Taco van der Hoorn wins exciting edition Brussels Cycling Classic
Sunday 5 June 2022 at 17:16
The 102nd edition of the Brussels Cycling Classic was won by Taco van der Hoorn. The Dutchman of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert was part of an early break, but managed to stay out of the grip of a thinned peloton with his fellow refugees. Van der Hoorn was just too strong for Thimo Willems and Tobias Bayer in a sprint of dying swans.
The 102nd edition of the Brussels Cycling Classic, formerly known as Paris-Brussels, was on the program today. Where in the past there was often a sprint in the Belgian capital, today a mass sprint is no mean feat. The organization decided to give the course a thorough facelift last year, with the Muur van Geraardsbergen (1.2 km at 7.8%) and Bosberg (1.4 km at 5%) as the beating heart of a difficult hilly zone, which Before and after, we went through the Zavelstraat and the Congoberg. This was followed by the Brabantsebaan, the Rosweg and the Heiligekruiswegstraat.
Strong leading group with Van der Hoorn and Wallays
But first the riders still had to leave from Brussels for the slightly more than 200 kilometer long (semi) classic. The peloton soon saw ten drivers pull away, but saw no danger in this early break and let it go. Taco van der Hoorn, Thimo Willems (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Jelle Wallays (Cofidis), Bram Welten (Groupama-FDJ), Tobias Bayer (Alpecin-Fenix), Axel Laurance (B&B Hotels-KTM), Arjen Livyns (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Gilles De Wilde, Runne Herregodts (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Gianni Marchand (Tarteletto-Isorex) were allowed to drive away for eight minutes.
There was no immediate panic in the peloton, despite the presence of some recognized speed riders such as Van der Hoorn, Wallays and Herregodts. It turned out to be a misjudgment, as the lead towards the first passage of the Wall-Bosberg-Congoberg trio kept fluctuating around eight minutes. The first passage of the Muur van Geraardsbergen immediately caused a significant shift in the peloton. With Magnus Sheffield, Michael Matthews, Gianni Vermeersch and Quinten Hermans we saw the big names in the front rows. Victor Campenaerts was also very active on behalf of Lotto Soudal.
Big names show themselves
The better riders tried to shape the course, but they couldn’t prevent a regrouping after the Bosberg. And so we went with a fairly compact peloton to the second passage of the Muur van Geraardsbergen. The young Sheffield, who already managed to surprise with a win in the Brabantse Pijl in the spring, made another impression on this climb. The Brit accelerated and only Tim Wellens was able to hook up his wagon. Sheffield and Wellens took off together, but decided to wait for six pursuers after the Wall.
With Sheffield, Wellens, Piet Allegaert, Axel Zingle, Florian Vermeersch, Ben Turner, Matthews and Gianni Vermeersch in the chasing group, the hunt started for the early breakaways. The attackers of the first hour still defended a lead of more than one and a half minutes, with good forty kilometers to go. Van der Hoorn and co could still dream of victory. The eight pursuers barely came any closer and after the last passage of the Congoberg they were swallowed up again by a platoon, meanwhile considerably thinned out.
A dime on its side
After the regrouping in the peloton, it mainly had to come from the men of Lotto Soudal. The Belgian team resolutely led the group and managed to reduce the difference to one minute. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Campenaerts took care of the lion’s share of the head work and with more than fifteen kilometers to go Florian Vermeersch also had to get involved in the chase. That was also necessary, because the difference with the ten refugees was still one minute. In other words, it could have gone either way in the rain-soaked final towards Brussels.
With about fifteen kilometers to go, the riders had to face a difficult climb with the Heiligekruiswegstraat. This turned out to be too much of a slope for Laurence and Wallays, so we started the last ten kilometers with eight front runners. In the chasing group, Campenaerts was now making his last efforts, but it didn’t help much. The second group got stuck and had to close a gap of 45 seconds in the last ten kilometers. In short, things started to look better and better for the leaders.
Van der Hoorn is doing everything he can
The pursuers didn’t come a bit closer in the last kilometers and so the winner was in the front group. With three kilometers to go, the nervousness rose among the front runners and they were already looking carefully at each other. Under the rag of the last kilometer, Van der Hoorn went full on, but Bayer was immediately on the wheel. Willems also managed to react in time, the other refugees mainly looked at each other and were beaten. Willems, who seemed to be suffering from cramps in the final, still had some left in the last kilometer and seemed to give Van der Hoorn and Bayer a close call.
Willems jumped away from Van der Hoorn and Bayer, punched a small gap and seemed to hold on towards the finish. However, Van der Hoorn refused to fold, managed to make up for meter by meter on Willems on a giant resistance and still managed to settle a sprint of dying swans in his favor. A disgruntled Willems ended up in second place, Bayer finished third on behalf of Alpecin-Fenix.