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Wout Van Aert takes solo victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, following an attack 13km from the finish.

No-one followed the Belgian when he accelerated out from a select group of favourites just prior to the final climb, the Bosberg. He crested that climb with a lead of about 10 seconds, he managed to solo to the finish and take victory on what was his first day of racing this season.

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) won the sprint for second-place from a group of about 20 riders, with Greg Van Avermaet (Ag2r Citroen) finishing behind in third.

Van Aert was greeted by a road from the Flemish fans upon arriving at the finish, who were celebrating the first victory at Het Nieuwsblad by a rider in the colours of the Belgian national champion’s jersey in 33 years. 

Van Aert finished off what was a dominant performance from Jumbo-Visma. Teammate Tiesj Benoot led the group over the top of the Muur-Kapelmuur, having earlier attacked out of a strong lead group which Van Aert was also part of, along with, among others, other pre-race favourites Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious), Stefan Kung (Groupama-DSJ), Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Soudal) Tom Pidcock. 

Then, when Benoot was caught on the descent of that climb, Van Aert was still on hand to make his race-winning move shortly after.

Their performance contrasted sharply with QuickStep-AlphaVinyl, who were uncharacteristically missing from all of the key moves that were made throughout the race.

Even when the decisive selection was made on the Muur-Kapelmuur, few of their riders were present, with Bahrain-Victorious and Groupama-FDJ instead being better represented, and taking it upon themselves to chase when Van Aert attacked.

There was nothing they could do to stop the Belgian, however, who starts the spring looking in ominously good form.

Ride of the day came from Victor Campanaerts (Lotto-Soudal), who’s race appeared destined to come to a premature end when he crashed and was forced to have a bike change earlier in the race.Yet he persevered, and had the strength to not only make the final selection, but even sprint to finish fifth at the finish.

How it unfolded

Conditions were dry for the first Flemish classic of the weekend, sparing the riders the added trouble of wet cobblestones, but the relentless frequency of the climbs still made for a rude awakening for everyone getting back into the rhythm of classics racing. 

In anticipation of the challenges to come, the peloton took it relatively easy for the first phase of the race, allowing a seven-rider break to get a maximum lead of over eight minutes.

In that breakaway group were Ben Healy (EF Education-EasyPost), Juri Hollmann (Movistar), Alexander Konychev (BikeExchange-Jayco), Quentin Jauregui (B&B Hotels-KTM), Ruben Apers (Sport Flanders-Baloise), Donovan Grondin (Arkea-Samsic) and Morten Hulgaard (Uno-X).

Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB) attempted to join them, but couldn't quite bridge the gap, and consequently spent around two hours in no-man’s land between the ever-increasing gap between the leaders and the peloton.

Only when Paasschens was eventually caught around 115km from the finish did the gap begin to plummet, as the peloton upped the pace in anticipation of the business end of the race.

The onset of the climbs, beginning with the Kattenberg, prompted multiple small digs out of the front of the peloton, although nobody managed to go clear until Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) on the approach to the Valeknberg, around 70km from the finish.

Sheffield was brought back a few kilometres later, by a peloton that remained intact despite an acceleration from former Het Nieuwsblad winner Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) on the Valkenberg.

Tensions increased as Jumbo-Visma led the peloton into the Holleweg section of cobblestones, and a crash on the cobbles saw several riders go down, including Victor Campanaerts (Lotto-Soudal) and Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates). 

On the next climb, the Wolvenberg, Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Soudal) and Loic Vliegen (Intermarche-WantyGobert Materiaux) countered an attack by John Degenkolb (DSM), and the pair opened up a significant gap on the peloton.

A few riders in the bunch tried to attack and join them, but only Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) managed to do so successfully, and joined Vermeersch and Vliegen on the cobbled Kerkgate sector, 50km from the finish.

By now the original break had broken into several smaller groups, and Vermeersch, Vliegen and Kung were catching the stragglers. At 45km from the finish, they caught up with what remained of the original break to form a new nine-man group at the head of the race. 

QuickStep-AlphaVinyl had uncharacteristically missed out on the move, and joined Jumbo-Visma in leading the chase in the peloton, which was over 30 seconds adrift of the leaders.

The peloton remained very large at this point, and in the cramped roads Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) was involved in a crash, appearing to break his collarbone. Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) was also briefly out the back shortly after when he had a mechanical. 

With the gap now at 50 seconds, Jumbo-Visma’s Nathan van Hooydonck took action with an attack on the Leberg, but couldn’t instigate an attack and the bunch remained together.

But the team had more success on the next climb, Berendries, as an acceleration from Tiesj Benoot saw himself, teammate Wout van Aert, and the Ineos Grenadiers duo of Tom Pidcock and Jhonatan Narvaez, all go clear.

They were joined by Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious), and together, with 26km still to ride, these five riders caught the six riders that remained ahead of them: Kung, Vermeersch, Vliegen, Healy, Hollmann and Hulgaard. 

Surprisingly, QuickStep-AlphaVinyl had again missed to move, and so it was up to them to lead the chase in the peloton, which was now 30 seconds adrift. However, despite using the big engines of Yves Lampaert and Kasper Asgreen, and being helped by UAE Team Emirates and Trek-Segafredo, they were unable to make any inroads.

With the crucial Muur-Kapelmuur approaching, Benoot attacked at the front of the race 20km from the finish, shattering the cohesion of a group that were reluctant to give Benoot’s teammate Van Aert a free ride. 

They were promptly caught at the foot of the Muur, leaving just Benoot out in front with a lead of just under 30 seconds with what was a very large peloton in pursuit.

Benoot saw his lead evaporate on the climb, as Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) led the peloton over the top with many of those from the previous breakaway, including Van Aert, Trentin and Colbrelli, nearby.

Benoot was caught on the descent after, where the race came back together with over 20 riders still together. 

Attacks in these circumstances were inevitable, with Oliver Naesen (Ag2r Citroen) among those to have a go. 

But the big move happened just prior to the Bosberg, 13km from the finish, when race favourite Van Aert accelerated.

Van Aert extended his lead on the Bosberg to about ten seconds, and by now was fully committed. But despite his strength, he still had a big task on his hand holding off what was a very strong, and still very big (approximately 20 riders), group. 

Despite the best efforts of the chasing group, who worked together relatively cohesively, Van Aert’s lead grew, and with 7km had reached 20 seconds.

Bahrain-Victorious’ Mohoric and Colbrelli and Groupama-FDJ were doing the lion’s share of the chasing, and so some of the impetus went out when Kung had a flat tyre. 

A grimace on the Belgian’s face illustrated just how deep he was going, and by the time his advantage was up to 30 seconds with just a few kilometres to ride, victory was inevitable.

Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 4:50:46
2Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:22
3Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team
4Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team
5Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6Rasmus Tiller (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
7Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
8Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
9Florian Senechal (Fra) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
10Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
11Simon Clarke (Aus) Israel-Premier Tech 0:00:25
12Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
13Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Movistar Team
14Matis Louvel (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
15Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
16Owain Doull (GBr) EF Education-EasyPost
17Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious
18Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:27
19Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:32
20Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious 0:00:42
21Ethan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:20
22Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious 0:01:30
23Amaury Capiot (Bel) Arkea-Samsic
24Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
25Dries Van Gestel (Bel) TotalEnergies
26Luca Mozzato (Ita) B&B Hotels-KTM
27Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
28Fredrik Dversnes (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
29Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
30Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team
31Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
32Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
33Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel-Premier Tech
34Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
35Connor Swift (GBr) Arkea-Samsic
36Jordi Warlop (Bel) B&B Hotels-KTM
37Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel-Premier Tech
38Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
39Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
40Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
41Bryan Coquard (Fra) Cofidis
42Anders Skaarseth (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
43John Degenkolb (Ger) Team DSM
44Laurenz Rex (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
45Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team
46Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
47Jonas Koch (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
48Kévin Vauquelin (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
49Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
50Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
51Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
52Damien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroen Team
53Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
54Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
55Daniel Oss (Ita) TotalEnergies
56Jonas Abrahamsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
57Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Nor) Team DSM
58Michael Gogl (Aut) Alpecin-Fenix
59Ben Turner (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
60Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
61Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
62Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
63Oier Lazkano Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team
64Rui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
65Ward Vanhoof (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
66Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
67Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
68Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
69Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
70Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel-Premier Tech
71Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
72Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
73Hugo Houle (Can) Israel-Premier Tech
74Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Bahrain Victorious
75Ben Healy (Irl) EF Education-EasyPost
76Kasper Asgreen (Den) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
77Daniel McLay (GBr) Arkea-Samsic
78Lewis Askey (GBr) Groupama-FDJ
79Tom Bohli (Swi) Cofidis
80Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
81Kamil Gradek (Pol) Bahrain Victorious
82Adrien Petit (Fra) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:02:16
83Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux 0:02:31
84Sander De Pestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:05:04
85Morten Hulgaard (Den) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
86Juri Hollmann (Ger) Movistar Team
87Erik Nordsaeter Resell (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
88Louis Blouwe (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB 0:05:49
89Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
90Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
91Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team
92Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan Team
93Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-EasyPost
94Senne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
95Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Pol) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
96Clément Russo (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
97Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
98Peter Sagan (Svk) TotalEnergies
99Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM
100Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
101Daan Hoole (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
102Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroen Team
103Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM
104Lindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:08:33
105Donavan Grondin (Fra) Arkea-Samsic
106Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
107Aaron Verwilst (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
108Magnus Sheffield (USA) Ineos Grenadiers
109Jan Maas (Ned) BikeExchange-Jayco
110Ryan Gibbons (RSA) UAE Team Emirates
111Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
112Dion Smith (NZl) BikeExchange-Jayco
113Julien Morice (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM
114Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe
115Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
116Ruben Apers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
117Tobias Bayer (Aut) Alpecin-Fenix 0:11:56
118Patrick Gamper (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
119Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
120Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
121Leonardo Basso (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
122Gianni Moscon (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
123Harry Sweeny (Aus) Lotto Soudal
124Cyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM
DNFChristopher Lawless (GBr) TotalEnergies 0:11:56
DNFEdoardo Affini (Ita) Jumbo-Visma 0:11:56
DNFMarius Mayrhofer (Ger) Team DSM
DNFNikias Arndt (Ger) Team DSM
DNFLawson Craddock (USA) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNFLeon Heinschke (Ger) Team DSM
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) TotalEnergies
DNFEdvald Boasson-Hagen (Nor) TotalEnergies
DNFFernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team Emirates
DNFAnthony Turgis (Fra) TotalEnergies
DNFAlexander Konychev (Ita) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNFAlessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFQuentin Jauregui (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
DNFJosef Cerny (Cze) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
DNFOliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFCyril Barthe (Fra) B&B Hotels-KTM
DNFMaurice Ballerstedt (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFTobias Halland Johannessen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
DNFAntoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ
DNFBert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team
DNFMichael Valgren (Den) EF Education-EasyPost
DNFPhil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
DNFDavide Martinelli (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNFAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNFMichele Gazzoli (Ita) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNFYevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Astana Qazaqstan Team
DNFMarco Haller (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFMarkus Hoelgaard (Nor) Trek-Segafredo
DNFIde Schelling (Ned) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFPiet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
DNFEddy Fine (Fra) Cofidis
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) BikeExchange-Jayco
DNFKenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis
DNFTom Scully (NZl) EF Education-EasyPost
DNFJulius van den Berg (Ned) EF Education-EasyPost
DNFLawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroen Team
DNFLukasz Wisniowski (Pol) EF Education-EasyPost
DNFMathijs Paasschens (Ned) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
DNFLudovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB
DNFCameron Wurf (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFCorbin Strong (NZl) Israel-Premier Tech
DNFJohan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team
DNFSzymon Sajnok (Pol) Cofidis
DNSTim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNSNils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM
DNSSep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel-Premier Tech

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