Quick Step’s Yves Lampaert was the beneficiary of some old-school hard-man tactics at the 72nd running of Dwars door Vlaanderen, as he and teammate Philippe Gilbert gave a textbook lesson in how to parlay a two-man advantage to breakaway success. Lampaert took off solo with six kilometers remaining in the race, immediately after break companions Alexey Lutsenko of Astana and Luke Durbridge of Orica-Scott had reeled in a frisky Gilbert, and soloed home for the victory.
For Lampaert, the win is his first in a World Tour race, as the 25-year-old Belgian revs up his third season with Quick Step in time for a classics campaign where the team will be expected to deliver results. For the squad, it’s often feast or famine, and Lampaert’s win with Gilbert’s strength and tactical brilliance means they are rolling downhill at the moment as the season turns to the important E3 Prijs Vlaanderen on Friday.
Gilbert, riding out his later years with Quick Step, decided it was time to show what wearing the Belgian Champion’s kit means to the international crowd. The Ardennes hero and former Ronde van Vlaanderen podium finisher launched an attack from the Berendries 77km out that split the field and saw 11 riders get away for the last hour-plus of the race. Jelle Wallays, Dylan Teuns, Mike Teunissen, Matti Breschel, and Dylan Greonewegen (the fastest sprinter there) were among the strong men accompanying Gilbert and making the move stick as the kilometers and hellingen ticked away.
Things remained as is until the elites in the peloton began separating on the Oude Kwaremont, as Sep Vanmarcke and Tiesj Benoot both took turns driving over the cobbles. This sense of restiveness infected both the leading pack and the chase, and a few minutes later the ascent of the Paterberg changed the race for good. There, Gilbert and Lampaert took over at the front and managed to winnow out all but Lutsenko and Durbridge. Meanwhile, behind in the peloton Gilbert had two more teammates springing ahead in Niki Terpstra and Zdenek Stybar, insurance against a regrouping with the rest of the break. The duo caught on prior to the Varentstraat cobbles and the second group found itself in a quandry as the leading quartet extended their advantage to 50 seconds. By the 20km mark, the remnants of the Gilbert break, reeled in by Terpstra and Stybar, were shoved back to the remnants of the peloton, and it was four riders plus a minute against the world.
Things stayed calm with Lutsenko possibly licking his lips for an eventual sprint in Waregem, but Quick Step had other ideas. First Gilbert launched a solo blast near the top of the final climb, the Nokereberg, which dragged out Durbridge for company and put Lutsenko on the edge of his seat, skimming tight corners and burning matches to reel in the former World Champion. Lutsenko was up to the chase, eventually closing the 15(ish) meter gap, but as soon as he completed his capture it was Lampaert, who had been parked on the Kazakh’s wheel, who countered mercilessly. Durbridge again took up the chase, but this time it was too much, and Lampaert quickly gained half a minute as Gilbert sat on the wheels of the two hapless foreigners. Racing in Flanders isn’t for gentle souls.
As if that point weren’t driven home already, it was Gilbert who casually tightened his shoes before the final sprint, knowing his team had the win and his foreign partners were under pressure for their loss. He sat on them until the final 100 meters, made his move, and came across the line several meters clear for second place.
In the women’s race Lotta Lepisto of Cervelo-Bigla got away solo to win the women’s race ahead of Orica’s Gracie Elvin and Canyon-SRAM’s Lisa Brennauer.
- Yves Lampaert, Quick-Step Floors
- Philippe Gilbert, Quick-Step Floors, at 0:37
- Alexey Lutsenko, Astana Pro Team, s.t.
- Luke Durbridge, Orica-Scott, s.t.
- Dylan Groenewegen, Team LottoNl-Jumbo, at 1:01
- Oliver Naesen, AG2R La Mondiale, s.t.
- Tiesj Benoot, Lotto Soudal, s.t.
- Dylan Van Baarle, Cannondale-Drapac, s.t.
- Mitch Docker, Orica-Scott, s.t.
- Florian Senechal, Cofidis, Solutions Credits, s.t.