For many cycling fans, the red letter day of the season is Omloop Day. It has cobbles, it has bergs, it has the Kapelmuur – and it kicks off the Classics season. With worries around how much of the cycling season will actually get raced (Italian races in jeopardy, even the Tour de France coming into question due to the corona virus), it felt like we needed to drink in as much of the action as possible. And we got two fantastic wins. Both using the Kapelmuur well, it was a solo win for the world champion, Annamiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton Scott), in the women’s edition and Trek-Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven had enough in his legs to stay in front of Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Yves Lampaert to take the biggest win of his career in the men’s race.
Riders of the Races
Women’s raceEmbed from Getty Images
The women went out a bit earlier than the men to complete their 127km race, but they didn’t let the heavy rain dampen their aggressive riding. The eight climbs before the Kapelmuur helped winnow down the peloton but it was Annemiek Van Vleuten who put the hammer down on the legendary climb, shrugging off her opponents as she hit the cobbled section, racing past the church at the top all alone. You couldn’t ask for more from the world champion, could you? As we’ve seen in many races where riders crest this climb solo, she had a few seconds to the good and just kept adding to them as she went hard into the final climb of the day, the steep Bosberg. It felt inevitable after that, and the Dutch rider was untroubled by any company on the run into the finish at Ninove. The podium was completed by Marta Bastianelli (Ale’ Btc Ljubljana) and Chantal Van Den Broek-Blaak (Boels Dolmans).
Men’s raceEmbed from Getty Images
I’ve been having a good feeling about the Trek-Segafredo team all through the off-season. There is something about them that makes me think they are going to make themselves felt in an awful lot of races this year (if, in fact, we have an awful lot of races). And already my prediction has started to bear fruit. Jasper Stuyven‘s watchful racing meant that he saw the move of the day at around 70km to go and made sure he bridged to the small group that included Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) and Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep) – taking Yves Lampaert (DQS) and Matteo Trentin (CCC) with him. With echelon action happening, the brutal weather for most of the race and an epic ride by Declercq, the break got away and stayed away. The Kapelmuur had its part to play, by winnowing the break, so that once under the flamme rouge, it was just Stuyven and Lampaert playing cat and mouse – a game that Stuyven won handily to take the biggest win of his career. Lampaert and Andersen rounded out the podium.
Embed from Getty Images
But as happy as I was for Stuyven’s win, the rider of the race for me was Tim Declercq. The only tractor that NYVelocity got to see today, but it was the tractor that pulled the break over the cobbles and the bergs, ensuring that various chasing groups never got less than a minute away. A gruelling race in gruelling weather, the effort was etched on his face but he rode his punishing pace kilometre after kilometre with nary a break. Riding for Lampaert, he made sure his teammate didn’t have to put his nose into the wind until, finally, on the Kapelmuur, he became detached from the break. But by that time, no one was going to catch that break – and that was mainly due to him.
And his fifth place finish also served up one of those lovely moments in cycling that always warms our heart. Chapeau, Mr Teunissen. A wonderful nod to Declercq’s hard work.
Top 5 Women’s RaceEmbed from Getty Images
1 Annemiek Van Vleuten (Mitchelton Scott) 3:34:55
2 Marta Bastianelli (Ale’ Btc Ljubljana) +0:42
3 Floortje Mackaij (Team Sunweb) same time
4 Chantal Van Den Broek-Blaak (Boels Dolmans) s/t
5 Ellen Van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo) +0:44
Top 5 Men’s RaceEmbed from Getty Images
1 Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) 5:03:24
2 Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) same time
3 Soren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) +0:06
4 Matteo Trentin (CCC Team) +0:39
5 Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +1:28
Full race reviews at cyclingnews.
Header picture: ©GETTY/Velo/Luc Claessen