Crowded sun-blessed start in Roeselare
A wonderful spring sun welcomed cycling enthusiast from all corners of the world on Roeselare’s Grote Markt. The numerous present spectators watched the riders on the starting stage and saw that their heroes were ready for this brand new WorldTour classic. The heavy wind in West-Flanders could not impede an extremely fast-paced first hour of the race.
Six cyclists could not hold back for very long and took the lead just after around ten kilometres: Lawrence Naesen (WB Veranclassics Aquality), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis), Michael Goolaerts (Veranda’s Willems-Crelan), Benjamin Perry (Israel Cycling Academy), Ion Insausti (Bahrain-Merida) and Ivan Savitckii (Gazprom).
Wallays opens up the race, top cyclists attack
The sextet was granted a maximum lead of just over six minutes, but then it was enough for the top team in the peloton. Ex-winner Jelle Wallays was the first to step up but his acceleration on the Kattenberg was quickly countered.
Belgian champion Gilbert was more successful in his attempt on the Berendries. With still 75 km ahead, the Quick Step Floors rider ripped open the peloton in one serious go. Fourteen riders hopped on the train, including team mates Loïc Vliegen and Dylan Teuns (BMC), Hayman and Durbridge (Orica-Scott), Teunissen (Sunweb), Breschel (Astana) and Gilbert’s team mate Yves Lampaert.
That same Lampaert also rode the lungs out of his body for headman Gilbert on the Oude Kwaremont. The peloton’s backlog stayed around thirty second thanks to the action of the 25-year-old Lampaert.
Gilbert takes care of the ultimate selection on the Paterberg
“Not enough”, Gilbert must have thought at the foot of the Paterberg. On his own, the Belgian champion thinned out the leading group to four elites. Lampaert, Durbridge and Lutsenko (Astana) really struggled to join, but still found Gilbert’s wheel after all. With another two riders among the last four, a cast-iron Quick Step team found itself in a luxury position.
Lutsenko and Durbridge’s struggling played in the cards of Patrick Lefever’s men. The first to take a go was again Gilbert. On the Nokereberg, the final slope of the day, it was Durbridge who threw a spanner in the works of Quick Step’s leading man by keeping on the struggle to stick to his wheel. A second attack was too much for the Australian and local boy Yves Lampaert took his chance.
Lampaert takes the full win at ‘his’ Regenboogstadion
Lampaert, born in Izegem, went full speed on the cobbles of the Herlegemstraat, Gilbert stopped very well in the background.
Lutsenko and Durbridge were doomed, the horse had already left the barn. An overjoyed Yves Lampaert clearly enjoyed the final kilometres towards Waregem and got to throw this hands in the air at his Regenboogstadion (Lampaert is a Zulte Waregem supporter). Philippe Gilbert completed the party at Quick Step by sprinting in the background to the second place, Kazach Lutsenko also joined the stage.