Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) won the one-day semi-classic Dwars door Vlaanderen in Waregem, Belgium, on Wednesday afternoon. The race is the first in a long row of northern spring classics. The win comes one day after the terrorist attacks in the country’s capital Brussels.
After the terrorist attacks, three days of mourning were declared and the terrorism threat is still on the highest possible level. Despite this the race was not cancelled in cycling-crazy Belgium. Debusschere narrowly beat Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) and Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) in the sprint of a small peloton. The podium ceremony was kept as serene as possible too.
“I’m very pleased that I’ve won. Being deeply satisfied isn’t possible on a day like today,” Debusschere said.
“It was a hectic sprint. Until the final kilometre I thought Greg [Van Avermaet] would stay ahead,” Debusschere said. “My teammates did a fantastic job to bring him back but then I lacked somebody who kept me in front. I was very far in the final corner. I was no longer thinking about the victory but trying to get as close as possible to the podium. The headwind slowed everybody down. In the end I managed to pass everybody, making it a very good sprint. That was a great sensation.”
Those great sensations quickly turned around in different moods. After his win Debusschere raised his arms but then quickly lowered them. The terrorist attacks that hit Belgium one day earlier nearly cancelled the race and didn’t allow for much celebrating.
“I think all Belgians and far beyond were deeply shocked by what happened yesterday,” he said. “Euphoria wasn’t appropriate, out of respect for the casualties and because it was a sad day for Belgium. Hopefully the people who’re staying home enjoyed watching the race and hopefully agreed that the race was held. Last night and this morning you’re not thinking about racing.
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