Bunch Sprint after Fast Day of Racing at Handzame Classic16. March 2018, Handzame (BEL) — Road Team
BMC Racing Team lined up for the second Belgian semi-classic of the week today with Handzame Classic coming down to a bunch sprint after a controlled race neutralized the chance for any late attacks.
Riders started to fly off the front of the peloton as soon as the flag dropped but with the potential for crosswinds in the opening coastal section of the race, every move was pulled back.
Eventually, after covering around 30km of the 199.1km course, ten riders were given the freedom to go clear and extend an advantage that was sitting at over four minutes less than 15km later.
The breakaway was sitting at almost seven minutes as the race approached the hilly middle section and with the chase beginning to heat up, the peloton split into two parts going over the top of the Kemmelberg, the third climb of the day with an average gradient of 7%.
However, the bunch came back together quickly and continued to chip away at the lead of the breakaway before, with 70km to go, it was once again hovering around the four-minute mark.
The last seven riders from the breakaway were just forty seconds ahead when the bell rang to mark the start of the third and final 19km lap around Handzame and the catch was made with 9.5km to go.
An intense pace saw all opportunities for a late attack neutralized in the closing kilometers and a reduced peloton was all together going under the flamme rouge before the battle for position began with the previously predicted bunch sprint looking inevitable.
In the end, it was Alvaro Hodeg Chagui (Quick-Step Floors) who took the day’s win, sprinting to the line ahead of Kristoffer Halvorsen (Team Sky) and Pascal Ackermann (BORA-hansgrohe) while Miles Scotson, Tom Bohli and Joey Rosskopf all finished in the first group.
Quote from Inside the Race Car with Sports Director Klaas Lodewyck:
"There wasn't a lot of wind at the beginning of the race today and you could see right then that there were a lot of teams who wanted to control the race. So, we knew it would be difficult to make a result as we didn't have a pure sprinter here. We tried to do something on the Kemmelberg but it didn't really work and then after that we were waiting in the peloton to see if there would be the possibility of doing something at the end of the race. Miles and Tom were there in case the bunch slowed down and they could then try to attack from behind but the pace was really high so there was never a moment where they could go."
"For those riders now heading to Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, it was good that they were able to get some more racing in their legs today and now they should be ready for their next adventure."
One-day race: Bredene > Handzame, 199.1km
Top 3: 1. Alvaro Hodeg Chagui (Quick-Step Floors) 2. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Team Sky) 3. Pascal Ackermann (BORA-hansgrohe)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 24. Miles Scotson 27. Tom Bohli 40. Joey Rosskopf