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After having been relegated in the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, Debusschere got his revenge when he won the bunch sprint at the end of a hard edition of Omloop Het Houtland; Dupont and Vermeltfoort completed the podium

Photo: ANSA / DAL ZENNARO - PERI

COEN VERMELTFOORT

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JENS DEBUSSCHERE

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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23.09.2015 @ 17:27 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Less than a week after getting relegated in the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) got his revenge by winning Omloop van het Houtland Lichtervelde. After a fast, aggressive and selective race, it was decided in a reduced bunch sprint and here the Lotto Soudal rider managed to hold off Timothy Dupont (Roubaix) and Coen Vermeltfoort (De Rijke).

 

In 2013, Jens Debusschere enjoyed a breakthrough in the second half of the year when he won several races. One of them was the flat Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, one of the oldest Belgian classics.

 

This year the former Belgian champion has evidently taken another step up and he is currently in the form of his life. In the Tour of Britain, he climbed better than ever before and he recently won the GP de Wallonie whose uphill finish should have been too hard for him. On Friday he confirmed his great condition by crossing the line first in the Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen again but he was later relegated for irregular sprinting after a tangle with Dylan Groenewegen (Roompot).

 

The disappointment made him extremely motivated for today’s Omloop van het Houtland Lichtervelde which has traditionally been a race for the sprinters. Again he put his great form to good use as he came away with the win.

 

Windy conditions made it a very tough and selective affair where the peloton was constantly whittled down by the aggressive racing. The race finished with 8 laps of a 10.8km finishing circuit and at the start of the fourth lap, only 60 riders were left in the field from which no one had managed to escape despite the many attacks.

 

As they briefly slowed down again, Martijn Tusveld (Rabobank Development Team) and Wouter Mol (Cycling Team Join's-De Rijke) took off and they started the fourth lap with a small advantage after Baptiste Planckaert (Roubaix) had made a failed attempt to join them.

 

Roy Curvers (Giant-Alpecin) started to chase when the gap was 15 seconds but he was unable to prevent it from going out to 23 seconds. At this point, Lukasz Wisnoiwski (Etixx-Quickstep) tried to bridge the gap. The Pole was in lone pursuit for some time but finally made the junction with 24km to go where the peloton was 20 seconds behind.

 

LottoNL-Jumbo and Lotto Soudal were leading the chase at the start of the penultimate lap. At this point, the gap was still only 22 seconds.

 

Tusveld had been very aggressive all day and paid the price with 15km to go where he was dropped. However, Mol and Wisniowski continued to press on and could start the final lap with an advantage of 17 seconds.

 

Roompot had now started to chase but nonetheless the two escapees managed to increase their advantage to 19 seconds. However, from there the balance tipped and at the entrance of the final 3km, it was down to 9 seconds.

 

Less than 2km from the finish, it was over for the two escapees and it came down to the expected bunch sprint. Here Debusschere finished off the work for Lotto Soudal by beating Timothy Dupony and Coen Vermeltfoort into the minor podium positions.

 

The series of Belgian one-day races is now over. Instead, the attention turns to the final European stage race of the year, Tour de l’Eurometropole which starts next Wednesday.

 

A flat course

The 2015 edition of the Omloop van het Houtland was held on a 199.5km was held on a 199.5km course around the city of Lichtervelde. First the riders did one lap of a flat 113.1km circuit and the ended the race by doing 8 laps of a flat 10.8km finishing circuit.

 

It was a cloudy and windy day in Belgium when the riders gathered for the start. Tom Stamsnijder (Team Giant-Alpecin), Denis Flahaut, Paco Ghistelinck (CCT c/b Champion System), Nicolas Vereecken (Team 3M) AND Stef Van Zummeren (Verandas Willems) were all absent, meaning that 157 riders headed out for their neutral ride.

 

Fast start

As soon as he flag was dropped, the attacking started and the first splits in the peloton occurred immediately. Fabrice Mels (3M) was one of the first to get dropped while several riders tried to take off.

 

The first rider to get a significant advantage was Thomas Sprengers (Topsport Vlaanderen) but he was quickly brought back as Cycling Team De Rijke took control. The attacking continued and after 35km of fast racing, no one had managed to get clear.

 

A break is formed

The elastic finally snapped when Martijn Tusveld (Rabobank Development Team), Rudy Barbier (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Alphonse Vermote (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) and Gaetan Pons (Wallonie-Bruxelles) got clear. While Romain Feillu (Bretagne) took off in pursuit, a big part of the peloton stopped for a natural break.

 

Feillu never made the junction and fell back to the peloton which was 2.13 behind at the 45km mark. As they faced a headwind, the gap went out to 3 minutes but the windy conditions soon made the peloton nervous.

 

The peloton splits

The faster pace meant that the gap melted away and it only became worse when the peloton briefly split in two. It came back together but at this point, the gap was only 57 seconds. Armindo Fonseca (Bretagne) was one of many riders to get dropped.

 

The peloton split again and suddenly three big groups had formed and were within 50 seconds of each other when the first field caught the break. However, the first group was gaining group and at the 85km mark, they were 56 seconds ahead of the second group which had formed after the second and third parts had merged.

 

9 riders get clear

80 riders had made the selection and they continued to ride fast. Barbier briefly tried to escape but he failed and instead the 40-rider second group gradually got closer as the gap came down to 25 seconds.

 

Rudy Barbier (Roubaix-Lille Métropole), Joeri Calleeuw (Verandas Willems), Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Raymond Kreder (Roompot) were the next to try an attack but they were quickly brought back. Instead, it was Thomas Sprengers (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Max Walscheid (Team Giant-Alpecin), Koen Bouwman (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), Wesley Kreder (Roompot Oranje Peloton), Bjorn Leukemans (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Robbert De Greef, Daan Meijers, Coen Vermelfoort (Cyclingteam Join's De Rijke), Reidar Borgersen (Team Joker) who got clear in a 9-rider group.

 

Kittel is dropped

The 9 attackers managed to build an advantage of 30 seconds as they started the first lap of the finishing circuit. Here the peloton accelerated and started to bring the gap down while Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin) was dropped.

 

With 75km to go, Lotto Soudal had brought the break back. As they continued to ride hard in the windy conditions, a split allowed 15 riders to get clear and when three bridged the gap, it became an 18-rider front group.

 

Fabio Sabatini (Team Quick Step), Kevin Callebaut, Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Dries De Bondt (Verandas Willems) were all in the group but Topsport Vlaanderen brought it back together before all riders could be identified. At this point only 86 riders were still in the race.

 

A strong quartet

With 58km to go, Dennis Vanendert (Lotto-Soudal) and Reidar Borgersen (Team Joker) attacked and they managed to get an advantage of 22 seconds at the end of the third lap. Gianni Meersman (Team Quick Step) and Tosh Van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) made a failed attempt to join them and instead Jeroen Meijers (Rabobank Development Team) made it across before Andreas Schillinger (Bora Argon 18) aldo made the junction.

 

Kittel and Maxime Bouet (Etixx-QuickStep) were among the riders to leave the race as the peloton again accelerated, brought the four attackers back and split. Moments later, Tusveld and Mol took off, setting the scene for the exciting pursuit in the finale.

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