Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Soudal) claimed the latest victory of his fairytale debut season, comfortably winning the Ronde van Limburg on Sunday.
The 20-year-old put daylight between himself and second-placed Simone Consonni (Cofidis) to collect his third win in a row and his sixth for the season.
Danny van Poppel (Bora-Hansgrohe) finished third despite being on lead-out duty for Sam Bennett, who simply had nothing to give when the sprint opened and finished fifth.
The sprint was contested between a peloton that had been reduced over the 202.6km course, dominated by three laps of a 24km finishing circuit that contained four short climbs. It was cut down even more severely just 2.5km from the line when a crash took out some contenders in Mark Cavendish (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl) and Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert).
Lotto Soudal dominated the run-in, shutting down attacks and keeping things together for a sprint, but Bora-Hansgrohe stormed forward in the final 2km. Van Poppel hit the front ahead of a tight right-hand bend in the final 300 metres, with Bennett on his wheel and De Lie tucked in behind.
Anyone lower than 10th place through that bend was out of the equation, as Fernando Gaviria, whose fellow UAE Team Emirates sprinter Pascal Ackermann had sacrificed himself to keep the day’s breakaway under control, found out.
De Lie opened up to the right of Van Poppel as Bennett looked to launch on the left. However, the Irishman was unable to muster any real acceleration, and ended up giving the nod to Van Poppel to continue his sprint all the way to the line.
By that point, De Lie was way out front, with enough time to take a look over each shoulder before sitting up and celebrating once again.
“I like uphill sprints like this - it’s very good for me when it’s just power and the strong men take the win,” De Lie said. “I’m very happy with this victory.
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