Belgian champion Merlier the fastest to the Atomium
A sunny start in the Jubelpark, was followed by a soaking wet finale with the inevitable bunch sprint on the Belgiëplein. In this, Belgian champion Merlier was clearly the strongest. He finished ahead of Ballerini and Bouhanni.
As in previous years, the Brussels Cycling Classic started in the beautiful setting of the Jubelpark. In the sun and under a blue sky, 5 riders managed to breakaway after just 4 km of the race: J. Duval (AG2R La Mondiale), J. Sütterlin (Team Sunweb), L. Vliegen (Circus – Wanty Gobert), C. Beullens (Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise) and J.W. Van Schip (BEAT Cycling Club). Fairly quickly, the peloton let them go, except for one rider who went on the counter-attack alone and was eventually able to catch the group at the front: J. Van Den Brande (Tarteletto – Isorex). A leading group of 6 riders thus coloured the first hours of the race.
In the peloton, it remained quiet for a long time. The leading group managed to build up a maximum lead together of about 5 minutes. The situation remained steady although the lead began to dwindle. The slopes around Beersel brought some action, as riders tried to spring from the group on the Alsemberg and on the Menisberg. The counter-attacks never lasted long and about 20 km from the finish the peloton caught the leading group.
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On the final climb of the day, the Keperenberg, one further attack attempt took place: J. Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates), A. De Gendt (Circus – Wanty Gobert) and I. Van Wilder (Team Sunweb) together managed to build a small lead, but in the peloton Deceuninck – Quick-Step did not let up. 8 km from the finish, the last attackers had shot their bolt and the peloton prepared itself gradually for the bunch sprint.
In the pouring rain, Belgian champion Tim Merlier (Alpecin - Fenix) sprinted to first place. Merlier was quicker than Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and Nacer Bouhanni (Arkéa-Samsic).