Jasper Stuyven beat Yves Lampaert in a two-up sprint to claim victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020.
The Trek-Segafredo rider proved to be the strongest of the group that went clear with 70km left to race, with a whittling down process leaving Stuyven as the eventual victor.
Søren Kragh Andersen (Sunweb) finished third after being detached from the duo as they attacked each other with 2km to go, while Matteo Trentin (CCC) took fourth after he was dropped on the Kapelmuur.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step's Lampaert looked to have played the finish right, staying in Stuyven's wheel as they came around the final bend.
Lampaert then launched his sprint while Stuyven had his head turned around watching his Belgian compatriot. Therefore, all Stuyven had to do was close the door and use his fresher legs to stay ahead of Lampaert and cross the finish line first.
How it happened
Early scrapes indicated proper bike racing was back on the menu as a level crossing came down to inhibit the early break while Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) was passed a screwdriver to make some adjustments to his bike as the peloton sped away from Ghent towards Ninove.
Miserable conditions began battering the peloton after 50km of racing, with the peloton then splitting in cross-tailwinds 20km later.
Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), world champion Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) and an Ineos quartet of Ian Stannard, Owain Doull, Luke Rowe and Ben Swift found themselves in the front half and drove the pace towards the breakaway. This had the effect of eventually bringing the race all back together with 100km to go.
Heinrich Haussler was looking in fine form as he led the peloton on the cobbles following the Katteberg, with his Bahrain-McLaren team-mate Marcel Sieberg left holding his head after a crash left him trailing behind.
Echelons appeared once more with 88km to go as the reduced bunch approached the Paddestraat. The leading group of 15 riders included CCC's Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin, Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale), Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), Tiesj Benoot (Sunweb), as well as Wout Van Aert and Haussler.
Van Aert then almost casually came up past Haussler going off the front, with the Australian then following. After this brief show of strength, the pair waited up for the rest of the group behind, before going once more with 77km to go.
Trentin then attacked, before Stannard stretched his legs, with Greg Van Avermaet then putting in a powerful move. Not much seemed to be sticking, until an eight-man move peeled off the front, with Ineos' Luke Rowe desperately trying to pull it back in.
Yves Lampaert had team-mate Tim Declerq for company, the rest of the move including Trentin, Jumbo-Visma's Mike Teunissen and Sunweb's Søren Kragh Andersen.
With 60km remaining their gap had increased to a minute, as Haussler and Bora-Hansgrohe's Lukas Postlberger got themselves involved a counter-attack behind, trying to escape the 40-strong reduced bunch.
20km later the gap was up to 2-45 as Van Aert and EF Pro Cycling's Sep Vanmarcke attacked.
The front group appeared to be weakening as their gap came down to 1-30 on the Leberg, which gave Van Aert the encouragement to attack yet again, this time taking Benoot with him and bridging across to the Haussler chase group, but by 25km to go the chase group had been brought back in by the larger chase group behind.
Up ahead, Declerq worked hard for Lampaerts, maintaining the lead group's 1-45 advantage with 18km to go as the road rises up towards the Kapelmuur climb. Declerq then started dropping off before Lampaert and Stuyven went flat out on the 20 per cent gradients. The pair begin to pull away as Kragh Andersen and Trentin gave chase.
1-3o remained the gap with 13km to go. The leading trio of Stuyven, Lampaert and Kragh Andersen didn't want to allow fast finisher Trentin back into the fold so kept the pace up, which secured their gap back to the larger chase group.
Flicks of the elbow began to be ignored with 11km remaining, either as cat-and-mouse games were introduced or riders in the leading trio began to play games.
Trentin was 11 seconds behind with 9km to go, increasing to 18 seconds 3km later. Into the closing kilometres, Lampaert accelerated with just over 2km to go before Stuyven countered and Kragh Andersen wasn't able to respond.
Lampaert looked to have tactically outclassed his rival as he let Stuyven lead him out round the final corner, but his fellow Belgian proved to have the fresher legs and faster finish as he eased to the win, cleverly closing off the gap Lampaert was trying to get through. However, had the window stayed open the Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider wasn't looking like he had the legs to come round him.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020: Ghent to Ninove (200km)
1. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, in 5-03-24
2. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at same time
3. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Sunweb, at six seconds
4. Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC, at 39s
5. Tim Declerq (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 1-28
6. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
7. Oliver Naesen (Bel) Ag2r La Mondiale
8. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
9. Stefan Küng (Sui) Groupama-FDJ
10. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, all at same time
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Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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