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Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) launched a crushing attack over the cobbled Bosberg climb to drop the peloton and win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad solo.
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) won the sprint for second around 20 seconds back, while Greg Van Avermaet (Ag2r-Citroën) rounded out the podium.
Van Aert and his Jumbo-Visma team had been active in controlling and attacking through the final hour of the classics curtain-raiser, setting a fierce tempo before van Aert and new signing Tiesj Benoot formed part of a dangerous move in the final 30km.
Van Aert and Benoot’s first effort was nullified by the bunch not long before the final climb of the day before the Belgian champ went again 12km from the finish. The Jumbo-Visma captain’s effort over the Bosberg soon created a gap, and from there, no amount of chasers was stopping him.
The victory sets van Aert off to the perfect start of a spring campaign centered around the Tour of Flanders/Paris-Roubaix doubleheader in April. The 27-year-old can add the Omloop result to a stacked palmarès including Tour de France stages and victories at Milano-Sanremo, Amstel Gold, Strade Bianche, and Gent-Wevelgem.
“I didn’t think it would go so well in advance, but I was well prepared,” he said. “It’s hard to say if I can stretch this shape to Roubaix, but purely in terms of intensity, there is still something to add. I was good, but the Ronde and Roubaix are even more important, so I hope I can improve a bit. Hopefully we can build on this.”
Van Aert also had the poise to speak out in support of Ukraine in the dramatic conflict playing out in Europe.
“I want to add, bike racing is the most important side issue in the world, with the emphasis on ‘side’. It’s madness that war is still possible today, and so close. For what it’s worth, I would like to express my support to everyone involved in Ukraine.”
How to start your road season! 👀😃 pic.twitter.com/Z8eMfQVhPB
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) February 26, 2022
Although it was Jumbo-Visma that dictated the final, Ineos Grenadiers and Lotto-Soudal both looked intent on making the race hard to wipe out a sprint in the opening phases.
Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) made the first skirmish out of the bunch in what was his senior classics debut at around 65km to go and lasted some 5km before dropping back to the group.
Lotto-Soudal was aggressive all day, despite seeing Tim Wellens DNS due to illness. Philippe Gilbert tried first before Paris-Roubaix star Florian Vermeersch bust out of the bunch with Loic Vliegen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) on his wheel. TT king Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) bridged across and the trio joined the remnants of the day’s early break to form nine out front.
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl was quiet all through the opening hours of racing as Jumbo-Visma did much of the monitoring in the bunch.
It was only at 40km to go with the crucial Marlboroughstraat climb in the horizon that Lefvere’s crew moved up in the still-massed peloton to muscle alongside Jumbo-Visma.
Jumbo-Visma and Bahrain-Victorious were next trying to split up the race as some three-score riders still sat together. Meanwhile, teams with fast finishers like Trek-Segafredo and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl left the race in others’ control.
Jumbo Visma began to bring the race into van Aert’s hands in the final 30km. Benoot lit up the race for Jumbo-Visma over the paved Berendries climb and forced a dangerous split with van Aert, Colbrelli, Tom Pidcock, and Jonathan Narvaez (both Ineos Grenadiers).
The five motored over and joined the break, and started pulling away from the peloton before Benoot struck out solo.
UAE Team Emirates, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl and Trek-Segafredo all missed this move and started chasing before things got out of control. The injection of pace reeled in van Aert and Co. as well as a skirmishing move from Benoot to see the race back together once ahead of the final climb of the day.
No sooner had the race reformed when van Aert made his decisive move over the cobbled Bosberg. The Belgian champ took 10 seconds over the summit and began time trialing away as the sprinter teams combined in the chase.
— OmloopHetNieuwsblad (@OmloopHNB) February 26, 2022
Van Aert continued stretching his lead through the flat final as a bunch of 19 rode through-and-off in the chase. Van Aert wasn’t to be caught however and only stretched his lead to take it to the line solo.
Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) was one of the major casualties from a flurry of crashes in the penultimate hour. The Colombian speedster hit the pavement with a handful of others at 40km to go and was reported to have broken his collarbone.
Results provided by ProCyclingStats.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad ME Results
Stage Rank Name Team Time 1 VAN AERT Wout Jumbo-Visma 4:50:46 2 COLBRELLI Sonny Bahrain - Victorious 0:22 3 VAN AVERMAET Greg AG2R Citroën Team 0:22 4 NAESEN Oliver AG2R Citroën Team 0:22 5 CAMPENAERTS Victor Lotto Soudal 0:22 6 TILLER Rasmus Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 0:22 7 TRENTIN Matteo UAE Team Emirates 0:22 8 PASQUALON Andrea Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux 0:22 9 SÉNÉCHAL Florian Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 0:22 10 STUYVEN Jasper Trek - Segafredo 0:22 11 CLARKE Simon Israel - Premier Tech 0:25 12 KÜNG Stefan Groupama - FDJ 0:25 13 ARANBURU Alex Movistar Team 0:25 14 LOUVEL Matis Team Arkéa Samsic 0:25 15 KIRSCH Alex Trek - Segafredo 0:25 16 DOULL Owain EF Education-EasyPost 0:25 17 MOHORIČ Matej Bahrain - Victorious 0:25 18 PIDCOCK Thomas INEOS Grenadiers 0:27 19 LUDVIGSSON Tobias Groupama - FDJ 0:32 20 WRIGHT Fred Bahrain - Victorious 0:42 21 HAYTER Ethan INEOS Grenadiers 1:20 22 HAUSSLER Heinrich Bahrain - Victorious 1:30 23 CAPIOT Amaury Team Arkéa Samsic 1:30 24 TEUNISSEN Mike Jumbo-Visma 1:30 25 VAN GESTEL Dries TotalEnergies 1:30 26 MOZZATO Luca B&B Hotels - KTM 1:30 27 POLITT Nils BORA - hansgrohe 1:30 28 DVERSNES Fredrik Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 1:30 29 LIVYNS Arjen Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB 1:30 30 GARCÍA CORTINA Iván Movistar Team 1:30 31 DE BONDT Dries Alpecin-Fenix 1:30 32 DE BUYST Jasper Lotto Soudal 1:30 33 BOIVIN Guillaume Israel - Premier Tech 1:30 34 NARVÁEZ Jhonatan INEOS Grenadiers 1:30 35 SWIFT Connor Team Arkéa Samsic 1:30 36 WARLOP Jordi B&B Hotels - KTM 1:30 37 BIERMANS Jenthe Israel - Premier Tech 1:30 38 LIENHARD Fabian Groupama - FDJ 1:30 39 VAN MOER Brent Lotto Soudal 1:30 40 GILBERT Philippe Lotto Soudal 1:30 41 COQUARD Bryan Cofidis 1:30 42 SKAARSETH Anders Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 1:30 43 DEGENKOLB John Team DSM 1:30 44 REX Laurenz Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB 1:30 45 DEWULF Stan AG2R Citroën Team 1:30 46 VAN ROOY Kenneth Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise 1:30 47 KOCH Jonas BORA - hansgrohe 1:30 48 VAUQUELIN Kévin Team Arkéa Samsic 1:30 49 SWIFT Ben INEOS Grenadiers 1:30 50 SKUJIŅŠ Toms Trek - Segafredo 1:30 51 VLIEGEN Loïc Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux 1:30 52 TOUZÉ Damien AG2R Citroën Team 1:30 53 CONSONNI Simone Cofidis 1:30 54 MEURISSE Xandro Alpecin-Fenix 1:30 55 OSS Daniel TotalEnergies 1:30 56 JOHANNESSEN Tobias Halland Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 1:30 57 HVIDEBERG Jonas Iversby Team DSM 1:30 58 GOGL Michael Alpecin-Fenix 1:30 59 TURNER Ben INEOS Grenadiers 1:30 60 KRISTOFF Alexander Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux 1:30 61 VERMEERSCH Florian Lotto Soudal 1:30 62 ŠTYBAR Zdeněk Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 1:30 63 LAZKANO Oier Movistar Team 1:30 64 OLIVEIRA Rui UAE Team Emirates 1:30 65 VANHOOF Ward Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise 1:30 66 BENOOT Tiesj Jumbo-Visma 1:30 67 EENKHOORN Pascal Jumbo-Visma 1:30 68 VAN HOOYDONCK Nathan Jumbo-Visma 1:30 69 LE GAC Olivier Groupama - FDJ 1:30 70 VAN ASBROECK Tom Israel - Premier Tech 1:30 71 DE GENDT Aimé Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux 1:30 72 LAMPAERT Yves Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 1:30 73 HOULE Hugo Israel - Premier Tech 1:30 74 SÁNCHEZ Luis León Bahrain - Victorious 1:30 75 HEALY Ben EF Education-EasyPost 1:30 76 ASGREEN Kasper Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team 1:30 77 MCLAY Daniel Team Arkéa Samsic 1:30 78 ASKEY Lewis Groupama - FDJ 1:30 79 BOHLI Tom Cofidis 1:30 80 LAENGEN Vegard Stake UAE Team Emirates 1:30 81 GRADEK Kamil Bahrain - Victorious 1:30 82 PETIT Adrien Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux 2:16 83 CLAEYS Dimitri Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux 2:31 84 DE PESTEL Sander Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise 5:04 85 HULGAARD Morten Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 5:04 86 HOLLMANN Juri Movistar Team 5:04 87 RESELL Erik Nordsæter Uno-X Pro Cycling Team 5:04 88 BLOUWE Louis Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB 5:49 89 BYSTRØM Sven Erik Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux 5:49 90 VAN KEIRSBULCK Guillaume Alpecin-Fenix 5:49 91 VAN HOECKE Gijs AG2R Citroën Team 5:49 92 GRUZDEV Dmitriy Astana Qazaqstan Team 5:49 93 KEUKELEIRE Jens EF Education-EasyPost 5:49 94 LEYSEN Senne Alpecin-Fenix 5:49 95 ANIOŁKOWSKI Stanisław Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB 5:49 96 RUSSO Clément Team Arkéa Samsic 5:49 97 VERGAERDE Otto Trek - Segafredo 5:49 98 SAGAN Peter TotalEnergies 5:49 99 LECROQ Jérémy B&B Hotels - KTM 5:49 100 THEUNS Edward Trek - Segafredo 5:49 101 HOOLE Daan Trek - Segafredo 5:49 102 SCHÄR Michael AG2R Citroën Team 5:49 103 KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren Team DSM 5:49 104 DE VYLDER Lindsay Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise 8:33 105 GRONDIN Donavan Team Arkéa Samsic 8:33 106 DUPONT Timothy Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB 8:33 107 VERWILST Aaron Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise 8:33 108 SHEFFIELD Magnus INEOS Grenadiers 8:33 109 MAAS Jan Team BikeExchange - Jayco 8:33 110 GIBBONS Ryan UAE Team Emirates 8:33 111 MAS Lluís Movistar Team 8:33 112 SMITH Dion Team BikeExchange - Jayco 8:33 113 MORICE Julien B&B Hotels - KTM 8:33 114 MEEUS Jordi BORA - hansgrohe 8:33 115 PÖSTLBERGER Lukas BORA - hansgrohe 8:33 116 APERS Ruben Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise 8:33 117 BAYER Tobias Alpecin-Fenix 11:56 118 GAMPER Patrick BORA - hansgrohe 11:56 119 MARIT Arne Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise 11:56 120 VAN DER SANDE Tosh Jumbo-Visma 11:56 121 BASSO Leonardo Astana Qazaqstan Team 11:56 122 MOSCON Gianni Astana Qazaqstan Team 11:56 123 SWEENY Harry Lotto Soudal 11:56 124 LEMOINE Cyril B&B Hotels - KTM 11:56
Results provided by ProCyclingStats.