Benoot crowns coup Team Jumbo-Visma with win in Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Tiesj Benoot has won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne after some incomparable team play to complete a Team Jumbo-Visma domination of the Flemish Opening Weekend. The Belgian of Team Jumbo-Visma seized the perfect moment to ride away from the leading group in a thrilling final. Nathan Van Hooydonck completed the yellow-and-black formation's celebration by finishing second.
Team Jumbo-Visma made another early move and tried to break up the peloton on the Flemish climbs. The attempt succeeded spectacularly. On Le Bourliquet, after an acceleration by Jan Tratnik, a group of five with Van Hooydonck and Benoot rode away from the peloton. They quickly grabbed a one-and-a-half-minute lead.
Behind the leading group, the sprinters' teams looked to each other to chase. Christophe Laporte, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Dylan Van Baarle and Tratnik followed in their wheels. Slowly some of the lead was chipped away, but the break worked well together. The peloton couldn't close the gap and the five at the front went on to battle for the win. Van Hooydonck opened the fight by attacking and it was especially hard for Matej Mohoric to catch him. After this the poker began and Benoot attacked at the right moment in the final kilometre. Van Hooydonck paused and the bird had flown. Laporte also won the bunch sprint to finish sixth.
"Het was weer een geweldige prestatie van de ploeg."
"Two out of two is really incredible," a very happy Benoot stammered. "It was another great performance by the team. We wanted to attack early and it worked perfectly on Le Bourliquet. I want to dedicate this victory to my girlfriend and my little daughter. It's partly thanks to them that I am here at this level. It's brilliant to be able to win already after my difficult period," Benoot referred to his long absence.
The 28-year-old Benoot knew he couldn't let it come down to the sprint. "Nathan and I wanted to play the game with the two of us. I had the impression that Wellens and Mohoric were gambling on the sprint. Nathan attacked strongly at three kilometres from the finish and Mohoric struggled to close that gap. Then I seized my moment in the last kilometre. I knew I had to push full on to exhaust the rest for the sprint, so Nathan could then be the fastest. We executed our plan perfectly."
Runner-up Van Hooydonck also felt excellent throughout the day. "We took full advantage of our opportunity. I worked hard towards this period and this is really a dream start. For the same to be true, I would have managed to win. We wanted to bring on the race early. The main climbs of this race are not in the final. We had made a plan and we were fully committed to it. Christophe is also very fast, but we knew there could be a couple of guys who were faster on this finish. Then you have to try to create a different situation. It's tremendously nice to race in this team."