Davide Ballerini wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-QuickStep) won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad ahead of Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) and Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation) in a bunch sprint.

Unusually for Het Niuwsblad, the race came down to a bunch sprint, despite the usual attacks and drama throughout the race. 

A dangerous group had broken clear earlier in the race including Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Greg Van Avermaet (Ag2r Citroen), Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), but everything came back together again before the climb of the Muur. 

Apart from an attack from Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers) over that climb, no other riders managed to break clear after that point, leading to the novel experience of a large bunch sprint deciding Het Nieuwsblad. 

Ballerini had also been a part of the group that broke clear earlier, but still had enough left in the tank to comfortably win the sprint at the finish. 

"It’s one dream come true”, said the Italian at the finish. “This is the start of the classics, a really big classic. I love it, I like it, I love this team. It was a dream since I was a baby when I saw this race on TV."

"I’m really happy for the team...I know it’s not easy for everybody, with the Covid situation. I say congratulations to the organisation for this beautiful race, and to keep going like this."

How it unfolded

As well as being the first cobbled classics of the season, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad marks, for many cycling fans, the proper start of the season — and this was a typically exciting edition of a race that always brings thrills, spill and action.

As is so often the case in this race, the weather was cold, with the riders having to wrap up warm, although the wind was relatively gentle, and they were spared any rainfall. 

Yevgeniy Federov (Astana Premier-Tech), Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team Emirates), Kenny De Ketele (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Bert De Backer (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) and Matis Louvel (Arkea Samsic) formed a breakaway group of five at the start of the day, and opened up a lead that gained a maximum advantage of over eight minutes.

However, on what was a very fast day where the riders did not hang about, that gap quickly began tumbling down. At 80km to go it was at four minutes, and at 65km to go it had dipped to little over two minutes. 

Inevitably, there were crashes, and major contenders Greg Van Avermaet and Sep Vanmarcke — both riding their first cobbled classic for their new teams — both involved in one incident early on. Later, at 53km, several riders hit the deck together, including Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious). 

Aside from Jonas Rutsch (EF Education-Nippo) — who escaped up the rode alone 67km from the finish in pursuit of the break — there were no attacks out of the peloton, as the favourites kept their power dry ahead of the dense flurry of late cobbled climbs.

On the first of these, the Wolvenberg, Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) set a fierce pace, with teammate Julian Alaphilippe on his wheel, but fell going around a corner on the next cobbled section. His upping of the pace did bring back Rutsch, however, and caused the gap to the main breakaway to decrease to below one minute for the first time. 

The first significant attacks came on the next climb, the Molenberg, courtesy of Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates). His acceleration caused a small group of favourites to go clear, including Van Avermaet, Vanmarcke, Chirstophe Laporte (Cofidis), Arjen Livyns (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles), Michael Gogl (Qhubeka Assos), plus the Deceuninck-QuickStep trio of Alaphilippe, Zdenek Stybar and Davide Ballerini. 

They soon caught the day’s break, as well as the duo of Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma) and Johan Jacobs (Movistar) who had attacked the peloton earlier, forming a new leading group of around a dozen riders, who were also joined by Tom Pidcock (Ines Grenadiers) and Luxembourg champion Kevin Geniets (Groupama-FDJ) after they accelerated out of the peloton with an impressive burst of speed. 

Alaphilippe attacked on the next climb, Berendries, and opened up a significant gap over the others of over 20 seconds. Despite committed efforts from the others, most notably from a very strong looking Pidcock, Alaphilippe had the advantage of two Deceuninck-QuickStep teammates to disrupt the chase — that is, until Stybar crashed at 27km from the finish. 

Behind, the peloton had got organised with teams that had missed the move, like Lotto-Soudal and Trek-Segafredo, setting a strong pace.

A pursuit between Alaphilippe and the chasers and the chasers and the peloton followed, and all three came back together just in time for the crucial climb of the Muur, with 18km left to ride.

Gianni Moscon set the pace on the Muur, and reached the top with a small gap over the rest of the strung out peloton. Despite having no company to share the workload with, the Italian retained his lead after the Muur and on the approach to the day’s final climb, the Bosberg. 

He began to tire on the climb itself, however, and was caught over the summit by a peloton that, unusually for this race, still remained together in a very large size. 

Deceuninck-QuickStep took control of the peloton, with Kasper Asgreen, Alaphilippe and Lampaert setting a fast pace at the front to set Ballerini up for a sprint. Their pace was enough to deter any attacks, as the other teams also gambled on waiting for the bunch sprint.

A few riders went down in a crash with just 2500 metres left to ride, including Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers), while Alexander Kristoff (UAE Emirates) — who will have fancied his chances of winning the sprint — suffered a mechanical. 

Other teams attempted to wrestle control from Deceuninck-QuickStep as the finishing straight approached, but the Belgian team reasserted themselves around the final few corners, and set up Ballerini perfectly for a victory of several bike-lengths.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 4:43:03
2Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama-FDJ
3Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
4Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
5Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
7Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
8Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
9Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ
10Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
11Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team
12Amaury Capiot (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
13Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
14Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix
15Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
16Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
17Cedric Beullens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
18Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
19Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
20Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
21Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar Team
22Owain Doull (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
23Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM
24Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
25Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
26Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
27Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious
28Aime De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
29Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team DSM
30Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
31Cyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
32Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Qhubeka Assos
33Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
34Damien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
35Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-Nippo
36Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team BikeExchange
37Michael Gogl (Aut) Team Qhubeka Assos
38Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
39Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
40Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious
41Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
42Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
43Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB
44Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange
45Gianni Moscon (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
46Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:07
47Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
48Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
49Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:15
50Joel Suter (Swi) Bingoal WB 0:00:17
51Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
52Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
53Johan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team 0:00:22
54Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
55Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
56Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:40
57Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
58Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 0:01:33
59Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:02:44
60Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
61Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ
62Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM
63Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
64Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:02:45
65Jonas Koch (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:03:00
66Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:03:07
67Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
68Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
69Niki Terpstra (Ned) Total Direct Energie
70Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
71Stefano Oldani (Ita) Lotto Soudal
72Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal WB
73Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-up Nation
74Frederik Backaert (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
75Carlos Barbero (Spa) Team Qhubeka Assos
76Juri Hollmann (Ger) Movistar Team
77André Carvalho (Por) Cofidis
78Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team DSM
79Andreas Kron (Den) Lotto Soudal
80Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ
81Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education-Nippo
82Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Cofidis
83Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
84Dion Smith (NZl) Team BikeExchange
85Thimo Willems (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:04:26
86Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
87Tom Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal WB
88Tom Bohli (Swi) Cofidis
89Olav Kooij (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
90Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie
91Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo
92Maarten Wynants (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
93Senne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
94Mathias Norsgaard (Den) Movistar Team
95Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
96Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
97Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
98Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Total Direct Energie
99Benjamin Perry (Can) Astana-Premier Tech
100Christophe Noppe (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
101Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeExchange
102Aaron Van Poucke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
103Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ
104Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-Nippo
105Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
106Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
107Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
108Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Team BikeExchange
109Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
110Sebastian Mora Vedri (Spa) Movistar Team
111Norman Vahtra (Est) Israel Start-up Nation
112Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
113Michal Golas (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers
114Leonardo Basso (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
115Adrien Petit (Fra) Total Direct Energie
116Cyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
117Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
118Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
119Alex Colman (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
120Patrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
121Sander Armee (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
122Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
123Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
124Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
125Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep
126Julius van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-Nippo
127Ide Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
128Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
129Bert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
130Mitch Docker (Aus) EF Education-Nippo 0:09:15
131Davide Martinelli (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
132Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
133Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal WB
134Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education-Nippo
135Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
136Ryan Gibbons (RSA) UAE Team Emirates
137Callum Scotson (Aus) Team BikeExchange
138Damien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
139Szymon Sajnok (Pol) Cofidis
140Matis Louvel (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFBrent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFEdoardo Affini (Ita) Jumbo-Visma
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFDonavan Vincent Grondin (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFPaul Martens (Ger) Jumbo-Visma
DNFOliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFTim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
DNFEmil Vinjebo (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNFJasha Sütterlin (Ger) Team DSM
DNFChristopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange
DNFCasper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM
DNFCharlie Quarterman (GBr) Trek-Segafredo
DNFNiklas Märkl (Ger) Team DSM
DNFJakob Egholm (Den) Trek-Segafredo
DNFFlorian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFMark Padun (Ukr) Bahrain Victorious
DNFSonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
DNFStephen Williams (GBr) Bahrain Victorious
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFMarcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFKenny De Ketele (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFManuele Boaro (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech
DNFJenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFJulien Duval (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFDimitri Peyskens (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFChristopher Lawless (GBr) Total Direct Energie
DNFSean De Bie (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFBoy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
DNFOtto Vergaerde (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFMoreno Hofland (Ned) EF Education-Nippo
DNFEmmanuel Morin (Fra) Cofidis
DNSReto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel Start-up Nation
DNSGuillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-up Nation

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