Halle Ingooigem: Boonen Top 15, Etixx - Quick-Step Keeps the Pace High
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Tom Boonen finished 11th in the 198.8km Halle Ingooigem on Wednesday, as Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) was victorious in the bunch sprint. Kris Boeckmans (Lotto Soudal) finished 2nd, and Edward Theuns (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise) was 3rd.
Etixx - Quick-Step rider Nikolas Maes tried to prevent the bunch sprint arrival as the last rider ahead of a six-rider escape group, but was caught before the final kilometer. Niki Terpstra bridged to the group as it went away in the final kilometers of the last lap of the race.
The penultimate lap of the race was when the action of the peloton picked up. Etixx - Quick-Step kept the tempo high on the front and forced a split in the peloton inside 40km to go. The high pace brought the original breakaway back early, with about 35km remaining.
"It was a nice race with a selective parcours, but as always the riders made the race," Sport Director Rik Van Slycke said. "Right from the start it was clear that Cofidis and Lotto Soudal wanted to go for the bunch sprint. On the last lap we tried to split things up, because Nacer Bouhanni was there, and it's not easy to beat that guy. We had to try to make the race hard. In the final we had guys like Zdenek Stybar, Nikolas Maes, and Niki Terpstra who were able to do that. At one point we accelerated and there were more than 30 guys in the front group. Then out of that group, five riders went away including Maes, Kenny Dehaes (Lotto Soudal), Geoffrey Soupe (Cofidis), Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise), and Sep Vanmarcke (Lotto NL-Jumbo). That was a strong group, with fast guys, so Terpstra bridged to give us numbers. But in the final kilometers they were attacking each other one-by-one, and this allowed the bunch to control the gap and bring it back together for the sprint. We did our best to execute our strategy, but at the end of the day it was a mass sprint and the strongest guy won. Considering everything I think we did well, and also this is important to build the condition prior to the national championships in the next days."
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