Yves Lampaert (Quick Step Floors) took the win in the 72nd edition of Dwars door Vlaanderen today, after he soloed to victory in the closing kilometres, with Philippe Gilbert capping a great day for the Belgian team by finishing second in Waregem.
Belgian Champion Gilbert, who was racing Dwars door Vlaanderen for the first time since 2004, instigated a move with 78 kilometres to go on the Berendries, forcing a selection which saw around 20 riders extricating themselves from the peloton and establishing a 30-second lead. Behind, Cannondale-Drapac, FDJ and Trek-Segafredo led the chase, but their effort was to no avail, as Gilbert and Lampaert, who too was part of the group, worked hard to keep them at bay.
On the Eikenberg, Lampaert attacked, and even though he was reeled in over the top of the climb, his action still produced some damage, as the front group was reduced to 12 men. At one point, it looked like the peloton would come back, with the gap dropping to 20 seconds, but they stretched out their lead again and as a result they tackled the Oude Kwaremont with a 40-second lead.
It was on the steep and brutal Paterberg that Gilbert put the hammer down, taking with him only three riders: Lampaert, Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana).
On the final climb of the day – the Nokereberg – Gilbert pulled clear over the top of the hill and opened a five-second gap before the others came back to his wheel. Herlegemstraat was the race’s last hurdle, and on the long cobbled stretch Lampaert went clear with Durbridge and Lutsenko unable to respond. His advantage quickly grew to 30 seconds, and long before Lampaert went under the flamme rouge it was clear he would nab his biggest victory since turning pro.
“To win a World Tour classic in the Quick-Step Floors kit gives me an amazing feeling. I can’t tell you how happy I am for myself and for the team. Together with Philippe, who proved again today what a huge champion he is, we did a superb job”, said Lampaert after his maiden World Tour victory.
The 25-year-old Belgian, now in his third season with Quick-Step Floors, talked through the closing kilometres of Wednesday’s race: “We had the strength in numbers and this played in our advantage. When I attacked, I wasn’t sure I will open a gap, despite feeling strong, but I noticed they couldn’t bridge across and that gave me confidence. The final kilometres of the race were like a short and tough time trial, but I gave everything. To win Dwars door Vlaanderen is a dream come true, especially as I did this together with such a fantastic team and in front of so many supporters!”
In 2012, the team also took the top two places at Dwars door Vlaanderen, with Niki Terpstra and Sylvain Chavanel. Now, it was Philippe Gilbert who made the team’s day perfect, by sprinting to second from the chasing group.
“We were always on the front today. After the selection I made on Berendries, some guys in the group started to sit in, so we decided to go again, this time on Eikenberg. On Paterberg, we were first and second at the bottom of the climb and went full gas. Behind, Styby and Niki did a great job and helped us stretch out our advantage to one minute”, said Gilbert after the race. “By Nokereberg, we knew this was enough to win, so our plan was to attack there, and after they caught me, it was Yves’ turn to follow up with a move. He made it all the way to the finish and I’m very happy for him and the team, this is a big day for us!”