Ardooie has a population of 9,161, and it felt as though most of their number were rushing along Stationstraat to offer their congratulations to Trek-Segafredo directeur sportif Dirk Demol after Jasper Stuyven won stage 4 of the BinckBank Tour.
Demol is a resident of Ardooie, and the finish is a staple of the BinckBank (and formerly Eneco) Tour. Every year, the Belgian makes a point of having his team target victory in the stage but until Stuyven powered off the front of the peloton with a little over a kilometre to go here, the homecoming had always fallen flat.
“I live here so of course for me it’s almost like the World Championships if I go home with a nice result,” a beaming Demol told Cyclingnews. “It’s never easy because it’s almost always a top sprinter who wins here. With the team we have here, we realised that if there was a pure sprint, we would have no chance. We talked about it for the last two or three days.
“I try to be there for all the riders but I said, ‘Boys, I want something special from you. I live here so please make sure I can come back home with a result.’ I’m super happy.”
The Trek-Segafredo tactics were straightforward, but the simplest plans tend to be the most difficult to execute. Putting a mass of red jerseys on the front on the final lap of the finishing circuit was easier said than done, but Ryan Mullen and Mads Pedersen led the charge for Trek. When Stuyven made his acceleration, they sat up and allowed a gap to develop.
“We talked about the chicane with one kilometre to go,” Demol said. “We had to do it with four or five riders in front and then leave a gap. Then you just have to sprint all the way to the finish line and it worked. It’s always nice when someone from the team wins, and it’s even better when you make a plan and it works out. And it’s my hometown, so it’s super nice.”
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