After 20 kilometers of breakaway attempts, Gijs Van Hoecke found himself in the successful move of the day, a six-rider breakaway that was able to build an eight-minute advantage over the first 100 kilometers of racing.
Back in the peloton, Van Hoecke’s teammates were around Trentin, helping to keep the Italian out of trouble as the pace picked up approaching the first cobbled sector, the Katteberg, at the 101-kilometer mark.
The CCC Team train was positioned at the front of the bunch on the first sectors while the gap to Van Hoecke’s breakaway started to decrease with four minutes separating the groups with 80 kilometers remaining.
Multiple riders attacked from the bunch ahead of the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont but were brought back before reaching the iconic sector, where they started just 50 seconds behind the breakaway.
Trentin was positioned well in the first ten riders on the Paterberg where, as they came out of the sector, Van Hoecke’s breakaway was caught as they hit 50 kilometers to go to set the stage for more attacks.
The decisive move came on the Koppenberg where eight riders formed a select lead group which grew in size when the two front groups came together.
Trentin was unable to respond to the attack and chased on behind while up ahead, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin – Fenix), Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo – Visma) attacked to lead the race as they hit the Taaienberg.
Van der Poel and van Aert forged on after Alaphilippe crashed out of the race eventually going head to head in the sprint with van der Poel taking the win in Oudenaarde.
Van Hoecke and Nathan Van Hooydonck crossed the line a few minutes behind as CCC Team’s first finishers, followed by Trentin.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“Of course, I’m really disappointed with my performance today. I was feeling good but in one moment the lights just turned off and there was nothing I could do. I’m disappointed also because the guys rode incredibly well today, keeping me in the front and sheltering me the whole day.”
Gijs Van Hoecke
“For me, it was easy to make the breakaway because I only tried once. I knew when it was a good moment and a lot of guys had attacked and I saw two of my training mates go so I said to them to take my wheel and we would go. It was in Sint-Niklaas where we went, just in front of the hotel we stay at, and I knew the roads were small there. I knew we wouldn’t stay away until the finish but I thought we would make it further than we did. In the end, it didn’t work out like this. The bunch had to stop for a train at one point and I thought this would help us to take some time back and stay in front until the Koppenberg. But they caught us after the Paterberg. I was in the breakaway with the idea of helping Matteo in the finale but unfortunately he didn’t have the legs he wanted to have but that’s racing.”
Ronde van Vlaanderen
Antwerpen > Oudenaarde (243.3km)
Top 3: 1. Mathieu (Alpecin-Fenix), 2. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), 3. Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates)
CCC Team top 3: 42. Gijs Van Hoecke, 49. Nathan Van Hooydonck, 62. Matteo Trentin