Solid showing from ORICA-GreenEDGE at Kuurne-Brussels-KuurneSun 28 Feb 2016
In the first full cobbled classic of the season Tour Down Under stage winner Caleb Ewan has finished strongly in the front group to take 15th place after an excellent team performance over today’s 200km race.
The race was won with a solo breakaway by Belgian Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), with a large group of riders contesting the sprint for second and third place.
Sports director Laurenzo Lapage was full of praise for the team and in particular 21-year-old Ewan.
“It was a great performance today by Caleb and the guys," Lapage said. "To come into your first Northern Classic and be up there with the team in the front position going over the Kwaremont is fantastic. It’s a great sign for the future.”
“There was a lot of nervous riders in that front group having a fast young guy like Caleb going so well over the climbs. I’m really satisfied with how he performed today.
“The team were fantastic and we all played our parts really well. We were very strong with our positions and as I said before the race we wanted to take responsibility on the Kwaremont and we did that.”
With the Spring Classics now upon us ORICA-GreenEDGE can take a lot of confidence into the upcoming races.
“This is the first weekend these guys have raced together,” explained Lapage. “So today was a key test for us especially thinking about the big races coming up in the next few weeks. We can be very happy with what we achieved today.”
How it happened:
The race began with a cold headwind that didn’t let up for the majority of the route. Elevan riders formed the early breakaway and after 20kilometres they had a lead of eight minutes over the peloton. The time gap remained consistent until the race hit the Cote du Bois de La Houppe climb 85kilometres in when it dropped to 6minutes 20seconds.
As the group jostled for position at the foot of the Kanarieberg a crash occurred involving two FDJ riders and subsequently split the peloton. 50 riders lost contact and remained around 35 seconds behind as the race approached the famous Kwaremont. ORICA-GreenEDGE held their position amongst the leaders well and took control going over the climb. Each member of the team working hard to maintain momentum.
World Champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) attacked from the top of the Kwaremont followed by a few riders including eventual winner Stuyven. Strong crosswinds began to make life difficult with around 50 kilometres left to race and echelons starting to appear in the front group. The nerves were beginning to set in and on the last climb of the day, the Nokereberg a group of riders managed to get clear and bring back the last remnants of the day’s breakaway.
This group goup included Magnus Cort of ORICA-GreenEDGE, Luke Rowe (Sky), Greg Van Avermat (BMC) and Stuyven amongst others and they built up close to a 40second lead over the peloton as they approached the town of Kortrijk. The peloton were relatively slow to react with Lotto Soudal and Katusha cooperating at the front.
As the finishing circuit approached, Stuvven broke clear of the group and established around a 20second lead on the chasers. The peloton managed to reel in the front group close to the finish but Stuyven held on for the win as the battle for second and third went on behind him.
The next race for ORICA-GreenEDGE is at the Strade Bianche in Italy on Saturday the 5th of March.
1. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) 4:35:50
2. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) +17sec
3. Nacer Bouhani (Cofidis) +17sec
15. Caleb Ewan (ORICA-GreenEDGE) +17sec