Durbridge makes the cut at the 69th Kuurne-Brussles-Kuurne

Sun 26 Feb 2017

2016 Duo Normande winner Luke Durbridge rode himself into contention at Kuurne-Brussles-Kuurne today, making the selection with the group of favourites before finishing in 12th place.

A fast race unfolded over the cobbled climbs with the key move being formed on the iconic Oude Kwaremont as the race favourites formed a group of sixteen that included Durbridge and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).

After holding off the peloton the leading group fractured on the approach to the finale with Sagan and four others going clear to contest the sprint, Sagan emerged victorious with Durbridge staying clear of the bunch to take 12th.

“Luke did a great job today,” said Sport director Laurenzo Lapage. “He was in a strong position at the start of the Kwaremont and he held it and pushed on to try and get a result.”

“That is always a key point in the race and the group Luke was in had all the race favourites present, if you miss that move you are out, finished and thankfully we were there.

“The team was suffering a little today after yesterdays race and we knew that Luke was feeling good so it was only right that he should get our support. When you have a guy like Luke who always works so selflessly for the team he deserves the opportunities when they come along.

“He has shown today that he is in good condition and was very close to making the top ten,” concluded Lapage. “We wanted to get the best possible result that we could today and I think we did that, you have to play and have a go and with so many guys at the limit, we went out played our best hand.”

How it happened:

Traditional large crowds, light rain and wind welcomed the riders to the start of the 69th Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne with a brisk pace being set straight out of the neutral zone.

Attacks flew for the first hour and a half of racing before a nine-rider breakaway finally formed after 70kilometres and quickly began to build up a lead over five minutes.

An hour later and the peloton started to split as the pace increased with the Oude Kwaremont approaching and the gap to the leaders now less than four minutes.

A group of around 20 riders broke clear off the front of the peloton in between the Kwaremont and the Kluisberg with less than 80kilometres to go and riders now being shed from the earlier breakaway.

The group included Durbridge for ORICA-SCOTT alongside Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Luke Rowe (Team-Sky) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo).

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) was also present as Quickstep-Floors set the pace of the chasing group, catching then passing the remnants of the breakaway with 32kilometres left to race.

The peloton refused give up the ghost and were only 30seconds behind the Durbridge group heading into the penultimate circuit around Kuurne.

With 20kilometres to go Stuyven attacked, taking Sagan, Rowe and two others with him and immediately opening a gap.

The quintet carried a 40second advantage into the finale before Sagan attacked from 200metres out to take the sprint ahead of Stuyven and Rowe with Durbridge hanging on for 12th.

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne results:

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 04:37:49

2. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) ST

3. Luke Rowe (Team-Sky) ST

12. Luke Durbridge (ORICA-SCOTT) 00:00:06

Photos courtesy of ©