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With a powerful uphill sprint, Dehaes beat Boonen and Dupont at the Ronde van Limburg to take his third win of the season

Photo: Kristof Ramon / Wanty-Groupe Gobert








12.06.2016 @ 18:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Kenny Dehaes (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) again proved that he is the in-form sprinter at the moment by taking his third victory in a little more than a month at the Belgian one-day race Ronde van Limburg. In the uphill sprint in Tongeren, he held off Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep) while Timothy Dupont (Veranda’s Willems) made it an all-Belgian podium.


In 2006, 2007 and 2008, Kenny Dehaes was widely regarded as a future Belgian top sprinter and that allowed him to join the WorldTour with the Katusha team. However, his stint in Russia was never a success and after he joined Lotto, he disappeared into an anonymous role as domestique.


In 2013 and 2014, he suddenly returned to his former level by winning a total of six races despite riding for a team that was loaded by sprinters and dominated by André Greipel. However, an injury-marred 2015 season halted his progress and this year he had to drop to the pro continental level with the Wanty-Groupe Gobert team.


Dehaes was originally signed to be part of the lead-out train for Roy Jans but with the main sprinter just coming back from injury, he has been given his own chance in recent weeks. After he had shown his form with a third place in the GP de Denain in April, he proved his class in May where he won the final stages in both the 4 Days of Dunkirk and the Tour de Picardie.


Dehaes showed that he has maintained his great form at the Belgium Tour where only bad luck prevented him from winning the first stage. That made him confident that he would be able to take on the mighty Etixx-QuickStep team in today’s tough Belgian one-day race Ronde van Limburg and he delivered the goods as he took his third victory by beating Tom Boonen in an uphill sprint.


The 2016 edition of the Ronde van Limburg was held on a 200km course with start and finish in Tongeren. It was a difficult circuit race that included a total of 16 climbs and five pave sectors. The first circuit was 60km long and had four climbs and one pave while the second circuit with its six climbs and one pave was the most difficult. The 38km third circuit was easier as it only had three climbs and three paves. In the end, the riders did three laps of a 10km circuit that included the 900m Kolmontberg five kilometres from the finish where an uphill finishing straight greeted the riders.


It was a cloudy day in Belgium when the riders gathered for the start and they got it off to an aggressive opening phase. After Jonathan Dufrasne (Wallonie) had punctured, Pieter Serry (Etixx-QuickStep), Tim Kerkhof (Roompot) and Bruno Armirail (Armee) formed the first dangerous group but they were quickly brought back.


The next dangerous move was made up of David Boucher (Crelan), Julien Stassen (Wallonie), Wietse Bosmans (Beobank), Tom Meeusen (Telenet), Diether Sweeck (ERA) and Thibault Ferasse (Armee) but they had no luck either. Then Benoit Sinner (Armee) launched a solo move but after he had been joined by Ike Groen (De Rijke), the duo was brought back.


A dangerous situation occurred after 35km of racing when the 14-rider group of Nikolas Maes (Etixx - Quick-Step), Aimé De Gendt (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Etienne van Empel (Roompot Oranje Peloton), Artem Nych (Gazprom-RusVelo), Tim Merlier (Crelan-Vastgoedservice), Jonathan Dufrasne (Wallonie - Brussels), Grégory Habeaux (Wallonie - Brussels), Jim Aernouts (Telenet-Fidea) Jetse Bol (Cycling Team Join-O-De Rijke), Ike Groen (Cycling Team Join-O-De Rijke), Jasper Ockeloen (Parkhotel Valkenburg CT), Jimmy Raibaud (Armee), Benoît Sinner (Armee) and Alessandro Soenens (Superano Ham-Isorex-Tarteletto) got clear. Kenny Dehaes (Wanty - Gobert Group), Tom Boonen (Etixx-Quick Step), Sébastien Delfosse (Wallonie - Brussels) and Joeri Stallaert (Team Cibel) bridged across but that was obviously too many riders and so things came back together.


After 44km of fast racing, Pieter Serry (Etixx-Quick Step), Rob Ruijgh (Crelan-Vastgoedservice) and Wietse Bosmans (Beobank-Corendon) took off and as the peloton slowed down, they built a gap of 4.05 during the next nine kilometres. Bosmans had bad luck to puncture but his companions waited for him.


Stallaert and Tijmen Eising (Metec) abandoned the race at the first passage of the finish line where the gap had gone out to 6.25. Moments later, the peloton briefly split into two groups but things came back together.


The gap was still 6.30 at the 91km mark where Bosmans was dropped from the front group. To make things even worse, he even had to change his bikes and so he never got back. Further back, the hard terrain was  taking its toll as riders were getting dropped and Tom Devriendt (Wanty), Amaury Capiot (Topsport) and Filip Bengtsson (Differdange) abandoned.


Wanty-Groupe Gobert and Veranda’s Willems were the two main sprint teams that had missed the break and so they took control in the peloton, keeping the gap stable. Meanwhile, rain started to fall just as they entered the final 90km.


At the end of the second circuit, the gap had dropped to 5.30 as Topsport Vlaanderen had now started to chase with Ruben Pols and Jarl Salomein. Therace exploded when they hit the first pave on the third circuit where the peloton split into three parts but it soon came back together.


With 50km to go, the gap was still 4.30 and the peloton only took back 30 seconds during the next 10km. As they started the first of the three laps of the 10km circuit, Ruijgh and Serry were 3.35 ahead of the main group which was still led by Salmoein. Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Claudio Catania (T.Palm - Pôle Continental Wallon), Antoine Didier (T.Palm - Pôle Continental Wallon) and Wayne Stijns (Team Differdange-Losch) used the opportunity to abandon.


After one laps of the circuit, the gap had been reduced to 2.25 and it was not Tim Kerkhof (Roompot), Jordi Sloof (De Rijke) and lias Van Bresussegem (Veranda’s) that led the peloton. Having worked earlier in the race, Pols and Ivar Slik (Roompot) were left behind.


Sloof and David van der Poel (Beobank) were among the riders to get dropped on the second lap during which the peloton really accelerated. At the start of the final lap, the gap was only 48 seconds.


Serry left Ruijgh behind and while the Belgian pressed on with a 20-second advantage with 8km to go, the Dutchman was brought back. However, it was all in vain as Serry was caught just one kilometre later and immediately his Etixx-QuickStep teammates took control.


Rain started to fall as they hit the final 3km but that didn’t stop the sprinters from battling it out for the win. Dehaes emerged as the fastest as he beat Tom Boonen and Toimothy Dupont in the uphill battle to the line.


With Ronde van Limburg done and dusted, attention in Belgium turns to the national championships which are held in two weeks. As usual, the riders will get a chance to warm up their legs at Halle-Ingooigem on June 22. 



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