The first of three cobble classics in one week, Dwars door Vlaanderen opened up a full week of racing for Cannondale-Drapac. The classics squad centers around Sep Vanmarcke and Dylan van Baarle. Sebastian Langeveld serves as team captain. For the mid-week classic, #GreenArgyle gave young riders Alberto Bettiol, Ryan Mullen and Tom Scully the task of protecting their team leaders. Sprinters Tom Van Asbroeck and Wouter Wippert completing the line-up.
As Dwars door Vlaanderen entered the WorldTour this year, it is now of the same level as E3-Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem later in the week, giving it just that bit of extra prestige.
“I’m looking forward to this race so much. I know it very well here,” Van Asbroeck said ahead of the race. “I don’t think there is any road in one of the races this week that I don’t know by heart. A little bit of added parcours knowledge never hurt anyone,” Van Asbroeck added with a grin.
The race started conventionally with a six-rider break that was kept at a reasonable distance.
The peloton had an easy run-in during the first half of the race, until Quickstep Cycling’s Philippe Gilbert attacked on the Berendries, 76.8 kilometers from the finish line. It opened up the race earlier than expected.
But Cannondale-Drapac was prepared. “Just moments before Philippe Gilbert went, we were told in our radios to pay attention,” Wouter Wippert said.
“So we watched everyone closely and were actually well positioned at the front,” Wippert said. “Just not well enough to follow the attack. We tried to close the gap, but it was a strong group we were fighting against.”
Once the break of the day was caught and Gilbert had talked to everyone in the front group, it started working well together and hopes of catching them back vanished.
The front group split once more, when it was again Gilbert who launched an attack and was joined by his teammate Yves Lampaert and two other riders.
A group of riders was able to bridge across from the peloton to the chasing group, which included Van Baarle, Langeveld and Vanmarcke. With four riders out front going for the win, this group would sprint for fifth. Eventually Van Baarle placed eighth and Langeveld finished top twenty.
Vanmarcke didn’t mingle in the sprint and rolled over the finish line in 28th position.
“We missed the group that went on the Berendries,” Vanmarcke acknowledged, “but I’m positive that we saw a strong team, that worked well together.”