NINOVE, Belgium (AP) — Jasper Stuyven prevailed in a two-man sprint on Saturday to win the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, which marks the start of the Belgian Spring classics.
Stuyven edged fellow Belgian Yves Lampaert after the duo managed to escape from a seven-man group in the grueling and famed Muur van Geraardsbergen climb, 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) from the finish.
Danish rider Soren Kragh Andersen managed to stay in their wheels in the finale but was ultimately dropped when Lampaert accelerated with 2 kilometers left.
After a grueling day in windy and rainy conditions, Stuyven — a former Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne champion who also claimed a stage win at the Spanish Vuelta — countered the move and led into the final bend in the city of Ninove as the sun broke through the clouds.
Lampaert opened the sprint but could not match Stuyven’s speed and power, shaking his head in frustration in his wake.
“In 2018, I was always there but didn’t win, and so of course expectations were high last year, from everyone and also myself, to take that win, and that went really badly,” said Stuyven. “It’s super nice, especially since it’s the opening classic of the season and after the super teamwork today and how everything fell into place.”
Three-time cyclo-cross world champion Wout Van Aert used the 200-kilometer race featuring a succession of cobble sections and punishing short climbs to compete in his first road race since he crashed out of the Tour de France last year.
Van Aert finished outside the top 10 after failing to get in the breakaway but took long turns in the chasing group and looked strong in the climbs.
World champion Annemiek van Vleuten posted a solo victory in the women’s race after launching an attack in the Muur van Geraardsbergen. Van Vleuten claimed her first victory in the rainbow jersey ahead of Marta Bastianelli and Floortje Mackaij.
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