Today's 56th edition of the Brabantse Pijl marked the conclusion of the 2016 Flanders classics and saw Czech national champion Petr Vakoc of Etixx-QuickStep take the win. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had a rather quiet day, keeping the focus on the upcoming Ardennes classics.
205 hilly kilometers from Leuven were on the menu with a tough finishing circuit in Overijse. All together the riders had to tackle 26 climbs.
Oliver Zaugg (IAM), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Argon 18), Sergey Nikolaev (Gazprom-Rusvelo), and Albert Cecchin (Roth) formed the break of the day and were able to build up a lead of more than five minutes. However, the Ardennes proved to be a tough playground and the peloton was not all that keen to let them too far away.
In the final 2 hours of racing several riders managed to bridge across to the four leaders. Among them was Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) who tried his luck with roughly 60 kilometers to go. He dragged two other riders with him, but the attack wasn't meant to stick.
The peloton would reel in all escapees with a mere 30 kilometers left to race. Most of the race favorites had kept their cards close to their chests until then. Enrico Gasparotto (Wanty-Group Goubert) was the first to put the others to test. Yet, it was Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) who rang the bell for the finale. His move was covered by Julien Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quickstep). Both were eventually brought back. The duo's attack had an impact on the race though as only 40 riders were left to compete for the win. Our African team was still in the mix with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, and Natnael Berhane.
Unfortunately, the team's Italian fastman and pre-race captain Kristian Sbaragli had crashed a couple of kilometers earlier. He got up quickly but needed mechanical assistance. He wasn't able to get back to the front of the race.
The race kept very active until the end, and it was only within the last five kilometers that a group of five managed to break clear. Vakoc was the strongest among them and crossed the line alone, after a bold move inside the final kilometer. Gasparotto crossed the line in second place, Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) in third.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg was the team’s best placed finisher today, coming home with the peloton 20 seconds behind the race winner.
Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg – Rider
It was a super hard race today, each climb on the final circuit was full gas. Unfortunately, we lost Kristian due to a mechanical, so I had to step it up. This was quite difficult coming off racing all the Flemish cobbled classics and Roubaix. I felt strong but missed some freshness in the end.