Quick-Step Floors concluded the Opening Week-end with another solid and aggressive display.
Matteo Trentin's top 10 in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad showed he was in the frame for getting a good result also in Sunday's Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, and the 27-year-old Italian confirmed his fine form by booking a place into the decisive move at the 69th edition of the Belgian one-day race, on the legendary Oude Kwaremont. There, Quick-Step Floors came to the fore and forced an important selection, which saw four of its riders make it into the elite group: Dries Devenyns, Yves Lampaert, Zdenek Stybar and Trentin.
The newly-formed group contained, among others, rainbow jersey Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and defending champion Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), and worked well together, quickly opening a 20-second gap over the peloton, and at the same time cutting an important slice of the six escapees' advantage. Inside the last 40 kilometers of the race, they made the catch and continued to soldier on and hold off the bunch, despite several of the sprinters' teams leading the chase.
With around 30 kilometers left, Stuyven put in a strong acceleration and got away; for a moment there, it looked like the scenario of 2016 will repeat, but Matteo Trentin responded and bridged across, followed soon by Sagan, Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) and Luke Rowe (Team Sky). That was the last time the five were seen by their former breakaway companions, as the quintet didn't hold anything back, padding out their advantage even further, so that by the time they went under the 10km-to-go arch, 40 seconds were separating the two groups.
As expected, the tough Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne came down to a reduced sprint, which saw Peter Sagan notch up the win ahead of Jasper Stuyven and Luke Rowe. Matteo Trentin, who until that point did some long pulls at the front and even attacked with less than two kilometers to go in an attempt to catch the others with their guard off, rolled over the line in fifth position, his best ever result at the Belgian classic.
"Today, Sagan was the strongest, everyone knew that, so I tried to go with a move nobody was expecting, because I wanted to win. Unfortunately, it didn't work out, but at the end of this week-end I can say that I am satisfied with my condition, especially as this is the first year that I was up there two days in a row in Omloop and Kuurne. This makes me proud of the countless hours of work I've put in during the winter and gives me renewed confidence for the future", said Matteo Trentin at the finish.
Wilfried Peeters, Quick-Step Floors' sport director, made an analysis of the team's week-end in Belgium: "I can't say we were lucky these days, as several crashed hindered our plans, but we can be content with the fact we were protagonists in both days. In Kuurne we got a better result than in Omloop, the team was aggressive and showed its strength, and while there still is room to improve, we can say that what we have showed here bodes really well for the next races."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele