Boeckmans wins Nokere Koerse in cobbled sprint

Kris Boeckmans continues his winning ways with a sprint victory at Nokere Koerse in Belgium

Kris Boeckmans (Lotto-Soudal) won Nokere Koerse in Belgium on Wednesday, delivering a fierce sprint on a punchy, cobbled finish in Nokereberg, Belgium.

“As a WorldTour team it was our plan to take control of the race and strive for the victory,” Boeckmans said in a team statement. “We kept control during the race and the team kept me in the front of the peloton. Tiesj Benoot and Kenny Dehaes rode a perfect lead-out in the final kilometer. Thanks to them I could win my third one of the season.”

The five riders saw a gap upward of five minutes at one point during the 197.7-kilometer race but were brought back by the field after five of the eight final circuits around Nokereberg. As the peloton ramped up the pace, splits began to form.

Late in the race, a group of four took a flyer: Dylan Teuns (BMC), Stef Van Zummeren (Verandas Willems), Stein Van Couter (CSH Colba-Superano), and Vergard Stake Laengen (Joker).

The group of four’s lead went out to 23 seconds with 20 kilometers remaining.

With one 14.8-kilometer lap left, the break had an 18-second lead. As the race approached the final 10 kilometers, the peloton brought back the escape.

Heading into the final kilometer, Lotto-Soudal positioned three riders at the front of the field. But for a moment, it looked like the move came too soon, as Trek Factory Racing barged in on the lead-out.

On the final, short cobbled climb to the finish, when it looked as if Lotto had lost its way, Boeckmans emerged from the right side and sprinted to win by several bike lengths. It was his third win of the season, after claiming a stage in Etoile de Bessèges and Le Samyn.

“This win is good for my confidence,” he said. “I hope to keep this shape until Sunday and be good in La Primavera [Milano-Sanremo]. The days before the race, my role in the team will become clear. But I will be satisfied if I can I ride on the same level like today.”

Justin Jules (Veranclassic-Ekoi) was second, and Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18) placed third.