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.
|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||,,||-|