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Belgian breaks away from strong escape in wind-marred Schaal Sels and takes  a beautiful solo win while Van Staeyen wins the sprint for 2nd to make it a 1-2 for Topsport Vlaanderen

Photo: Sirotti

PIETER JACOBS

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01.09.2013 @ 18:15 Posted by Jesper Kamp Kruse

Pieter Jacobs continued what has been an amazing few days for his Topsport Vlaanderen team when he won the Belgian one-day Schaal Sels in solo fashion. His teammate Michael Van Staeyen beat Baptiste Planckaert (Crelan) in the sprint for second to make it a 1-2 for the Belgian squad on a very windy day in Belgium.

 

Topsport Vlaanderen has had a fantastic weekend. On Friday Jelle Wallays took a big solo win ahead of the world elite in the first stage of the World Ports Classic, and today the team continued its run of success when Pieter Jacobs repeated the feat in the one-day race Schaal Sels.

 

The Belgian had made it into a strong lead group on a very windy day when the peloton had split to pieces. With most riders being left on their knees due to the fast pace, he exploited an opportunity to set off on his own and his rivals never saw the former Lotto rider again.

 

His teammate Michael Van Staeyen covered all countermoves and the sprinter had no trouble beating his rivals in the sprint for 2nd, thus making it a 1-2 for Topsport Vlaanderen. Fellow sprinter Baptiste Planckaert rode a good race to take 3rd in a race that was mostly dominated by the professional continental teams.

 

The win is Jacobs' first as a professional and caps a strong season during which he has also finished 2nd in the Rund um Köln and 3rd in the Omloop van het Waasland.

 

A flat race

The 200km race consisted of a 160km circuit which contained a couple of cobbled sectors, and a few laps on a flat circuit in Merksem. The race has mostly been decided in a bunch sprint but today's windy conditions made for a very aggressive race.

 

The race was off to a fast start with many attacks being launched during the first hour. The first riders to get a noticeable gap were Mark McNally (An Post-Chainreaction), Kobus Hereijgers (CT De Rijke-Shanks), Tom Goovaerts (Team 3M) and Felix Pouilly (To Win-Josan CT) but they were quickly brought back.

 

A break is formed

At the end of the first cobbled sector, Ronan McLaughlin (An Post-Chainreaction) and Gertjan Devos (Team 3M) and they were later joined by Victor Fobert (Colba-Superano Ham) and Dion Smith (Champion System). Those 4 riders were allowed to build up a 1.30 gap.

 

However, the wind made the peloton very nervous and Topsport Vlaanderen and Vacansoleil set a fast pace in the peloton. Hence, the front quartet was never allowed much leeway and their task was only made more difficult when Devos had to chase back from a puncture.

 

The peloton splits up

Chris Jory (Doltcini-Flanders) tried to bridge across but had no success as Topsport Vlaanderen was now accelerating furiously. With 125km to go, it was all back together.

 

The strong crosswind now split the peloton into three different groups and they never came back together. Despite the fierce pace, Zico Waeytens (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Sean Downey (An Post-Chainreaction), Koen Bouwman (Cyclingteam Jo Piels), Jan-Niklas Droste (Team Heizomat), Jimmy Janssens (Team 3M), Tim Vanspeybroeck (Ventilair-Steria) and Julien Stassen (Wallonie-Bruxelles) managed to escape and they built up a 30-second gap.

 

The decisive move is formed

MTN-Qhubeka and Crelan combined forces in the peloton to reel in the escape and with 71km to go, it was once again back together. That was when the decisive move was formed as James Vanlandschoot (Accent Jobs-Wanty), Baptiste Planckaert (Crelan-Euphony), Gerald Ciolek (Team MTN-Qhubeka), Tim Declercq & Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Sam Bennett (An Post-Chainreaction, Sjoerd Kouwenhoven (CT De Rijke-Shanks), Gorik Gardeyn (Doltcini-Flanders), Tom Goovaerts (Team 3M), Julien Stassen, Wallonie-Bruxelles) and Mart Ojavee (Champion System) went off the front.

 

Vanlandschoot was unfortunate to puncture out of the break at a time when they were involved in a fierce battle with the peloton who kept the gap below the 30 second mark. For a long time, the gap was stable despite the hard chase work by Vacansoleil, NetApp, Topsport Vlaanderen and Ventilair-Steria.

 

More riders bridge across

With 19km to go, the gap was down to just 18 seconds and so Jacobs decided to set off on his own. At the same time, Markus Eichler (NetApp) attacked from the peloton and he was joined by Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil) and Van Staeyen.

 

Those three riders bridged across to the chasers. All major teams were now represented in the escape groups and so the peloton slowed down, allowing the escapees to fight it out.

 

The chase group splits up

The chase group split up and with 8km to go, Boeckmans, Planckaert, Ciolek, Declercq, Van Staeyen, Eichler, Bennett and Ojavee were the nearest chasers of Jacobs. There was, however, no cooperation and they pursuers kept attacking each other.

 

Planckaert got clear on his own but Van Staeyen and Bennett bridged across. With Van Staeyen protecting his teammate's lead, the trio never caught the lone Jacobs who took a big solo win. Van Staeyen beat his rivals in the sprint for second and thus completed a fantastic day for his Topsport Vlaanderen team.

 

Result:

1. Pieter Jacobs 4.33.01

2. Michael Van Staeyen

3. Baptiste Planckaert

4. Sam Bennett

5. Kris Boeckmans +0.42

6. Gorik Gardeyn

7. Julien Stassen

8. Sjord Kouwenhoven

9. Tim Declercq

10. Gerald Ciolek

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