James Fouche has finished 6th in the 79th edition of Gent-Wevelgem/Kattekoers-Ieper.  The Nations Cup event saw Jonas Rutsch of Germany take the win ahead of Norway’s Andreas Leknessund and Belgium’s Jens Reynders.

173.8km in length, the Nations Cup event brought together some 150 riders from all around the world to tackle the numerous cobbled sectors and climbs that included the Baneberg, the Kemmelberg and the Monteberg twice each between the 94km and 146km markers.  It was a brutal day of racing characterised by punctures and crashes, and the fast-approaching professional race behind them that resulted in just 36 riders making it to the finish line.  

New Zealand lined up with a team made up of Ethan Batt, Liam Cappel, Ben Hamilton, Matias Fitzwater, Paul Wright and national road and time trial champion James Fouche.  Last year Fouche and Fitzwater were the sole finishers for New Zealand that saw a big bunch sprint decide the race; with Fouche taking 41st across the line.  This time around there would be no such sprint with the race being blown apart by a couple of significant attacks in the windy conditions.

Speaking after the race, Fouche told us that the race began hectically but stayed together until a big crash broke the race up.  “It was all together and pretty hectic for the first 30km then a big crash split the bunch into pieces. We finally caught back on around 80km in,” Fouche explained.  Among the crash victims today was Fitzwater, who had to be taken to hospital for examination to assess a potential broken collarbone.  He was released though with no serious damage having been done.

Liam Cappel was one of the New Zealand team who turned themselves inside out to support James to a great result for NZ, photo provided

Predictably the decisive moves of the day took shape on the Kemmelberg and Monteberg, with the second climb up the Kemmelberg peaking with 31.4km remaining.  With massive support from Ethan Batt, Fouche was able to stay in contention and join a group of 19 riders that contended for the win.  But on the second climb up the Kemmelberg a big attack drew 7 riders to the front of the race.  Germany’s Jonas Rutsch was joined by the Norwegian duo of Andreas Leknessund and Tobias Foss, Belgium’s Jens Reynders and Cédric Beullens, Great Britain’s Robert Scott and James Fouche.

The group functioned effectively together until 2km to go when the attacks began.  “We rolled smoothly until the last 2km where the winning moves went but couldn’t follow unfortunately,” Fouche said.  

Rutsch managed to make the decisive attack, drawing Leknessund with him to the line where he disposed of the Norwegian in the sprint to take the win, with Reynders third and Scott fourth.  Although Fouche dug deep to try and make it across to the attack with 2km to go it was not to be and Fouche eventually crossed the line sixth ahead of Foss, with the next group back crossing the line 1.12mins in arrears.

Fouche was pleased with the result overall, even if the end hadn’t gone according to plan.  “I had decent legs and was happy to come away with a top 10. I’m a bit annoyed I missed the winning move under 2km to go but was pretty cooked then,” Fouche said.

A big part of his success today was the chasing ability of his teammates who came together really well for the Nations Cup event and put in a huge chase effort to return James to contention following the big crash after 30km.  “Yea the five of us boys gelled well together and were together for the first part of the race,” James said.  “Until a crash around 30km in took most of us boys out.  But they helped drag me up to the front group after an hour of chasing in some fairly big crossies. Then Ethan was great to have up with me for the 2nd half of the race following moves.”

Team DS, Dirk van Hove, was full of praise for the way the team rode for James; particularly Ethan Batt’s ability to support the national champion in the latter stages of the race.  The result today puts New Zealand in a strong position heading towards the Tour of Flanders.  

Speaking about James, Dirk told us, “He’s a very talented rider, if he gets in the right team he’s going to have a great future.”

“He can read races, he stays calm when he has to stay calm.  He gets in the good moves, he has a good position, he stays out of trouble.  You don’t see him for the whole race, you know where he is but he’s never ever in trouble.  He’s the best talented rider in New Zealand at the moment.”

The New Zealand team looking cool and calm before doing battle, photo provided

Results:

RankLast NameFirst NameCountryResultIRM
1RUTSCHJonasGER       04:05:08
2LEKNESSUNDAndreasNOR       00:00:00
3REYNDERSJensBEL       00:00:04
4SCOTTRobertGBR       00:00:04
5BEULLENSCedricBEL       00:00:27
6FOUCHEJamesNZL       00:00:27
7FOSSTobias S.NOR       00:00:27
8CASTRIQUEJonasBEL       00:01:12
9GAMPERPatrickAUT       00:01:12
10SUTERJoelSUI       00:01:12
11HEALYBenIRL       00:01:12
12DEBEAUMARCHENicolasFRA       00:01:12
13HALLERPatrickGER       00:01:31
14HINDSGAUL  MADSENJacobDEN       00:01:31
15JARCAljažSLO       00:01:31
16MOBACHJarnoNED       00:01:31
17NONENoneDEN       00:02:19
18LAUKKarl PatrickEST       00:02:19
19REXLaurenzBEL       00:02:19
20VAN SINTMAARTENSDIJKDaanNED       00:02:19
21HOLLMANNJuriGER       00:02:19
22MONCASSINMaxenceFRA       00:02:19
23WRIGHTFredGBR       00:02:19
24KISKONENSiimEST       00:02:19
25FROIDEVAUXRobinSUI       00:02:19
26ANDERSSONAndreasSWE       00:02:19
27ZIMMERMANNGeorgGER       00:02:19
28MACIEJUKFilipPOL       00:02:19
29VAN DEN BOSSCHEFabioBEL       00:02:19
30BAYERTobiasAUT       00:02:19
31O’LOUGHLINMichaelIRL       00:02:19
32RIKUNOVPetrRUS       00:02:19
33GRIGNARDSébastienBEL       00:02:19
34ELOSEGUI MOMEÑEIñigoESP       00:02:19
35PIDCOCKThomasGBR       00:02:25
36KRONAndreas LorentzDEN       00:02:27

BRITTONRhysGBR       
DNF

GABAYNirISR       
DNF

DETHIERBastienBEL       
DNF

MCDUNPHYConnIRL       
DNF

HEANEYMarcIRL       
DNF

STEWARTJakeGBR       
DNF

STENSONAdamIRL       
DNF

NALLYJosephGBR       
DNF

PESTIAUXYannBEL       
DNF

EINHORNItamarISR       
DNF

LAHAVOmerISR       
DNF

ABU-FARESSanedISR       
DNF

OLKHADanielISR       
DNF

MOZZATOLucaITA       
DNF

ZAMBELLISamueleITA       
DNF

FERRIGregorioITA       
DNF

FIASCHITommasoITA       
DNF

MAZZUCCOFabioITA       
DNF

VENCHIARUTTINicolaITA       
DNF

RAZINSKISAlekss JanisLAT       
DNF

GAVARSEriks TomsLAT       
DNF

ANSONSKristersLAT       
DNF

MAKAOmerISR       
DNF

JOHANSENJuliusDEN       
DNF

JERMANŽigaSLO       
DNF

HORVATŽigaSLO       
DNF

PRIMOŽIČJakaSLO       
DNF

PIRIHAlešSLO       
DNF

FINKŠTTilenSLO       
DNF

COMARichardSVK       
DNF

VAN TRICHTStanBEL       
DNF

VERVLOESEMXandresBEL       
DNF

GALLFelixAUT       
DNF

GAMPERFlorianAUT       
DNF

GAMPERMarioAUT       
DNF

BLAŠKOMatejSVK       
DNF

TASSETMarvinBEL       
DNF

PALLESENJeppe AaskovDEN       
DNF

TAEBLINGPaulGER       
DNF

KORBERGS ULVISHorensLAT       
DNF

SMITHLukeIRL       
DNF

EGHOLMJakobDEN       
DNF

SANKMANNJoosepEST       
DNF

PRANGELKristoEST       
DNF

FUKUDAYoshiakiJPN       
DNF

JOHANSONKristjanEST       
DNF

PAJURMarkusEST       
DNF

HEIDERSCHEIDColinLUX       
DNF

MÄRKLNiklasGER       
DNF

PELCERSKristapsLAT       
DNF

FONTAINEEmersonBEL       
DNF

KIERNERFlorianAUT       
DNF

FERRONValentinFRA       
DNF

RIESMichelLUX       
DNF

ROSTOVTSEVSergeyRUS       
DNF

KAZANOVEvgenyRUS       
DNF

ŠTOČEKMatúšSVK       
DNF

FOLTÁNAdamSVK       
DNF

KUBIŠLukášSVK       
DNF

MERIAČTomášSVK       
DNF

CAÑELLAS SANCHEZXavierESP       
DNF

AZPARREN IRURZUNXabier MikelESP       
DNF

LAZKANO LOPEZOierESP       
DNF

BERRADE FERNANDEZUrkoESP       
DNF

PEÑALVER ANIORTEManuelESP       
DNF

BRUNELAlexysFRA       
DNF

KULIKOVSKIYAlexandrRUS       
DNF

SCHNEITERJoabSUI       
DNF

OMACHIKentoJPN       
DNF

WATANABEAyumuJPN       
DNF

OMAEKakeruJPN       
DNF

KAKIZAKIEugeneJPN       
DNF

AEBIAntoineSUI       
DNF

DE PESTELSanderBEL       
DNF

BISSEGGERStefanSUI       
DNF

MALDONADODylanFRA       
DNF

LINDGRENEmilSWE       
DNF

JOHANSSONGustavSWE       
DNF

WALLChristofferSWE       
DNF

PALMOskarSWE       
DNF

RENARDAlexisFRA       
DNF

NEKRASOVDenisRUS       
DNF

THIÉBAUDValèreSUI       
DNF

FITZWATERMatiasNZL       
DNF

ZIJLAARDMaikelNED       
DNF

LEYDERPitLUX       
DNF

MATSUDAShoiJPN       
DNF

LEYDERMischLUX       
DNF

CONTERKenLUX       
DNF

KLUCKERSArthurLUX       
DNF

DEKKERDavidNED       
DNF

MAASEdoNED       
DNF

FIVÉTrystanBEL       
DNF

SCHELLINGIdeNED       
DNF

BRAETVitoBEL       
DNF

DE MEESTERLucaBEL       
DNF

BERGSTRÖM FRISKErikSWE       
DNF

POPOVAntonRUS       
DNF

DE WILDEGillesBEL       
DNF

KOSTANSKIMateuszPOL       
DNF

ANIOLKOWSKIStanislawPOL       
DNF

PAPIERSKIDamianPOL       
DNF

KRAWCZYKSzymonPOL       
DNF

BOGUSLAWSKIMarceliPOL       
DNF

HAMILTONBenNZL       
DNF

URIANSTADMartin BuggeNOR       
DNF

BATTEthanNZL       
DNF

SLEENTorjusNOR       
DNF

HVIDEBERGJonas IversbyNOR       
DNF

VAN WILDERIlanBEL       
DNF

WRIGHTPaulNZL       
DNF

CAPPELLiamNZL       
DNF

PLUTOMartinLAT       
DNF

WÆRENSKJOLDSørenNOR       
DNF

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