At first, Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma) thought he had managed to slip clear alone, but he quickly realised that he had the worst kind of company for the final two kilometres of Dwars door Vlaanderen. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) was tucked onto his rear wheel, and the likelihood of beating the Dutchman in a two-up sprint in Waregem lay somewhere between slim and none.

Even so, Benoot, an economics graduate from the University of Ghent, quickly crunched the numbers and decided it was worth continuing with his effort. Collaborating with Van der Poel would, at the very least, guarantee a podium finish, and so it proved, as he came home in second place, while Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) led the chasers across the line to place third.

“I thought I was alone for a few seconds but then Mathieu was in my wheel, so I knew it would be a bit difficult,” Benoot said. “Then I had to choose what to do. I rode on, because if I let the rest return then it would have been difficult for me anyway. This way, I had the best chance of winning, if Mathieu made a wrong gear change or something. I took one more turn and then I gambled after that.”

Benoot, Van der Poel and Pidcock went clear on the climb of Berg Ten Houte with some 70km remaining in the company of Ben Turner (Ineos Grenadiers), Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal) and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ). They later picked up early escapees Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Kelland O’Brien (BikeExchange-Jayco), and this eight-man group would go all the way to the finish.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.