Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) defended his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad crown. The Belgian beat Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and compatriot Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac) in a sprint of three.
The opening Classic of the season proved as tough as they come with a strong field vying for the UCI WorldTour win.
It took over an hour for a breakaway of six riders to go clear, with the group eventually gaining eight minutes on the peloton.
A huge crash took out half the bunch with 62km to go, side-lining many of the pre-race favorites. Greg Van Avermaet avoided any trouble and was in the perfect position on the next cobbled section where the race opened up.
Van Avermaet, Sagan and Vanmarcke were in the lead 20km before the finish line, and it was this trio that would hold off the reduced peloton and battle it out for the win.
The three riders were eyeing each other in the final 2km but it was Van Avermaet who was positioned well on the inside approaching the line and sprinted to claim his first win of the season.
“The race was really hard. It was a beautiful race and we made it hard together with Peter Sagan. We opened up the race at the right time at Eikenberg. It was really nice to come with three guys to the finish and wonderful that I could finish it off. I had confidence from last year that I could win in a sprint on this finish and in the end, it was a good sprint and I am really happy with what I did today”, said Van Avermaet.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2017 results:
|1||Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)|
|2||Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|3||Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac)|
|4||Fabio Felline (Trek-Segafredo)|
|5||Oscar Gatto (Astana)|
|6||Luke Rowe (Team Sky)|
|7||Oliver Naesen (AG2R)|
|8||Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)|
|9||Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors)|
|10||Adrien Petit (Direct Energie)|