INTERMARCHÉ
WANTY GOBERT

Omloop het Nieuwsblad

Andrea Pasqualon 8th despite cramps: “a good signal for the next classics”


Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux participated to the first race on Belgian soil this Saturday, the Omloop het Nieuwsblad (1.UWT, 26/02), traditional opening race of the Flemish classics campaign. 

After the start in Ghent, the seven riders of the Belgian World Team had to accomplish 204 kilometer towards Ninove containing nine cobble sectors and thirteen hills in the heart of the Flemish Ardennes.

After a crystal clear beginning of the race, during which a breakaway of seven riders escaped, the race situation changed on the Wolvenberg. When the gap with the leaders decreased to one minute, Loïc Vliegen attacked from the peloton with Vermeersch (Lotto) and Küng (FDJ) with 54 kilometer and joined the breakaway 10 kilometer later. 

In the peloton, local riders Dimitri Claeys and Aimé De Gendt controlled the accelerations in the Marlboroughstraat and on the Leberg, enabling the group with Loïc Vliegen to stay ahead until the foot of the Muur van Geraardsbergen.

As Claeys (mechanical) and Alexander Kristoff (crash) had bad luck, Andrea Pasqualon was part of a group of strong riders on top of the Kapelmuur. The Italian rider then passed the top of the Bosberg, the last hill of the day with 15 kilometer to go, in third place.

Pasqualon reached the finish line in the first chasing group behind Van Aert and the Italian rider sprinted for second place. He finished eighth after almost five hours of effort.

« I felt that the acceleration of Van Aert on the Bosberg was a key moment, but I attacked just before with Benoot and I needed a couple of seconds to recover before trying to follow Van Aert. Even with the help of some compatriots in the chase he was too strong. The unfortunate crash of Alexander Kristoff gave me an opportunity to sprint for the podium, but I have to admit that I didn’t feel fresh anymore after my efforts. In addition, I also had some cramps in the final as a consequence of my crash in Algarve last week so I have to be satisfied with an eighth place. My presence in the final is a good signal for the next classics. For me it will be the GP Le Samyn, where I finished on the podium last year. This semi classic will be a very nice opportunity for our strong team! »

« We can be satisfied with the result of Andrea Pasqualon and our collective performance. We anticipated as planned, with Loïc Vliegen joining the first attacks in the peloton. But, our day could have ended better if we would have been spared of bad luck. That’s of course part of the Flemish classics, but I feel like we had bad luck in all stages of the race. Especially the crash of Alexander Kristoff before the Muur van Geraardsbergen came at a bad moment. He received help from Sven Erik Bystrøm and Dimitri Claeys, who both had a mechanical, but the victory was already out of reach. Despite this bad luck, I already notice after this opening race that our team made a step forward compared to last year and that’s what we want to show as well tomorrow in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne with a strong line up around a very motivated Alexander Kristoff. »

Aike Visbeek (Performance Manager) Tweet

General Classification

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