Dylan van Baarle and Jumbo-Visma carried off the spoils but Arnaud De Lie came away with plenty of plaudits after he overcame a crash to take second place in his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad debut.
The 20-year-old was a faller with 50km remaining and he was forced into a desperate lone pursuit after a bike change ahead of the Molenberg. Despite the energy expended there, the Lotto-Dstny rider still had the strength to join the four-man chasing group that formed behind Van Baarle over the Muur van Geraardsbergen.
Even though a reduced peloton would effectively catch that quartet in the finishing straight, De Lie still had the speed and the strength to sprint to second place, 25 seconds down on the lone winner Van Baarle and just ahead of the Dutchman’s teammate Christophe Laporte.
“It was complicated against the Jumbo team, but I had excellent legs,” De Lie told RTBF (opens in new tab) afterwards.
De Lie was perhaps still recovering from his efforts following the crash when Van Baarle launched what proved to be the winning attack with 38km remaining, and it was left to Florian Vermeersch to represent Lotto-Dstny in the four-man move.
After Van Baarle had dropped his breakaway companions one by one, however, De Lie proved the strongest of the Lotto-Dstny squad on the Muur van Geraardsbergen, where he joined Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) and Laporte in the chasing group. De Lie paid tribute to the generous efforts of his former Lotto-Dstny teammate Wellens over the Bosberg and on the run-in to Ninove.
“I want to say thanks to all my teammates who did a super job and a special mention also for Tim Wellens, who sacrificed himself a bit so I could finish second,” said De Lie. “When you finish second, there’s always some disappointment. But with a clear head, I’m quite proud of my performance. At 20 years of age, it’s not so bad.”
De Lie crossed the line with a bloodied right knee from his crash, which came on a right-hand corner with a shade over 50km remaining. The Walloon played down the severity of his injury and he confirmed that it would not affect his participation in Sunday’s Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. A rapid finisher, De Lie enjoyed a fine debut professional season in 2022, winning nine races, and he has started the new campaign in similar fashion, with victory at the Clàssica Comunitat Valenciana and two stage wins at Étoile de Bessèges.
In his Omloop debut, meanwhile, De Lie demonstrated just why he has…
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