The first classics of the season: Daily News
Hello again, readers,
Opening weekend is done and dusted. There were winners and losers of course, but the most interesting storyline for me was young Brit Tom Pidcock, who followed up an aggressive day at Omloop with a third place in the mini bunch sprint at Kuurne.
Going purely off body type, these aren’t races for Pidcock – he’s 58kg (127 lbs) and barely reaches the shoulders of most of the riders contesting at classics. Yet clearly these races suit him just fine.
Pidcock spent all winter duking it out with Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel on cross courses, but he’s not built like those two. Makes you wonder what he’ll do when the road points uphill a bit. Style-wise, and ignoring the time period in question, I get Paolo Bettini vibes from him – another 58kg rider who could podium on cobbles (Bettini was 3rd at Omloop in 2003) but truly shone elsewhere.
There’s lots to talk about after a busy weekend. Here’s everything you need to know.
Pedersen wins Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
Former world champion Mads Pedersen made up for Trek-Segafredo’s disastrous Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with a perfectly-timed sprint to win KBK from a heavily reduced peloton.
The sprinter’s classic was nearly won out of a breakaway for the third year running. A group of just five, including Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Jhonatan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers), nearly survived to the finish, but a long, straight crosswind section with 2km to go ended their day off the front.
The front group came together just ahead of the red kite, around 1.6 kilometers to go. A sweeping left hand corner put the wind at the rider’s back right, and Pedersen followed the wheel of teammate Jasper Stuyven up the protected left side. He timed his launch to perfection, taking the win by a bike length.
Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie) and a flying Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) crossed the line in second and third.
Fun fact of the day: The winner of Kuurne gets a stuffed donkey.
1 – Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo in 4:37:04
2 – Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
3 – Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
UAE Tour: Ewan takes final sprint, Pogacar wins overall
Caleb Ewan took the final sprint stage of the UAE Tour, ending Sam Bennet.
Tadej Pogacar used his strong TT on stage 2 and victory atop Jebel Hafeet to take the overall win ahead of Ineos’ Adam Yates and Deceuninck-Quickstep’s Joao Almeida.
Little French races are more important than usual
The Faun-Ardèche Classic one-day race got a boost in significance thanks to cancellations elsewhere, and Frenchman David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) came out on top, ahead of Clement Champoussin and EF’s Hugh Carthy.
Keep an eye on Champoussin, who is 22 years old and just had a good ride at the Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var, where he finished 11th overall.
Van Aert and Evenepoel to Tokyo
Sven Vanthourenhout, Belgium’s national coach, has announced Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel ride time trial at the Tokyo Olympics. World Record Holder Victor Campenaerts is the first reserve.
Omloop opens the classics season
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is a mini Tour of Flanders – in fact, it even uses the old Flanders finish, over the Muur and then the Bosberg and into Ninove. The men’s race split under pressure from big names but ended up coming back together for a sprint won by Davide Ballerini, while the women’s race saw world champion Anna van der Breggen surge on the Muur, never to return.
Le Samyn on March 2nd is an underrated mid-week mini-classic that isn’t to be missed. It features heavy cobblestone sectors and always sees good racing.