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Stuyven denies the sprinters at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is traditionally a race for the sprinters, but Trek – Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven had other plans Sunday. The 23-year-old Belgian launched a solo attack inside the final 20km of the race and held out to the finish, with plenty of time to start his celebration 150 meters from the line.

Katusha’s Alexander Kristoff bested Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) in the bunch sprint behind.

Top 10

  • 1. Jasper STUYVEN, TREK – SEGAFREDO, in 4:53:50
  • 2. Alexander KRISTOFF, TEAM KATUSHA, at :17
  • 5. Lukasz WISNIOWSKI, ETIXX – QUICK STEP, at :17
  • 6. Niccolo BONIFAZIO, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :17
  • 7. Peter SAGAN, TINKOFF, at :17
  • 8. Edward THEUNS, TREK – SEGAFREDO, at :17
  • 9. Jonas VANGENECHTEN, IAM CYCLING, at :17
  • 10. Scott THWAITES, BORA-ARGON 18, at :17

A 11-man breakaway rode clear early on in the race, opening up a hefty advantage that topped out at around eight minutes, but the peloton eventually got into gear and began the task of reeling the move back in.

As the pace picked up, the peloton split and reformed several times on the on the lumpy Flemish parcours, with Stuyven and Tinkoff’s Peter Sagan among the animators trying to get separation on the climbs.

With around 40km to go, the peloton caught the breakaway, but accelerations at the head of affairs split the bunch. Stuyven was among those in the lead group of 16.

Roughly 35km from the finish, Lotto – Soudal’s Stig Broeckx was knocked to the pavement by a motorbike. His injuries forced him to abandon the race.

The lead group took an advantage of around half a minute into the final 20km, but the sprint teams in the peloton kept the pressure on in pursuit. With 17km to go, Stuyven decided to take matters into his own hands, launching a solo attack.

The group he left behind, which included Tom Boonen (Etixx – Quick-Step) put in a concerted effort to bring him back, but Stuyven was too strong. The peloton swept up Boonen’s group inside the final 10km, but not even the galloping sprinters’ teams could reel Stuyven in.

With a 30-second lead at 2km-to-go, Stuyven knew he had it in the bag, and was able to savor the success as he rolled down the finishing straight.

“It was pretty hard,” Stuyven said while making note of how challenging the headwind made his solo effort.

“It was really hard coming in alone, but I tried to manage and go as aero as possible.”

For Stuyven, a stage winner at last year’s Vuelta a España, the victory marked his first one-day win as a pro.

Kristoff has now been runner-up in back-to-back editions. He tipped his cap to Stuyven after the young Trek rider surprised the peloton to take the victory.

“Stuyven was really strong. I thought he would come back, but he wanted something else,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we did not catch him. It was a hard race, maybe because the wind was strong. With the attacks in the end, we had to chase behind. It was one guy too strong for us.”