Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) took his first win of the 2017 season at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne after a five-man sprint. The world champion beat Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Luke Rowe (Team Sky), Tiesj Bennot (Lotto Soudal) and Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors) at the end of the 200-km event.
With a reputation as a sprinters’ classic, you’d be forgiven for imagining a flat parkour awaited riders on the 200.7km route, but eleven difficult climbs awaited riders – most of them coming in the latter half of the race. Many of these climbs – some of them surfaced with cobblestones – would be difficult on their own, the ascents including the fearsome Oude Kwaremont in their number, at 2.2km in length and a maximum gradient of 11.6%, but to come in such quick succession and with yesterday’s racing in the legs of most of the riders, the tough day would be made even tougher. A fast pace in the final circuit in the streets of Kuurne would make the finale even harder.
The first hour and a half of the day was punctuated with several false starts as while breaks attempted to go up the road, the pace in the peloton was simply too fast. It wasn’t until more than 70km had passed that an escape finally stuck, with a group of nine quickly building an advantage of more than four minutes. At this point, the peloton eased off the pace, the lead rising to almost six minutes. However, as the race entered the final 80km, a surge of urgency from the peloton rapidly closed the gap, with a small escape group making the bridge to catch some of the stragglers of the break before making contact with the front with 35km to go.
A lone break off the front surprised many in the lead group, but the Peter Sagan wasn’t fazed, and with 26km remaining made his move to bridge the gap, the lead group becoming five as others joined, and as the race entered its final 10km, it looked as though the race’s winner would be from this group. A late attack came as the chasing bunch behind surged into view. Seeing the bunch looming, Peter Sagan attacked, taking his first victory of the season.
Speaking from the finish line, Sagan was pleased with his performance: “Today I felt good, thanks to the team because they did good work on the Kwaremont. The whole team was pulling for me. I wondered if the group would make the catch and we’d have a normal bunch sprint, but after they started attacking on the first lap, after that I was in the front in the breakaway and was really glad the guys in the front were working well. In the end we came to the finish just five guys and it was good – I’m happy for this victory, both for me and the team.”
“It was a little bit of a slow sprint today. Trentin attacked early and then I came to get him, then we slowed again at 500m to go and it was a slow sprint. I thought if I started from 250m I could have a good attack from the start.”
Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2017 results:
|1||Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)||4:37:49|
|2||Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)||,,|
|3||Luke Rowe (Team Sky)||,,|
|4||Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal)||,,|
|5||Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors)||,,|
|6||Arnaud Démare (FDJ)||+06”|
|7||Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)||,,|
|8||Oliver Naesen (AG2R)||,,|
|9||Zdenek Stybar (Quick-Step Floors)||,,|
|10||Baptiste Planckaert (Katusha-Alpecin)||,,|