Ryan Mullen and John Degenkolb provide a perfect leadout in a crashed-marred finale
It all ended in the expected fast bunch finish at the Brussels Cycling Classic, one of the oldest races on the UCI calendar, and Jasper Stuyven capitalized on a perfect leadout from his teammates, including the team’s usual designated sprinter John Degenkolb, to sprint to second place.
After stellar teamwork in the last two kilometers, Stuyven was placed ahead of a high-speed crash in the final 250 meters, but he could not match the speed of Pascal Ackermann (Bora-hansgrohe) who jumped clear for the win.
“I think the team did perfect today. We wanted a hard race, and because the breakaway was strong, the other teams had to chase them to get them back which made it a harder race which was good for us. The team did well keeping me up front in the last 2kms, and Ryan (Mullen) had a good kick at the end so were out of the trouble. The crash happened behind me on my left, I am not sure I did not see any images yet, but anyway it was good to stay out of that,” explained Stuyven.
While a few sprinters were held up by the crash – including last year’s winner Arnaud Demare (FDJ) – that happened close to the front just as the sprint was starting, Mullen and Degenkolb had Stuyven positioned ahead of the carnage.
“I think because of the crash I hesitated a little bit, and when I looked back to the front I saw that Ackermann already had a big gap, so I started my sprint and I came close but not fast enough,” continued Stuyven. “But I think in the end, if I would have been able to react immediately maybe it would have been a head-to-head battle, but I am not saying I would have won. So, I am happy with my second place, and happy after such a great team job that I can be on the podium. That is always nice.”