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145th place a small victory for Boeckmans

Tinkoff’s Erik Baska won the bunch sprint Friday at the Handzame Classic in Belgium, but Lotto – Soudal’s Kris Boeckmans may claim the greatest victory — it was his first race after suffering a terrible head injury in the 2015 Vuelta a España.

The 29-year-old Belgian finished 145th, and, at the end, he pulled at the front of the peloton to help set up the sprint.

“Everything turned out well today, the pace was very high, but I didn’t have any problems to follow,” he said in a team statement. “I tried to surround Tosh Van der Sande during the race, and at the end I helped to position him at the front of the peloton so he was able to have a good position in the sprint. After that, my work was done.”

The Volta a Catalunya is up next for Boeckmans, and then he’ll head to Calpe, Spain for a training camp.

“It was very pleasant to participate in a race again. Many riders came to me during the race to ask how everything was going and many riders were happy that I was back in the peloton. I got a lot of encouragements, and that made me feel very good. I really look forward to the next race.”