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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Thursday, March 29, 2018

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Dwars door Vlaanderen team reports

We posted the Team Quick-Step report on the race results page.

Second-place Mike Teunissen's Team Sunweb posted this race report:

Classics season continued today at Dwars door Vlaanderen, with 180 kilometres and 12 hellingen on the menu. Despite the activity at the front in the first hour and a half, the race saw no breakaway that stuck for a significant amount of time until it reached the second climb up the Kruisberg, where one rider opened up a minute’s gap over the peloton. As the lone leader was brought back the race immediately saw another series of attacks, which caused groups to scatter across the road.

Heading into the final 30 kilometres, 13 riders found themselves at the front of the race with Søren Kragh Andersen and Mike Teunissen in the first group, and Edward Theuns in the second group. Keen to shake off some of the riders in the group, Mike attacked taking four riders with him, quickly opening up a 40 second gap. As one rider attacked in the last kilometre, Mike went on to win the sprint from the chase, finishing the day in a solid second place after a strong ride at the front of race.

REACTIONS

“It was cold, with rain all day,” explained Mike after the finish. “When the final started there was a group of 40 guys left and we still had three guys thanks to the good work of the other guys who kept us in a good position all day. When Eddy said he wasn’t feeling super, me and Søren tried to move with the best guys. From then I just tried to anticipate and move with the best guys. I knew I was feeling good but I wasn’t completely sure and in the end I gambled a bit too much and should’ve reacted more. In the end I can be happy with the result and the work of the team today.”

Yves Lampaert

Yves Lampaert wins the race.

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef added: “We wanted to be in position before the Kruisberg, from there we knew that the important sections were coming up and moving up would be difficult. After the Taaienberg we had Søren and Mike in the first group, with Edward who also came back to that group. At the Trieu the group split and we still had Mike and Søren in a group of 12 behind two leaders. Mike attacked just after the Varent and came to the front with four others. In the last kilometre one of the riders attacked and Mike won the sprint to finish 2nd.”

Sep Vanmarcke's EF-Education First team sent me this news:

Sep Vanmarcke sprinted to third place at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday. With an acceleration on the Varentstraat cobbles, Vanmarcke created a five-rider selection from which the podium emerged.

Yves Lampaert (QuickStep-Floors) attacked in the final kilometer to win the new-look classic. Vanmarcke ran second in the four-up sprint to snag the final spot on the podium.

“For me, mentally, it doesn’t change a lot,” said Vanmarcke. “I knew last weekend I was good, but of course having a podium is always nice, always important for the team. Even though I didn’t have the best legs, it’s nice to be on the podium.”

The 180-kilometer WorldTour race featured 12 climbs and three cobbled sectors. Weather conditions were typically Belgian – cold, rainy and windy – from race start in Roeselare to race finish in Waregem. Despite relentless early attacks, no breakaway ever escaped the clutches of the peloton, which averaged a relentless 47 kilometers per hour during the first three hours of racing.

“Before the start of the race, someone was telling me it wasn’t going to be as hard as a normal 250-kilometer race,” said sport director Ken Vanmarcke. “It was a lot harder. Suddenly in the middle of the race, you had riders dropping like flies. It was because of the weather. The pace was so high because to stay warm, you race hard. You don’t feel that initially because of adrenaline, but when the adrenaline is gone, it hits you hard.”

Luke Rowe (Team Sky) managed to slip away on the first time up the Côte de Trieu with 80 kilometers remaining. He spent 20 kilometers alone off the front. The peloton overtook him on the second time up the Côte de Trieu. From there, it was a race of attrition.

“I was very cold during the race,” said Vanmarcke. “I suffered quite a bit with that, but I always seemed to be in the right move.”

With 44 kilometers remaining, EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale had four riders in a group of around 40 riders. Attacks on the Kruisberg whittled down the bunch to only 11.

Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) opened up a gap the final time up Côte de Trieu. The chasers caught the pair before the Varentstraat, where Vanmarcke made his move.

“We had to work really well to stay off the front,” said Vanmarcke. “Once we had 45 seconds with five kilometers, we knew we were going to make it. Then it was gambling – attacking, waiting a little bit.”

Vanmarcke, Lampaert, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimenson Data), Mike Teunissen (Sunweb) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) passed over the Nokereberg, the final climb of the race, with 49-seconds on the Van Avermaet-led chase of eight.

Coming off the Herlegemstraat, the final pavé sector, Vanmarcke twice attacked but was unable to gain any distance. The leading quintet slowed to almost a standstill just beyond the flamme rouge. Lampaert was the first to jump.

“If you doubt for one second, he’s gone, and that’s what happened,” said Vanmarcke. “He made the right move. Five guys. I’m only third. I wasn’t feeling on my top level today,” Vanmarcke noted. “The podium is good. When Yves jumped, I didn’t have much left.”

Sep Vanmarcke

Sep Vanmarcke's face shows the effort of racing for 180 kilometers in cold rain.

Vanmarcke tackled media duties before he climbed onto the podium. While he fielded plenty of questions about Wednesday’s race, many more looked towards De Ronde on Sunday. “The guys that were at the front today will also be on the front on Sunday,” Vanmarcke projected. “Today I didn’t feel great. I had the worst feeling of the whole Classics period.

“I did some extra training on Sunday after Gent Wevelgem,” he added. “I really emptied the tank. I’m not fully recovered from that. I think in the end, next weekend, everybody will be ready, and I will also be fully recovered. It’s 70 kilometers longer, and it will be a different race.”

Here's what Tiesj Benoot's Lotto-Soudal team had to say about the race:

At the end of a rainy edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen Tiesj Benoot was seventh to cross the finish line in Waregem. The Lotto Soudal rider rode a very aggressive race. For the second consecutive year it was Yves Lampaert who won Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Right from the start the tempo was high in the bunch. Many wanted to be in the early breakaway, but none of the attempts were successful. After intermezzos of Luke Rowe and Tony Martin the race really exploded on the Taaienberg with 53 kilometres to go. The first group consisted of about 35 riders, including Lotto Soudal riders Tiesj Benoot and Jasper De Buyst.

An acceleration by Greg Van Avermaet on the Kruisberg was the beginning of a new selection at the front. Tiesj Benoot became part of a front group of eleven riders. Benoot attacked during the third and last ascent of Côte de Trieu. Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet was the only one who could follow Tiesj and the two of them rode at the front of the race for several kilometres, until they got caught by a chasing group of ten. On the Tiegemberg, 22 kilometres from the end, a new front group was established: Boasson Hagen, Lampaert, Pedersen, Teunissen and Vanmarcke. In the last kilometre Lampaert was able to leave the others behind. Tiesj Benoot accelerated a few times in the chasing group and at the end he could jump away together with Stybar. Benoot finished seventh, half a minute after Lampaert.

Tiesj Bennot

Tiesj Bennot was the first of his group to come in, 59 seconds after Lampaert had won the race.

Tiesj Benoot: “Before the race we had decided that I would try to make a selection during the third ascent of Côte de Trieu and so I did. I was joined by Greg Van Avermaet. Unfortunately no Quick-Step rider followed, because they were yet again the strongest team. If a guy from Quick-Step would have joined us, we would have remained ahead of the chasing group I think. Greg and I only got fifteen seconds advantage. We hoped the pace would drop in the chasing group, but that didn’t happen. At the end of the cobbled section of the Varent, the chasers closed the gap. Immediately Vanmarcke attacked and he got four others with him, including Lampaert. I needed a moment to catch my breath. I hoped they would think it was a too big risk to go to the finish with Teunissen and Boasson Hagen, but they decided to go through with their move. Hats off to Lampaert.”

“Maybe I missed a teammate by my side today, but André Greipel and Jens Keukeleire are out of the running for a while and we need to accept the situation as it is. I am in a very good condition. That’s no guarantee for a top result on Sunday, but without any bad luck I will ride the finale.”

And finally, here's the report Bora-hansgrohe sent me:

In the soaking wet conditions at Dwars door Vlaanderen, for much of the race none of the riders in the peloton were game enough to launch any serious attacks. The first significant move came just before the halfway point on the course to Waregem. However, following this, a flurry of attacks followed right until the final few kilometres. The final move that stuck was made by a group of 5 riders, including last year’s winner Y. Lampaert, who managed to snatch victory on the line for the second consecutive year. The best placed BORA – hansgrohe rider was Christoph Pfingsten, who finished in 21st place.

The Course
The 73rd edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen saw the riders tackle a somewhat modified route from Roeselare to Waregem this year, in preparation for Vlaanderen Mooiste this Sunday. Covering a total distance of 180.1km, the course was shortened from its previous distance of over 200km, and saw the omission of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg climbs. The route was peppered with a mix of familiar hellingen and cobbles, featuring a total of 12 climbs. There were several quality riders in attendance this year, although previous editions of the race have seen some surprise victories on the finish line in Waregem.

The first 80km of the course presented no significant challenges. Having covered around 83km, the riders faced the ascent of the Kluisberg (1000m, 6.8%), followed by the Knokteberg (1900m, 4.9%) a mere 6km later. These two climbs both made a subsequent appearance around 20km down the road. This was followed by a series of ascents that came thick and fast in quick succession, namely the Kortekeer (900m, 6.5%), Steenbeekdries (600m, 4.5%) and Taaienberg (530m, 6.6%). On the slopes of the Steenbeekdries, a 2.4km-long section of the well-known cobbled Mariaborrestraat also awaited the riders. These ascents were widely earmarked as an ideal launchpad for a potentially race-winning attack. Following this triptych of ascents, they did not receive much of a reprieve, having to face the Kruisberg (1800m, 4.8%) and Knokteberg with 40km of racing remaining.

With around 150km in the legs, three more climbs (Vossenhol (1400m, 6.5%), Holstraat (1000m, 5.2%) Nokereberg (500m, 5.7%)) and three cobbled sectors awaited the riders. The latter included an 800 metre-long sector of pavé on Herlegemstraat with around 6km left to race, which is where last year’s winner, albeit on a modified route, made his decisive move.

The Team Tactics
Today, BORA – hansgrohe rode in support of two riders, Pascal Ackermann and Christoph Pfingsten, and tried to get into a breakaway group. However, with many riders using Dwars door Vlaanderen as preparation for De Ronde this Sunday, the team knew that this would not be an easy race, with several quality riders in attendance.

The Race
The peloton of 173 riders made its way from Roeselare to Waregem with the rain beating down upon them and temperatures hovering around 7 degrees. It proved no easy feat for a breakaway to form amidst these difficult conditions, with the first serious attack of the day being launched after 80km, when L. Rowe managed to break free from the peloton and carve out an advantage of around 1 minute. However, he was ultimately reeled back in just before the second ascent of the Kluisberg. As the peloton approached the Kortekeer, the peloton became significantly strung out and several splits began to appear, as more riders tested their luck and tried to escape. With around 50km remaining, the business end of the race had arrived, and a select group containing several favourites worked to gain a slight advantage over the chasing group behind, yet were caught due to the tempo that was being hammered out by LottoNL-Jumbo. Two Belgian riders, Van Avermaet and Benoot, managed to stay adrift of the chasers, yet were caught by a 12-man chasing group. Shortly afterwards, in the pouring rain, 5 riders managed to escape and worked well together to create a gap of around 40 seconds. It was from this group that the winner of the day came, the defending champion Y. Lampaert, who sprinted away from his escapee companions in the finishing straight to take the victory. The top BORA-hansgrohe rider today was Christoph Pfingsten, who crossed the line in 21st position after a tough day.

From the Finish Line
“Today was a very rough day in the saddle. We wanted to achieve a good result with Pascal Ackermann and Christoph Pfingsten, and we tried to get into one of the breakaways, but the tempo was too high, and so it was very difficult for our guys today. However, their performance wasn’t bad. Pascal is still a young rider and will only learn from these experiences. In these weather conditions, and with the high quality field that was in attendance today, it was not an easy day.” – Steffen Radochla, Sport Director 

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