Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl is the record holder, having won the race on eight occasions, most recently in 2019, when Danish powerhouse Kasper Asgreen time trialed his way to victory and held off an entire bunch to add to his palmares what at that moment was his first success in a cobbled Classic.
Fabio Jakobsen wins Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne
Fabio Jakobsen made sure that Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl took a win on the Opening Weekend for the fourth consecutive year with an out-of-this-world sprint in what goes down as one of the most thrilling finishes in the event’s history. It was the 25-year-old’s fifth success of the 2022 season, adding to the pair of stages he won at both the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and Volta ao Algarve earlier this month.
The second race of the Opening Weekend was expected to end in a bunch sprint, but it was far from straightforward, despite the last hill on the course coming with more than 50 kilometers to go. The main reason for that was several teams deciding to race aggressively in an attempt to put the sprinters to the limit and split the bunch on the climbs that came in quick succession in the last 80 kilometers. Our team remained attentive at all times, and for good measure posted 2020 Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner Kasper Asgreen in a move that took shape on the Côte du Trieu.
That forced a response from the teams that missed the train, and it was only with 16 kilometers remaining, on the outskirts of Kuurne, that most of the men at the front, including Asgreen, were brought back. Three riders counterattacked just before their companions were clawed back and made the bunch work hard in order to reduce the buffer. Sensing the danger, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl sent Kasper, Yves Lampaert and Florian Sénéchal to the head of the peloton, and they did the bulk of the work, pushing the pedal to the metal and narrowing down the gap to a mere three seconds going into the last corner of the race.
Showing huge confidence in his legs after nearly 200 kilometers and a dozen or so bergs, Jakobsen ignited the sprint with 300 meters to go using the trio’s slipstream, coming around and past them 150 meters from the line, and dashing to take the Wolfpack’s ninth Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne – an all-time record for a team at the Belgian race.
I have to thank the squad, because we had to catch those three guys in the lead and my teammates did a huge job to close the gap in those nervous final kilometers.
“The entire race was intense, and especially the last hour was fast and furious. But I was confident in my sprint and that’s why I launched at 300 meters to go and dove into their slipstream. Then it was all the way to the line. Winning is never easy, but we always aim for it and give our best in order to achieve the victory at the end of the day. Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is a race that every sprinter wants to have in the palmares and I am happy I did it today together with the Wolfpack.”
But not only the win was on Fabio’s mind, who expressed solidarity with the people in Ukraine in his post-race speech: “My mind is also in Eastern Europe, with everyone in Ukraine. There’s a war going on there. In Belgium and the Netherlands we are free to do what we want, go out, watch the race, and just enjoy riding our bikes, which puts into perspective. But my mind and my heart are with the people there. I pray for them and hope they will get through this.”
Photo credit: ©Bas Czerwinski / Getty Images