Looney Theuns back on top!

After two years, Edward Theuns returns to the top of the podium with a solo victory in the Primus Classic

It’s been a long two years since tasting victory for Edward Theuns, and after getting close with a second place in stage three at the Vuelta a España, he finally got the monkey off his back Saturday with a hard but-oh-so-beautiful win in the Primus Classic.

“This is such a huge relief, and a big thank you to the team,” said Theuns. “It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve won, and I am super happy. I really felt good in the past two weeks, but today I thought I wouldn’t be at the best of my level. As a team we did such a good race, we took initiative and were always in the attacks and never in a defensive mode, so it was a super good job, and everyone played his role.  I am so happy, so proud that I could finish the work of the guys. And for me, it’s also a big thank you to Trek-Segafredo to take me back after a tough year last year. Now I feel I am getting back to my best level, and I am so happy I could give a victory to the team.”

Photo Gregory Van Gansen / Photo News

On Friday, Theuns raced in Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, finishing in ninth place after a punishing race of attrition in crosswinds. With less than 24 hours to recover, Theuns was uncertain how his legs would feel in the 197-kilometer classic that was peppered with hills.  Inside the final 50 kilometers, Trek-Segafredo began to take the race in hand, pushing the pace over the climbs with a feisty Mads Pedersen leading the way.

With five riders still in the peloton in the closing kilometers, Trek-Segafredo continued their belligerence. Stuyven countered just as the last two breakaway riders were tagged back seven kilometers from the end, and when Stuyven was about to be caught three kilometers later, Theuns jumped to his wheel. Seeing his teammate with him, Stuyven emptied his tank, and with just under three kilometers to go, Theuns went it alone.

“In the final, I was doubting a bit because my legs didn’t feel super fresh anymore, so I was talking with Jasper that I was not super confident to go to a sprint,” Theuns explained. “Jasper tried with an attack and Mads and me tried to slow down the bunch by being in second and third position, trying to break the rhythm of the peloton. Suddenly I heard Mads screaming in the radio, “go Eddie!” and I looked back, and we had a small gap, and so I jumped to Jasper. I wanted to continue with him, but he said immediately that he was done.  He did one last pull, and I went full with like 2.5kms to go.

“From then on it was really, really hard but I heard in the radio that they were doubting a bit behind me. I was looking back and saw that I had a good gap, but the last 800 meters were really hard with a headwind, and I was feeling that they were coming. I know that a sprinting bunch has a lot of speed, so I didn’t want to put my hands in the air before I reached the finish line.”

Jasper Stuyven celebrates for his teammate as he crosses the line. (Photo: Gregory Van Gansen / Photo News )

In the last straight, I looked behind me, and they came so close! I don’t think I have ever come with so many cramps over the finish line.

Photo: Gregory Van Gansen / Photo News

In the final straight it was touch-and-go, and with the sprint in full flight on his heels, he had just enough. Punching the air never felt better for Theuns, whose last win was with Trek-Segafredo in 2017.

“In the last straight, I looked behind me, and they came so close! I don’t think I have ever come with so many cramps over the finish line. This is really a relief, and a thank you to the team because even after a difficult year last year, they kept believing in me.”

The team celebrate with Edward Theuns.