer (Aut) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Edward Planckaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Alex Richardson (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Bert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Julien Morice (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM|
|DNF||Nicolas Dalla Valle (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|DNF||Giovanni Lonardi (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|DNF||Fabio Mazzucco (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|DNF||Alessandro Monaco (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|DNF||Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Sean De Bie (Bel) Bingoal WB|
|DNF||Clément Carisey (Fra) Delko|
|DNF||José Gonçalves (Por) Delko|
|DNF||Dusan Rajovic (Srb) Delko|
|DNF||Stephen Bassett (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Pier Andre Cote (Can) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Matteo Dal-Cin (Can) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Robin Carpenter (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Adam De Vos (Can) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Emerson Oronte (USA) Rally Cycling|
|DNF||Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise|
|DNF||Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Alan Riou (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Christophe Noppe (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|DNF||Christopher Lawless (GBr) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Marlon Gaillard (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Florian Maitre (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|DNF||Morten Hulgaard (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Niklas Larsen (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Syver Wærsted (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team|
|DNF||Andrea Bartolozzi (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|DNF||Joab Schneiter (Swi) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|DNF||Mattia Bevilacqua (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|DNF||Alessandro Iacchi (Ita) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|DNF||Wout van Elzakker (Ned) Vini Zabu' Brado KTM|
|DNF||Maxime De Poorter (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex|
|DNF||Ylber Sefa (Alb) Tarteletto-Isorex|
|DNF||Brent Van De Kerkhove (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex|
|DNF||Elias Van Breussegem (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex|
|DNF||Julien Van Den Brande (Bel) Tarteletto-Isorex|
As Features Editor, Patrick is responsible for Cyclingnews' long-form and in-depth output. Patrick joined Cyclingnews in 2015 as a staff writer after a work experience stint that included making tea and being sent to the Tour de Langkawi. Prior to that, he studied French and Spanish at university and went on to train as a journalist. Rides his bike to work but more comfortable on a football pitch.
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