Sunday, November 28, 2021
HomeDiariesKuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018 - Dylan Groenewegen takes the sprint

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018 – Dylan Groenewegen takes the sprint

There are no 'trains' to be seen in the bunch sprint, just the fastest survivors who want it most at the front with Groenewegen going first, long and hard to take the win easily with Demare runner up and Colbrelli third.


Dylan Groenewegen (Lotto-Jumbo & The Netherlands) goes from way out, Arnaud Demare (FDJ & France) scrambles for his wheel but is lengths back at the line with Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain & Italy) doing well for a man whose speciality is late season races in balmy Italy, taking third. We agree it was a great sprint from the Dutchman but it wasn’t a vintage Kuurne Brussels Kuurne.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Meanwhile, just like every year when we watch the finale in L’Escale bar in Ronse, the locals don’t even look up from their billiards.

The morning was even colder in Kuurne than it was in Gent but none of us have a hangover, the sun is out and the bikes are in full view, not tucked away where you can’t play with the brake levers so no complaints.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

It’s unusual to see riders in their new trims – Matteo Trentin has been a QuickStep man since 2011 – he gave them seven wins last year – but this year he’s with Mitchelton-Scott.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Photo©Ed Hood
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

There a few neat little bits of tech to be seen, Lapierre have changed their seat cluster, for the better, we think; and those direct mount brakes are nice – and those Specialized power meters are super neat.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Borut Božič. Photo©Ed Hood

Despite the cold, Borut Božič has time for banter with team mate Colbrelli’s fan club.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Sonny Colbrelli. Photo©Ed Hood

Sonny looks relaxed, he won the Brabantse Pijl as one of his three wins last season so he can handle himself on the cobbles and ramps.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Sam Bewley and Alex Edmonson. Photo©Ed Hood

Meanwhile, Aussie Elite Road Race Champion, Alex Edmondson smiles for the camera but must be asking himself if this is really where it’s at.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

And there’s the mad local band, ‘Les Coureurs’ – who seem impervious to the cold in their retro kits.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Dylan Groenewegen. Photo©Ed Hood

Groenewegen is being interviewed at his bus; “I’ve won three times already this year so I’m pretty confident today.”

And the man does look relaxed and ready for his cold day out in the Flemish Ardennes; he had eight wins last year including the last stage of Le Tour, on the Champs Élysees.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

Rival fast man Démare is too well wrapped up to see his demeanour but looks cool in that national champion’s tricolour tricot; 10 wins in 2017 for him including a Tour stage.

Our first close encounter with the race is at the top of the Wolvenberg climb, a typical Flemish Ardennes cobbled ramp.

It’s painfully cold, ears and cheeks burn in the icy wind.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

There are seven away with a 2:10 lead but they’re still chatting in the peloton.

It’s a wee while before we catch them again, this time on the Hotond Berg, not cobbled but long, mostly straight and painful enough.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

The break is still clear but patently doomed as a big peloton passes in icy silence.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Jon Dibben and Chris Lawless. Photo©Ed Hood

Sky’s Messrs. Dibben and Lawless are off the back, desperately chasing – the odds on them re-joining are slim with the mad positioning battle for the Oude Kwaremont about to begin.

Their team mate, Owain Doull was a sterling 11th, the day before in Het Nieuwsblad – but 200 K isn’t 265 K…

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Michael Valgren Andersen. Photo©Ed Hood

Also off the back is Saturday’s winner, Valgren – but his DS won’t be too upset about that.

The Oude Kwaremont – our vantage point is near the top; it’s a horror climb, legendary, 2.4 kilometres and cobbled all the way.

There’s a false flat in the middle which, paradoxically is one of the hardest parts of the hill, exposed and catching the Arctic crosswind.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

By the time they rattle and ‘clack!’ past us the peloton is just one long line of men fighting for their life with gaps all over the place.

Because of the nature of the parcours, with the big eastern loop, it’s hard to see the race multiple times so after the green flag car to signify the end of the race passage, we head down to Ronse and L’Escale.

The owner greats us with a smile and a handshake and kills the soccer interviews on the TV.

There are 60 K to go and a group of 21 are clear; fast men Demare and Groenewegen are there but it comes back.

Just as it does so, winner from 2016, Jasper Stuyven (Trek & Belgium) heads off up the road.

Strong, solid and stylish he has two laps of the 15 K finish circuit to ride – but when another big ‘rouleur’ Daniel Oss (Bora & Italy) bridges across the venture begins to look more optimistic.

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Photo©Ed Hood

We’d seen big, tattooed Daniel on the Kwaremont where he didn’t look great but he’s not built for the hills.

Two strong, bold men like this could perhaps pull it off?

But then camera zooms in Oss’s rear wheel, he’s on the rim.

Stuyven doesn’t wait; Oss is soon absorbed and wheels in to the team bus PDQ.

Big Jasper rides on but the fire is gone and inevitably, he succumbs.

Bunch sprint.

There are no ‘trains’ to be seen, just the fastest survivors who want it most at the front with Groenewegen going first, long and hard to take the win easily with Demare runner up and Colbrelli third.

With just Vanmarcke on the podium in Gent on Saturday it’s been a bad day for Belgium.

But even worse for the team which usually enlivens this, ‘Opening Weekend’ – QuickStep.

They’ve had a dozen wins this year but would trade them all for Het Nieuwsblad.

Tom Boonen, their talisman has gone – and worse, he’s going to advise the young riders at Lotto-Soudal.

Can they win on Wednesday in Le Samyn?

Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 2018
Niki Terpstra. Photo©Luc Claessen/Getty

[‘Yes’ was the answer to that with Dutch assassin Niki Terpstra taking the win from team mate Phil Gil and big French beast Damien Gaudin, back in the World Tour with AG2R after a year with now defunct Armee de Terre where he remembered how to win, scoring six victories, ed.]

Patrick Lefevre will be demanding honour to be restored, it should be a good race.

We shake hands with our host; ‘next year’ I say to him in bad French…

Ed Hood
Ed's been involved in cycling for over 45 years. In that time he's been a successful time triallist, team manager, and sponsor of several teams and clubs. He's also a respected and successful coach, and during the winter months can often be found working in the cabins at the Six Days. Ed remains a massive fan of the sport and couples his extensive contacts with an inexhaustable enthusiasm for the minutiae and the history of our sport.

Related Articles

Flatlands Friday – Preparing for Het Nieuwsblad 2019 and KBK

It's the start of the season proper with UCI World Tour Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday and UCI 1.1 HC Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday. It was a tad savage when the alarm blasted at 03:10 on Friday but on the other side of the scales we were on Belgian soil bright and early.

Erick Rowsell – On To Something Completely New

Erick Rowsell is a name which seems to have been around for a long time; maybe because he was winning British medals five years ago-in 2007 he took bronze in the junior road race and individual pursuit as well as gold in the junior time trial.

Michael Nicholson – “Racing Hard and Expecting Drama”

I wish I'd tried it; pals Dave, Ivan, Viktor, and our Editor Martin all did - save up your dough over the winter, take the ferry, doss in the cold little room in Gent. The ride out in the rain to the kermis, change in someone's parlour, the inevitable punctures and kickings, the phone call home from a payphone on Sunday night...

George Woods – “happy to be back on my bike and racing again” (and winning in Belgium!)

It was back in July when we first heard about 21 year-old George Woods (Richardson’s Trek Racing Team) ‘doing the business’ in Belgium, we ‘had a word’ with him but with all that Tour carry-on we didn’t get round to writing the interview up. Then the other week we saw he was in the frame again, winning a 114 kilometre kermis at Deinze. High times we gave ourselves a shake and got the piece published!

Dan Patten Blog – Back to the Front

So last time I was posting here on the Dan Patten Blog about the great weather we were experiencing in Belgium at that time. Unfortunately the sun has gone and the rain has returned. Clearly 20 degrees+ in March was a treat. I'm hoping a treat that returns soon.

KBC Driedaagse van De Panne-Koksijde – Day 3, Zottegem

Stage two is the longest at nearly 230 K, from Zottegem to Sint-Idesbald, a quick breenge around the bergs then a charge back to the coast and two finishing laps. Viktor wanted to see his hero, Guy Smet at a kermesse near Bruges, so my race watching was courtesy of the plasma screen in a cafe.

At Random

Bremen Six Day 2012 – Day One

Bremen Six Day, the car park outside the race hall, it's 02:29 Friday - we'd targeted bed for 03:00 so mustn't grumble.

Giro d’Italia 2012 – Stage 15: Busto Arsizio – Lecco/Pian dei Resinelli 172km. ‘Plane Crash’

It's the Scottish Road Championships today - damn this Giro and it's climbs around Busto Arsizio in beautiful Lombardy! But Martin was telling me that the sun was out in Balfron and the jackets were off, so Scotland certainly had the last laugh - the weather here in Italy was grim.

The VV View: Scotland’s Young Turks

As the sleeping beast that is the 2020 cycling season stirs after it’s long snooze, we thought it would be good to look at how Scotland’s ‘Young Turks’ spent lock down and what their plans are for the rest of this strange year.

“Man on the Run” by Manuela Ronchi

"Man on the Run" by Manuela Ronchi is the story of the last few years of Marco Pantani's life. The title works on two levels: after being slung out of the Giro D'Italia race on the penultimate day on a charge of suspected EPO use, whilst leading by a long way, Marco was hounded by demons - insecurity, shame, confusion, betrayal, distrust - all the way through a terrible cocaine addiction to his demise of an overdose.

Andy McGhee – Scottish Star of the 60’s and 70’s

VeloVeritas is sitting down at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome with Mr. McGhee to apologise for pillaging the chicken in 1972 and to reminisce about his career, which included three National Road Race Championships, over a coffee.

Peter Schep – “I’m happy to look back on my results with pride”

If you’re a Six Day fan then you’ll have your favourite stylist – maybe it’s the spectacular but so smooth Iljo Keisse or perhaps the robotic ‘Big Bob’ Bartko or the physical style of Wim Stroetinga? But there’s a man missing from the boards, this season who for me was the most stylish rider of his generation – tall, slim Dutchman, Peter Schep. We caught up with Peter as battle raged in the Rotterdam Six Day, a race in which he was victorious twice.