The young Czech rider continued Quick-Step Floors' impressive run at the spring classics.
Petr Vakoč finished in the top three at Brabantse Pijl for the second year running. After winning the demanding Belgian race last season, the Czech sprinted from a small group at the top of the Schavei climb, notching his first podium of the year.
Petr, who lined out at the start in Leuven with bib number one on his back, was attentive throughout the 200.5km-long race, which had in the spotlight a strong move, containing Quick-Step Floors teammates Laurens De Plus and Dries Devenyns, which took off inside the last 50 kilometers just as the pack was on the breakers' heels.
The peloton chased the group once it snapped the elastic, but they couldn't close the gap despite bringing it down to 12 seconds on the final lap, with around 15 kilometers left. It looked like the riders up the road will contest the victory, but an attack launched by Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) over the top of the race's penultimate hill led to a response of Petr Vakoč, who jumped from the bunch and joined the Belgian in pursuit of the leaders.
Inside the final kilometer, as the road was rising again and the riders were preparing for one last assault of Schavei, the two bridged across and soon Petr made an attempt of getting away, but he was immediately countered by his opponents. After this move was shut down, Dries, who together with Laurens was one of the driving forces of the main group once it emerged from the pack, led out Petr, who opened his sprint with 200 meters to go.
Despite giving it his all on the flat section at the top of Schavei, the 24-year-old rider of Quick-Step Floors had to be content at the end of the day with second place, behind Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida), but ahead of Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal). Also part of that group, Dries Devenyns finished seventh, three places ahead of teammate Laurens De Plus, who rolled over the line six seconds later.
"We had two guys in the front group, so we just kept an eye on them and controlled the others in case they would try an attack in order to close the gap. When Tim went, I followed immediately and we joined the leaders inside the final kilometers. I tried to surprise the group with an attack, but couldn't drop them. Then, Dries did a perfect job leading me out and I was confident in my sprint, but unfortunately there was a stronger rider than me today", said Petr after his runner-up spot in Overijse.
"I won't hide that I'm a bit disappointed, because Brabantse Pijl is my favourite race of the year and I really wanted the victory, but at the same time this give me even more motivation for Amstel Gold Race", concluded the Quick-Step Floors rider after the team's seventh top-3 finish at the Spring Classics.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele