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The first classic of the 2020 season gave viewers everything that they could want from a springtime race in Belgium.
With 80 kilometers to go, the race was blown apart by crosswinds and rain. With Greg Van Avermaet and Wout van Aert pushing the pace on the front, it was only a matter of time until the elastic snapped.
Trek-Segafredo Draws First Blood
Trek-Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven arrived in the closing meters of the race with Yves Lampaert and Søren Kragh Andersen, after a 70 kilometer breakaway effort. Stuyven won the sprint, marking an emphatic change from his 2019 season, which he called “disastrous” in a post race interview.
Trek-Segafredo as a whole struggled in 2019, until Mads Pedersen won the World Championships. With the world champion among the team’s ranks, they supported Bauke Mollema to victory in Il Lombardia, and ended 2019 on a high.
The American team seems to be carrying that momentum into the 2020 season as well.
The Deceuninck-Quick Step Numbers Game Falls Short
Deceuninck-Quick Step had the numerical advantage at Omloop, with both Yves Lampaert and Tim Declercq in the winning breakaway. Declercq faded towards the end of the race after riding in service of Lampaert, but the Belgian duo simply did not have the horsepower to get the better of Stuyven.
Further behind, chase groups attempted to bridge the gap to the leaders, and Deceuninck was uncharacteristically absent from them, revealing potential weakness in their historically iron clad classics roster.
Deceuninck-Quick Step would go on to win Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne with Kasper Asgreen the following day, but their difficulty to respond to attacks from the likes of Wout van Aert may foreshadow a more level playing field in the coming classics races.
Watch Out For Wout
Wout van Aert’s 11th place finish is not indicative of what can be expected of him in the 2020 classics. Considering van Aert had not raced a road bike since his crash last July, an 11th place finish is a remarkable result. Van Aert however did a lot more on Saturday than just finish 11th.
Van Aert was one of the key instigators as the race was breaking up. Much like Van Avermaet stayed behind to allow Trentin to get in the breakaway, Van Aert sat up to allow Teunisen to go up the road.
Van Aert did eventually try to bridge to the breakaway, and on two occasions he looked capable of making the junction. The firepower that van Aert showed in his first race back, combined with his 11th place finish should put his competitors on alert this spring.