Drucker Sixth in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne Bunch Sprint25. February 2018, Kuurne (BEL) — Road Team
There was plenty of action at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne with Jempy Drucker sprinting to sixth place, Loïc Vliegen attacking in the final five kilometers, and Greg Van Avermaet active at the front of the race throughout the day.
As soon as the flag dropped, there were multiple breakaway attempts but it took almost 30km for the peloton to allow a group to go clear when seven riders eventually formed the early breakaway.
The peloton kept the group on a tight leash and the advantage did not extend beyond two and a half minutes for the next 60km when the gap came down significantly due to an increase in pace behind.
A crash at the back of the peloton with 90km to go slowed the bunch slightly and as the breakaway was caught 5km later, splits in the peloton saw 20 riders, including Van Avermaet, go clear.
Despite a strong chase from the peloton, Van Avermaet’s group gained an advantage of more than one minute and stayed together until just inside 50km to go when Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Daniel Oss (Bora-hansgrohe) attacked.
The peloton caught Van Avermaet’s group 40km before the finish line which saw the group trail the leading duo by 22 seconds, before Loïc Vliegen and Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal) attacked from the bunch to gain a slight advantage.
A mechanical problem for Oss left Stuyven solo in front as he crossed the finish line for the first of two laps of the finish circuit with an advantage of 30 seconds.
The peloton pulled hard to bring the race back together and on the final lap, Vliegen attacked again with Julien Vermote (Dimension Data) and Julien Duval (AG2R La Mondiale). The trio forged on and held a 15-second advantage in the final 3km but were ultimately caught by the bunch just before the finish line.
After Van Avermaet had put him in a good position, Drucker had enough in his legs to sprint to sixth place behind winner Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Quotes from the Finish Line
Greg Van Avermaet:
"I was pretty happy with my shape today. I moved when I had to move I think but again it was hard to stay away as nobody really went 100% and with the big group still behind there were a lot of guys who could ride for their sprinter. It is hard to do a result here and every year is a little bit the same so, I was not expecting too much from today. The most important thing was that the feeling is good and hopefully the results will come afterward."
"I am happy with the result and with Opening Weekend as yesterday was also good and I did a nice job for the team. Today, I actually wasn't feeling great for almost the whole race and only in the last 60km did I feel better. Then, we came to a bunch sprint, and the guys did a good job. Greg brought me into the final kilometer, and from there I jumped a little bit from wheel to wheel, and I think I can be happy with sixth."
“I was already feeling good in Algarve as the legs were there and I was able to control seven guys alone. I was quite happy with my form and today I was disappointment in how the race went as I was sitting in about 30th position, a bit too far back, before the crash happened on the approach to the Kwaremont. I was the last guy to pass so I was between the two groups, 200m behind the first group and 200m in front of the second group. I hesitated and wasn’t sure what to do but I pushed hard to come back to Greg’s group. I went full gas and then on the Kwaremont so I never fully recovered. Vermote and Duval attacked in the final so I attacked to bridge to them alone. It was really a hard effort and the collaboration wasn’t really good so it was hard to stay away. The peloton caught us with 200m to go. I was happy with my effort but a bit disappointed in the race too.”
Klaas Lodewyck, Sports Director:
"The start of the race was really good for us. The guys were paying attention to every move, and in the end, the move that went was not dangerous so we could let it go, and we didn't have the responsibility today. On the way back, we were a bit unlucky with the crash just before the Kwaremont as we lost some guys. Nobody was involved in the crash, but they were held up, and so, we had Greg alone in a group of 19 riders which wasn't a perfect situation for us but, the guys behind tried to slow down the bunch. In the end, everything came back together and I think we did what we had to do at the end. We played a little bit of poker to try to have the best possible result. For a few kilometers, it looked very good with Loïc aiming for the win, but he was caught just before the line. Jempy did a good result, and it was a little bit as we expected. Trying to win here today was difficult but trying to make a good result was possible, and I think we made quite a good result, so we need to be happy with today and move onto the next."
Top 3: 1. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo), 2. Arnaud Demare (FDJ), 3. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 6. Jempy Drucker, 29. Loïc Vliegen, 32. Tom Bohli.