Bob Jungels claimed Deceuninck-Quick Step’s second classics win in as many days with victory in Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne.  The Luxembourg national champion took the win ahead of Owain Doull of Team Sky and Niki Terpstra of Direct Energie.

 

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Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne results

 

Many of the riders who’d tackled Omloop Het Nieuwsblad the day before, were back for more on day 2 of the Belgian Classics campaign.  Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne took in 202km of racing, but with the last of the day’s bergs – the Nokereberg – peaking with over 50km remaining, the chances were good for the sprinters if they could last.  New Zealanders Dion Smith of Mitchelton-SCOTT, Alex Frame of Trek-Segafredo and Tom Scully of EF Education-First were back for more, while they were joined by New Zealand’s favourite Aussie in Robert Stannard of Mitchelton-SCOTT.

The day’s breakaway formed with seven riders gaining a lead of four minutes over the peloton early on.  Benoit Jarrier of Arkea-Samsic, Magnus Cort Nielsen of Astana, Pim Ligthart of Direct Energie, Ludwig De Winter of Wanty-Groupe Gobert, Jimmy Turgis of Vital Concept-B&B Hotels, Alex Kirsch of Trek-Segafredo and Lawrence Naesen of Lotto Soudal were the protagonists but it was at the halfway stage that the bunch relaxed and allowed the break to gain a lead of seven minutes before Deceuninck-Quick Step got to work to bring the move back.

After damage was done in the peloton courtesy of the likes of Ian Stannard of Team Sky and Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar of Deceuninck-Quick Step the break was eventually brought back and another group was eventually formed with six riders moving to the front of the race.  In this move were Bob Jungels of Deceuninck-Quick Step, Magnus Cort Nielsen and Davide Ballerini of Astana, Sebastian Langeveld of EF Education First and Oliver Naesen of AG2R La Mondiale.

Behind them leading the peloton were the teams of Mitchelton-SCOTT and Jumbo-Visma, with Robert Stannard and Dion Smith particularly visible on the front of the race.  The gap was coming down to the breakaway, but that stopped when Matteo Trentin fell victim of a crash.  He was quickly back up and riding with Robert Stannard towing him back into the pack, but Dion Smith took his foot off the gas a little to allow his teammate to come back on board; and this in turn meant that with 22km to go the gap to the leaders was 35 seconds.

Dion Smith leads the peloton late in the race, photo Sirotti

Approaching 16km to go Bob Jungels launched his attack as the group that now only contained Naesen, Langeveld and Ballerini began to drift back into the peloton.  Jungels chances looked slim with the peloton now just 25 seconds back with 15km remaining and one more lap of the finishing circuit to cover.  But on cue Deceuninck-Quick Step infiltrated the front of the peloton with BORA-Hansgrohe, Jumbo-Visma and co trying to chase the Luxembourg champion own.  His teammates’ disruption of the chase effort behind him meant that Jungels built up his lead to 31 seconds over the breakaway remnants and 42 seconds over the peloton.

The pack caught the remnants of the break, but with 5km to go Jungels still had a 23 second lead and even a few late attacks from behind him couldn’t dent his lead significantly enough.  Team Sky, Lotto Soudal and Direct Energie were all among the aggressors late on and they closed to 16 seconds with 1km to go.  But Jungels was all in from here and there was no catching him as the Luxembourg rider held on to win.

Owain Doull launched a long late sprint to take second place ahead of Niki Terpstra with Dylan Groenewegen of Team Jumbo-Visma and Yves Lampaert and Florian Sénéchal of Deceuninck-Quick Step 5th and 6th.

Dion Smith and Robert Stannard, after their efforts leading the peloton and trying to get Matteo Trentin back into contention crossed the line 52nd and 60th respectively, while Tom Scully took 67th across the line with teammate Mitchell Docker in the mix amongst the bunch finish behind Jungels.

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