Matteo Trentin attacked the front group of 16 inside 30km to go on the finishing circuit, and after staying away, solo, for nearly 15km was joined by Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers).
“I know that sprinting at the end of races like that is not like sprinting for a town sign — I always go into a sprint with confidence,” said the British cyclocross racer. “I waited and waited and when Wout went, I kind of got a little boxed in and then rushed and came past him.”
Pidcock scored a few firsts on the day: his first professional win, his first win while wearing Ineos Grenadiers colors, and the first win by a British rider at this particular race.
The chase group lead by Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R-Citroën) had nearly made contact with the three leaders, forcing them to open the sprint with less than 400m to go.
“It was a fair fight in the leading group of three. All day long, I had the idea that Tom was better than me, especially on the climbs. In the sprint, my legs were unfortunately just full, and I saw Pidcock come past me,” said van Aert.
Having spent a good amount of time solo in the final half-hour of racing, Trentin appeared to have just enough gas left to stay ahead of the closing chasers.
How it happened
An early break of Bryan Coquard (B&B Hotels), Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles), Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe), Julian Mertens (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Anders Skaarseth (Uno-X), Brent Van Moer (Lotto Soudal), Kevin Van Melsen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), and Emmanuel Morin (Cofidis) got nearly seven minutes advantage before alarm bells went off at the race mid-point.
The riders were faced with some 11 laps of a final circuit and no less than 27 climbs ahead of the finish.
Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and Toms Skujiņš (Trek-Segafredo) launched off the front chasers to bring back the remains of the break at 65km to go. Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R-Citroën) and Dylan Teuns (Bahrain Victorious) joined the pursuit, and with 45km to go, the front had only 1:45 advantage.
In the peloton, an EF Education-Nippo rider went down at 38km to go splitting the field. This gapped Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange) and Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-Quick-Step, while van Aert, Pidcock, Trentin, and Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious) attacked off the front of the main group with the chance to escape during the confusion.
Cosnefroy launched after the escapees but was quickly marked as the remains of the break struggled to stay away on climb after climb.
Pidcock looked to be suffering on a climb inside of 30km to go, but was able to reconnect with the chasers. Peter Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe) bridged up to the front group on a massive effort, several kilometers later, and this move looked to shake up the front of the race as the break was brought back.
Trentin, who had escaped, dangled off the front for some 15km, gaining as much as 45 seconds. Pidcock, recover from his early faltering on one of the more than two-dozen climbs, had eyes on the big Italian, and went after him, with only van Aert responding at 16km to go.
Pidcock and van Aert connected with Trentin, and the three were left to sort out the podium in the final 10km as the bunch behind them seemed to give up the chase.
Knowing that van Aert had the best legs for the sprint, the two others did little in the final 4km, allowing the break to get a 30-second advantage.
Attacking again, Cosnefroy was near striking distance of Trentin’s wheel with 400 meters to go forcing van Aert to open up the sprint.
The diminutive Pidcock tucked in behind van Aert, and launched with 100m to go to take the win, while Trentin found the legs to hold off Cosnefroy.
“I felt good today but the legs were a bit tired in the end and the strongest guy won. I look forward to coming back racing on these roads at the World Championships later in the year,” Trentin said.
2021 Brabantse Pijl Results
- Thomas Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers), 4:36:27
- Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma), at s.t.
- Matteo Trentin (UAE-Team Emirates), at 00:02
- Ide Schelling (Bora-Hansgrohe), at 00:07
- Robert Stannard (Team BikeExchange), at s.t.
- Dylan Teuns (Bahrain – Victorious), at s.t.
- Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-Citroën Team), at s.t.
- Toms Skujiņš (Trek – Segafredo), at s.t.
- Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix), at s.t.
- Andreas Leknessund (Team DSM), at 00:12