Many of the teams and riders who entered the GP Denain on Sunday may have been intending to use it as preparation for the bigger cobbled races in France and Belgium coming up over the next few weeks, but they were left disappointed as all but one of the cobbled sectors were removed from the race.
Originally scheduled to cover 200km including laps of six separate cobbled sectors giving a total tally of 12 cobbled sectors, the race was affected by snow and ice, leading to race organisers having to make major changes to the route.
The only sector of cobbles to remain in the race was the 1.6km Abscon sector, which was covered three times in the finishing circuit towards the end of the race.
However the relative lack of cobblestones did not reduce the amount of action that the race was able to offer up, with numerous groups going clear throughout the race as a biting easterly wind battered the peloton and saw only 87 riders finish out 149 starters.
Watch: How to ride on cobbles
The attacking and whittling down process saw a group of around 25 riders approach the finish together, before Kenny Dehaes (WB Aqua Protect Veranclassic) followed a move by Wout Van Aert (Veranda’s Willems) and Shane Archbold (Aqua Blue Sport) jumped clear under the flamme rouge.
Dehaes briefly sat in the wheels, before accelerating clear with 500m to go, and holding off the sprint from the group behind to take the victory ahead of Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis) and Julien Duval (Ag2r la Mondiale).
The good news for organisers of the more high-profile cobbled races coming up over the coming weeks is that the mercury is forecast to rise over the coming days, meaning that we shouldn’t see a repeat of the conditions in 2013 which saw Ghent-Wevelgem shortened by 45km.