Lotto-Soudal Cycling Team (Belgium) – Tim Wellens successfully restarted competition by winning the Brabantse Pijl after a strong solo in the final kilometres! Teammate Tiesj Benoot could join him on the podium as third. Lotto Soudal set a strong collective performance.
Almost immediately after the start in Leuven a breakaway of seven riders was established. Lotto Soudal rider Rémy Mertz started controlling the gap. Just before entering the first of three local laps of 23.4 kilometres several Lotto Soudal riders came to the front. The peloton split when Maxime Monfort raised the pace. Then Tosh Van der Sande and Jack Haig created a gap. The duo succeeded in bridging to the leaders. At the beginning of the second lap, Van der Sande and his companion had got rid of all others. It was only with twelve kilometres to go that Van der Sande and Haig got caught. Again Lotto Soudal was positioned at the front of the bunch. After an acceleration of Jelle Vanendert a small group, including Tim Wellens, got a gap. With 7.5 kilometres to go Wellens attacked and that turned out to be the decisive move. Wellens arrived solo at the finish in Overijse, paying tribute to Michael Goolaerts. Tiesj Benoot sprinted to the third place, behind Sonny Colbrelli.
Tim Wellens: “It was the plan to let the race explode as early as possible, because we had such a strong line-up. That’s what we did with over seventy kilometres to go. Rémy Mertz had first controlled the gap on his own for sixty kilometres, until he got help from a rider of BMC and one of Bahrain. Maxime Monfort raised the pace on the local circuit and that caused the peloton to split. It was our plan to send a rider in the break afterwards and that was the case with Tosh Van der Sande. I thought for a while that they would remain ahead as there was not immediately a team that took control of the chase. When they got caught, Jelle Vanendert accelerated as I had asked. He did that perfectly. I attacked on a section with a slight headwind. I had to fight at first to get a gap, but when Pauwels and Serry came off the front my lead grew up to 25 seconds.”
Tim Wellens: “The past years I learned to choose the best moment to attack. Today that was with 7.8 kilometres to go and that meant that I needed to go full for about ten minutes. That went really well, I had super legs. This gives me confidence for the upcoming races, even though they are of a higher level. With the team we had today, we are more than ready.”
“Of course we talk about what happened with Michael Goolaerts, in the peloton and in the team. It was a very serene atmosphere at the start. There are teammates of mine that have raced with Michael. I know his teammates Sean De Bie and Zico Waeytens very well. They go through a difficult time and I try to support them.”