Seasonal revelation Arnaud De Lie is also the fastest in Ronde van Limburg
Monday, June 6, 2022 at 6:25 PM
Arnaud De Lie keeps winning in Lotto Soudal’s kit. The still only 20-year-old Belgian also turned out to be by far the fastest in the bunch sprint in the Ronde van Limburg and already booked his sixth victory of the season. De Lie was far too strong for Simone Consonni and Danny van Poppel.
The Belgian cycling calendar continued today, also on Whit Monday. The Tour of Limburg was on the program between Hasselt and Tongeren. With eighteen slopes and two cobblestone sections, it promised to be a tough race. The first climb of the day was the Duivelsberg after about fifty kilometers, followed by a few passages of the Keiberg and the Letenberg and finally three local rounds of 24.5 kilometers around Tongeren, each containing four (Grootloonberg, Kogelstraat, Colenberg and Kolmontberg ) climbs. After the last climb it was still five kilometers to the finish.
Five riders were not deterred by the course and formed the early break. The names: Jens Schuermans (BEAT Cycling), Yentl Vandevelde (Minerva Cycling), Thibault Ferasse (B&B Hotels-KTM), Louis Blouwe (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB) and Sander Lemmens (Tarteletto-Isorex). The peloton saw no danger and allowed the lead to increase to a good three minutes. There was not much left of this lead at more than thirty kilometers from the finish. One after the other early breakaway was caught by the peloton. Blauwe sold his skin very dearly, but he too turned out to be a bird for the cat.
With more than twenty kilometers to go, the rider of Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB was joined by his compatriot Kamiel Bonneu, who sought the attack on behalf of Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise. The two Belgians managed to sing it out for a while in the rush of the race, but were caught by the sprinter teams before the sign of the last fifteen kilometers. We could then prepare for a sprint between the fast men, with season revelation Arnaud De Lie, Mark Cavendish, Fernando Gaviria, Sam Bennett and Tim Merlier as the main contenders.
Sprint between the fast men
Ten kilometers from the finish, the peloton was startled by a crash, with Timo Kielich as the main victim. This was a big blow to Merlier’s account, as his teammate Kielich had to play an important role in the sprint preparation. The other riders had meanwhile started the penultimate climb of the day. Here we saw an acceleration of Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise and Philippe Gilbert also wanted to distinguish himself, but there was no question of separation. Then it went at a fast pace to the last passage of the Kolmontberg, at about four kilometers from the finish.
On this 900-meter climb (at 4%) Alexis Renard of Cofidis tried to play for the surprise, but the Frenchman’s attack turned out to be nothing more than a blank slate. His move stranded with well three kilometers from the finish and then it was all hands on deck for the bunch sprint. The last kilometers were marred by a crash by, among others, Mark Cavendish and Gerben Thijssen, who saw a good classification go up in smoke. De Lie stayed out of the danger zone, but it was BORA-hansgrohe that got things done well in the final in the service of Sam Bennett.
The Irishman could count on an ideal lead-out in the last hundreds of meters, but at the moment he didn’t have the legs to really make it difficult for De Lie. The young Belgian started and convincingly sped away from his competitors on the sloping finish line. Consonni was second, Danny van Poppel managed to overtake his sprint leader Bennett and thus claim third place. However, De Lie registered his sixth win of the season and his third victory in a week. The strong sprinter was also the fastest in the GP Marcel Kint at the end of May and also won the Heistse Pijl last Saturday.