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Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Stybar wins with perfectly timed late attack

Stybar attacks from select lead group to go solo over the line, punishing Van Avermaet's earlier aggression.

A perfectly timed attack from Zdenek Stybar saw the Czech rider open the classics season with a win for Deceuninck-Quick-Step, Saturday. Stybar attacked from a select lead group of five with three kilometers to go, leaving Greg Van Avermaet legless and unable to follow having done so much work in the final stages of the race. The CCC rider led home the chasers to take second, while Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) took third.

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

The 200km opening cobbled classic of the season got underway under grey, drizzly skies. A breakaway quartet of Alex Howes (EF-Education First), Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Roy Jans (Corendon-Circus) and Tom Wirtgen (Wallonie-Bruxelles) went clear in the first 15km, quickly gaining up to 14 minutes on the peloton. It wasn’t until midway through the race that the bunch began the chase, and soon started cutting the advantage.

The attacks in the peloton kick-started on 80km remaining, by which point the lead quartet’s advantage was down to under five minutes. A chase group formed of over 20 riders, including dangermen Oliver Naesen (AG2R-La Mondiale), Ian Stannard (Team Sky), and Stybar, and gained over two minutes on the bunch before being winched in. The surge in pace in the peloton cut the lead quartet’s gap significantly.

With just over 40km remaining, an attack from Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) pulled a select group clear momentarily, including Van Avermaet and Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe), however, the peloton soon pulled the threat back.

As the bergs that pepper the back half of the race started coming thick and fast, the lead quartet splintered, leaving just Planckaert and Devriendt at the head of the race.

The first meaningful split in the bunch came on around 40km to go, which included several big names, including Stybar, Van Avermaet, Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step). However, several big names missed the cut, including  Sep Vanmarcke (EF-Education First) and Quick-Step pair Gilbert and Bob Jungels.

Keen to distance dangermen such as Vanmarcke, the lead group pushed the advantage and soon swallowed up lone breakaway man Devriendt. Van Avermaet was forced into doing a lot of the work in the lead group as other riders were wary of the Belgian’s sprint.

Behind, the peloton splintered into several groups, with Team Sky’s Owain Doull pulling hard on the front. Quick-Step trio Jungels, Gilbert and Lampaert stifled the chase, working for Stybar.

As the race sped up and the fatigue of the climbs accumulated, the lead group started to fracture, and only six riders – Oss, Van Avermaet, Stybar, Wellens, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) – remained in the lead on the run in to the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen. Oss was dropped in the steep pitches of the Muur however, leaving only five out front.

Once all the climbs had been completed and with only the flat run in to Ninove to go, the leader five had 25 seconds on the chasers.

The lead group started playing cat-and-mouse in the final stages, none willing to work on the front, waiting for the sprint. The stalemate was broken when Wellens attacked with 3km remaining, only to be neutralized by Van Avermaet.

Just as the leaders came together, Stybar attacked hard, leaving his breakaway companions looking at Van Avermaet to once again do the work and shut the flying Czech rider down. However, with only Lutsenko looking willing to help Van Avermaet, the hesitation from the chasers enabled Stybar to push home his advantage, crossing the line solo, taking the team’s first win at Omloop since Nick Nuyens won when the race was known as Omloop Het Volk in 2005.

Van Avermaet led home the sprint for second, nine seconds after Stybar, with Wellens taking third.

“I only heard the day before yesterday at the press conference that Quick-Step 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.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Elite One Day Race Results

RankNameTeamTime
1ŠTYBAR ZdeněkDeceuninck - Quick Step4:53:17
2VAN AVERMAET GregCCC Team0:09
3WELLENS TimLotto Soudal,,
4LUTSENKO AlexeyAstana Pro Team,,
5TEUNS DylanBahrain Merida,,
6DRUCKER JempyBORA - hansgrohe0:25
7LAMPAERT YvesDeceuninck - Quick Step,,
8GILBERT PhilippeDeceuninck - Quick Step,,
9TRENTIN MatteoMitchelton-Scott,,
10NAESEN OliverAG2R La Mondiale,,
11KEUKELEIRE JensLotto Soudal,,
12MATTHEWS MichaelTeam Sunweb,,
13VAN AERT WoutTeam Jumbo-Visma,,
14VAN BAARLE DylanTeam Sky,,
15LANGEVELD SebastianEF Education First,,
16JUNGELS BobDeceuninck - Quick Step,,
17DE VREESE LaurensAstana Pro Team,,
18KÜNG StefanGroupama - FDJ,,
19POLITT NilsTeam Katusha Alpecin0:28
20TERPSTRA NikiDirect Energie0:29
21OSS DanielBORA - hansgrohe0:30
22DILLIER SilvanAG2R La Mondiale0:32
23DURBRIDGE LukeMitchelton-Scott0:44
24PLANCKAERT BaptisteWallonie-Bruxelles1:52
25ROELANDTS JürgenMovistar Team,,
26STANNARD IanTeam Sky,,
27DEVOLDER StijnCorendon - Circus,,
28DOULL OwainTeam Sky2:51
29HOULE HugoAstana Pro Team,,
30VAN POPPEL DannyTeam Jumbo-Visma,,
31LAPORTE ChristopheCofidis, Solutions Crédits4:16
32DECLERCQ BenjaminSport Vlaanderen - Baloise4:42
33TEUNISSEN MikeTeam Jumbo-Visma,,
34JUUL-JENSEN ChristopherMitchelton-Scott4:44
35GARCÍA CORTINA IvánBahrain Merida5:54
36PLANCKAERT EdwardSport Vlaanderen - Baloise,,
37PHILIPSEN JasperUAE-Team Emirates,,
38COLBRELLI SonnyBahrain Merida,,
39LE GAC OlivierGroupama - FDJ,,
40STUYVEN JasperTrek - Segafredo,,
41CLAEYS DimitriCofidis, Solutions Crédits,,
42DE BUYST JasperLotto Soudal6:17
43DE BONDT DriesCorendon - Circus,,
44CAPIOT AmaurySport Vlaanderen - Baloise,,
45VALGREN MichaelTeam Dimension Data,,
46VAN POPPEL BoyRoompot - Charles,,
47DEVRIENDT TomWanty - Gobert Cycling Team,,
48MEURISSE XandroWanty - Gobert Cycling Team,,
49LIGTHART PimDirect Energie,,
50VAN LERBERGHE BertCofidis, Solutions Crédits,,
51MULLEN RyanTrek - Segafredo,,
52BOASSON HAGEN EdvaldTeam Dimension Data,,
53THEUNS EdwardTrek - Segafredo,,
54SINKELDAM RamonGroupama - FDJ,,
55VAN KEIRSBULCK GuillaumeCCC Team,,
56DE GENDT AiméWanty - Gobert Cycling Team,,
57KONOVALOVAS IgnatasGroupama - FDJ,,
58HOWES AlexEF Education First,,
59PEDERSEN CasperTeam Sunweb,,
60VANDENBERGH StijnAG2R La Mondiale,,
61SPRENGERS ThomasSport Vlaanderen - Baloise,,
62PHINNEY TaylorEF Education First,,
63BOHLI TomUAE-Team Emirates,,
64HOLLENSTEIN RetoTeam Katusha Alpecin,,
65TURGIS AnthonyDirect Energie,,
66VLIEGEN LoïcWanty - Gobert Cycling Team,,
67ISTA KevynWallonie-Bruxelles,,
68VERVAEKE LouisTeam Sunweb,,
69BARBERO CarlosMovistar Team,,
70PETIT AdrienDirect Energie,,
71WIŚNIOWSKI ŁukaszCCC Team,,
72DEBUSSCHERE JensTeam Katusha Alpecin,,
73KNEES ChristianTeam Sky,,
74TOUZE Damien Cofidis, Solutions Crédits,,
75ARCAS JorgeMovistar Team,,
76JANSSENS JimmyCorendon - Circus6:23
77VAN GINNEKEN SjoerdRoompot - Charles,,
78SMITH DionMitchelton-Scott,,
79ROOSEN TimoTeam Jumbo-Visma,,
80BOOM LarsRoompot - Charles,,
81DUCHESNE AntoineGroupama - FDJ,,
82PÖSTLBERGER LukasBORA - hansgrohe,,
83BETANCUR CarlosMovistar Team,,
84VAN HOECKE GijsCCC Team,,
85KOREN KristijanBahrain Merida,,
86VAN DER HOORN TacoTeam Jumbo-Visma,,
87EDMONDSON AlexMitchelton-Scott6:27
88PIBERNIK LukaBahrain Merida,,
89WYNANTS MaartenTeam Jumbo-Visma,,
90CORT MagnusAstana Pro Team,,
91SCULLY TomEF Education First,,
92VANMARCKE SepEF Education First,,
93GAUDIN DamienDirect Energie,,
94DUVAL JulienAG2R La Mondiale8:36
95DENZ NicoAG2R La Mondiale,,
96BACKAERT FrederikWanty - Gobert Cycling Team,,
97GODON DorianAG2R La Mondiale,,
98BOLE GregaBahrain Merida,,
99DEHAES KennyWallonie-Bruxelles,,
100LIEPIŅŠ EmīlsWallonie-Bruxelles,,
101SPENGLER LukasWallonie-Bruxelles,,
102VAN HECKE PrebenSport Vlaanderen - Baloise,,
103DECLERCQ TimDeceuninck - Quick Step,,
104BRESCHEL MattiEF Education First,,
105PEDERSEN MadsTrek - Segafredo,,
106JANS RoyCorendon - Circus,,
107EENKHOORN PascalTeam Jumbo-Visma,,
108HOFSTETTER HugoCofidis, Solutions Crédits,,
109KIRSCH AlexTrek - Segafredo,,
110TAMINIAUX Lionel Wallonie-Bruxelles,,

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.