Leuven, the host of last year’s World Championships, will welcome the peloton for the start of the 62nd Brabantse Pijl, whose 204.8km course consists of an interminable succession of hills, some featuring double-digit gradients, the last of these being crested just 200 meters from the line.

Evenepoel sixth in maiden Brabantse Pijl

After departing from Leuven, the town where Julian Alaphilippe captured his second world title last September, the peloton headed to the hills of the Flemish Brabant, which this year ended up making a bigger selection than in the past, helped also by the nagging rain. The numerous climbs and the inclement weather reduced the peloton to some 50-odd riders on the Overijse circuit, with more than 80 kilometers to go.

Remco Evenepoel was extremely active at the front, closing down a gap before launching a move of his own, 73 kilometers from the finish. Joined by other men, who formed a select group, the Itzulia Basque Country best young rider helped the move establish a 50-second gap over a bunch that didn’t have the necessary resources to start a proper chase under the pouring rain.

Despite struggling on the wet cobbled climbs and at times losing contact with the group, Remco mounted a stubborn chase each time he was dropped, rejoining the group on the flat sections between the climbs and storming to the front to control the pace and cover several attacks. Eventually, a rider got away two kilometers from the line and soloed to victory, while behind the group took a lot of time before deciding to work together.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s rider arrived at the finish some 40 seconds behind winner Magnus Sheffield (Ineos Grenadiers) and got involved in the sprint for the minor podium placings, but he got blocked just 150 meters from the line and concluded in sixth place.

“First of all, I want to apologise to Ben Turner, I shouldn’t have done what I did. Regarding the race, I gave everything today and did my best, but in the end, I just didn’t have the legs to make the difference. The rain made it really slippery on the cobbled climbs, and that meant putting in a lot of effort every time we tackled one of these hills, but I kept pushing and to finish top 10 in these conditions at my first participation is something that I count as a good result”, said Remco after the race.

 

Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images

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