Quick-Step Floors ignited the Dwars Door Vlaanderen race in Belgium, winning the cobblestone classic through Yves Lampaert.
Lampaert and his teammate, Belgian national champion Philippe Gilbert, were the two most audacious and attacking riders in the race, and the pair formed part of a group of four riders who sprung clear 35km from the finish in Waregem.
Gilbert, who made his first move with almost 70km left to race, launched a move on the last of the 12 cobbled climbs, the Nokereberg, but it was his companion Lampaert who got away and soloed to the finish.
It is the 25-year-old’s biggest win of his career and just his fourth victory as a professional; it’s also the perfect start to the Flemish Cycling Week for Quick-Step, with E3 Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem to come on Friday and Sunday.
How it unfolded
Six riders were involved in the day’s first breakaway: Michael Goolaerts (Vérandas Willems-Crelan), Lawrence Naesen (WB Veranclassic Aqua Project), Ben Perry (Israel Cycling Academy), Ivan Savitskiy (Gazprom-RusVelo), Kenneth Vanbilsen (Cofidis) and Jon Ander Insausti (Bahrain-Merida).
The sextet were permitted a lead close to three minutes, but several teams, spearheaded by Quick-Step Floors, were keen to reign in the advantage early on, and by 90km they only had a 75 second lead.
Gilbert attacked from the peloton at 68km and sprung 25 seconds clear, before retreating back to a newly-created select group of riders.
On the Eikenberg, eight kilometres later, Gilbert’s teammate Yves Lampaert launched a huge move, further reducing the number of riders in the group that had by now caught the lone breakaway rider, Vanbilsen.
Sep Vanmarcke had missed out on the group of 15 and his Cannondale-Drapac team were working hard to regain touch with the new leaders, but the rest of the field behind were split across the roads.
At 34.5km, Lampaert and Gilbert attacked again, bringing with them Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana).
Behind, two-time winner of the race Niki Terpstra and Zdenek Stybar (both of Quick-Step Floors) had successfully made contact with the chasing group, but up front the quartet’s lead stretched to 1:15 with less than 20km to go.
As it became clear that the winner would come from this four, Gilbert fancied his chances on the final cobbled climb of Nokereberg at 9.5km to the end, creating a small gap, but the riders came back as one.
Lampaert was the next to try his move, less than three kilometres later, and Durbridge was immediate to the response, but with Gilbert not joining him given that Lampaert was his teammate, the three riders fell behind, effectively gifting the win to the Belgian who had a 32 second advantage with 2,000m remaining.
In the sprint for podium places, Gilbert took second, comfortably ahead of Lutsenko to ensure a Quick-Step one-two.
Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2017, 203.4km
1. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) in 4-47-26
2. Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) at 39secs
3. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana)
4. Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott) all at same time
5. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) at 1-03
6. Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale)
7. Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal)
8. Dylan van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac)
9. Mitchell Docker (Orica-Scott)
10. Florian Sénéchal (Cofidis) all at same time