British team One Pro Cycling helped to put the pressure on WorldTour-level squads in the Nokere Koerse Danilith Classic in Flanders, Belgium, on Wednesday.
One Pro Cycling’s Peter Williams was one of seven riders in the day’s main escape group, staying out front for around 120km of the tough 199.5km race.
Almost as soon as the remnants of the original break were caught by the peloton with 40km to go, One Pro’s Martin Mortensen placed himself in another late move – although that, too, was caught.
The latter part of the race was notable for the number of crashes that occurred at the back of the peloton.
Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep) was the last rider to attempt an attack prior to the cobbled, uphill finish, which the riders had navigated nine previous times during the race.
The the peloton strung out, the almost slow-motion sprint up the hill was very close, with Belgian Timothy Dupont (Verandas Willems Cycling Team) lunging his bike across the line to take the victory by a few centimetres ahead of Norwegian Kristoffer Halvorsen (Team Joker). Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) placed third to complete the podium.
The UCI 1.HC category one-day race is seen as a prelude to the cobbled classics later in the month. As such, it attracted line-ups from top-level squads Team Sky, Etixx-QuickStep, Lotto-Soudal, BMC Racing, FDJ, LottoNL-Jumbo and Tinkoff.
Along with Peter Williams, British riders taking part included Andy Fenn, Alex Peters (both Sky), Scott Thwaites (Bora-Argon 18), Chris Opie and Samuel Williams (both One Pro Cycling). Thwaites placed 13th and Fenn 27th.
Nokere Koerse 2016, 199.5km
1. Timothy Dupont (Bel) Verandas Willems Cycling Team in 3-28-36
2. Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Joker
3. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
4. Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Wallone-Bruxelles
5. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Fortuneo-Vital Concept
6. Michel Kreder (Ned) Roompot-Oranje Peloton
7. Gerry Druyts (Bel) Crelan-Vastgoedservice
8. Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky
9. Eduard Grosu (Rom) Nippo-Vini Fantini
10. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert