The Irish U23 team put in a really aggressive performance today at the Ronde van Vlaanderen Beloften (1.Ncup) as Michael O’Loughlin made it into the main breakaway of the day and Matthew Teggart made it into a dangerous breakaway from which the winner emerged inside the closing 20 kilometres. Unfortunately for Teggart, he crashed out of the break in the closing kilometres.

Lining up alongside O’Loughlin and Teggart were David Montgomery, Angus Fyffe, Eddie Dunbar and Sean McKenna and the team were managed by Kurt Bogaerts.

The U23 version of the Tour of Flanders is the third race in the Nations Cup series and in the past number of years, many top name World Tour riders have finished on the podium. Amongst those who have finished in the top three at the race are Sep Vanmarcke, John Degenkolb and Michael Matthews.

The riders today faced many of the well-known climbs used in the Tour of Flanders including the Valkenberg, Berendries and Wolvenberg with a total of 13 climbs on the 166-kilometre course.

Sean McKenna was amongst the first attackers of the day, but was reeled in pretty quickly. Shortly afterwards, the main break of the day went clear which included O’Loughlin. Also present were Bohdan Musiienko (Ukraine), Yevgeniy Gidich (Kazakhstan), Alexander Cowan (Canada) and Filip Bengtsson (Sweden).

Their lead stretched out to 4’40” after 60 kilometres but that was as big as it got. Back in the peloton, the teams of Great Britain and Spain came to the front and started to reduce the gap.

Michael O'Loughlin on the attack (Photo: @bogaertsk)
Michael O’Loughlin on the attack (Photo: @bogaertsk)

Cowan started to struggle and dropped back to the peloton leaving four up front. With 80 kilometres remaining, the gap to the leaders had been reduced to 2’15”.

The lead group was reduced to three riders soon after as Musiienko was dropped on the Valkenberg. As the gap to the peloton reduced, riders started to bridge across to the leaders including Italy’s Davide Ballerini, James Shaw of Great Britain and William Barta (USA).

The lead group were brought back with 45 kilometres remaining on the first of two laps of a finishing circuit which included the climbs of the Wolvenberg, the Achterberg and the Boigneberg.

Adrien Costa of the USA was the next to go clear but with just over a lap to go, he was caught by four riders as Irish rider Matthew Teggart made it across with Artem Nych (Russia), David Per (Slovenia) and Lucas Eriksson (Sweden).

These five leaders never gained much time and it was touch and go as to whether they could stay the distance. With 10 kilometres remaining, their lead was just 14″.

With five kilometres left, it was down to three up front, Nych, Per and Costa as Teggart crashed out of the break. Despite a strong chase from behind, Per managed to hold on to take the win ahead of Jonathan Dibben (Great Britain) and Corentin Ermenault (France).

David Montgomery was the best of the Irish taking a fine 18th place with Eddie Dunbar two places behind. Teggart managed to hang on to finish in 31st with McKenna and Fyffe in 100th and 111th places respectively.

1. David Per (Slovenia)
2. Jonathan Dibben (Great Britain)
3. Corentin Ermenault (France)
4. Amund Grondahl Jansen (Norway)
5. Krists Neilands (Latvia)
6. Artem Nych (Russia)
7. Adrian Costa (USA)
8. Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spain)
9. Davide Ballerini (Italy)
10. Cees Bol (Netherlands)
11. Logan Owen (Great Britain)
12. Chrstophe Noppe (Belgium)
13. Damien Touze (France)
14. Anders Skaarseth (Norway)
15. Edward Planckaert (Belgium)
16. Jai Hindley (Australia)
17. Gian Friesecke (Switzerland)
18. David Montgomery (Ireland)
19. Gabriel Cullaigh (Great Britain)
20. Eddie Dunbar (Ireland)

Per’s win follows on from his fourth places in both GP Adria Mobil (1.2) and Gent-Wevelgem/Kattekoers-Ieper (1.Ncup) in recent weeks.

The Irish team will take a lot of confidence from today into the next round of the Nations Cup, the ZLM Roompot Tour which takes place next weekend.


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