Michael Valgren provided a good news story for Astana Pro Team on the day that it was revealed that the team has not received funding from the Kazakhstani government since the start of the year, and its riders and staff have not been paid.
The Dane soloed to victory at Omloop het Nieuwsblad after a great team display by Astana where they were only team with three riders to make it into the winning break.
That break formed after the Muur van Gerardsbergen when Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac) put the hammer down splitting the race apart.
Riders made it across in ones and twos between Geraardsbergen and the final climb of the Bosberg with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), Wout Van Aert (Veranda’s Willems Crelan), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) amongst those to make it into the break.
On the run in to the finish, a number of riders tried to go clear but were chased down each time. Valgren was the one to make the winning move with just over two kilometres remaining. He pulled clear despite a valiant chase by Vanmarcke who in turn was chased by Łukasz Wiśniowski (Team Sky). Valgren stayed clear to win by 12″ from Wiśniowski with Vanmarcke in third.
“We really deserved this win with our team, as we were really strong in today’s final,” said Valgren. “I attacked several times, but the final time I knew it was the right one and I went full gas. Of course, I had some doubts if I was able to stay in front, but going into the final meters I knew we got it. I’m really happy with this win, it’s the biggest so far in my career. I hope I can build on this for the next races to come. It was really special.”