Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing) claimed a win in 71st edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, by outsprinting his rivals from a small group. Bartłomiej Matysiak was the CCC Sprandi Polkowice top finisher.
The Belgian season opener was 200-kilometers long and numerous cobblestone sections and hills were on the menu . An 11-man group broke clear early on and it included Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Kristian House (One Pro Cycling), Julien Morice (Direct Energie), Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty – Groupe Gobert), Maxime Farazijn (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise), Steff Van Zummeren, Kai Reus, Breht Dhaene (all Verandas Willems Cycling Team), Brian van Goethem (Roompot – Oranje Peloton), Zakkari Dempster (Bora-Argon 18), Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis), Benoit Jarrier (Fortuneo – Vital Concept). At one point their lead was over 6 minutes, but when the race favorites heated up their engines, it dropped to under one minute.
With little bit less than 60 kilometers to go, things got interesting in the bunch. Four riders decided to bridge the gap and world champion, Peter Sagan was among the attackers. He took off alongside Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal), Luke Rowe (Team Sky). They quickly joined the remnants of the leading group and tried to hold off the peloton.
The pack’s chase was interrupted by few crashes, in which Tony Martin (Etixx-Quick Step) and Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) were involved.
The breakaway entered the final 15 kilometers with 50 seconds of advantage. The bunch was getting closer and closer but at the end of the day the winner came from the small group. Van Avermaet was the first one to open the sprint and later he wasn’t really challenged by Sagan, who sat on his wheel. Belgian took the win, ahead of the Slovakian and Benoot. Gougeard who was the only member of the initial escape, who survived in the front all the way to the line, and claimed 5th.
CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders lost contact with the field with about 50 kilometers remaining and were unable to play a big role in this race. The highest ranked rider, Bartłomiej Matysiak finished 89th.