Welten Secures His Fourth Victory of 2017 at Grand Prix Criquieilon14. May 2017, Deux-Acren (BEL) — Development Team
Bram Welten punched the air with delight in Belgium today after sprinting to his fourth victory of the season at the one-day race Grand Prix Criquieilon.
As soon as the flag dropped in Silly, the early attacks began with one rider finding himself out in front alone after just 15km of racing. However, with strong crosswinds predicted over the opening 50km, of the 173.2km course, the peloton kept tight control of the race.
Riders continued to try their luck, but with the fast pace being set at the front of the bunch, they were quickly reeled in before the race split in two.
BMC Development Team were in a strong position in the front group of 32 riders with Leo Appelt, Reto Müller, Jasper Philipsen, Bram Welten and Nathan Van Hooydonck all making the selection.
As they crossed the finish line for the first of six 17km laps around Deux-Acren, the group sat 1’30” ahead of the rest of the field. This gap continued to grow with every kilometer, and eventually, it was clear that victory would go to one of the leading riders.
Over the local circuits, which included a steep cobbled climb up the Denderoordberg, riders were being dropped from the leading group before just eight riders, including Welten, remained out in front.
As the bell rang to mark the beginning of the final lap, the group had a buffer of 1’30” to the first chasers. Soon after, on the final ascent of the climb, which peaked out with 9km to go, the attacks began with Welten able to follow every move.
In the end, the eight riders headed under the flamme rouge together with the pace slowing slightly as they all tried to get the measure of one another. With 250m to go, the sprint was launched as Welten tucked into the wheel of another rider before a final explosive acceleration saw him move around the outside to power across the line and seal the top spot on the podium.
The Winner’s Interview with Bram Welten
Congratulations, Bram. How are you feeling after today’s victory?
"I am really happy with today's win. It was a completely different race to the others I have won this year. It was hard from the very start, but we were in a really strong position with five riders in the front group."
Over the final lap, were you confident that you could win today?
"Every time we hit the cobbled climb, the group was getting smaller and smaller, so I knew that on the last lap riders would attack there and that it would be important for me to be able to go with the moves. I knew that if I made it over the climb that I had a big chance to win the race. Luckily I made it, and we went to the finish together."
Talk us through the final sprint.
"Over the last 2km, it was pretty nervous with no one wanting to do the work. Then, with 250m one rider started his sprint and I stuck in his wheel. I waited and waited there before making my final move because I was confident I was the fastest out of the group."
And looking ahead to your next races, does this win give you a confidence boost?
"Definitely. A lot of the guys that are racing here are going to Switzerland for two one-day races next week. It's always nice for the team to head into a race off the back of a victory. These next races maybe aren't best suited to me, there is a lot of climbing, but I hope that I can maybe give something back to the guys who have been doing so much for me."
Quotes from the Finish Line
Sports Director, Klaas Lodewyck:
“Today was a good day for us. We knew that there was the risk of crosswinds and early on a group of 28 riders split off the front of the peloton. We had five riders in that group so it was a great position for us to be in and the guys pulled hard to make it stick. As we reached the final laps, the group was becoming smaller kilometer by kilometer, and with one lap to go, we had Bram out in front. I was able to speak to him quickly at that point, and we knew we would see fireworks on the final climb. Luckily he was able to stay with these move as I was confident that he had the strongest sprint of the group. All the guys did well today. It was a team performance all day really, and that's always good to see so, I'm happy.”
Grand Prix Criquieilon
One-day race: Silly > Deux-Acren, 173.2km
Top 3: 1. Bram Welten (BMC Development Team) 2. Arjen Livyns (Pauwels Sauzen - Vastgoedservice) 3. Lionel Taminiaux (Ago - Aqua Service)
BMC Development Team Top 3: 1. Bram Welten 11. Nathan van Hooydonck 24. Jasper Philipsen