Dylan Van Baarle debuts in style at Omloop Het Niewsblad
First spring classic, the season opener after signing with Jumbo-Visma for Dylan Van Baarle and the same result as at the end of last year's spring campaign, when he won the Paris-Roubaix with a spectacular victory that made good the tremendous work of the Dutch squad, which controlled this Omloop Het Niewsblad at will.
Dylan Van Baarle sets the bar even higher for Jumbo-Visma in the classics
If we talk about classics and the Jumbo-Visma team, we all immediately think of Wout Van Aert, who was not on the start line today, a reasonable mistake given the media potential of the Belgian phenomenon and the constant spectacle he gives us in every race he takes part in.
However, in addition to having a solid squad for the big stage races, Jumbo-Visma has managed to strengthen its team for the classics to the point of being really scary, as they demonstrated in the Omloop Het Niewsblad that started the month of pavés, in which they showed an overwhelming dominance of the race.
Unpleasant day in Flemish lands, with cool temperature and a persistent wind that crushed the riders throughout this Omloop Het Niewsblad although, fortunately, the rain did not appear. A day that was marked by the usual breakaway of the day, on this occasion, composed of 7 riders, with Movistar rider Mathias Norsgaard and Jelle Wallays as the most notable names.
Despite the typical breaks, produced more by the tension of the race, the winding route that cyclists always have to face when cycling in Flanders and the continuous changes of wind than a desired situation. In all of them, a common denominator, the presence of several Jumbo-Visma men who managed to keep the situation under control at all times.
The constant succession of walls and cobbled sections that characterizes the small Tour of Flanders that is the Omloop Het Niewsblad, until the arrival of what is usually one of the decisive walls, the ascent of the Molenberg, which in this edition was reached with 42 kilometers to go.
In the always tense approach, Jumbo-Visma carried out a perfect positioning plan, leaving everything perfectly arranged so that, already in full ascent to the Molenberg, first Van Hoydonck, doing a perfect cleaning job, and then a very strong Dylan Van Baaarle, who finished the task with a strong change of pace where it hurts the most, the exposed false flat that follows the top of this mythical wall, made the team's strategy work to perfection.
A small cut in which Jonathan Milan, Floriaan Vermeersch and, after the breakaway was caught, the very young French neo-professional of Arkéa-Samsic Mathis Le Berre, were caught. From behind, several tried to close the gap with attacks, knowing that, given the situation of the race and the men in front, it was likely to come to fruition. However, once again Jumbo-Visma did a marvelous task of control, drying up every move to allow Dylan Van Baarle to continue to make his way.
Nevertheless, the pace remained high and the gap, which reached 50 seconds, did not open up, leaving an exciting situation ahead of the decisive final stretch of the race. Proof of the intensity was the natural selection that took place among the escapees with Jonathn Milan giving up in Berendries and Florian Vermeersch doing the same on the next climb, Elverenberg-Vossenhol. Meanwhile, surprisingly, Mathis Le Berre managed to hold on to the Dutch rider's wheel, dreaming of at least a podium finish.
Behind, meanwhile, typical situation of lack of definition in which no one takes command and began to produce timid attacks by riders like Wellens, Pidcock or the veteran Greg Van Avermaet, trying to find a selection with which to make the chase. All of them, again, perfectly controlled by the riders in yellow and black.
We arrived at the streets of Geraardsbergen, where the most mythical wall in Flanders starts: the Kapelmuur. There, the gap between Le Berre and Van Baarle had been reduced to just 30 seconds. At the start of the climb, the Jumbo-Visma rider set a higher pace and the Frenchman's cleat came off in one of the bends, leaving the way clear for Van Baarle to start his little time trial on the way to the finish line in Ninove.
In the group, the race was not yet lost and a superb Tim Wellens made a powerful attack, which was answered by Matej Mohoric. A few meters behind, Arnaud De Lie, who had had to run against the clock after suffering a heavy crash, managed to close the gap with ease and almost at the top, closely marked by Christophe Laporte who continued to make good the work of Jumbo-Visma.
Only 15 seconds separated Van Baarle from his pursuers on the straights leading to the Bosberg, the last wall of the day. It was an exposed section where the headwind was mercilessly pounding. However, they could do nothing to close the gap, neither here nor on the cobblestones of the aforementioned wall.
The last 12 kilometers only served to consolidate the gap to Dylan Van Baarle, who was able to start the classics season in the same victorious way he ended last year's. Meanwhile, the chasing group was caught by the peloton just as they launched the sprint for the podium, which would finally go to a disgruntled Arnaud De Lie, who showed his form by beating a very fast Christophe Laporte.
Omloop Het Niewsblad: Classification
- Dylan Van Baarle (Jumbo-Visma) 4h54’49’’
- Arnaud De Lie (Lotto-Dstny) +20’’
- Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) +20’’
- Alexander Kristoff (Uno-X) +20’’
- Thomas Pidcock (INEOS-Grenadiers) +20’’
- Davide Ballerini (Soudal-QuickStep) +20’’
- Nils Pollitt (Bora-Hansgrohe) +20’’
- Andrea Paqualon (Bahrain-Victorious) +20’’
- Rui Oliveira (UAE Team Emirates) +20’’
- Sep Vanmarcke (Israel-PremierTech) +20’’