Greg Van Avermaet beats Peter Sagan at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 27/02/16 6:47pm
Greg Van Avermaet sprinted to victory in the Belgian one-day classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad as Britain’s Luke Rowe finished fourth.
Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) comfortably beat world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) into second place and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) into third after the five-man lead group they were part of successfully held off the chasing peloton.
Rowe (Team Sky) had created the group by attacking on the Taaienberg climb, with just under 60km to go, but he didn't have the energy or turn of pace to pose a threat in the sprint.
The peloton had been almost a minute behind at one point but closed the gap significantly in the last 10km and crossed the line nine seconds down on the leaders.
Van Avermaet's win was his first at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad after three top-five finishes in the previous four years.
He said: "It was really important for me to win the first classics race of the season. I'm happy that I could finally win a classic like this because I was close a few times here and I know how hard it is to win a classic in the springtime.
"You never know how many victories you're going to have, so I'm of course going to enjoy this one and, hopefully, I'll have more to come. Beating Sagan in a sprint like this only gives me more confidence."
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was the first of the spring classics, which continue on Sunday with Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
1 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, 4:54:12
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff, same time
3 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal, st
4 Luke Rowe (GB) Team Sky, st
5 Alexis Gougeard (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +6sec