Despite numerous attacks throughout the race, the 76th edition of theOmloop Het Nieuwsblad ended with a sprint between about fifty runners. Perfectly taken by Florian Senechal, Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck – Quick Step) went for the biggest victory of his career by easily winning in front of the youngster Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) et Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation).
Vidéo – Davide Ballerini remporte l’Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2021!
The victory of Dancers crowns the superb race of the Deceuninck – Quick Step. The runners of the Wolfpack have always been at the front, especially Julian Alaphilippe who embarked on a solitary raid about thirty kilometers from the finish. Once resumed, the world champion put himself at the service of his sprinter Dancers, which concluded with the way. Behind the Italian, the British Jake Stewart, 21, offers himself a 2nd place full of promise, while the veteran Sep Vanmarcke, winner of this race in 2012, completes the podium.
First Classic of the season, first victory for #TheWolfpack!#OHN21 #WayToRidePhoto: @GettySport pic.twitter.com/yWrRKlwJE6
– Deceuninck-QuickStep (@deceuninck_qst) February 27, 2021
5 men in the lead, many crashes in the peloton
A breakaway of five riders forms after a few kilometers of racing. In front, we find Kenny De Ketele (Sport Flanders-Baloise), Bert De Backer (B&B Hotels), Yevgeniy Fedorov (Astana-Premier Tech), Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team Emirates) and the French Matis Louvel (Arkéa-Samsic). The peloton logically lets slip the fugitives, who will quickly count up to 9 minutes in advance before seeing the gap decrease as the first difficulties approach. With a little less than 100 kilometers from the finish, the lead of the leading men even dropped under 6 minutes.
Shortly after the halfway point, a big crash took place in the peloton with several favorites involved, including Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation), Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën) et Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious), but everyone manages to get back into contact. The pace is accelerating, and the breakaways are only 2’30 ” ahead 70 kilometers from the goal, when Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck – Quick Step) decides to pick up the pace. Jonas Rutsch (EF Education-Nippo) then took the opportunity to go out alone against behind the five leading men. The German made a good impression, but he was finally taken over by the peloton, which imposed an increasingly sustained pace. The nervousness is felt, and several falls take place, including that ofYves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Quick Step), which still manages to get in after a big effort.
The strong make the difference in the Molenberg
At 50 kilometers from the finish, the five leading men have only a handful of seconds ahead and will be caught by the peloton which has lost many units. The Molenberg is approaching, and a few runners try to anticipate as Johan Jacobs (Movistar) et Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma). These two men come back on their heads in the Molenberg, where Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) decides to shake up the peloton with Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick Step) in his wheel. The Italian and the French create a good selection since a dozen strong stand out, with in particular Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën), Zdenek Stybar (Deceuninck – Quick Step), Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation). A few runners then manage to make the junction, including Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers), while the bulk of the peloton is about fifteen seconds.
Julian Alaphilippe tries his luck from afar!
At 37 kilometers from the finish, there are 13 riders in the lead: Alaphilippe, Stybar, Dancers (three runners from Deceuninck – Quick Step), Pidcock, From Avermaet, Smell, Kooij, Laporte, Livyns, Jacobs, Trentin, Enjoy and Vanmarcke. This group gets along well and widens the gap on the peloton, but Julian Alaphilippe has ants in his legs and takes advantage of a small hill to go out alone! The French quickly took about fifteen seconds in advance, but the pursuers organized themselves to try to come back. Furthermore, Zdenek Stybar is the victim of a fall, which means thatAlaphilippe only has one teammate behind to try to slow down the pursuit. After a good effort, the world champion is finally taken back by the counter at 18 kilometers from the finish at the foot of the Grammont wall, but the peloton also gets back together and everything has to be done again!
Ballerini concludes the work of the Deceuninck – Quick Step
Gianni Moscon (INEOS Grenadiers) attacks in the wall of Grammont and takes a few meters ahead of the peloton. The Italian stays ahead for a few kilometers and starts the Bosberg alone in the lead, but he is caught up in this ascent which was the last of the day. At 10 kilometers from the goal, there are still about fifty riders in the peloton, and we are heading towards an improbable finish in the sprint. Alaphilippe, next to Kasper Asgreen, sacrifice his chances and lead the peloton because his sprinter Davide Ballerini, very visible from the start of the race, is still in the leading group, even if there are still many fast riders like Kristoff, Coquard, Laporte, Trentin, Stuyven, Hayter, Pasqualon, Stewart… However, Kristoff, Pasqualon and Hayter find themselves out of play shortly before the red flame due to a fall. Florian Senechal start the sprint for Dancers, and the Italian easily wins in front of the youngster Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) et Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation).
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