Race report

Søren Kragh Andersen battles to 3rd at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

The cobbled classic began today with the first race of the “Opening Weekend”, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. With a tough 200 kilometre long parcours awaiting the riders, combined with swirling winds and strong rain, it proved to be a really tough day out in the saddle.

An early break was able to form after the flag drop and they quickly built up their lead to over seven minutes at one point. Yet, with exposed sections of road looming in the distance, the bunch soon increased the pace and the gap began to tumble.

The peloton split into several groups, with Nils Eekhoff riding strongly to make the front group of 16. However, the route then turned into a headwind and the pace once again slowed down and the peloton was able to regroup. Tiesj Benoot made some testing attacks but wasn’t able to make anything stick before Søren Kragh Andersen escaped in a breakaway group with 70 kilometres to go.

With a lot of teams represented, their advantage grew out to over two minutes as the number of cobble sections, climbs and kilometres ticked by. In the peloton behind Benoot did a great job to follow and mark any dangerous attacks and as the race entered the final 20 kilometres Kragh Andersen’s group held a lead of one minute and 40 seconds.

On the famous Muur, Lampaert and Stuyven put the pressure on in the breakaway, splitting the group. Kragh Andersen dug deep to gain contact with them over the top and the trio worked well over the Bosberg to hold off the chasers. Heading into the final three kilometres to go they had an advantage of 20 seconds and the attacks started. On his limit, Kragh Andersen was unable to follow the duo, but dug deep and crossed the line for a strong third place in what was his opening race of the season.

“Guys were starting to jump in the headwind and I followed a few attacks,” explained Kragh Andersen at the finish. “After a few times I thought I would try to go myself as we wanted to be active in the front. Suddenly we had a gap and a good group, and we worked together so the gap got bigger and bigger. I felt my legs on the Muur and the Bosberg. The other two were slightly stronger than me on the climbs so I was gambling for a sprint against them, and hoping they were empty. They attacked and I had nothing left so just tried to come as fast as possible to the finish. I’m really happy to finish on the podium at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, it is a big race and everyone is in top shape. Also for the team to start the classics campaign with a podium is really good. We aim for the win in the future and of course would have liked to win today but we have to start somewhere so I’m really happy and the team is really happy with the result.”

Team Sunweb coach Marc Reef added: “I think in general that we can be happy with the result and how we raced today. Søren made the attack with 70 kilometres to go and got some good riders with him. Tiesj was able to follow any moves behind to protect Søren and we were always in the game at the front or in the bunch. In the final Søren could follow Lampaert and Stuyven who were the best of the group. It turned out the third place was the best result possible and we can be happy with the podium spot in the first classics race of the season.” 


Pos. Rider Team Time Points
1 STUYVEN Jasper Trek - Segafredo 5:03:24 300
2 LAMPAERT Yves Deceuninck - Quick Step ,, 250
3 KRAGH ANDERSEN Søren Team Sunweb 0:06 215
14 BENOOT Tiesj Team Sunweb 1:28 25
DNF EEKHOFF Nils Team Sunweb - -
DNF PEDERSEN Casper Team Sunweb ,, -
DNF SÜTTERLIN Jasha Team Sunweb ,, -
DNF DENZ Nico Team Sunweb ,, -
DNF ARNDT Nikias Team Sunweb ,, -