Neo-pro Bohli wins the prologue in West-Vlaanderen

Neo-professional Tom Bohli (BMC) proved that he is one of the greatest time trial talents by taking a surprisingly dominant victory in the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen prologue. With a course record of 7.50, the young Swiss was in a class of his own as he beat Martijn Keizer (LottoNL-Jumbo) into second by six seconds over the short 7km distance, with Lukasz Wisniowski (Etixx-QuickStep) four seconds further adrift in third.

With several strong performances at the U23 level and a fine 8th place against the pros in last year’s Tour de l’Eurometropole prologue, Tom Bohli has long ago marked himself out as a great time trial talent. However, no one had expected him to crush the opposition in the way he did when he claimed his first pro win in today’s Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen prologue.

Bohli had been hugely disappointed to crash out of the Tour of Qatar where he was looking to test himself in the time trial and with no previous TTs in his legs, he flew a bit under the radar for today’s flat 7km opener in Middelkerke. He was even an early starter, suggesting that his BMC team didn’t have too high expectations either.

However, Bohli did what few had imagined to be possible as he beat the course record on the out-and-back course long the coast. The same route has been used in the race every year since 2011 but past winners like Jesse Sergent, Michal Kwiatkowski and Anton Vorobyev had never covered it in 7.50 which was Bohli’s impressive time.

As an early starter, he faced a long wait in the hot seat after having beaten Lukasz Wisniowski by 10 seconds. For a long time, no one was able to get close but the late starters included several specialists who could pose a threat.

When specialists like Marcin Bialoblocki (ONE) and Ryan Mullen (Cannondale) both missed out, Bohli started to believe that his time would be good enough. The final confirmation came when last year’s winner of the prologue Anton Vorobyev (Katusha) stopped the clock in 8.02 which would ultimately be good enough for fourth.

Only six riders were now left on the course and one of them turned out to be his biggest rival. Martijn Keizer again had to settle for a second place in a prologue as 7.56 saw him miss out on the victory by 6 seconds. Moments later, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Etixx-QuickStep) reached the finish as the final rider and Bohli could start to celebrate his win.

The young Swiss is of course also the first leader of the three-day race. He will try to defend his position in tomorrow’s first stage which has a flat start before it heads into the Flemish Ardennes where the Tiegemberg (twice), Holstraat and Oude Kwaremont will be tackled. However, the final 55km are flat and the race ends with three laps of a flat, very technical 10.6km finishing circuit where a bunch sprint is expected.