Michael Valgren (Astana) was the surprise winner of the opening one-day spring classic of the season, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Reigning title-holder and Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet could not make it into the top 10 despite being part of the 13-man breakaway from which the winner emerged.
Valgren’s winning move came with just over 2km to ride as his breakaway companions showed a reluctance to lead the chase.
With two Astana team-mates in the leading group, Valgren and his Kazakh outfit played the finale to perfection, using their numerical superiority to play numerous cards.
“We had three guys and we needed to do something because we had some fast riders (in the breakaway),” said Valgren. “We had Oscar (Gatto) there and (Alexey) Lutsenko who is also fast, so it was up to me to attack.
“I counter-attacked Sep Vanmarcke and they were looking at each other for just five seconds and I was away.”
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2018 results:
|1||Michael Valgren (Astana)|
|2||Lukasz Wisniowski (Team Sky)|
|3||Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First-Drapac)|
|4||Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)|
|5||Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors)|
|6||Edward Theuns (Team Sunweb)|
|7||Bert Van Lerberghe (Cofidis)|
|8||Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida)|
|9||Arnaud Demare (FDJ)|
|10||Marcus Burghardt (Bora-hansgrohe)|