For many cycling purists, the road cycling season only really began this past weekend. Those races earlier in the year? Mere warm-ups before Belgian ‘Opening Weekend’: the combination of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday (men and women) and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday (men only).
As the riders got their first taste of cobblestone racing for the spring, photographers Kristof Ramon and Rhode Van Elsen were there to capture the action. Rhode’s spent the past few years working as Kristof’s ‘sidekick’ but is stepping up this year to shoot more women’s races, and we couldn’t be happier.
You’ll see Rhode’s photos from the women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad below, as well as Kristof’s photos from the men’s Omloop, and KBK.
If you’d like to read about how each of the races unfolded, the following links will help you:
Masks will be a common sight at races in 2021. At one point early in the men’s Omloop the convoy got stuck at a railway crossing, leaving the peloton on their own. Tim Declercq doing Tim Declercq things. See above. Factor hasn’t yet done a post mortem on this fork, but we do know that Tom Van Asbroeck was on a brand new bike that he didn’t get a chance to ride before the race start, and we know he hit a curb pretty hard. Factor says they’re surprised such an impact would cause this much damage, and that an assembly issue may have been the culprit. The good news: Tom wasn’t injured, he finished 18th on the day on his spare Ostro. Bert De Backer leads the breakaway up the Molenberg cobbles. Jasper Stuyven started the day as the reigning champion. Trek-Segafredo had a shocking day, with 63rd being the team’s best finish. World champion Julian Alaphilippe attacked on the Berendries. Gold, gold and more gold for reigning Olympic champ Greg Van Avermaet. Note how easily Tom Pidcock (left – Ineos-Grenadiers) seems to be doing it. Pop quiz: who’s the current Belgian champ? The top of the Muur looks a little different without fans. The race came down to a group of 45 where Davide Ballerini took the spoils. The Italian’s had a great start to the year. In five race days he’s already got three wins. Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ) was second ahead of Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation). Another pop quiz: How many of the BikeExchange women’s team riders can you name? Belgian champ Lotte Kopecky was one of the riders to watch in the women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad … … so too world champion Anna van der Breggen who’s rocking rainbow colours (and the gold of Olympic champ). It was Annemiek van Vleuten’s first race in Movistar colours. An early breakaway group of three got up the road: Kylie Waterreus (Multum Accountants LSK Ladies Cycling), Elizabeth Bennett (Drops Le Col) and Claudia Jongerius (Bingoal Casino-Chevalmeire Cycling). Van der Breggen was happy at the back of the bunch in the early stages. At one point the peloton was forced to stop at a railway crossing. Christine Majerus (SD Worx) leads the peloton over a cobbled section. Carnage at the back. Van Vleuten, the European champ, didn’t have her best day ever. Kopecky was active in the closing stages. SD Worx recruit Demi Vollering attacked solo with around 31 km to go … … and led onto the legendary Muur van Geraadsbergen climb. Italian champion Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) was aggressive in the closing stages too … … but it was Van der Breggen who made the winning move over the Bosberg. The Dutchwoman opened a gap and went on to win solo by 23 seconds. Van der Breggen celebrates with teammate and third-place-finisher Amy Pieters. Emma Cecilie Norsgaard (Movistar) was second. Mathieu van der Poel (right – Alpecin-Fenix) skipped Omloop on Saturday, but was back in the fold at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday. Greg Van Avermaet was back again with his bling. The early breakaway. Van der Poel and Jhonatan Narváez (Ineos Grenadiers) went on the move from the peloton, trying to bridge to the breakaway. They eventually got there, but the race was destined to come back togeter. Van der Poel got in a cheeky supertuck while he still could. While the race splintered into many groups over the course of the day, it was a group of 30 that ultimately made it to the finish to contest a sprint. Former world champ Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) took the victory … … and won a donkey for his troubles. Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie) was second, ahead of 21-year-old British neo-pro Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers).