Race Report: The Deceuninck – Quick-Step team dominated the first Classic of the season and launched Davide Ballerini across the finish line of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad first. The young Italian held off Jake Stewart and Sep Vanmarcke in a sprint from a large group.
All happy at Deceuninck – Davids Ballerini wind Het Nieuwsblad 2021
The ‘real’ season started in Gent at 11.05am as the starting gun sounded for the 76th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
No fans at the start this year
An early escape was not long in coming. After a few kilometres Kenny De Ketele, Bert De Backer, Yevgeniy Fedorov, Matis Louvel and Ryan Gibbons escaped the peloton. In the hours that followed, they were given plenty of room with a lead of 8 minutes.
The early break
Early crash for Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Materiaux), Jhonatan Narvaez (INEOS Grenadiers), Dries Gestel (Total Direct Energie) and Mark Padun (Bahrain-Victorious)
With 140 kilometres to go, Movistar and Deceuninck – Quick-Step started to worry about the gap to the five at the front. With two riders each in the lead, they were bringing them back bit-by-bit.
The first climbs loomed on the horizon with the Leberg, Den Ast, Kattenberg and Holleweg. After each ascent the nervousness in the peloton increased. There were a number of crashes: Mark Padun, Paul Martens, Sonny Colbrelli, Sep Vanmarcke and Otto Vergaerde all hit the deck before the finalé had even started.
Kasper Asgreen took a chunk out of the lead of the early break at 70 kilometres from the finish with a hard turn on the front brining the lead down to 2:30. It became clear that the first attacks were not long in coming. Victor Campenaerts and Julius van den Berg tried, but were just as quickly pulled back.
Kasper Asgreen was working hard
Windmills – Not only in Holland
Jonas Rutsch was next to try, the German took off at 68 kilometres out. The 23-year-old rider caught sight of the leading group, but was caught by the chasers after the Wolvenberg – 52 kilometres from the finish.
Greg Van Avermaet – Always a favourite
The action had now started. On the way to the Molenberg, Olav Kooij and Johan Jacobs broke away from the peloton. They were the first to catch up on the early break. Among the favourites; Movistar and Jumbo-Visma were very active.
De Traktor – Tim Declercq
No roadside fans, but the best TV shots
Ten rider including Julian Alaphilippe, Greg Van Avermaet, Sep Vanmarcke, Tom Pidcock and Davide Ballerini, crossed the Molenberg and went towards the second passage of the Leberg and the Berendries with a 30 second lead.
World champion out front
Alaphilippe made his move on the Berendries. The World champion gave it a go and rode Van Avermaet, Vanmarcke and Pidcock off the wheels. With 30 kilometres to go, Alaphilippe was heading for the finish solo.
The chase was on behind – Ide Schelling (BORA-hansgrohe)
The Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider quickly took a 30 second lead, but just before the Muur van Geraardsbergen, all the groups were together. A peloton of forty riders rode up the wall together.
Alaphilippe still working
Gianni Moscon tried after the Chapel. The Italian’s attempt ended a few kilometres later on the Bosberg. On this last climb we saw another attack by Tom Van Asbroeck, but he was unable to tear himself away from the peloton either.
Van Avermaet and Pidcock were well to the fore
A bunch sprint was then on the cards. With Bryan Coquard, Christophe Laporte and Alexander Kristoff, there were still a few fast men at the front. Deceuninck – Quick-Step controlled the peloton for Davide Ballerini.
An easy sprint for Ballerini
A mechanical problem in the final kilometre ruled out Kristoff, but the Norwegian could probably not do anything against the dominance of Deceuninck – Quick-Step. The Belgian WorldTour team piloted Ballerini easily to victory in the last meters. Stewart was second, Vanmarcke third.
A job well done
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2021 winner, Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “A dream come true! I have no words for this team achievement. I love this team. This is the best start to the classics. We are here and I win. Alaphilippe then came to say to me: it is your day. And if the World champion says that, then so be it. I am very happy that I was able to finish it. This corona period is not easy for many people. I would like to thank the race organisation for making this race possible. Keep it up!”
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Result:
1. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck – Quick Step in 4:43.03
2. Jake Stewart (GB) Groupama-FDJ
3. Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation
4. Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Victorious
5. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Alex Aranburu (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech
7. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
9. Kevin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ
10. Nils Politt (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe
11. Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar
12. Amaury Capiot (Bel) Arkea-Samsic
13. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
14. Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix
15. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
16. Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
17. Cedric Beullens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
18. Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
19. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën
20. Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
21. Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar
22. Owain Doull (GB) INEOS Grenadiers
23. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) DSM
24. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
25. Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
26. Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën
27. Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious
28. Aime De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
29. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) DSM
30. Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Qhubeka Assos.
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