photo credits @ WTFK
Tiesj Benoot ended Belgium’s seven-year wait for a home winner at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne as he led a Jumbo-Visma one-two in a dominant Opening Weekend for the team.
A day on from Dylan van Baarle’s win at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Benoot came out on top after a big battle between five riders in the final part of the race.
Nathan Van Hooydonck was second, with Bahrain Victorious’ Matej Mohoric taking third.
An initial four-rider breakaway of Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarche–Wanty–Gobert Materiaux), Daniel Oss (TotalEnergies), Lluis Mas (Movistar) and Gilles De Wilde (Flanders–Baloise) escaped up the road before Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bingoal WB) and Matthew Gibson (Human Powered Health) soon joined them.
The gap to the peloton reached five minutes, before a crash saw Alpecin–Deceuninck’s Jasper Philipsen go down amid big splits.
Jumbo-Visma began to push the pace too, causing the sprinters to fall off the back as Benoot and Jan Tratnik caught the breakaway, with Tim Wellens and Mohoric following.
Wellens attacked from the lead group on the Mont Saint-Laurent cobbled climb and was followed, creating a breakaway of five: Wellens himself, Mohoric, Van der Hoorn and Jumbo-Visma pair Van Hooydonck and Benoot.
They stuck together on the final climb of the day – the Kluisberg – and had a lead of 90 seconds to the peloton with 50km to go.
Lotto-Dstny and Soudal-QuickStep led the chase, with Cofidis also helping out as the gap stalled, before eventually dropping to one minute with 10km remaining.
With 5km to go, the leading group began to get tactical, with Van Hooydonck and Benoot playing the numbers game.
They still had a minute to the bunch, so could play cat and mouse. Van Hooydonck made a move but was reeled in. He went again at the flamme rouge, with Wellens on the wheel and still couldn’t get away.
Then, Benoot went for it and opened up a gap with 700m to go, which proved to be the decisive move as the others looked at each other, with the Belgian winning on home soil for the first time in his career.
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