Race report

Headwind sees bunch sprint finish at Omloop

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Photo Credit: Cor Vos

The classics season got underway today at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, with the race following a traditional parcours for its testing 200 kilometre long route. With calm conditions over the peloton as they rolled out of the start in Ghent, a five rider breakaway was quick to form at the head of the race, and the bunch settled into a rhythm behind with all Team DSM riders in it.

As the gruelling climbs and cobbled sections ticked by, the peloton thinned down and on the Molenberg a large group of around eight riders got clear. A hard fought chase from Søren Kragh Andersen and Romain Bardet, alongside some riders from other teams saw the group eventually brought back as they entered the town of Geraardsbergen. Tiesj Benoot was prominent and to the fore over the top of the famous Muur, riding strongly, but with a fierce headwind it was difficult for any move to escape.

Cresting the final ascent of the Bosberg, any gaps were brought back and the peloton was all together heading towards the finish Ninove. Benoot and Kragh Andersen gave it their all and did their best to get in the mix in the fast finale as the sprinters did battle, but unfortunately they were caught behind the crash with two kilometres to go. Benoot tried to bring Kragh Andersen back as close to the front as possible, but the Dane was unable to contest the sprint finish for a top result.

“It was a hard race but in the end the weather was a bit too easy I think for a race like today, we needed some tougher weather,” explained Benoot. “We missed the race a little bit on the Molenberg as we were a bit too far back with the team. I think after that we made a good move though, where Søren and Romain rode fast and strongly to close the gap. Then on the Muur I was around tenth on top. The level was high in general but no one was able to attack from it, also because of the headwind once we got over the top. In the end, I tried to bring Søren up for the sprint but we got caught behind the crash at two kilometres to go which was a shame. We had to come all the way from behind but just didn’t make it before the finish. So it was some bad luck but tomorrow is another day!”

Team DSM coach Marc Reef added: “The goal was to race aggressively and look for opportunities to create groups. On one hand it was a controlled and fast race, so not much happened because of the speed in the bunch. We tried to position our guys for every important section in a good way. We came into the final with Tiesj, Søren and Romain before the Molenberg, where we were not in a good position. We missed the move of eight riders that we had to be in, so we chased mainly with Romain and Søren did some pulls too to bring it all back together for the Muur, so that we still had an opportunity there. Over the Muur we still had Tiesj and Søren in the first 25 riders, but more guys came back and in the end there was a sprint of around 50 guys. We were a bit out of position in the sprint because of a crash in the finale. It wasn’t what we came for and there are some points to improve, but we’ve seen some good teamwork and some positive points that we can take into tomorrow and the coming races.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 BALLERINI Davide Deceuninck - Quick Step 4:43:03 300
2 STEWART Jake Groupama - FDJ ,, 250
3 VANMARCKE Sep Israel Start-Up Nation ,, 215
23 KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren Team DSM ,, 12
29 BENOOT Tiesj Team DSM ,, 12
62 BARDET Romain Team DSM 2:44 -
78 NIEUWENHUIS Joris Team DSM 3:07 -
1005 MÄRKL Niklas Team DSM -04:43:03 -
1005 PEDERSEN Casper Team DSM ,, -
1005 SÜTTERLIN Jasha Team DSM ,, -