Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) marked his return to racing with victory in a weather-affected race that saw Julien Vermote take eighth place.
The adverse conditions saw the race reduced from 6 laps to 4 of the circuit and 175km in total.
After a series of early moves, Julien Vermote and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg made it into the day’s decisive break with the Belgian, who only recently returned from injury, securing an excellent top-10 position.
Julien Vermote – Rider
It was quite an epic day, full gas right from the start. It had all the ingredients to have a hard race and then they shortened the race by two laps, so it was 180km instead of 200km, that was a good decision. I was straight away into a breakaway with Connor but they pulled us back, then finally we got into another break with Reinie, Connor and a bit later some others joined in too.
We were a group of around 28 and then after 50km I went again in a 10-rider group that also had Reinie. In the final approach it was whittled down to 8 and then it was full gas racing again.
It was a really strong group and I suffered a little bit in some wind, the rider in front of me was blown into the kerb, I was dropped and it took me four kilometres to get back. Everybody was right on the limit and Senechal and Naesen were not really riding as they had a rider on the front, which is expected, and so I finished 8th.
I’m really happy that I could be at such a solid level after my injury, I had a really good feeling (today). The team rode well, we were well represented from the start which was really nice to see, excellent motivation for us to be there and so I was (overall) very happy.