Owain Doull rewards an aggressive Team Sky performance with second place
Bob Jungels made it two out of two for Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s opening classics weekend, winning alone at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday.
His victory follows team mate Zdnenek Štybar’s solo success at Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, giving the Belgian team a Classics clean sweep for the weekend.
In a move redolent of his winning attack at last year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Luxembourg star Jungels attacked what remained of a five man breakaway with 18km to go.
Team Sky’s Owain Doull capped off an aggressive personal showing with second place, while Dutchman Niki Terpstra recorded his best result since joining Direct Energie, placing third.
Jungels made the race, forming a breakaway of five on the cobbled Tiegemstraat with 64km remaining, and while his fellow escapes were swallowed up with 15km to go, he entered the final 10km leading solo by more than 30 seconds.
In the final five kilometres Doull attacked the chasing group and was joined by by Terpstra, Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal) and Jungels’ team mate Yves Lampaert, though with the latter sitting on they were unable to catch the leader, despite a subsequent second attempt by Welshman Doull.
Last year Quick-Step Floors, as they were then known, were the dominant team of the spring and they have started this season in similar fashion, already bagging 13 wins this year, two more than at the same point in 2018.
How it happened
Setting off from Kuurne, the race started quickly, the first hour ridden at over 46kph, with plenty of early attacks being nullified ahead of a series of climbs which punctuated the middle kilometres of the 201.1km race.
Even the 12% slopes of the first of 13 climbs, the Volkegenberg failed to break the bunch which continued as one until 66km had been ridden.
There, four riders escaped and were soon joined by three others, the peloton happy to let them quickly establish a lead after the third climb, the Onkerzele Berg.
Pim Ligthart (Direct Energie), Lawrence Naesen (Lotto-Soudal), Jimmy Turgis (Vital Concept-B&B Hotels), Ludwig de Winter (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Alex Kirsch (Trek-Segafredo), Benoit Jarrier (Arkea-Samsic) and Magnus Cort (Astana) formed a decent fighting force, though they were never given too much slack by the peloton.
Over 20km later they crested the Kanarieberg, 90km in, with their advantage at only 3.45.
Shortly after an acceleration from Deceuninck-Quickstep just inside the closing 90km, caused a split in the bunch, and a group of around 25 set off in pursuit, quickly closing the gap to within one minute.
Team Sky’s Ian Stannard made his way into that break, setting a fearsome pace on the ascent of the Oude Kwaremont, further splitting it and leaving a group of eight, including three from Deceuninck-Quick Step and Doull, Stannard’s team mate.
Crosswinds also played their part, and with the early breakaway soon caught, there was a slight regrouping, around 25 riders coming together at the top of the climb of Kluisberg.
Led by the Jumbo-Visma team of last year’s winner Dylan Groenewegen, a second slightly larger group emerged around 50 seconds down, but the leaders remained committed and the Dutch squad only managed to chip away at the lead.
With five riders now in that leading group Deceuninck-Quickstep had cards to play.
On the cobbled Tiegemstraat, as the gap to the the Jumbo Visma group began to close in, Jungels played his joker, attacking and forming the group fo five with Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First), Oliver Naesen (Ag2R La Mondiale) and the Astana pair of Magnus Cort and Davide Ballerini.
With so many of Jungels’s team mates present, the chasing group they were unable to get on terms with the leaders and when Mitchelton-Scott came to help Groenewegen’s men they were caught.
Coming with 49km remaining, the Nokereberg was the final climb of the race, and by the time the leaders had crested it the peloton had re-formed behind and were trailing by more than one minute.
However, the race was far from decided and when the breakaway crossed the finish line for the first time, entering two closing 15km laps, Jumbo-Visma, Mitchelton-Scott and Bora-Hansgrohe had combined to reduce their deficit to just 35 seconds.
With 18km remaining, BORA Hansgrohe’s Jempy Drucker came to the front of the of the peloton stretching the bunch and bringing the gap down, while simultaneously Jungles made his winning move.
Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2019 (201.1km)
1. Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, in 4-42-54
2. Owain Doull (Gbr) Team Sky, at 12 seconds
3. Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie
4. Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
5. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quick Step
6. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
7. Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
8. André Greipel (Ger) Arkea-Samsic
9. Jasper de Buyst (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
10. Carlos Barbero (Esp) Movistar, all at same time