After a 28-year absence, Bruges Cycling Classic returned to the calendar and the Belgian event didn't disappoint in terms of course (which included 15 cobblestone sectors), spectacle and hard racing.
Six men booked a place in the lead early on the day at the 199.5km-long Ride Bruges, having carved out a four-minute advantage by the time they hit the first pavé sector 70 kilometers into the race, but that gap went up in smokes once the cobbles crammed into the closing 50 kilometers came at a fast rate, splintering the bunch and forcing a selection which in the end proved decisive.
The escapees were reeled in with 36 kilometers left, and soon another group emerged at the front, this time counting 14 riders, among them also Quick-Step Floors' Pieter Serry, who was back in action three weeks after he concluded the Giro d'Italia. The Belgian was among the men to drive that group, his fair share of work at the front helping the attackers build an advantage which soon became clear it would be enough for them to contest the win.
In the final five kilometers, a few riders tried to go solo, but they were quickly brought to heel and it was all played out in a reduced sprint, from which Wout Van Aert (Verandas Willems-Crelan) emerged victorious, beating Mathieu van der Poel (Beobank-Corendon) and fellow countryman Lawrence Naesen (WB Veranclassic Aqua Project).
Pieter Serry took ninth place in Brugge, a city renowned worldwide not only for its love for cycling but also for the breathtaking Gothic architecture it boosts, for his second top-10 of the season. Not far behind, two other Quick-Step Floors riders finished the race in the first 20, Julien Vermote (16th) and Dries Devenyns (17th).
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele