Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) won De Brabantse Pijl, taking a solo victory ahead of Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) today.
The 58th edition of De Brabantse Pijl got off to a somber start this morning as the cycling world mourned the loss of young Michael Goolaerts, who tragically passed away on Sunday after Paris-Roubaix. Once respects had been paid with a minutes silence, racing would get underway with Goolaerts teammate, Dries De Bondt making the break of the day. 6 other riders joined De Bondt as they rode to a 7-minute lead.
With 27 climbs over the 200km route, the climbs soon started to come at regular succession once the race reached Overijse and with Lotto-Soudal driving the pace, the gap to the break quickly tumbled. With 60km to go, the gap was under a minute and so Tosh van der Sande (Lotto-Soudal) and Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) jumped across to the front group.
With two fresh riders up front, Bahrain-Merida took up the chase while our African Team had Serge Pauwels, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Scott Davies, Julien Vermote and Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier all still present in the reduced peloton. A number of counter attacks followed, and both Pauwels and Boasson Hagens took turns to follow the moves as more riders were getting dropped.
With 35km to go our Belgian climber put in a strong attack of his own but was quickly chased down. Haig and van der Sande were then reeled in with 10km to go and immediately, Pauwels responded to yet another attack, going clear with 7 other riders. Part of this lead group was eventual race winner, Wellens.
With the peloton now well and truly splintering under the pressure, Wellens decided to add even more fuel to the fire, attacking the lead group with 6km to go. Pauwels was the only rider that tried to respond, but as soon as he swung over for the next rider to pull through, nobody was able to. This allowed Wellens to ride away with the victory.
The remnants of the peloton caught Pauwels group just before the final climb, and in their reduced group sprint for 2nd place, Pauwels placed 13th for us with Boasson Hagen in 15th.
Serge Pauwels – Rider
I was a bit nervous for today as I was not sure if I would have recovered from Basque Country yet. In the beginning I was not feeling great but I felt better as the race went on. I was able to make the decisive breakaway but when Wellens attacked I was not able to react. Anyway this was a good race for what is to come, the Ardennes Classics.