Dylan van Baarle came out on top at Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2021 after going on a long-range solo effort with around 50km to go.
Van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) held off the chasing group including Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (Ag2r-Citroën) and Milan-San Remo 2021 winner Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) who were not able to get close to the Dutchman as he held around 30 seconds' advantage for almost an hour.
The chasers were caught inside the final kilometre after a huge turn by Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) to work for his sprinters. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) went on a late attack beating the bunch to second place with Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) taking third.
How it happened
Dwars Door Vlaanderen takes in some of the hardest cobbled sectors including the Taaienberg and twice up the Knokteberg-Trieu as well as the Nokereberg, which is used as the finishing kick at Nokere Koerse.
The race started in Roeselare before winding its way around the tight roads of Belgium finishing in Waregem after 184.1km.
High paced from the start, the break had a near-impossible task. Three riders did manage to get away but only pulled out a maximum gap of 40 seconds. Those two riders were Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Soudal), Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) and Jelle Wallays (Cofidis). Vermeersch was dropped with 68km to go by the leaders.
Elia Viviani (Cofidis) and Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) both went down in a crash with about 60km to go.
The Taaienberg came with 58km to go splitting the main group to bits with about 25 riders going clear as they caught the break. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Victorious) went off the front quickly followed by Hayter who tried to get away again.
As they were brought back Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Stan Dewulf (Ag2r-Citroën), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Clément Russo (Arkéa-Samsic), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), as well as Dylan van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers) and Hayter, all went away with 53km to go.
Van Baarle then went solo and quickly pulled out a very large gap with 50km to go. Back in the peloton Van der Poel appeared for the first time but was unable to get away. Various attacks continued from the main bunch but none were really sticking.
Eventually, seven riders managed to get away including Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) but they were all quickly brought back. Three riders pulled away from the peloton with 40km to go with Victor Campenaerts (Qhubeka-Assos), Ivo Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) and Luke Durbridge (BikeExchange).
Teuns came back up to that trio with Sénéchal, Stuyven, Laporte, Van Avermaet and Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) with 35km to go with Van Baarle still holding over 30 seconds' gap.
Both Van Avermaet and Barguil tried multiple times to get away before Stuyven kicked hard with 18km to go but the Milan-San Remo winner only managed to pull five seconds off the solo Dutchman up-front.
Van Baarle still held 30 seconds over the top of the final cobbled climb of the Nokereberg. Van Avermaet continued to try and bridge the gap but there was no real impression on the gap with 10km to go.
And the gap didn't really change all the way to the line. The chase group was eventually caught by the peloton thanks to a monster turn by Van der Poel who looked a bit off-colour on the bike. Laporte tried a late move and managed to hold on for second place ahead of Merlier leading in the main bunch.
Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2021, Roeselare to Waregem (184.1km)
No gaps given yet
1. Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers
2. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
3. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
4. Yves Lmapaert (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
5. Tosh van der Sande (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
6. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
7. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Ag2r-Citroën Team
8. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
9. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
10. Jasper Stuyvan (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
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