Jasper Stuyven’s gutsy move at the end of stage four at the Binck Bank Tour – attacking out of the final S-turn with one kilometre to go to hold off the sprinters and take a dramatic win – gave Trek-Segafredo and team director Dirk Demol a hometown win they had been chasing for years.
“Every year [Dirk] says it’s an important day for the team and for him, so we always try to make the best out of it,” Stuyven said. “[The team] came up with the plan ourselves and both Dirk and Steven (de Jongh, director) supported our idea, and they knew we had the guys to bring me in the first position with one kilometer to go. It’s always a big fight to get there, and we all committed to the plan, and all believed we could do it, and that made a difference today to get the win.”
Trek-Segafredo carried out its pre-race plan to perfection. It was a full team effort – from Markel Irizar and Ruben Guerreiro kicking things off, to Matthias Brändle and Ryan Mullen’s powerful engines pulling into the crucial chicane, to Mads Pedersen opening the gap behind Stuyven. Only Boy van Poppel was missing as he had an ill-timed puncture three kilometres from the finish.
“I set the plan yesterday evening at dinner,” Stuyven continued. “Maybe we are not the fastest, but we have such a strong team, and with the chicane coming into the finish, every year it’s a hard fight. We made the plan to really come late and go all-in and then someone just opened up the gap.
“We stayed in the back, out of the wind, in the local laps, and then we came full to the front with Markel and Ruben, and then Matthias and Ryan – they are just really strong horses. It’s unbelievable how they can ride in the front and accelerate. We said we wanted to turn first and these guys made it happen.
“Then Boy had a flat tire, normally he would have let the gap [in the chicane], and Mads would have attacked with me in his wheel, so maybe it was a little bit longer and harder effort for me.
“Mads opened up the gap, and it was just all-out to the finish. I tried not to look too much back, of course, you always do, but it was a nice effort after always being there. I was getting a little bit frustrated the last weeks, to be honest, and it’s nice the guys keep believing in me, and I could pay them back with this victory.”
Three days remain in the Binck Bank Tour – and a weekend of classic-style races that could change all – but Stuyven, who won the final queen stage last year, brushed aside any GC ambitions:
“I think going for the GC is really hard because there’s a lot of strong guys in front of me. Of course, I won Sunday’s race last year, and everyone thinks that I will get it again but that’s not how it goes in cycling. It’s a nice stage, I like it that it’s a little bit longer, and with more hard days ahead of it – today was also not that easy – it benefits the stronger classics riders to make a nice race and a big fight for the win. I will focus on getting other results and making the race and if we get ahead, then maybe the GC comes with it.”