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Blaak attack earns Boels first 2019 victory at Het Nieuwsblad

Chantal Blaak attacked over the Muur de Geraardsbergen to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Chantal Blaak won Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race in Belgium, bringing Dutch squad Boels-Dolmans its first victory of the season. Blaak, 29, attacked from a lead group of 10 riders over the Muur de Geraardsbergen and extended her lead over the Bosberg climb.

Blaak crossed the line with more than a minute advantage on the chasers. She pumped her first emphatically as she coasted up to the line.

Boels-Dolmans held a numerical advantage coming into the decisive climbs of the race; among the front group of 10 were Boels-Dolmans riders Jip van den Bos and Anna van der Breggen, the defending world champion. The group also had several classics specialists, namely Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), Ellen Van Dijk and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), and Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott).

Van Dijk made several attempts to bridge to Blaak, but was unable to cut into the advantage. Blaak’s advantage ballooned from a few seconds to close to 45 over the span of several kilometers.

Van den Bos finished third in the sprint.

The race action came after the event was neutralized just 35km into the race. Organizers said the women’s field had nearly caught up to the men’s race, which prompted them to neutralize the women’s event.

The victory marks Blaak’s first win at the Belgian semi classic, which added a women’s event in 2006, and her first victory of the season. Blaak claimed the 2017 UCI world championship race in Bergen, Norway. She followed that win up with victories at the Amstel Gold Race and Dutch national road race championships in 2018.

The victory also brings Boels-Dolmans its first pro win of the 2019 season. The 2019 UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar begins on March 9 with the Strade Bianche in Italy. Boels-Dolmans won the team classification in the WorldTour in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Last season the team claimed eight rounds of the series.