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Part of a 4-rider group that sprinted for the win, Dehaes took his first 2015 victory when he won the GP Stad Zottegem; Demoitie and Naesen completed the podium

Photo: Lotto Soudal






18.08.2015 @ 17:51 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kenny Dehaes (Lotto Sodual) finally broke a drought of almost 18 months when he came out on top in today’s Belgian one-day race GP Stad Zottegem. In an extremely fast race, he made the gradual selection until only four riders were left and in the end he beat Antoine Demoitie (Wallonie) and Oliver Naesen (Topsport Vlaanderen) into the minor podium positions.


In 2007 and 2008, Kenny Dehaes was regarded as one of the biggest sprint talents but after he joined the Katusha team, his progress stalled and he became an anonymous domestique. In 2013 he suddenly became a winner again as he took four victories in sprint finishes and he continued his run of success with two victories in the early part of 2014.


However, in a Lotto Soudal team loaded with sprinters, it is not easy to get his own chance and as he has also been set back by health issues, Dehaes has been unable to win a single race since he triumphed in the bunch sprint at Nokere Koere on March 19, 2014. However, the Belgian is now back to his winning ways as he came out on top on the the GP Stad Zottegem.


Dehaes has mostly taken his victories in bunch sprints but in last year’s Ronde van Drenthe he proved that he also excels in hard classics races. Today he again made use of these skills as the Belgian race turned out to be an extremely hard and selective affair.


At the halfway point of the 190km race, no one had managed to escape after a frantic opening to the race but Dehaes had always been attentive and been part of a few key moves. He was again present when a big 27-rider group formed and as Lotto Soudal also had stagiaire Kenneth Van Rooy in the group they were content with the situation.


There was never going to be much cooperation in such a big break and so it was no surprise that it split in two. Dehaes was attentive and made it into the 14 riders that got clear while the rest of the original break was caught.


An Post and Vastgoedservice chased hard and the gap never went out to more than 1.15 but it was enough for the break to decide the race. The decisive move was formed inside the final 20km when Dehaes, Elias Van Brusseghem, Oliver Naesen and Antoine Demoitie escaped.


With three sprinters in the group – Dehaes, Naesen and Demoitie – most seemed to be confident in their sprint and so the quartet managed to stay clear to decide the race in the sprint. Here the Lotto Soudal rider came out on top, with Demoitie and Naesen being next across the line.


The series of Belgian one-day races continues next Wednesday when the riders gather for the Druivenkoers-Overijse which is held on an even hillier course and has been dominated by Bjorn Leukemans in the past.


A classic course

The 80th edition of the GP Stad Zottegem was held on a 189.7km course around the city of Zottegem that was made up of three different circuits. First the riders did one lap of a big 64.8km circuit that included the climbs of the Grotenbergestraat thrice and Hostellerie helling in addition to the Lange Munte cobbles. Then the riders did three laps of a 22.6km circuit with the Grotenbergestraat before they ended the race by doing two laps of a 28.8km circuit that included the Grotenbergestraat and the Paddestraat cobbles.


Edwig Cammaerts (VeraClassic) was the only non-starter when the riders rolled out for their neutral ride on an overcast day in Belgium. They got the race off to a brutally fast start and as they went over the Lange Munte cobbles for the first time, riders were already getting dropped.


Lots of attacks

Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen) was the first rider to briefly get a significant advantage but it was all together after 39km of racing. 20 riders briefly got clear but they were brought back as the attacking continued.


The peloton briefly split in two at the end of a very fast first hour but it came back together before Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal), Kevin Callebaut (Wanty Groupe Gobert), Robbert De Greef (Cycling Team De Rijke) and Stef Van Zummeren (Verandas Willems) escaped. Thomas Stewart (Madison) joined them but at the 53km mark, it was back together.


A big group gets clear

At the end of the lap of the big circuit, 17 riders managed to get clear as Sander Armee, Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal), Ivan Balykin (Rusvelo), Kenny De Ketele (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Frederik Backaert (Wanty Groupe Gobert), Twan Brusselman (Cycling Team De Rijke), Glenn Van De Maele (Colba-Superano Ham), Sebastien Delfosse (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Christophe Prémont (Verandas Willems), Sjoerd Van Ginneken (Team Roompot), Jelle Wolsink (Metec Continental Team), Mark Mc Nally, Thomas Scully (Madison Genesis), Timon Van Reek (Cycling Team De Rijke), Sander Cordeel, Gerry Druyts, and Rob Ruijgh (Vastgoedservice) escaped. Tim Kerkhof (Roompot) tried to bridge the gap but Lotto Soudal didn’t like the situation and brought it back together at the 72km mark.


Jelle Wallays (Topsport) was the next rider to react and he was joined by Stewart, Elias Van Brusseghem (Verandas Willems), Ivar Slik (Team Roompot) and Kenny De Ketele (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) in a move that was back almost at the end of the first lap of the middle circuit. However, only De Ketele fell off the pace and the remaining four riders managed to get the biggest advantage yet while Wallonie started to chase.


The decisive move takes off

Stewart fell off the pace while more riders managed to bridge the gap and suddenly it was a big group with Kenny Dehaes, Kenneth Van Rooy (Lotto-Soudal), Ivar Slik, Brian Van Goethem (Team Roompot), Kenny De Ketele, Jelle Wallays, Oliver Naesen, Otto Vergaerde (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Igor Boev (Rusvelo), Tom Devriendt, Kevin Callebaut (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Sascha Weber (CCT c/b Champion System), Joeri Stallaert (Cibel), Rens Te Stroet (Cyclingteam Jo Piels), Wouter Mol (Cyclingteam Join's-De Rijke), Marco Konig (Leopard Development Team), Mark McNally (Madison Genesis), Remco Te Brake (Metec-TKH Continental Cycling Team), Martijn Degreve (Team 3M), Timothy Stevens (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), Elias Van Brusseghem (Verandas Willems), Antoine Demoitié and Gregory Habeaux (Wallonie-Bruxelles) that had an advantage of 32 seconds. Stef Van Zummeren (Verandas Willems), Olivier Chevalier (Wallonie-Brussels) and another two riders made it across before they started the final lap of the middle circuit.


An Posy led the chase while Andre Looij (Roompot) went down in  a crash and Weber was dropped from the front group. While the gap hovered at around 30 seconds, Wallays and Naesen took off and as they were joined by Dehaes, Van GoetHEM, Devriendt, Callebaut, Stallaert, Te Stroet, Mol, McNally, Van Brusseghem, Van Zummeren, Demoitie and Chevalier, a 14-rider group had been formed.


The chasers are caught

The 12 chasers were caught by the peloton which was still just 30 seconds behind and led by An Post. However, the gap had gone out to 48 seconds when they started the first lap of the finishing circuit.


An Post kept the gap stable but was unable to get any closer and so Vastgoedservice also started to chase. Meanwhile, Van Goethem was the first rider to get dropped from the break.


Four riders escape

The Paddestraat took its toll on the peloton which exploded to pieces but it was not enough to catch the break which was 1.15 ahead at the start of the final lap. Rick Ottema (Colba-Superano Ham), Dries De Bondt (Verandas Willems) and Antoine Warnier (Wallonie-Bruxelles) tried to bridge the gap but would never make the junction.


Inside the final 20km, the gap was still around a minute and now the attacking started. Dehaes, Van Brusseghem, Demoitie and Naesen got clear and had a 10-second advantage with 14km to go. Meanwhile, Sander Cordeel (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace), Dimitri Claeys (Verandas Willems), Daan Meijers (Cyclingteam Join's-De Rijke) tried to attack from the peloton and they made it across to the chasers.


A four-rider sprint

With 5km to go, the gap had gone out to 30 seconds and things were looking good for the escapees. Van Brusseghem was dropped but as the game of cat and mouse started, he was able to get back.


An impressive De Bie attacked out of the peloton, passed the chasers and suddenly found himself just 12 seconds behind the leaders with 2km to go. However, it was too late and in the four-rider sprint, his teammate Dehaes came out on top.



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