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GP Leuven: Van Kessel and Sels solo to victory

Corne van Kessel (Telenet Fidea) soloed to victory on Sunday at the Soudal Classics GP Leuven in Belgium and showed he is on form heading into the national championships next weekend. French national champion Clement Venturini (Ag2r-La Mondiale) captured second with Marlux-Bingoal’s Michael Vanthourenhout finishing in third.

The course in Leuven, Belgium was lumpy and had many ride-ups and run-ups for the riders. However, despite the undulating terrain, the dry course was quick and the elite men would contest 10 laps. Many of the top-ranked riders opted to skip the race on Sunday and instead head to a warmer climate to train. The next four weekends of the season are critical with the national championships, two World Cups and the World Championships.

Venturini would grab the holeshot and immediately set about working to create an advantage over the rest of the riders. He was followed by Thijs Aerts (Telenet Fidea), van Kessel and Kevin Pauwels (Marlux-Bingoal). Aerts would be unable to hold the pace in the group and drop off after the opening laps.

The leading trio traded attacks through the first quarter of the race, as a large group chased behind. Notable riders in the chase group were Eli Iserbyt (Marlux-Bingoal), Wietse Bosmans (ERA-Circus), Aerts and Michael Vanthourenhout (Marlux-Bingoal).

Vanthourenhout attacked out of the chase group on the third lap and would be joined a lap later by Pauwels. The Belgian was dropped out of the lead group after he crashed at the bottom of one of the descents. Behind the Marlux-Bingoal duo, Iserbyt and Bosmans had left the rest of the chasers behind.

Halfway through the race, the win was van Kessel’s to lose. He had ridden a flawless race to this point and to the contrary of his competitors, had no crashes or mechanicals.

Venturini crashed on the fifth lap and thus lost contact with van Kessel. He would join Pauwels and Vanthourenhout in chasing the Telenet Fidea rider. Meanwhile, Iserbyt dropped Bosmans and set off in pursuit of teammates and Venturini.

Pauwels would soon lose contact with Venturini and Vanthourenhout and drop back to Iserbyt to create a battle for fourth on the day. The battle for second would not appear as Venturini swiftly rode away from Vanthourenhout with three laps remaining.

Van Kessel comfortably took the victory in Belgium with Venturini finishing second and Vanthourenhout third. Pauwels would dispatch Iserbyt on the final lap to take home fourth. Marlux-Bingoal put three riders in the top five on the day.

Elite men top 10

  • 1. Corne Van Kessel, (NED) TELENET FIDEA LIONS, 0:59:59
  • 2. Clement Venturini, (FRA) AG2R-LA MONDIALE, 1:00:09
  • 3. Michael Vanthourenhout, (BEL) MARLUX – BINGOAL, 1:00:17
  • 4. Kevin Pauwels, (BEL) MARLUX – BINGOAL, 1:00:23
  • 5. Eli Iserbyt, (BEL) MARLUX – BINGOAL, 1:00:31
  • 6. Daan Soete, (BEL) TELENET FIDEA LIONS, 1:01:05
  • 7. Gianni Vermeersch, (BEL) STEYLAERTS – BETFIRST, 1:01:05
  • 8. Rob Peeters, (BEL) PAUWELS SAUZEN – VASTGOEDSERVICE, 1:01:17
  • 9. David Van Der Poel, (NED) CORENDON – CIRCUS, 1:01:19
  • 10. Jim Aernouts, (BEL) TELENET FIDEA LIONS, 1:01:19
  • Sels shows form ahead of nationals

    Loes Sels (Crelan-Charles) was head and shoulders above the rest of the elite women’s field on Sunday at GP Leuven. She broke away early in the contest and came home triumphant at the end of the six-lap race. 2016 World Champion Thalita de Jong (Experza-Footlogix) finished second with Ceylin del Carmen (Beobank-Corendon) in third.

    As with the elite men’s race, many of the top-ranked women opted to skip racing at the GP Leuven. Marianne Vos (WM3) was listed on the start list, but did not race. She has publicly said she is still unsure if she will race at the World Championships.

    Though she did not grab the holeshot, Sels made little time in making her way to the front of the race and putting the throttle down. A chase of four formed behind her at the end of the opening lap with Ellen van Loy (Telenet Fidea), Manon Bakker (Experza-Footlogix), del Carmen and de Jong.

    Bakker would lose contact with the group after having a mechanical on the fourth lap, which stuck her in her hardest gear. After losing many places and struggling to pedal, she made it to the pit and got a properly working bike. She would power through the final laps to finish eighth on the day.

    The chasing trio entered the final lap with de Jong driving on the front of the group. Though the win was out of grasp barring a crash or mechanical from Sels, there was a big fight for the podium with two places remaining and three riders in the group.

    Van Loy would be unable to stay in contact with the group and be the one to lose out on the podium. De Jong continued to take responsibility for the pace in the group and gapped del Carmen shortly before the paved finishing straight to secure second on the day.

    Del Carmen rolled calmly in for the final podium spot, while van Loy had to settle for fourth.

    The final race in the Soudal Classics series is February 21 in Waregem, Belgium.

    Elite women full results

    • 1. Loes Sels, (BEL), 42:52
    • 2. Thalita De Jong, (NED), 43:12
    • 3. Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado, (NED), 43:12
    • 4. Ellen Van Loy, (BEL), 43:17
    • 5. Joyce Vanderbeken, (BEL), 44:22
    • 6. Denise Betsema, (NED), 44:32
    • 7. Karen Verhestraeten, (BEL), 44:50
    • 8. Manon Bakker, (NED), 45:11
    • 9. Elle Anderson, (USA), 45:33
    • 10. Lindy Van Anrooij, (NED), 45:33
    • 11. Axelle Bellaert, (BEL). 46:16
    • 12. Lizzy Witlox, (NED), 46:34
    • 13. Esther Van Der Burg, (NED), 46:34
    • 14. Jinse Peeters, (BEL), 46:34
    • 15. Magdalena MiŠoŇovÁ, (CZE), 47:00
    • 16. Marlene Petit, (FRA), 47:26
    • 17. Linda Ter Beek, (NED), 48:08
    • 18. Elodie Kuijper, (NED), 48:49
    • 19. Tessa Zwaenepoel, (BEL), 49:43
    • 20. Corey Coogan Cisek, (USA)
    • 21. Meg De Bruyne, (BEL)
    • 22. Didi De Vries, (NED)
    • 23. Stacey Riedel, (AUS)
    • 24. Axelle Dubau Prevot, (FRA)
    • 25. Sara Michielsens, (BEL)
    • 26. Erin Mitchell, (AUS)

    Elite men full results

    • 1. Corne Van Kessel, (NED) TELENET FIDEA LIONS, 0:59:59
    • 2. Clement Venturini, (FRA) AG2R-LA MONDIALE, 1:00:09
    • 3. Michael Vanthourenhout, (BEL) MARLUX – BINGOAL, 1:00:17
    • 4. Kevin Pauwels, (BEL) MARLUX – BINGOAL, 1:00:23
    • 5. Eli Iserbyt, (BEL) MARLUX – BINGOAL, 1:00:31
    • 6. Daan Soete, (BEL) TELENET FIDEA LIONS, 1:01:05
    • 7. Gianni Vermeersch, (BEL) STEYLAERTS – BETFIRST, 1:01:05
    • 8. Rob Peeters, (BEL) PAUWELS SAUZEN – VASTGOEDSERVICE, 1:01:17
    • 9. David Van Der Poel, (NED) CORENDON – CIRCUS, 1:01:19
    • 10. Jim Aernouts, (BEL) TELENET FIDEA LIONS, 1:01:19
    • 11. Diether Sweeck, (BEL) ERA-CIRCUS, 1:01:55
    • 12. Wietse Bosmans, (BEL) ERA-CIRCUS, 1:02:03
    • 13. Quinten Hermans, (BEL) TELENET FIDEA LIONS, 1:02:03
    • 14. Thijs Aerts, (BEL) TELENET FIDEA LIONS, 1:02:32
    • 15. Daan Hoeyberghs, (BEL) STEYLAERTS – BETFIRST, 1:02:38
    • 16. Dieter Vanthourenhout, (BEL) MARLUX – BINGOAL, 1:03:42
    • 17. Jonas Degroote, (BEL) , 1:03:54
    • 18. Lander Loockx, (BEL) , 1:04:28
    • 19. Sieben Wouters, (NED) PAUWELS SAUZEN – VASTGOEDSERVICE, 1:05:01
    • 20. Timo Kielich, (BEL) ERA-CIRCUS, 1:05:41
    • 21. Arne Vrachten, (BEL) TARTELETTO – ISOREX
    • 22. Victor Vandebosch, (BEL)
    • 23. Andrew Juiliano, (USA)
    • 24. Maximilian MÖbis, (GER)
    • 25. Thijs Van Amerongen, (NED)
    • 26. Julien Kaise, (BEL)
    • 27. Nicholas Smith, (AUS)
    • 28. Declan Prosser, (AUS)
    • 29. Vincent Oger, (BEL)

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