Lotto-Soudal rider Brent Van Moer was despondent after coming close to his first pro victory on Monday at the Ronde van Limburg in Belgium. The 23-year-old was solo into the final 500m of the 199.8km one-day race with around 10 seconds' advantage on the peloton chasing behind, but was erroneously sent off course onto a side road.
The course, which finished in Tongeren, contained a right-hand turn around 200m from the finish line, but a marshall on the road beforehand didn't seem to clearly direct the solo Van Moer to bear to the left-hand road, sending the Belgian off course on a different right-hand turn.
So narrow was the gap that by the time Van Moer had realised the error, the peloton had sailed passed him on the correct road where the race ended in a bunch sprint, won by Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix). Van Moer's team-mate John Degenkolb tried to rescue the race for Lotto-Soudal, but could only finish third on the uphill sprint, with Britain's Dan McLay (Arkéa-Samsic) taking second.
Brent Van Moer était en route pour sa 1re victoire pro, après un numéro depuis l’échappée matinale. 10 secondes d’avance sur le peloton et à 500 mètres de l’arrivée, un signaleur lui demande d’aller à droite, alors qu’il fallait aller tout droit. WTF ?! pic.twitter.com/9jKdocV4SlMay 24, 2021
The wrong turn will be a particularly bitter blow to Van Moer after he'd put in such strong ride throughout the race. He made it into the early breakaway of three, and eventually went solo from Frederik Backaert (B&B Hotels) - who had bridged late from the peloton - on one of the final cobbled sectors in the last 20km, holding over 10 seconds on the chasing peloton under the flamme rouge.
It still would have been touch and go whether Van Moer would have held on for victory with the tricky uphill drag to the line, but he will rue what might have been after taking the wrong turn. Van Moer was visibly frustrated after taking the turn, banging his bars and yelling after realising his chance had gone.
Things aren't going much better for Lotto-Soudal in the other race taking place right now, with the Belgian team down to two riders in the final week of the Giro d'Italia. Thomas De Gendt was the latest member of their team to abandon the Italian Grand Tour, having ridden with knee pain for a large portion of the race.
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