Van Avermaet Goes Back to Back at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Greg Van Avermaet claimed his second consecutive win at Omloop Het Niuewsblad with a stunning sprint to the line ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgohe) and Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team).
The opening Classic of the season proved as tough as they come with a strong field vying for the UCI WorldTour win.
It took over an hour for a breakaway of six riders to go clear, with the group eventually gaining eight minutes on the peloton.
A huge crash took out half the bunch with 62km to go, side-lining Daniel Oss and Floris Gerts, and many of the pre-race favorites. With BMC Racing Team up the front, Greg Van Avermaet avoided any trouble and was in the perfect position on the next cobbled section where the race opened up.
Tom Boonen, who had already been involved in a crash earlier on the day, hit the ground once again and initially seemed good to continue, but was later confirmed to have abandoned the race.
Norwegian Alexander Kristoff was involved as well but got back on his bike despite looking rather affected.
Just 7km later, Van Avermaet was in a group of just eleven riders closing in on the breakaway and with 40km to go, the catch was made.
Van Avermaet, Sagan and Vanmarcke were in the lead 20km before the finish line, and it was this trio that would hold off the reduced peloton and battle it out for the win.
The three riders were eyeing each other in the final 2km but it was Van Avermaet who was positioned well on the inside approaching the line and sprinted to claim his first win of the season.
The Winner’s Interview with Greg Van Avermaet
Greg, congratulations! How hard was the race today?
"The race was really hard. It was a beautiful race and we made it hard together with Peter Sagan. We opened up the race at the right time at Eikenberg. It was really nice to come with three guys to the finish and wonderful that I could finish it off. I had confidence from last year that I could win in a sprint on this finish and in the end, it was a good sprint and I am really happy with what I did today."
How does it feel to be Olympic Champion and to win here at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad twice in a row?
"It's an amazing feeling. Last year, my season started here with a big victory and now it's the same this year. It's nice to come home and to win the first race on home ground. It's just such a nice feeling with so many fans out on the road and for me, it is the perfect start to the season."
Does this give you confidence for the rest of the Classics season?
“Flanders is my biggest goal. It's a hard race but if everything goes well I have a big chance. I’ve had a good start to the year already and this win gives me even more confidence."
How do you feel about this victory after a complicated winter with an injury?
"It was nice to win here because you always come to this race with a lot of expectations. I was a little bit behind on the schedule so you still have to see where you are at the big races and the races that suit me. This is a really good start and I am happy. Just like last year, this gives me confidence and takes some of the pressure off the other races. My big goal is Tour of Flanders and it is there that I have to be in top form and it's there I want to make a good result."
After the race, Peter Sagan was pleased with his ride after a month away from racing. “You can’t win every day. It was a very hard race and I’m happy to be racing again after Australia. I worked a lot throughout the race, and we went to the finish in the first group and I just didn’t have the legs for the win. I had spent a lot of energy and it was hard to recover for the final sprint. I’ve worked hard these past few weeks, but it was one month without racing – it’s like a copy of last season, but it’s promising for the races to come. The season is long and has just started. I consider this race a very good training and I look forward to the upcoming races.”
2017 Omloop Het Niewsblad Top 10 Results
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team 4:55:06
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac
4 Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 0:00:45
5 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:00:52
6 Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
7 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
9 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors 0:00:56
10 Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie 0:00:58
2017 Omloop Het Niewsblad Stage Highlights
2017 Omloop Het Niewsblad LIVESTREAM Replay
5:49 GMT: BMC's Greg Van Avermaet wins the 2017 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad after out sprinting breakaway companions, Peter Sagan and Sep Van Marcke
15:41 GMT: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Top 10 results
15:39 GMT: Join us tomorrow at 05:00 PST, 08:00 EST, 13:00 GMT, 14:00 CET for Kuurne Brussels Kuurne!
15:37 GMT: Van Avermaet had the last match and wins the sprint!
15:34 GMT: 1 km to go. Sagan v Van Avermaet v Vanmarcke
15:32 GMT: 2.5 km to go. Sagan v Van Avermaet v Vanmarcke
15:30 GMT: minute gap. this is it, one of these three.
15:28 GMT: Sagan v Van Avermaet v Vanmarcke - who's going to get this?
15:27 GMT: Gap has gone up to 50s. 6 km to go.
15:25 GMT: Gap has gone up to 40s. 8 km to go.
15:22 GMT: Sagan v Van Avermaet v Vanmarcke still have 30s gap, 12km to go
15:17 GMT: Sagan v Van Avermaet v Vanmarcke working hard to stay away!
15:12 GMT: Sagan v Van Avermaet v Vanmarcke - can they stay away? Only 28 seconds.
15:09 GMT: Chase group not closing 30 second gap. Gilbert burning matches with Team Sky.
15:05 GMT: Only 25 seconds to the Sagan group with 25km to go. Phillip Gilbert looks good.
15:01 GMT: Sagan, Van Marcke and Van Avermaet leading the race, peloton 28 secs
Boonen has abandoned after crash, Watch out for him tomorrow at Kuurne Brussels Kuurne
14:56 GMT: Team Sky are burning lots of matches in Group 3. Looks like Sagans attack has really caused major chaos.
14:55 GMT: 33km to go Sep Van Marcke G1, Sagan, Van Avermaet G2. Sky G3. Chaos!
14:49 GMT: Boonen was caught up in a crash and is at the back on the split group 3.
14:48 GMT: Sagan looks on fire. He's not really burnt any matches! WTF!
14:44 GMT: Sagan just lost concentration and ended up on the grass
14:40 GMT: Group 3 contains Sky, Trek Segafredo and now chasing Sagan's Group 2
14:36 GMT: Sagan's early attack put a 1m 15s gap between himself and group 3
Group 3 is now getting more organized to start the chase.
14:32 GMT : Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard Group 3 are chasing Sagans Group 2
14:29 GMT: Sagan looks to be in really good form. Van Avermaet is also looking good.
14:26 GMT: Situation is Sagan has attacked and is in a group of 6 riders, group 2.
Sky are tyring to bridge across in Group 3. Lead group 1 has just over a minute.
14:33 GMT: Riders trying to bridge across to the Sagan group.
Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard have made it across.
Lead down to 1m 40s. Boonen not in this group.
14:20 GMT: Van Avermaet attacks, Sagan follows, both look really on form. Trying to drop other favorites like Tom Boonen.
14:17 GMT: Sep Van Marcke attacks, Sagan bridge across
14:06 GMT: 65km to go, 6 man break has 4m 41s on Peloton. High crosswinds!
13:57 GMT: 70km to go, 6 man break has 5m 39s on Peloton
13: 53 GMT: 75 km to go with Sagan riding back to the field and everyone on a nature break
Boonen, Van Avermaet and Sagan favorites.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, previously Omloop Het Volk, is a one-day cycling race in Belgium, held annually in late February. It is the opening event of the Belgian cycling season, as well as the first race of the year in Northwestern Europe, and holds significant prestige because of it. In 2017 the race will be included in the UCI World Tour for the first time. Until 2016 it was ranked as a 1.HC event of the UCI Europe Tour.
The race starts and finishes in Ghent, Flanders, and addresses the hills in the Flemish Ardennes, marking the start of the cobbled classics season in Europe. Due to its early calendar date, it is characterized by often cold weather, coming as a contrast to the early-season stage races in the Middle East and Southern Europe. The day after the Omloop, Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne completes the opening weekend.
A women's edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is held on the same day as the men's race, starting and finishing on the same location, of approximately 130 kilometres distance. Both events are organized by Flanders Classics.