Evenepoel solos to victory in Brussels
The big favourite at the start in Jubelpark was Remco Evenepoel. As a local cyclist he knows the region like the back of his hand and he played that trump card more than 80 km from the finish line. An elite group plunged into the finale and, with 11 km to go, it was Evenepoel who put the icing on the cake. Second and third were Aimé De Gendt and Tosh Van der Sande.
The early breakaway occurred after 12 km. Peyskens (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), De Vylder (Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise), Traeen (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team), Van Empel (Vini Zabu’), Hesters (Beat Cycling), Scott (Canyon DHB Sungod) and Marchand (Tarteletto – Isorex) worked together to gain a maximum lead of 2’27”.
New this year was a double passage on the Muur, Bosberg and Congoberg in the Geraardsbergen region. Already on the first passage, the race broke open. After a burst from Campenaerts and Evenepoel on the Muur, among others, an elite group caught up with the last remnants of the early breakaway. At the start of the second lap in Geraardsbergen we had a leading group with: Evenepoel (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), De Gendt (Intermarché - Wanty - Gobert Matériaux), Gilbert and Van der Sande (Lotto Soudal), Campenaerts (Team Qhubeka Nexthash), Hirschi and McNulty (UAE Team Emirates), De Vylder (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB) and Traeen (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team).
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On the second passage on the Muur, it was Gilbert who accelerated. Campenaerts also moved up on the way to the chapel. For early escapees Traeen and De Vylder, it was too fast and they lost ground. An elite group of 7 riders headed for the 2nd climb of the Bosberg and Congoberg, but attacks there were not forthcoming.
With a lead of 1’40”, the leaders started the last 40 km towards Houba de Strooperlaan in the heart of Brussels. There were still 2 cobblestone stretches left and climb number 9, the Heiligekruiswegstraat. On route to the last obstacles of the day, Evenepoel and Campenaerts tried to split up the leading group, but without success.
With 11km to go, it was Evenepoel who launched a decisive attack. He left De Gendt behind and took his second victory in just a couple of days. After winning the Vlaamse Druivenkoers Overijse, Evenepoel was now also the best in the Brussels Cycling Classic. Third place on the Houba de Strooperlaan went to Van der Sande.