Race report

Tiesj Benoot 12th at Ronde van Vlaanderen after attacking team display

Ronde van Vlaanderen

Photo Credit: Cor Vos

The second Monument of the year, Ronde van Vlaanderen, got underway from an overcast Antwerp this morning, with a testing 254 kilometre long parcours ahead of the riders, featuring numerous climbs and cobbled sections. The opening 15 kilometres of racing saw an intense fight for the breakaway with a five rider group getting clear, before Nico Denz attacked from the peloton, bridging to those ahead after a good chase alongside Houle.

Initially, the bunch were happy to let them go and the gap to the now seven rider strong move grew out to over 12 minutes before the pace began to increase. At 90 kilometres to go the counter attacks started, with Joris Nieuwenhuis riding well to make a split for the team, but that move was soon brought back too.

It was nervous in the race and there were several crashes within the peloton, which unfortunately saw Nils Eekhoff and Nieuwenhuis involved. Both were able to get back on their bike okay and continue but were ultimately detached from the peloton as the pace was on.

On the Kanarieberg, Søren Kragh Andersen put in a stinging attack, attempting to draw a group clear but with no one able to follow his move, he sat up and returned to the group. The peloton then slowed and things were put on pause before the race split on the Paterberg, where early breakaway rider Denz was caught by the charging bunch. Kragh Andersen and Tiesj Benoot were to the fore as the bunch split and more attacks flew.

On the last passage of the Oude Kwaremont inside 20 kilometres to go, Benoot showed his good legs by making it into a select chasing group. After working well together, the group would go on to fight for the minor top positions, with Benoot crossing the line for a solid 12th place after a good day of attacking riding by the team.

“Two days ago I was doubting if I would be good here, but to be there with the leaders is for sure a positive after being sick the last couple of weeks,” explained Benoot. “We were riding quite well in the group behind and saw that the group out front split, so we knew we were riding for the final podium spot. In the end I was just totally empty and couldn’t give anymore than I did today. I think if I can now recover fully, have one good week of training, then I can come back stronger in the next races.”

Team DSM coach Marc Reef added: “It was a really hard race, and the last of the Flemish block. We wanted to show ourselves today more than in the last races. One of our goals early in the race was to make the breakaway and we did that with Nico which was a good start. We then wanted to race aggressively in the middle part, which we did with Joris, Nils and Søren. We were then unlucky with the crashes of Nils and Joris. Tiesj was also quite far behind going towards the Oude Kwaremont after being caught behind Joris’ crash so we had to make up quite a big gap. Luckily after his sickness, he had a good day and could fight his way up to the front again. In the end he was with the 12 best riders, which is a good step compared to even a few days ago. I think in general we can be happy with how we raced today; with the spirit that we showed in the team, and that is something that we can take towards the next races. For Tiesj, it will also give him confidence towards the races that are coming for him too. All-in-all it was a good day and we’re happy with how we raced. We have to be realistic looking towards our last races, so I think we got the maximum that we could today.”


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 ASGREEN Kasper Deceuninck - Quick Step 6:02:12 500
2 VAN DER POEL Mathieu Alpecin-Fenix ,, 400
3 VAN AVERMAET Greg AG2R Citroën Team 0:32 325
12 BENOOT Tiesj Team DSM 0:49 60
58 KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren Team DSM 9:00 3
63 DENZ Nico Team DSM ,, -
1005 EEKHOFF Nils Team DSM -06:02:12 -
1005 NIEUWENHUIS Joris Team DSM ,, -
1005 ARNDT Nikias Team DSM ,, -
1005 SÜTTERLIN Jasha Team DSM ,, -