Van Aert solos to Ninove
With a solid attack at the foot of the Bosberg, Belgian champion Van Aert completely turned the final of the opening classic to his advantage. He steadily increased his lead and crossed the line in Ninove on his own. The second place was for European champion Colbrelli, who beat Van Avermaet in the sprint.
At exactly 11am the time has come. The 77th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad takes off in Ghent after the riders have been presented to the public in 't Kuipke. Under a blue sky and bright sunshine, the peloton starts the opening classic, a 204 km ride towards Ninove.
After 8 km we get an early breakaway with 7 riders: Apers (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Ben Healy (EF Education - EasyPost), Juri Hollman (Movistar Team), Alexander Konychev (Team BikeExchange - Jayco), Quentin Jauregui (B&B Hotels - KTM), Donovan Grondin (Team Arkea-Samsic) and Morten Hulgaard (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team). Their maximum lead eventually got to just over 8 minutes.
In the peloton, it is mainly Jumbo-Visma and Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl Team who control the race. The more cobbles and hills they pass, the smaller the difference between the front group and the peloton. At the front, the first names start to drop out: Jauregui is the first child of the bill.
On the Wolvenberg it is time for action in the peloton. Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Soudal) and Loïc Vliegen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) join forces and soon after are joined by Stefan Küng (Groupama - FDJ). In the meantime, it's raining flat tires and several crashes in the background, including one of Lotto Soudal's leaders, Victor Campenaerts. The world time record holder does everything he can to rejoin the peloton and has to change bikes, while Peter Sagan (Total Energies) also has his share of bad luck.
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In the meantime a front group of nine has formed. Vliegen, Vermeersch and Küng join Apers, Healy, Hollmann, Hulgaard, Grondin and Konychev. Nathan Van Hooydonck takes the lead at the last passage on the Leberg. He tries to break up the peloton with a hard acceleration. Naesen among others follows, while the teammates of Küng and Vliegen neutralise Van Hooydonck's attack.
Van Hooydonck tries a second time. Lampaert is also eager to race, while the gap of the peloton is slowly approaching one minute. At the front, there are still six riders and behind the leading group, it gets nervous. On the Berendries, Benoot (Jumbo-Visma) shakes the tree. He gets leader Van Aert, Narvaez and Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) along. Colbrelli also joins them shortly after. The five join the leading group quite quickly.
In the peloton it is Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl that has to straighten out the situation, with Trek-Segafredo in support. They are up against Benoot, who is doing a great job for leader Van Aert at the front. At 20km from the finish Van Aert lets his partner Benoot go. The man from Ghent pulled out all the stops and began a solo run-up to the Muur of Geraardsbergen.
On the Muur the peloton rejoins the chasers. Benoot does what he can, but he also loses meters to the chapel and gets the company of the peloton in the descent. Just before the Bosberg, Belgian champion Van Aert goes in the attack. With a nine-second lead, he flies solo into the final with 12 kilometres to go. He doesn't relinquish his lead, on the contrary. Van Aert finishes with a smile and wins the Omloop in the tricolore, while Colbrelli in pursuit wins the sprint for second place ahead of Van Avermaet.