On a wet and windy afternoon in Flanders, the race was characterised by a number of echelons and frequent changes in the lead group.
But van Emden and Dillier attacked together inside the final 30km and were able to make it to the finishing town of Ichtegem as a duo.
Dillier led the pair in the final 500 metres, repeatedly looking back to check on van Emden’s intentions. With just a few hundred metres remaining, van Emden darted to the right of Dillier, opened up an advantage and crossed the line a bike length in front of him.
Conditions at the start of the day were perfect for lovers of ‘epic’ Flanderian weather. A break of 21 riders formed early on with three other groups behind, separated by the crosswinds.
Formerly a three-day race up until this year and also going by the name of the Johan Museeuw Classic, the cobbled climb of the Kemmelberg is the race’s most famous stretch of road.
Lotto-Soudal were the team at the head of the chasing peloton and brought back the leading group with 90km still to ride.
A group of six riders was next to form, then another large group of 20, but it wasn’t until 35km that the decisive move was allowed to go and stick.
It contained Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal), Twan Castelijns (LottoNL-Jumbo), Le Samyn winner Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Lasse Norman Hansen (Aqua Blue Sport), Jan-willen Van Schip (Delta Cycling), Elmar Reinders (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij), Dillier and Vam Emden.
The latter two set off in pursuit in tandem seven kilometres later and the remaining six riders could not catch them as they rode towards the finish. Hansen, though, did his best, being in sight of the duo in the final kilometre, to take third.
It was van Emden’s ninth win of his career and the first since he won a short time trial at the Star ZLM Tour last year.