Omloop van het Hageland / Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne
Frenchwoman from Movistar Team crowns aggressive race from Blues, comes close again to podium finish in Belgium as Bastianelli (TVC) wins; Spaniard takes first top-ten finish for the men as four from Lastras’ squad make final selection behind solo victor Jungels (DQT).
Two demanding races in Belgium, two sprint efforts and two good results from the Movistar Team with its women’s and men’s squads at the Omloop van het Hageland -132km from Tienen to Tielt, over cobblestones and multiple times up the Roeselberg climb- and the Kuurne-Bruselas-Kuurne -201km featuring the Oude Kwaremont as biggest difficulty before a flat final circuit-.
The ladies’ outfit directed by Jorge Sanz showed, as it was custom for most of its 2018 classics campaign, a very aggressive face, focused on making the sprint as tough as possible and favour the chances of Roxane Fournier. Malgorzata Jasinska -into a break alongside Ruth Winder (TFS) before the final circuit-, Alicia González and Aude Biannic -both on the move during the last two laps- picked up the pace while Gloria Rodríguez and Paula Patiño protected the French rider and led the bunch out -the group not featuring Sheyla Gutiérrez, an early DNF because of the pain after Saturday’s crash in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad-.
The flurry of attacks and the splits caused by the strong winds made the bunch shrink to barely twenty riders at the finishing straight. Marta Bastianelli (TVC) bested -after a defensive move into the sprint, one side to the other- Lotta Lepistö (TFS) for the win, while Fournier finished in 4th place behind Leah Kirchmann (SUN) to come again close to a podium she ‘skimmed’ twice at the Setmana Valenciana.
In turn, the men’s squad led by Pablo Lastras showed great attitude, arguably the best for a long time on Flemish soil, by putting four of its riders -Jürgen Roelandts, Carlos Barbero, Jorge Arcas and Imanol Erviti- inside the main peloton surviving the tough Kwaremont ascent, where a 28-man group escaped and ultimately served as launchpad for Bob Jungels’ (DQT) solo victory.
The Blues’ effort into the pursuit group allowed Barbero sprinting to a very decent 10th spot for the Movistar Team -the Spaniards’ first top-ten result in a Belgian result-, in no less than the debut for the Abarca Sports organisation in the race. The Spanish men’s squad will be back in Belgium for the rest of the big cobbled races in three weeks’ time.
Cover picture (c): Sean Robinson / Vélofocus