Stybar takes solo victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Nearly man no more. Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck-QuickStep) soloed to victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with a canny attack in the closing kilometres to claim the first Flemish Classic of his career, while Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) won the sprint for second ahead of Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal).

Stybar was part of a five-man break that decided the honours on the approach to Ninove after they had extended their lead over the chasing group to more than half a minute on the final climbs of the Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg.

Van Avermaet was, by reputation, the quickest of their number, and the Olympic champion took it upon himself to close down an attack from Wellens with 3km remaining. Stybar had been waiting for this precise moment. As soon as Wellens was caught, the Czech attacked on the opposite side of the road. Van Avermaet, reasoning that he couldn't be expected to jump on every move, looked for help from Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida). It wasn't immediately forthcoming and Stybar suddenly had a winning gap.

"I had a good feeling all day, but of course you never know," said Stybar, who was prominent all afternoon. "It was a very strong break, but I still had teammates in the group behind, and I could benefit from that."

In 2018, while QuickStep racked up a remarkable 73 wins, Stybar managed to go the entire season without a victory, though he played a key supporting role in the team's Classics success. He started 2019 on the right foot last week by claiming the final stage of the Volta ao Algarve, and continued in that vein to win by 6 seconds in Ninove.

For all their dominance in the Flemish Ardennes over the years, QuickStep have often struggled on Belgian cycling’s Opening Weekend. Tom Boonen famously never won Omloop and the team’s last success in the race came back in 2005, when Nick Nuyens won an event that was still known as Omloop Het Volk.

"I only heard the day before yesterday at the press conference that QuickStep hadn't won Omloop for 14 years, which was amazing," Stybar said. "I am very happy that I could win here, for the team, but also for me. I was close to a victory like this last year and I'm happy to finally finish it off."

The winning move had its genesis in the forcing of Jumbo-Visma on the narrow ascent of the Molenberg with 40km remaining, which left 17 riders in front, including Stybar and his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Yves Lampaert, as well as Van Avermaet, Lutsenko, Wellens, Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), Oliver Naesen (AG2R), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) and Ian Stannard (Team Sky).

Despite the pursuit of Sunweb behind, it looked a decisive split, and the group was whittled down still further when Benoot crashed with a shade under 30km to go, leaving just six riders – Stybar, Van Avermaet, Lutsenko, Wellens, Teuns and Oss – out in front as they faced into the climb of the Elverenberg.

That sextet combined well to hit the Muur with a lead of 17 seconds on the chasers, and their raw strength told on the slopes of the hallowed climb, as Van Avermaet and Stybar’s pace-making proved too much for Oss and extended their lead over the chasers behind.

Van Avermaet and Stybar were again forceful on the Bosberg, and the five leaders crested the summit with 35 seconds in hand on a chasing group that was being policed by Deceuninck-QuickStep. It was a scenario familiar from last spring, only this time, Stybar found himself out in front rather than caught behind. He didn't squander the opportunity.

How it unfolded

The break formed early, with Roy Jans (Corendon-Circus), Tom Wirtgen (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Alex Howes (EF-Drapac) and Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) forging clear of the peloton shortly after it left the start town of Ghent. The ambling bunch allowed the escapees build up a lead of some 14 minutes by the time they reached first cobbled section of the Haaghoek after 38 kilometres of racing, at which point Deceuninck-QuickStep stepped forward to beginning paring down their advantage. Indeed, the bunch’s slow early pace had an inadvertent impact on the women’s race, which was briefly neutralised to avoid an overlap between the two events.

By the second ascent of the Leberg the break’s lead was down to six minutes. An attack from Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis) forced an early split in the peloton and reduced the break’s lead still further. Vanbilsen was joined by many riders, including Stybar, Naesen Ian Stannard (Sky), Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal), Jurgen Roelandts (Movistar) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo). The CCC-led peloton had to work hard for 20 kilometres to bring the Stybar group back at the Valkenberg. Meanwhile, Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie-Bruxelles) bridged across to the lead group.

The first move from the favourites came on the cobbles at Mater, with 50km to go, when Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) made a fierce acceleration. He was marked by Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) and Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe).

Soon afterwards, Jumbo-Visma's Danny van Poppel hammered up the narrow Molenberg climb on the front, an effort that split the bunch into multiple groups, forming the elite move of 17. They soon caught Baptiste Planckaert, the sole remaining leader, after they hurtled over the cobbles of Haaghoek, 37km from the finish.

After Benoot's crash, only six riders remained in front. In the reduced peloton, Owain Doull (Team Sky) worked hard to bring the gap back down to 10 seconds at the foot of the Muur, but the power of the men in front proved telling and the margin opened once again. Van Avermaet and Stybar had looked to be the strongest for much of the afternoon, and so it proved, with the Czech winning the day.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep4:53:17
2Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team0:00:09
3Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
5Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida
6Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Bora-Hansgrohe
7Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
8Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
9Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
10Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
11Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
12Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
13Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
14Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky
15Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First
16Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck-QuickStep
17Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
18Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
19Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin0:00:28
20Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie0:00:29
21Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:30
22Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:32
23Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:44
24Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles0:01:52
25Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar Team
26Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky
27Stijn Devolder (Bel) Corendon-Circus
28Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky0:02:51
29Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team
30Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
31Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:04:16
32Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:04:42
33Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
34Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott0:04:44
35Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida0:05:54
36Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
37Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
38Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
39Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
40Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
41Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
42Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:06:17
43Dries De Bondt (Bel) Corendon-Circus
44Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
45Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Dimension Data
46Boy van Poppel (Ned) Roompot-Charles
47Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
48Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
49Pim Ligthart (Ned) Direct Energie
50Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
51Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo
52Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
53Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
54Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ
55Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team
56Aime De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
57Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ
58Alex Howes (USA) EF Education First
59Casper Pedersen (Den) Team Sunweb
60Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
61Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
62Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First
63Tom Bohli (Swi) UAE Team Emirates
64Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-Alpecin
65Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie
66Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
67Kevyn Ista (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles
68Louis Vervaeke (Bel) Team Sunweb
69Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team
70Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
71Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC Team
72Jens Debusschere (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
73Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky
74Damien Touze (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
75Jorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team
76Jimmy Janssens (Bel) Corendon-Circus0:06:23
77Sjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Charles
78Dion Smith (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott
79Timo Roosen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
80Lars Boom (Ned) Roompot-Charles
81Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ
82Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
83Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team
84Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team
85Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
86Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
87Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:06:27
88Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
89Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
90Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana Pro Team
91Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First
92Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First
93Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie
94Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:08:36
95Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
96Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
97Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
98Grega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
99Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles
100Emils Liepins (Lat) Wallonie Bruxelles
101Lukas Spengler (Swi) Wallonie Bruxelles
102Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
103Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
104Matti Breschel (Den) EF Education First
105Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
106Marcel Meisen (Ger) Corendon-Circus
107Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
108Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
109Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
110Lionel Taminiaux (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles
DNFTiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFNikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFBrian van Goethem (Ned) Lotto Soudal
DNFJordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFJoeri Stallaert (Bel) Corendon-Circus
DNFPascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFValerio Agnoli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
DNFRoy Jans (Bel) Corendon-Circus
DNFYevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFFlorian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep
DNFIljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
DNFJerome Baugnies (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
DNFKenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFDavide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFZhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFRory Sutherland (Aus) UAE Team Emirates
DNFMaarten van Trijp (Ned) Corendon-Circus
DNFJuraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFTom Wirtgen (Lux) Wallonie Bruxelles
DNFAsbjørn Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
DNFRomain Cardis (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
DNFRasmus Tiller (Nor) Dimension Data
DNFJaco Venter (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFLars Bak (Den) Dimension Data
DNFMathias De Witte (Bel) Roompot-Charles
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Roompot-Charles
DNFMitchell Docker (Aus) EF Education First
DNFJenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFAntonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFViacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFElmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot-Charles
DNFMads Schmidt Würtz (Den) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFHarry Tanfield (GBr) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFJesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot-Charles
DNFChristopher Lawless (GBr) Team Sky
DNFLeonardo Basso (Ita) Team Sky
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNFWesley Kreder (Ned) Wanty-Gobert
DNFRoberto Ferrari (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFNathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC Team
DNFFrancisco Ventoso (Spa) CCC Team
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) CCC Team
DNFEdoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFAlexandre Pichot (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFJan Bakelants (Bel) Team Sunweb
DNFSven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
DNFJohannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Sunweb
DNFMarco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFJulien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-Segafredo
DNFDaniel Hoelgaard (Nor) Groupama-FDJ
DNFAlex Frame (NZl) Trek-Segafredo
DNFPiet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFImanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFEduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar Team
DNFRüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFJuan Sebastian Molano (Col) UAE Team Emirates

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