No signs of Spring in cold and wet edition of Dwars door VlaanderenWed 28 Mar 2018
Wintry conditions marked a tough day in Belgium at the 73rd Dwars door Vlaanderen with Australian Luke Durbridge caught behind the race winning split over the wet cobbles and chasing hard for Mitchelton-SCOTT.
The race stayed tight past the halfway the point before echelons sliced into the peloton and repeated, constant attacks reduced the leading group until five riders pushed on into the final with a 45second advantage on the nearest chasers.
Durbridge had made the initial split on the right side, but the incessant attacks had left him in the third group on the road and out of the running.
Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step-Floors) proved to be the strongest and kicked at the right time to distance his four companions and take the victory.
A wet and cold start to the race made conditions difficult for the would be breakaway contenders as an attentive peloton shut everything down until after Luke Rowe (Team-Sky) tried his luck with 80kilometres to go.
Rowe didn’t get far and was caught a few kilometres later. The Welshman’s action only succeeded in sparking the peloton splitting attacks that came on the approach to the Kortekeer. BMC-Racing piled on the speed and the bunch was blown to bits with 50kilomtres left to race.
Durbridge made the front split and livened things up with a dig after the Taaienberg, the move increased the pace of the select group and the attacks continued to come with Tiejs Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) splitting the group further over the penultimate cobbled section.
Low Visibility – High Velocity:
The pace was relentless over the closing 20kilometres and the conditions still awful. The lead group fractured repeatedly before five riders managed to steal a march and develop a big enough advantage to go into the last few kilometres knowing they only had themselves to beat.
Lampaert struck out early, noticing his companions looking back the Belgian sififted to his left and accelerated away in the last kilometre. Holding his lead to the line and the race win.
“The boys rode really well in the first half of the race trying to get a breakaway going, but it didn’t eventuate, and we’d used up some the team trying to get that going so we looked to another approach. Mat Hayman positioned me really well into the bottom of the crucial sections and I made the first split.”
“From there I tried a few attacks and the moves kept on coming. Unfortunately, I’ve had some problems with my stomach recently and I was suffering throughout the final, I couldn’t digest anything which in turn led to my legs running out of fuel and I ended up finishing in the second group.
“It’s shame and I hope to get healthy ahead of Tour of Flanders on Sunday, but I’d like to thank the boys for allowing me the opportunity to go as deep as I could in the final and for the work they did in helping me get up there.”
Sport director Matt Wilson:
“The boys suffered some of the worst conditions I’ve experienced at these races. Seven degrees and heavy rain all day and it was also a very aggressive race and the foot was never off the gas the whole day.
“We tried hard early on to get a breakaway going, but the bunch were not letting anything go and then we had some bad luck with Luka Mezgec just before the crucial sector the second time around and that unfortunately ruled him out of the rest of the race.
“We didn’t get the result we were after, but on the same note apart from Luke's stomach problems we are fortunate that everyone came through unscathed and we can look ahead to the big race on Sunday now.”
Dwars door Vlaanderen results:
1. Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step-Floors) 04:09:40
2. Mike Teunissen (Team-Sunweb) +0:02
3. Sep Vanmarcke (EF-Drapac-Cannondale) ST
31. Luke Durbridge (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +2:42
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.