The traditional season opener of the Classics season is scheduled for the last Saturday of February and we can’t wait for it! Held since 1945, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will run its 77th and the Wolfpack will line out in Gent for a 201km journey – peppered by 13 hills, including the mythical Muur-Kapelmuur and Bosberg – that will conclude in Ninove.
Florian Sénéchal takes top 10 in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
After months of waiting, the Opening Weekend finally arrived Saturday morning, when the riders lined out in Gent, under clear skies, for the 77th edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – a race that our team won on four occasions, most recently in 2021, when Davide Ballerini showed everyone else a clean pair of cleats in the Ninove the bunch sprint.
A breakaway of seven took off soon after the start and remained at the front until with 40 kilometers to go, when attacks began coming from a peloton that was getting more and more nervous. Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl was well represented, but not long after the skirmishes began, the team lost Kasper Asgreen due to a puncture and was forced to change tactics. When seven riders got away, Bert Van Lerberghe did the chasing and put in a phenomenal effort, reeling them in just ahead of the legendary Muur-Kapelmuur.
A select group formed on the bone-rattling cobblestones of the short but brutal climb, and the Wolfpack had two delegates there, Yves Lampaert and Florian Sénéchal. That reduced bunch quickly opened a 30-second gap over the chasers by the time they arrived at the bottom of the Bosberg, the day’s last hill. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) attacked there and soloed to victory, some 20 seconds clear of a group from where Florian sprinted to ninth place, racking up his eighth top 10 finish in a cobbled Classic.
At the finish, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sports director Tom Steels made an analysis of the race: “We were never in a position to control things, we were a bit far back and had to chase. It wasn’t easy today, as things were really nervous out there all the time and we lost Kasper, who had good legs, in the moment he had a flat tire, but we continued to fight hard. We have a love-hate relationship with the Opening Weekend, and coming here we knew that the guys weren’t at 100%, which is normal considering it’s just the start of the Classics seasons. We got a top 10, but of course we wanted more, so we’ll keep working and building the confidence for the next races.”
Photo credit: ©Bas Czerwinski / Getty Images