Petr Vakoc (Etixx-Quick-Step) took his third win of the 2016 season at Wednesday’s De Brabantse Piejl, after attacking a small group on the final climb around 1km from the finish.
The Czech champion had found himself in a five-man group that had broken away from an already depleted peloton with around 3.8km remaining.
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The group didn’t look to be working together too well as Gallopin asked for some assistance in putting distance between them and the chasers, but Alaphilippe quickly came to the front to pull to put a significant gap between them and the peloton.
As the leaders hit the final short, sharp climb in the last kilometre, Alaphilippe quickly went out the back after finishing his hard work, allowing his teammate to make a move with only Gasparotto and Gallopin able to make some kind of effort to hold on.
But the 23-year-old’s power quickly saw him get away, and he was able to ride the last corner and final straight solo with enough time to sit up and celebrate. Italian Gasparotto followed up in second, with Gallopin behind in third after fading on the climb.
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As the peloton followed up quickly behind, Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) was able to steal fourth place in a sprint with Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge)
Matthews’ Orica team had been the dominant squad on the front of the bunch for much of the 203km race, controlling the distance of the day’s main break, which included Oliver Zaugg (IAM Cyling), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon18), Sergey Nikolajev (Katusha) and Alberto Cecchin (Marchiol–Emisfero), allowing them a maximum gap of just over five minutes early on.
Attacks were frequent in the closing 70km of the race, with several groups rolling the dice off the front, only for the Australian team, including last Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix winner Mathew Hayman, work to reel them in.
That work saw Matthews isolated in the final 16 kilometres as, with his last man Daryl Impey pulling off, and saw the sprinter forced to take up the initiative on the front if he was to bring things back for a bunch sprint to the line, with attacks continuing to fly.
It wasn’t to be though, with Vakoc able to take victory from the attack that finally stuck, adding the Brabantse Pijl title to the Classic Sud Ardèche and Drôme Classic wins he took earlier this year.
De Brabantse Pijl 2016 (203km)
1. Petr Vakoc (Cze) Etixx-Quick-Step
2. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Wanty-Groupe Gobert
3. Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto-Soudal
4. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie
5. Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
7. Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Roompot-Oranje Peloton
8. Julian Alapilippe (Fra) Etixx-Quick-Step
9. Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Cannondale
10. Loic Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing