Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafrdo) took a sensational solo victory at the 68th edition of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday after attacking a select leading group with 17km remaining.
The Belgian was left disappointed after a tactical miss-step at Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but more than made up for it after he finished around 17 seconds ahead of the peloton to take the victory in a race which has traditionally lent itself to sprinters.
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23-year-old Stuyven had made it into a select leading group which formed after several attempts, with the likes of Luke Rowe (Team Sky), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Tom Boonen among the six-man group.
They quickly established a decent gap on the run-in to the first of two 15km finishing circuits, with Stuyven making the jump shortly before the second.
As the main bunch, with sprinters teams working hard to chase down the breaks, closed the gap on the Boonen group, eventually catching them with 2.5km to go, Stuyven’s 30 second advantage barely moved and it quickly became clear that he was on for a glorious solo victory.
There was even time to prepare his celebration as crossed the finish line of after 200.7km of racing, with Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) going head-to-head in the sprint for second.
They quickly passed Boonen who was till off the front, with the Norwegian Kristoff taking his second runner-up spot in Kuurne in two year’s after Mark Cavendish’s win in 2015.
The first half of the day had been a fairly sedate affair, with an 11-man break, that included Britain’s Yanto Barker (One Pro Cycling), establishing a massive gap of eight minutes on the peloton.
The break was progressively pulled back though, and had circa two minutes when the action really began on the ascent of the Oude Kwaremont climb.
Many of the race’s sprinters lost contact with the bunch at that point, and while some were able to clamber their way back, some, like Sky’s Elia Viviani, failed to make it back to the front of the race.
The main break was then caught with around 46km to go, but by that time the action had really begun, with the likes of World Champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) attempting to form a race-winning break as happened at Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday,
The biggest controversy came as Belgian rider Stig Broeckx (Lotto-Soudal) was taken out by a medical motorbike with around 35km to go. He quickly abandoned the race and was taken to hospital.
And while that left a slight sour mark on the race, nothing was able to dampen Stuyven’s day as he crossed the finish line after his huge solo effort, taking the biggest win of his career alongside his Vuelta a España stage win from last year.
Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2016 (200.7km)
1. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, in 4-53-50
2. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha, at 17 secs
3. Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
5. Lukas Wisniowski (Pol) Etixx-QuickStep
6. Nicolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
7. Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff
8. Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
9. Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) IAM Cycling
10. Scott Thwaites (GBr) Bora-Argon18, all same time