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KUURNE’21: Marauding Mads!

Van der Poel the hero

Race Report: Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne ended in a bunch sprint, much like Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, but up to 1,7 kilometres to go it looked like the break would fight for the victory. Mads Pedersen took the honours, but Mathieu van der Poel made the race.

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The win for the ex-World champion – Mads Pedersen

Mads Pedersen won Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2021 at the end of an exciting 197 kilometres, the Danish Trek-Segafredo rider was the best sprinter from a depleted bunch. Anthony Turgis was second, Tom Pidcock third. The race was activated by Dutch champion Mathieu van der Poel, who was only caught within the last two kilometres after an early attack.

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Top men at the start: Van Avermaet, Naesen and Van der Poel

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Kuurne 2021

Shortly after the start, four riders made their move. Maciej Bodnar, Patrick Gamper (both BORA-hansgrohe), Ludwig De Winter (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and Artyom Zakharov (Astana-Premier Tech) were joined by Tom Paquot (Bingoal-WB) and Jonas Hvideberg (Uno- X). Their lead fluctuated around 6 minutes for a long time. UAE Team Emirates led the peloton for their sprinter Alexander Kristoff, while Deceuninck – Quick-Step also had men at the front.

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Cool start

All eyes were on Mathieu van der Poel. The Dutch champion had promised to make a race and did just that 85 kilometres from the finish. On the Kanarieberg he put in a big attack that only Jhonatan Narvaez (INEOS Grenadiers) could follow. The two soon had 30 seconds on the bunch. Victor Campenaerts tried to cross on his own, but he had to give up.

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The break of the day: Patrick Gamper, Maciej Bodnar (both BORA-hansgrohe), Ludwig De Winter (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) Artyom Zakharov (Astana-Premier Tech), Tom Paquot (Bingoal Wallonie-Bruxelles) en Jonas Hvideberg (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team)

Van der Poel and Narvaez had a bigger lead on the peloton by the time they hit the Kruisberg are were within 2 minutes of the leading group. On the run-up to the Côte de Trieu, the lead of Bodnar, Gamper, De Winter, Zakharov, Paquot and Hvideberg was more than a minute on the two pursuers, but after the Trieu Van der Poel and Nervaez had them in their sights. The Oude Kwaremont came 60 kilometres from the end. At the top of the cobbled climb, Van der Poel and Narvaez joined the leading group. De Winter rode solo for a while after a strong climb, but was eventually pulled back.

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Those Flemish cobbles

In the peloton, Jasper Stuyven put the hammer down on the Kwaremont. This resulted in a split, with defending champions Kasper Asgreen and John Degenkolb amongst the group. They followed more than a minute from the front riders. At the front, Van der Poel put the pressure on the Kluisberg, the last climb of the day. Narvaez and Hvideberg (European U23 champion) were able to follow the Alpecin-Fenix rider, and Gamper and Zakharov managed to return.

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Bodnar leading the break

The chase group of favourites were at 45 seconds with 50 kilometres to go. There were about 20 riders, including Degenkolb, Asgreen, Stuyven, Søren Kragh Andersen, Anthony Turgis, Oliver Naesen, Greg Van Avermaet, Matteo Trentin, Tiesj Benoot, Dylan Teuns, Tom Pidcock, Nils Politt, Bryan Coquard and Ide Schelling. The difference remained around 40 seconds for a long time, as the chase had not really started.

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Mathieu van der Poel and Jhonatan Narvaez crossing to the break

The big peloton, including Arnaud Démare and Alexander Kristoff, followed at 1:30. 40 kilometres from the finish. On the last cobbled section of the day, Beerbosstraat, the chasing group accelerated considerably. Trentin, Van Avermaet, Teuns and Asgreen thinned out the group and cut a lot of the lead.

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Van Avermaet had a chase group going

The pursuers could get no closer than 20 seconds. When entering Kuurne, the gap between the Van der Poel group and the Van Avermaet group had grown again towards 30 seconds. A group with Sonny Colbrelli and Mads Pedersen joined the pursuers just before the lap of the finish circuit. Fifteen kilometres from the end and the differences were minimal: The three front groups were within 30 seconds of each other.

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Had Van der Poel gone too early?

In the last lap, the chasing group came back to within 10 seconds of Van der Poel who was towing the others. Partly due to his effort, the difference increased again towards 18 seconds, but it would be a battle all the way to the line. Jhonatan Narvaez, Patrick Gamper, Jonas Hvideberg and Artyom Zakharov were also dreaming of a podium place in Kuurne, because as the pursuers seemed to have burned themselves out.

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The bunch hadn’t given up

Kasper Asgreen tried to jump across 4 kilometres from the line. He had Heinrich Haussler and Søren Kragh Andersen with him, but the three did not get away. The attack brought the Van der Poel group into view. At 1.7 kilometres out from the finish, the attack from the Dutch champion was over.

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Van der Poel powering the break

Kragh Andersen immediately put the next attack and with that he pulled the group in to a thin line. In the final straight the race came down to a bunch sprint that was won by Mads Pedersen. He finished ahead of Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energy) and Tom Pidcock (INEOS Grenadiers).

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It was close, but Pedersen took it

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne winner, Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo): “A perfect lead-out. It was good that the first and second groups came together at ten kilometres from the finish. Stuyven was in the group in front of me. From then on we knew it would be for me. We rode the finalé perfectly today. Yesterday in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad we ruined it quite hard for ourselves. For that you should not come up with excuses, but let your legs speak. We did that!”

Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne Result:
1. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo in 4:37:04
2. Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
3. Thomas Pidcock (GB) INEOS Grenadiers
4. Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
5. Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
6. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
7. Nils Politt (Ger) BORA-hansgrohe
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën
9. Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
10. Erik Nordsaeter Resell (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
11. Ide Schelling (Ned) BORA-hansgrohe
12. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
13. Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Qhubeka Assos
14. Markus Hoelgaard (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
15. Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) BikeExchange
16. Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën
17. John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
18. Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
19. Arjen Livyns (Bel) Bingoal WB
20. Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
21. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) DSM
22. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
23. Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Qhubeka Assos
24. Tom Paquot (Bel) Bingoal WB
25. Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
26. Artyom Zakharov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
27. Michael Gogl (Aut) Qhubeka Assos
28. Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) DSM
29. Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) INEOS Grenadiers
30. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain Victorious.

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