Arnaud De Lie triumphs in Heistse Pijl

Arnaud De Lie triumphs in Heistse Pijl

Saturday, June 4, 2022 at 5:09 PM

Arnaud De Lie has won the Heistse Pijl. In the difficult final, Lotto Soudal’s Belgian neopro was able to position himself well in front to eventually beat Mark Cavendish and Giacomo Nizzolo in the final sprint. De Lie is the successor of the Dutchman Pascal Eenkhoorn on the honors list of the Antwerp one-day event.

Just like last year, the Kempen municipality of Vosselaar, near Turnhout, was the starting point of the Heistse Pijl. The peloton then passed through a large part of the Antwerp Kempen. After 85 kilometers, Heist-op-den-Berg territory was reached for the final. Then there were six local laps of 15.4 kilometers through the Heistse region with the Heistse Berg at one and a half kilometers from the finish: the cobbled climb was certainly not easy with its 500 meters at 5.8% and several bends.

With Mark Cavendish (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Danny van Poppel, Sam Bennett (BORA), Giacomo Nizzolo (Israel-Premier Tech), Arnaud De Lie (Lotto Soudal), Olav Kooij (Jumbo-Visma), Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché -Wanty-Gobert) and Arvid de Kleijn (Human Powered Health) a lot of teams traveled to the province of Antwerp with a fast man. At a quarter to one the race was started and the search for the successor of Pascal Eenkhoorn, who was not in the race, could begin.

Six escapees drive away
In the first hour a leading group with six men arose. They were 21-year-old German Maurice Ballerstedt (Alpecin-Fenix), 25-year-old Frenchman Adrien Lagrée (B&B Hotels-KTM), 19-year-old Briton Oscar Onley (Development Team DSM), 20-year-old Belgian Jorre Debaele (Minerva), 23-year-old Belgian Thibau Verhofstadt (Tarteletto-Isorex) and 28-year-old Canadian Benjamin Perry (WiV SunGod). They took more than five minutes ahead of the peloton, where the teams of the sprinters checked.

photo: Cor Vos

When the six escapees started the first of six local rounds, their lead had already dwindled to four and a half minutes. In the laps after that, the difference kept getting smaller. When half the laps were done, the difference was still two minutes. That remained stable for some time because the teams of the sprinters did not want to take back the leading group too early. In the fourth round, Ballerstedt and Lagrée had to go off, so Onley, Verhofstadt, Debaele and Perry went into the last two rounds with the four of them, with a minute and a half.

In the fifth lap Verhofstadt and Debaele also disappeared in front and only Onley and Perry remained. Just before going into the final lap, Perry dropped out due to bad luck. Onley had just under a minute left on the peloton at the last crossing, which had been torn apart. Then Mick van Dijke tried to drive away, but the Jumbo-Visma rider did not stay ahead for long. Another attack from a teammate, brother Tim, followed. Due to the various attacks, Onley’s lead dwindled like snow in the sun.

Kooij and Van Poppel eliminated after a fall
With nine kilometers from the finish, Onley was caught up. After that it remained restless, with Jan-Willem van Schip also being active. It was his first road race of the season for the 27-year-old track and road cyclist. At six kilometers from the finish, the race was marred by not the first crash of the race. Kooij and Van Poppel, among others, were involved. They had no chance for victory in one fell swoop. Then the trains of the sprinters were put into position for the last time in Heistse Berg.

Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s Davide Ballerini accelerated on the climb, but the Italian was caught up for the final kilometer. On the cobblestone climb, it was important for the fast men to sit as far as possible from the front. De Lie had made it through the difficult final well. The neopro started the sprint from afar and held out against Giacomo Nizzolo and Mark Cavendish. For the 20-year-old sprinter it was already his fifth victory of the year. He previously won the Trofeo Playa de Palma, the GP Monseré, the Volta Limburg Classic and the Marcel Kint Classic.