Van Baarle solos to victory in Ninove
The 78th Omloop het Nieuwsblad was right up Dylan van Baarle’s alley. The Dutchman soloed to victory in Ninove’s Elisabethlaan, pipping De Lie and Laporte to the post.
The signal for the start of the 78th Omloop het Nieuwsblad was given at 10:55 in the men’s race. ’t Kuipke had rolled out the red carpet once again so fans could cheer on their faves at the start presentation. A 207-km race between Ghent and Ninove awaited the riders!
A first group of riders managed to break away soon after the start, with seven riders setting the pace in the early hours of the race: Louis Blouwe (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles), Alex Colman and Gilles De Wilde (Team Flanders-Baloise), Adam de Vos (Human Powered Health), Mathis Le Berre (Team Arkea-Samsic), Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar Team) and Jelle Wallays (Cofidis). They had a lead of no more than 7 minutes.
Jumbo-Visma, meanwhile, took control of the race and the pace for the pack while Jan Tratnik launched a counterattack. He was flanked by Haller (Bora-Hansgrohe), O’Brien (Team Jayco Alula), Swift (INEOS Grenadiers), Van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma) and Wright (Bahrain Victorious). But their attack soon floundered as the pack didn’t allow itself to be defeated and the gap with the leading group started to close.
With just under 50 km to go, top favourite Arnaud De Lie suffered a crash. The young Belgian rider was forced to switch bikes and thus had no choice but to start chasing the others. He managed to catch up with the pack just before the final part of the race. In the race to the finale, the lead group also started to shrink, namely Wallays, Norsgaard and Le Berre.
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In the meantime, Jumbo-Visma upped the pace, hurtling towards the foot of Molenberg, where Van Hooydonck accelerated and the pack caught up with the lead group. A new group of about 25 riders formed. Jumbo-Visma was clearly intent on making this an arduous race. Van Baarle was the next rider to shake the tree, chased by Milan (Bahrain Victorious), Vermeersch (Lotto Dstny) and Le Berre, who was also in the first lead group. In the rear, Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Geniets (Groupama FDJ) tried to join this group on Haaghoek, while the pack seemed to regroup and bring the speed back up. After the last round on Leberg, Stuyven and Geniets were joined by Van Moer (Lotto Dstny), Eekhoff (Team DSM), Tratnik (Jumbo-Visma) and Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates).
On Berendries, it all proved too much for Milan at the front. In the pack, Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroen Team) accelerated, without forcing another split though. He did however create another attack. Tim Wellens on his part tried on Elverenberg - Vossenhol. Soon after, Pidcock also made a concerted attempt. Van Baarle, who was out of reach, could in the meantime clearly smell victory. Le Berre was the only rider who was able to keep up. In the pack, meanwhile, Jumbo-Visma amped up the pressure.
By now, Van Baarle was the clear favourite. At the rear, Bahrain Victorious tried to correct the situation. But by the time the pack reached the foot of the Muur, Van Baarle had a 40-second lead. Le Berre threw in the towel on the Vesten, leaving Van Baarle to climb the Muur and Kapelmuur solo. Wellens was the first rider in the pack to accelerate, passing Berre, followed by Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), in an attempt to catch up with the lone leader. De Lie and on his wheel Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) also ascended the Muur impressively. The group of four began to chase leader Van Baarle, who was nonetheless able to defend his 15-second lead on Bosberg over the four. He rode solo during the last 12 km, crossing the new finish line in Elisabethlaan in Ninove.