Astana Cycling Team (Belgium) – “Impressive win by Michael Valgren rewards strong teamwork”.
After a strong finale where three riders of Astana Pro Team got in a breakaway of twelve, Michael Valgren managed to attack at the right moment and take the win at the first classic race of the season. After the decisive Kapelmuur the group was created, and after several attacks and closing down gaps, the teamwork was rewarded by Valgren’s victory.
“We really deserved this win with our team, as we were really strong in today’s final. I attacked several times, but the final time I knew it was the right one and I went full gas. Of course, I had some doubts if I was able to stay in front, but going into the final meters I knew we got it. I’m really happy with this win, it’s the biggest so far in my career. I hope I can build on this for the next races to come. It was really special”, told winner Michael Valgren.
This morning the peloton started in a cold Gent for the first Belgium classic of the 2018 season, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Right from the start there were attacks, resulting in a ten-riders breakaway that gained a maximum advantage of 4 minutes during the first part of the race. But going into the final part of the race, with 40 kilometers to go, the pack was back together before the challenging cobblestone climbs.
Because of several attacks before the real first climb, the Kapelmuur, already a select group started at the bottom of this climb. Behind a strong Sep Vanmarcke a group was formed of nine riders, including Astana riders Oscar Gatto, Alexey Lutsenko and Michael Valgren. After Vanmarcke was caught, the leading group excisted out of twelve riders, still including the three Astana Pro Team riders. Going into the final 10 kilometers, it was clear that this group would battle for the win. After an unsuccessful attack with 8 kilometers to go, Michael Valgren tried it again as a counter attack on Sep Vanmarcke. At that point, nobody could follow and it was Valgren riding solo to the finish line.
“Our strategy was working out fine, as we were protecting our four possible cards to play during the whole day, and then at the Kapelmuur almost all four were in the leading group. It was one big teamwork today, with great work of all the riders but also from all the staff who did a perfect job behind the scenes. Everybody contributed and then Michael had the legs to finish it off, he really deserves it”, said a satisfied sports director, Lars Michaelsen.
Photo credit: Bettiniphoto