The 72nd running of the now World Tour event is the crowned jewel of the Opening Weekend of the European cycling season.
Marred by crashes and stacked with phenomenal talent, the race showed to be worthy of its status upgrade over the offseason. With 60km to go, the race broke into three groups: three leader out front, a group pre-race favorites, and the peloton. Showcasing the chasing group were World Champion Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe), Olympic Champion and defending champion Greg van Avermaet (BMC), and Cannondale-Drapac’s star signing Sep Vanmarcke, a former winner of this race.
The elite group caught the early break, with the three big favorites slowly dropping their companions on the cobbled sections. While Bora, BMC, and Cannondale’s team leaders were up the road, the other big names in classic racing had to put in a huge chasing effort from the peloton. Quickstep and Trek powered away at the front of one of the climbs, splitting the peloton.
Rising star Jasper Stuyven (Trek), Phillippe Gilbert (Quickstep), and Luke Rowe (SKY) highlighted the chasing effort. With the last cobbled section finishing at 17km to go, the leading trio had a gap of about 30 seconds on the smooth road to the finish. As the kilometers ticked down, the time gap opened up to over a minute.
In a three up sprint after over 200km of racing, Greg van Avermaet repeated as the winner of the Omloop ahead of Peter Sagan and Sep Vanmarcke. Fabio Felline (Trek) came across the line solo for fourth place, and Oscar Gatto (Astana) won the group sprint for 5th.
The Opening Weekend will continue tomorrow as the riders will contest Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. The Abu Dhabi Tour will finish tomorrow as well on the Yas Marina Formula1 track. In Malaysia, the Tour de Langkawi will continue until March 1st.