French rider Anthony Geslin delivered FDJeux a big victory Sunday at the Brabantse Pijl in Belgium.
Geslin won out of an eight-man group that pulled clear in the closing 30km of the 193.5km circuit course.
Fabian Wegmann (Milram) tried to surprise the group and sprang off the final wheel with 250 meters to go with an explosive sprint. The German opened a promising gap, but Geslin was able to recover and catch him at the line to secure victory.
“It’s a great day for me and the team,” Geslin said. “I was trying to save my legs for the sprint. Wegmann went very early and surprised us all. I was caught against the barriers, but I was able to pull clear and make my sprint.”
Jerome Pineau (Quick Step) came across the line second with Wegmann hanging on for third to round out the podium.
“It’s a disappointment today because I knew I had the legs to win, Pineau said. “It was a fast group and I know that Anthony is fast in the sprint, but I cannot be happy with second. The only good thing is that the sensations are very good. The classics are here and the team is very strong, just as we expected.”
Seven riders slipped away in the final 30km and held a promising 22-second lead when Cervélo put some fresh legs on the front to try to tamp down the aggression.
With 17km to go, Xavier Florencio (Cervélo) bridged out to the leaders, but the gap was coming down quickly as Silence-Lotto and Raobank led the chase at 15 seconds down.
The leading eight held tough. A steep climb up 10 percent grades with 10km fractured the chasing group, giving the leaders a little more rope.
The group sealed its collective fate when it cleared a final steep climb with 4km to go to widen its lead to 18 seconds.
Oscar Freire (Rabobank), a winner of three consecutive titles from 2005-07, was the big absentee, still recovering from injuries suffered at a crash at the Tour of California. Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) won last year ahead of Philippe Gilbert and Ju an Antonio Flecha.
The course is a series of circuits, with one lap on a 109.5km circuit and then five laps on a shorter, technical 16.8km loop for a total of 193.5km.
The race was part of a weekend warm-up in Belgium ahead of next weekend’s Tour of Flanders.
Filippo Pozzato won the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen on Saturday ahead of Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Maxi Iginskiy (Astana).
Racing in Belgium continues this week with the Three Days of De Panne.