Taco van der Hoorn’s tactical decision to bide his time in hopes of a breakaway sprint may have cost him a podium place at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday.
The Intermarché-Circus-Wanty rider ended up finishing fourth out of a five-man breakaway that saw a dominant Jumbo-Visma go 1-2. Tiesj Benoot put in a surprise late-race surge to take the victory while Nathan Van Hooydonck won the sprint for second, the powerful team timing their tactics to perfection.
“That makes it more difficult. Normally I always attack in the final, but there’s always one guy going behind you, and everyone was riding behind each other,” Van der Hoorn said.
“So it was difficult. I gambled for a sprint, and I was hoping there was something left, but I didn’t really have something left.”
Van der Hoorn skipped the previous day’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and arrived on Opening Weekend at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne fresh from an altitude training camp in Colombia, after having opened his season in Australia.
He stated his intention to be a part of the day’s breakaway at the start of the race, even sporting a pair of aerodynamic leg warmers throughout the 193km event.
“My shape was good, I was happy with it. Especially on the hills, I was better than I was expecting. In the end, I was a bit tired, of course, but everybody was,” he said.
Van der Hoorn had ridden his way into the early break in the opening kilometres and then carried through when the winning move formed with 75km to go over the Mont Saint-Laurent. As well as Van der Hoorn it included Jumbo-Visma teammates Benoot and Van Hooydonck, along with Tim Wellens (UAE Team Emirates) and Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious).
“That was the plan, I was in the breakaway, and it was the plan to survive the hills and hope to stay there for the final. It came back a bit early, so that makes it a bit hard to stay away from them on the hills, but it was ok,” Van der Hoorn said.
On the run-in to the finish, Jumbo-Visma played to their strengths as Van Hooydonck attacked with 5km to go, Benoot jumped with 3.5km to go, and Van Hooydonck went again 3km out and then also under the flamme rouge.
Finally Benoot jumped clear along the barriers with 800 metres to go with what ended up being the winning late-race surge to the line. Van Hooydonck had enough left in the tank to sprint for second place and Mohorič third, leaving Van der Hoorn off the podium in fourth and Wellens fifth.
Van der Hoorn admitted that finishing fourth this year felt almost as…
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