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On a windy and rainy day, Dupont took the biggest win of his career by winning a 7-rider sprint on the final stage of Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen; De Bie was second and took the overall victory ahead of Wisniowski and Politt

Photo: Lotto Soudal














06.03.2016 @ 18:38 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Timothy Dupont (Verandas Willems) took a long-awaited first victory at the highest level when he won a dramatic final stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen. The Belgian was the fastest in a seven-rider group that escaped in the finale of a windy and rainy race, holding off Sean De Bie (Lotto Soudal) and Nils Politt (Katusha). With Tom Bohli (BMC) failing to join the move, second place was enough for De Bie to take the overall win ahead of Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep) and Politt.


Timothy Dupont has been riding for small continental teams throughout his entire career but his many top results have often proved that he deserves a chance at a higher level. He has been a perennial top 10 finisher in the sprints in France and Belgium but the big win has always eluded him.


Today he finally opened his account when he won a dramatic and hard final stage of the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen and it even came in unusual circumstances. Instead of winning a bunch sprint, the Belgian was the fastest in a seven-rider group that had escaped on a windy and rainy day.


While Dupont celebrated his win, Sean De Bie was maybe an even bigger winner. Aggressive racing throughout the day allowed the Belgian to join the front group and distance race leader Tom Bohli (BMC) as he sprinted to second and picked up enough bonus seconds to pass Lukasz Wisniowski he took the overall win.


Bohli had already been on the defensive when he missed a split in the crosswinds after just six kilometres of racing. However, he was back in contention when the highly reduced peloton approached the first lap of the 13.7km finishing circuit in Ichtegem.


There were lots of attacks but nothing stuck. Lotto Soudal took control as they tried to keep a second group at bay. They were 22 seconds behind when Frison was dropped from the first group with 45km to go.


Lotto Soudal now played their next card as they sent De Bie and van der Sande on the attack. They were joined by Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep), Timothy Dupont, Olivier Pardini (Wallonie), Nils Politt (Katusha) and Xandro Meurisse (An Post) and the septet quickly gained some ground.


At the first passage of the finish line, De Bie picked up three important bonus seconds in the final intermediate sprint by beating Pardini and his teammate van der Sande. At this point, they had already put 28 seconds into the peloton which was led by the Topspot Vlaanderen team.


BMC hesitated a bit but finally Loic Vliegen started to work with the Topsport riders. However, they were losing ground and the gap had gone out to 40 seconds with 25km to go. At the same time, the hard race was taking its toll, with several riders including Sander Armee (Lotto Soudal) and Marc Sarreau (FDJ) losing ground.


At the start of the penultimate lap, the gap was 25 54 seconds and it had gone out to 1.07 with 16km to go. BMC added another rider to the chase and ONE also put a rider on the front but it had little effect. Martijn Keizer came to the fore for LottoNL-Jumbo but the gap was still 55 seconds at the start of the finale lap.


Cofidis decided to play their card as Hugo Hofstetter and Florian Senechal attacked. Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) latched onto their wheel and stayed behind after Hofstetter had emptied himself for his teammate and had fallen behind.


With 10km to go, Senechal and Wallays were 40 seconds behind but they failed to get much closer. At the same time, it was evident that it was over for the peloton which was 1.03 behind with 8km to go.


With 6km to go, the gaps were stable at 36 seconds and 1.05 and now Wallays started to work with Senechal, knowing that they wouldn’t catch the leaders. However, the cooperation was destroyed in the front group which started to focus on the battle for the stage win.


Van der Sande launched the first attack with 3km to go but Wisniowski shut it down. As the two chasers were now only at 17 seconds, the Belgian decided to sacrifice himself for De Bie and he set the pace for the final three kilometres.


Wisniowski knew that he had to beat De Bie to take the overall victory and so launched a long sprint. However, he soon drifted backwards and instead it was Dupont who surged clear to take the win. However, he started to celebrate very early and was nearly passed by the fast-finishing De Bie. Politt finished third and Wallays beat Senechal in the sprint for 8th. Rick Zabel (BMC) led the peloton to the finish.


Having picked up 6 bonus seconds along the way and gaining another six seconds at the finish, De Bie took the overall victory with a seven-second advantage over Wisniowski. Politt moved into third, six seconds further adrift while Bohli slipped to 8th.


Dupont won the points classification and De Bie won the sprints competition. Meurisse was the best local rider and Bohli the best young rider. LottoNL-Jumbo won the teams classification


With the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen over, there’s a small break in the Belgian race calendar. The next major event is Nokere Koerse on Wednesday, March 23.


The hardest stage

After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was time for the hardest stage which brought the riders over 182.7km from Nieuwpoort to Ichtegem. After a flat start, the riders tackled the Goeberg, Rodeberg, Monteberg, Kemmelberg and Scherpenberg at the midpoint before they headed along flat roads to the finish. Here. They ended the race by doing three laps of a 13.8km finishing circuit that included the small climbs of Keiberg and Catteberg.


As predicted, it was raining hard and there was a strong wind at the start. One rider was absent as Andrea Pasqualon (Roth) didn’t take the start.


The race explodes

The windy conditions made for a dramatic start. After Boris Vallee (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) and Loic Chetout (Cofidis) had launched a first attack, the wind split the bunch into four groups after just seven kilometres of racing. The first group was made up of Van Keirsbulck, De Plus (Etixx-Quick Step), Wallays, Van Der Sande (Lotto-Soudal), Groenewegen, Keizer, Wagner, Wynants (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), McNally (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Bagdonas (AG2R), Morice (Direct Energie), Capiot (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Opie (One Pro Cycling), Druyts (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) and Pollitt (Team Katusha) while the second group was made up of 25 riders.


After 14km of racing, the first two groups were separated by 12 seconds while the third group was at 38 seconds. The first two groups merged to form a 47-rider group but race leader Tom Bohli found himself in the second group. Richeze, Wisniowski (Etixx-Quick Step), De Bie, Frison (Lotto-Soudal), Offredo, Le Gac (, Zabel (BMC Racing Team), Skujins (Cannondale) , Lammertink (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) Porsev, Tsatevich, Kuznetsov (Team Katusha), Van Hecke, Farazijn, Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Bozic Hofstetter, Senechal, Van Stayen, Van Bilsen (Cofidis), Breen, Jarrier ( Fortuneo Vital Concept), Vereecken, Bovenhuis (An Post-Chainreaction), Dupont, Cordeel, De Bondt (Verandas Willems), Planckaert (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Boucher, Ruijgh, Geuens (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) and Barker (One Pro Cycling) were the riders that had made the junction.


A big fight

The first group had an advantage of 30 seconds at the first intermediate sprint where De Bie beat Groenewegen and Wisniowski. The gap went out to 55 seconds at the 30km mark but as there was no great cooperation in the group, Bohli’s group approached from behind. Five kilometres later, the gap had been reduced to 37 seconds and soon after it was just 25 seconds.


Van Hecke, McNally, De Bondt and Geuens attacked from the first group but were brought back at the end of a first hour during which an impressive 48.2km had been covered. At this point, the gap was 20 seconds and the pace was taking its toll as Lammerink was dropped.


Bohli back in contention

The gap went out to 34 seconds at the 50km mark but suddenly the situation changed. The peloton quickly started to gain ground and the junction was made after 60km of racing.


Le Gac, Opie, De Bondt and Vanbilsen made the next attack and they quickly got an advantage of 47 seconds as the peloton took a small breather. Meanwhile, Romain Cardis (Direct Energie) rejoined the peloton after a puncture.


Kemmelberg does some damage

At the start of the Rodeberg climb, the gap had gone out to 1.09 and as they crested the summit, it was 1.20. It reached a maximum of 1.35 but as the fight for position for the Kemmelberg started, the break started to lose ground.


Le Gac was dropped from the break and as they went up the climb, Opie was also distanced. Vanbilsen led De Bondt over the top to win the second sprint while Opie took third. With 96km to go, De Bondt and Vanbilsen led Opie by 16 seconds, Le Gac by 57 seconds and the peloton by 1.15.


The peloton splits

The bunch again slowed down and allowed the gap to go out to 1.50 but they still managed to bring Opie and Le Gac back. With 90km to go, the gap was still 1.52.


The peloton was in no hurry and BMC kept the gap at around 2 minutes before they slowly started to accelerate. With 69km to go, they had reduced the gap to 1.35 and seven kilometres later it was 1.10.


With 56km to go, the peloton hit a cobbled section with a deficit of just 48 seconds and here the group split into several pieces. Jelle Wallays, Sean De Bie, Tosh Van Der Sande, Frederik Frison (Lotto-Soudal), Yoann Offredo (, Loic Vliegen (BMC Racing Team), Alexander Porsev (Team Katusha), Maxime Farazijn, Bert Van Lerberghe, Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Julien Morice (Direct Energie), Jasper Bovenhuis (An Post-ChainReaction), David Boucher (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) and  Yauheni Hutarovich (Fortuneo Vital Concept) formed the first group which caught the two leaders with 50km to go. However, the second group with Bohli also got back and it was a reduced peloton that approached the finishing circuit where the final part of the drama unfolded.



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