Timothy Dupont confirmed his huge potential by winning the Nokere Koerse semi-classic and this time he did so in the way he usually shines. As usual, the race was decided in an uphill sprint on the cobbled Nokereberg and here he turned out to be the fastest.
What was even more impressive was the way his small Verandas Willems team dominated the finale despite being up against several WorldTour teams. While the big teams all failed to organize a lead-out, the small Belgian team managed to take control in the hectic run-in to the finish.
Dupont’s teammates waited patiently when the peloton started the final lap of the 14.8km circuit that included the 400m Nokereberg at the finish. At this point, the big teams were still playing with the muscles as it was Guillaume Van Keirsbulck who strung things out for Etixx-QuickStep. The Belgian completely strung the peloton out and out everybody in the hurt zone. As a result, the pace went down when he swung off.
With 5km to go, Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep) powered clear of the peloton and he went straight past the front quartet that was brought back. This is where Verandas Willems proved their strength as they hit the front and quickly brought the lone Pole back with just 3km to go.
Everybody wanted to be in a good position as they hit the crosswinds but no one was able to come around the four Verandas riders who made the peloton split. However, they lost the battle to Loic Chetout (Cofidis) who took over as they hit the small descent to the bottom of the Nokereberg.
With less than 2km to go, Bora hit the front with one rider bringing Zakkari Dempster and Scott Thwaites forward. Dempster did the lead-out after they had passed the flamme rouge but swung off too early.
Aidis Kruopis came to the fore to the lead-out for Dupont but it was Gianni Moscon who hit out, trying to set Andy Fenn up for the sprint at the bottom of the climb. From here, it was every sprinter for himself and Dupont shot down the middle of the road with impressive speed.
He looked like he would take an easy win when a fast-finishing Kristoffer Halvorsen suddenly powered up the road at the right-hand side. However, the Norwegian ran out of metres and had to settle for second ina photo finish. Pre-race favourite Groenewegen was completely out of position at the bottom of the climb and had to settle for third.
There will be another chance for Dupont to add to his tally on Friday when the Belgian classics season continues with the Handzame Classic which is usually an affair for the sprinters.
Nokere Koerse 2016 results:
|1||Timothy Dupont (Veranda’s Willems)|
|2||Kristoffer Halvorsen (Joker)|
|3||Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNl-Jumbo)|
|4||Yauheni Hutarovich (Fortuneo – Vital Concept)|
|5||Michel Kreder (Roompot – Oranje Peloton)|
|6||Gerry Druyts (Crelan-Vastgoedservice)|
|7||Gianni Moscon (Sky)|
|8||Eduard Michael Grosu (Nippo – Vini Fantini)|
|9||Kenny De Haes (Wanty – Groupe Gobert)|
|10||Bert Van Lerberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise)|
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classics Dylan Groenewegen Kristoffer Halvorsen nokere koerse timothy dupont verandas willems