Jasper Philipsen utilised a perfectly timed sprint to deny Pascal Ackermann right at the last on stage one of the BinckBank Tour 2020.
The high-speed finish to the opening stage was marred by a huge crash 3km from the line, which took out half the bunch.
While Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) stayed out of trouble and had his lead-out in tact after the collision, he launched his sprint too early and Philipsen (UAE Team Emirates) fired from a long way back to weave his way past to take his fourth career victory.
Former world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) took third as Ackermann slipped back to third.
Philipsen, 22, leads the race overall heading into stage two.
How it happened
The opening stage of the 2020 Binck Bank Tour was raced on pan-flat Belgian roads from Blankenberge to Ardooie, not far from Bruges, over 132km.
While the stage looked nailed on as a sprinter opportunity, the fast men would need to stay out of trouble on the characteristically tight and winding streets to be in with a chance at victory, after two laps of a 15km finishing circuit around Ardooie.
After 15km of racing, the first attacks came and it was Ludovic Robeet of Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles who kicked clear of the peloton, being joined by Thimo Willems (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) to make it a Belgian duo at the front of the race.
The pair extended their gap out to two minutes and spent much of the day racing out front, but with over 20km left to the line both were caught.
Action then followed almost immediately as Mathieu van der Poel launched an attack to set up his team-mate Dries De Bondt for the intermediate sprint, with Mark Cavendish also pushing hard and staying at the head of affairs.
That set up another late two-rider attack as Amund Grondahl Jansen (Jumbo-Visma) and Adrien Petit (Total Direct Energie) pulled out a modest 10-second advantage over the bunch with 13km left to race.
But the pair finally gave up 8km from the line and the bunch was all together, with all the WorldTour teams lining up their lead-out trains at the front before Sean De Bie from Bingoal launched a solo attack 5km out, getting 10 seconds on the peloton but he was caught before the finish.
Chaos unfolded just over 3km from home as a huge crash at the front of the bunch resulted in a huge pile-up and took out half the field, but Ackermann escaped trouble and still had riders for support up at the front.
Into the final kilometre on Bora continued to control the pace and Ackermann was in ideal position into the final straight,
But Trek’s train hit the front of the race and Ackermann opted to jump on the wheel and then launched his sprint from a long way out.
After stretching out in front, Ackermann started to fade as Pedersen gained ground on his right, but the momentum was with Philipsen who sprinted up to Ackermann’s wheel and went left to pass the German at the line.
BinckBank Tour 2020, stage one: Blankenberge to Ardooie (132.1km)
1. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates, in 2-59-26
2. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
3. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
4. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert
5. Stefan Bissegger (Sui) EF Pro Cycling
6. Alberto Dainese (Ita) Sunweb
7. Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Sunweb
8. Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
9. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
10. Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix, all at same time
General classification stage one
1. Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates, in 2-59-16
2. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo, at 4s
3. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 5s
4. Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 7s
5. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, at 7s
6. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at same time
7. Mark Cavendish (GBr) Bahrain-McLaren, at 9s
8. Danny van Poppel (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert, at 10s
9. Stefan Bissegger (Sui) EF Pro Cycling
10. Albert Dainese (Ita) Sunweb, all at same time