Dwars door Vlaanderen: Ponzi the fastest “man in orange”

Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) won Dwars door Vlaanderen, which opened the Flemish Cycling Week. 

Before the race, a minute of silence honored those who were killed in the terrorist attack in Brussels which happened on Tuesday. Also all of the riders were wearing black armbands.

Because of the tragic events in Belgium, Tomasz Kiendyś and Grzegorz Stępniak were not able to get to the start, since their flight to Brussels was cancelled. “Orange squad” lined up in Roeselare with a 6-man roster.

The stage saw Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Jesper Asselman (Roompot), Victor Manakov, Igor Boev (both Gazprom), Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Alex Kirsch (Stölting) breaking clear early on. They got an 8-minute lead.

When it dropped to 3 minutes (80km to go) Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise) and Mike Teunissen (Team LottoNL – Jumbo) decided to bridge the gap. They were later joined by Luke Durbridge (Orica GreenEDGE) and together were running the chase.

Eventually the race came back together and a large, 35-man group arrived at the line. Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal) was the fastest, beating  Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) and Edward Theuns  (Trek – Segafredo). Simone Ponzi came in second group, 38 seconds behind, in 61st place.