BMC Development Team Animate Flèche Ardennaise7. May 2017, Herve (BEL) — Development Team
The Belgian Ardennes are known to be the home of exciting racing and today’s Flèche Ardennaise was no exception with BMC Development Team animating the front of the race before Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal U23) took the win from a late breakaway.
It was a fast start to the race with riders battling for position at the front of the bunch before Reto Müller was part of an initial four-rider group that went clear after less than thirty minutes of racing.
The quartet held an advantage of around 30 seconds before eleven additional riders, including Nathan Van Hooydonck, and Martin Schäppi joined their ranks. However, with 139km still to race, the group’s advantage was never allowed to reach beyond one minute and, eventually, an injection of pace from the peloton saw the race back together with 96km to go.
The bunch continued to stick together for the next 30 kilometers before Schäppi was on the move with two others at the front of the race going up the Côte de la Vecquée. Once again, the trio was only able to build up an advantage of just over a minute as the peloton kept tight control of the proceedings.
Inside the final 40km, six riders were able to bridge across to the Schäppi-led group before the race hit the reset button for a second time with BMC Development Team maintaining a comfortable position at the front of the reduced peloton.
Soon after, Callum Scotson attacked off the front of the bunch on the penultimate climb, the Côte de Cornesse, before nine riders eventually went clear with Müller in a chase group of four riders behind.
As the race headed over the finish line for the first of two circuits around Herve, the leaders were holding onto an advantage of just 20 seconds however attacks eventually saw the race explode with riders spread out all across the road.
In the end, a late attack from Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal U23), who was part of the final breakaway, proved to be decisive as he took a solo victory in Herve ahead of chasers Stephen Willams (SEG Racing Academy) and Lennert Teugels (United CT).
Quotes From the Finish Line
“In the beginning, I went in the first successful breakaway before 11 others guys bridged across to us after 10km. I was then in the group with Martin Schäppi and Nathan van Hooydonck, but the peloton didn’t want to let us ride away, so we never built up a solid advantage. Once it came back together, it felt like there were just attacks all the time. It was really good for us, and we always had someone in the front, so we never had to chase too hard until the end.”
“We were going up and down all day. There were only a few points where the road was flat. In the beginning, it wasn’t too hard on the climbs, but when we reached the seventh climb, it was really steep, and the attacks were coming quickly. Then on the eighth climb, the race exploded completely. The nine leaders then went out in front, and I was in the chasing group behind. One-day races in Belgium are always hard, so it was nice to be out in front. I wasn’t sure how I would do coming here from Tour de Bretagne so, it was good to be able to see my form improve over the course of the race.”
“It was difficult to know which breakaway was the right breakaway today and in every move, there was one team missing, so there was always a team chasing behind. I was in the first big group with Nathan Van Hooydonck and Reto Müller, and they were pulling really hard on the climb, but it wasn't really steep enough to make a real difference. Then, I went out at the front with two other guys after the Côte du Rosier. We had something like 30 seconds on the bunch after the downhill so I thought maybe it was possible to do something but the bunch was still pretty big behind, and it was a strong headwind. It was a bit for nothing in the end, but you never know if you don’t try.”
“I feel like the Ardennes is a lot like my home. The climbs are not too long but not too short either so it is good for me. I'm not a pure climber, but I can fight against the others on a circuit like this and I showed that today.”
Sports Director, Klaas Lodewyck:
“The beginning of the race went as we had planned and we started really well. We had three riders in the breakaway of 15 guys. Nathan van Hooydonck, Reto Müller, and Martin Schäppi did a really good job in this group, and Lotto-Soudal U23 had to push really hard to bring it back together. After this, we then had Martin out at the front of the race. This was a really good move for us. The peloton was then down to around 30 riders, and we still had five riders in there. The final 20km weren’t as hard as earlier points in the race, and it was difficult to really make a huge difference when the final breakaway was gone. Overall, I am happy with how the guys went today, and it gives me confidence as we look ahead to the next few one-day races.”
One-day race: Herve > Herve, 176.7km
Top 3: 1. Harm Vanhoucke (Lotto-Soudal U23) 2. Stephen Willams (SEG Racing Academy) 3. Lennert Teugels (United CT)
BMC Development Team Top 3: 39. Martin Schäppi 40. Callum Scotson 42. Tanguy Turgis