Geipel took the win ahead of Bert Van Lerberghe (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) on a day when the peloton was loathe to let any groups get more than a minute advantage. The 177km 1.1 race started in Nieuwpoort and finished with three closing laps in Poperinge after a day of racing on relatively flat roads.
“It was a really fast race; the average speed was around 48 kilometres per hour,” Greipel said. “It was also very uncontrolled, as we expected it to be, and we sent Tosh Van der Sande up front in the main breakaway.”
The initial breakaway of 13 riders took a long time to establish and never gained more than 30 seconds on the field. It was ultimately brought back with 90km remaining, and the race reshuffled again.
Attacks lifted the pace, but nothing of significance could stick until Alexis Gougeard (AG2R) and Brian van Goethem (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij) sneaked off the front and built a small gap. It was not to be, however, as Lotto Soudal were determined to set up their German sprinter, and they pulled back the move before the race entered Poperinge. Another group of seven tried to get away on the circuits, but Lotto Soudal nullified that move as well.
“We took the control of the peloton with 30km to go, and we made sure the race would end in a bunch sprint,” Greipel said. “Tosh [van der Sande], Moreno [Hofland], Jens [Debusschere] and Jasper [de Buyst] led me out perfectly. We stayed calm and we rode strongly in the finale.”
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