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Stuyven and Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) were two survivors of an elite group that charged into the fore in the closing kilometers of the Belgian season opener. Søren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) lost the wheel late, and crossed the line to fill out the podium in third.
“I told the team that we needed to be in the front all day, and I think the focus from start to finish was excellent; we were always there,” Stuyven said. “And I got to finish it off today. It’s the best victory I’ve had.”
The 200km race from Gent to Ninove opened with poor weather, extreme conditions and star rider Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) out with a cold. An early break was reeled in halfway through the race, opening the door for a more dangerous group with about 75km to go.
The selection was made, with Stuyven, Kragh Andersen and Lampaert being joined by rederik Frison (Lotto-Soudal), Tim Declerq (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Matteo Trentin (CCC) and Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma). The gap hovered around two minutes as there was no committed chase from behind with so many teams represented in the front group.
The iconic Kapelmuur delivered some drive on the day’s second to last climb, with Stuyven and Lampaert powering away from the group. Kragh Andersen gave a solo chase and eventually made it a leading trio with less than 20km to go.
Somewhat surprisingly, Stuyven said he wasn’t feeling like he was on his best day.
“Steven (de Jongh, director) encouraged me to try on the Muur,” Stuyven said. “I wasn’t feeling the strongest, but I also knew everyone was tired. Once we started the Muur and no one accelerated, I thought I would try to accelerate myself, and we would see what happens at the top – I only looked back at the top, and I think I made a good split.
“After [the Muur] Soren was not really committed, and I was not sure if he was dying or playing a little bit, so it was hard – I didn’t want to do most of the work; I was not sure of the win, that’s for sure.”
The trio turned the wheels to guarantee they’d be away for the win, though a tired Kragh Andersen gave up the chase with 2km to go. Stuyven, a winner of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in 2016, powered ahead of his compatriot to take the most important one-day race victory of his career.
Results Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, 200km
1. Jasper Stuyven (Bel), Trek-Segafredo
2. Yves Lampaert (Bel), Deceuninck-Quick-Step
3. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den), Sunweb
4. Matteo Trentin (Ita), CCC
5. Tim Declerq (Bel), Deceuninck-Quick-Step
6. Mike Teunissen (Ned), Jumbo-Visma
7. Oliver Naesen (Bel), Ag2r-La Mondiale
8. Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Lotto-Soudal
9. Stefan Küng (Sui), Groupama-FDJ
10. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck-Wuick-Step