After years of strong Omloop Het Nieuwsblad performances that didn’t quite materialize into victories, BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet crossed the line first Saturday ahead of Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).
Van Avermaet and Sagan were part of a small group of escapees on the Taainberg climb some 60km from the finish. The group linked up with a few riders from the day’s early break, forming a strong selection off the front that was able to keep the peloton at bay as the kilometers ticked down. Five of the riders up the road ultimately managed to stay clear of the bunch despite a concerted chase by Etixx – Quick-Step.
Van Avermaet jumped early in the reduced sprint for the win, and although Sagan managed to get onto his wheel, he was unable to overtake Van Avermaet. The 30-year-old Belgian has now finished inside the top six at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in five consecutive editions, but this time he came away with the victory.
Sagan was forced to settle for runner-up honors, while Lotto-Soudal’s Tiesj Benoot took third.
“I think this is the most important race in Belgium so far, so I’m pretty happy with this victory,” Van Avermaet said.