The 30-year-old finished second on Tuesday afternoon, two years after becoming the first Czech rider victorious in the Belgian race.
The 29th edition of Binche-Chimay-Binche/Memorial Frank Vandenbroucke, which took place over 195 kilometers, witnessed several attacks in the final 30 kilometers, once the breakaway duo of Lars Bak (Lotto-Soudal) and Vegard Stake Laengen (IAM Cycling) got caught, but none of these sticked, as everyone was keeping in mind that in the fight for victory the final cobbled section will prove decisive.
An injection of pace on the penultimate of the four laps saw many riders lose contact with the group and the bunch stretched out, while Fernando Gaviria, Jens Debuscherre (Lotto-Soudal), Jean-Pierre Drucker (BMC), Huub Duijn (Roompot Oranje), Marco Marcato (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Oliver Naesen (IAM Cycling) and Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen) tried to get away, but despite holding 15 seconds in hand at one point, they were reabsorbed by fast-charging peloton.
Then, in the final kilometer, four riders broke clear on the bone-shaking cobbles of Binche – Zdeney Stybar, Arnaud Demare (FDJ), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Soudal) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) – and rode full gas, as the group splintered, opening a gap on the chasers.
On the second section, Demare put in a fierce acceleration, to which only Zdenek could respond, and went on to take the victory, ahead of the 2014 champion. For Zdenek, a stage winner at Tirreno-Adriatico this year, this was his fourth podium of the season, which came just a few days after another solid result, 8th at Gran Piemonte.
Next week, Etixx – Quick-Step will take part in the final Belgian race of the 2016 calendar, Nationale Sluitingprijs (183.6 kilometers).
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele