After a substandard 2019 Classics season, Jasper Stuyven opens the 2020 season with victory in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
There is no better way to make amends for a disappointing 2019 Classics season than winning the opening race a year later.
The Trek-Segafredo Classics Team showed they have returned with a vengeance when Jasper Stuyven won a two-up sprint over Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick Step) to claim victory in the much anticipated first cobbled classic, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, his biggest win to date.
“I told the team that we needed to be in the front all day, and I think the focus from start to finish was excellent; we were always there,” said Stuyven. “And I got to finish it off today. It’s the best victory I’ve had!
“Last year was a disaster, but this is a good start. Today we showed as a team that last year was a mishap. We have a good group, and we finished the season well last year with Mads winning Worlds, and we were really motivated to keep this vibe going this year, We proved today that it worked out really well.”
The winning selection came unexpectedly early with 65 kilometers to go, but not for Stuyven, who showed his savviness in marking the right move.
“We said yesterday in the team meeting that the move could happen early in this weather, and with the crosswinds early on, there were already tired legs in the peloton,” explained Stuyven. “And then I was following some moves, and I saw a group going, and I saw all the big teams were there. I think it was very important to jump [into it] and not get into a defensive mode. Then I heard immediately in the radio that everything was slowing down behind, so it was a good group to go to the line with.”
It was a strong group of eight that moved clear, holding a two-minute advantage over the final 50 kilometers that never wavered much as the oomph gradually sizzled out of the chasing bunch behind.
But the Muur van Geraardsbergen still lingered. The iconic climb verified its decisiveness once again when over the top only three riders emerged: Stuyven, Lampaert, and Soren Kragh Andersen of Team Sunweb.
“Steven (de Jongh, director) encouraged me to try on the Muur,” continued Stuyven. “I wasn’t feeling the strongest, but I also knew everyone was tired. Once we started the Muur and no one accelerated, I thought I would try to accelerate myself, and we would see what happens – I only looked back at the top, and I think I made a good split.”
Today we showed as a team that last year was a mishap.
Coming into the final two kilometers, Lampaert and Stuyven traded blows, purging Andersen but not each other, and a sprinting dual decided the victor.
“After [the Muur] Soren was not really committed, and I was not sure if he was dying or playing a little bit, so it was hard – I didn’t want to do most of the work; I was not sure of the win, that’s for sure,” added Stuyven.
“Steven told me, ‘it’s your day, you’re the fastest, ’ and Yves was also telling me, “you’re the fastest,’ but I didn’t want to get overconfident. I was not 100 percent sure I would beat Yves in the sprint, but I managed it really well.
“When we started the sprint, Yves was on the left of my wheel, so I went a little more to the left and held my position, and I managed to close the door on him well.”
It was a massive win for Stuyven and the entire Trek-Segafredo Classics Team after two dry years.
“In 2018, I was always there but didn’t win, and so of course expectations were high last year, from everyone and also myself, to take that win, and that went really badly,” said Stuyven. “It’s super nice, especially since it’s the opening classic of the season and after the super teamwork today and how everything fell into place.
“It’s really nice to have a victory in the pocket already as that makes me even more relaxed,” he added.