1 stages, 201 km
Asgreen takes epic Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne win
Kasper Asgreen notched up Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s eighth victory at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne after a towering effort which saw him attack with more than 30 kilometers to go, catch and drop the members of the breakaway and hold off an entire furious peloton, thus leaving an indelible impression on the Opening Weekend.
“It’s definitely the biggest victory of my career! Taking a classic is so important, because when I turned pro, I had the goal of developing myself into a classics-type of rider, and to win this hard but beautiful race, just two years into my pro career, means so much to me! We had such an incredible start of the season and we hope to rack up many more solid results”, a jubilant Kasper said immediately after his big day in Belgium.
Twenty-four after an untimely mechanical took him out of contention at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Asgreen was one of the prominent riders on Sunday, drilling the pace for the Wolfpack and getting himself involved in several moves that went clear on the challenging course comprising eleven hills. Crosswinds contributed to these skirmishes, with attacks happening everywhere inside the last 100 kilometers, and our squad always had at least one man in every single one of these groups.
Riding just his second Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Asgreen married imagination and adventure in attacking with 44 kilometers to go, swiftly opening a small gap and catching the escapees, of whom two latched onto his wheel. Fully committed to pulling at the front of this newly-formed group, the 25-year-old single-handedly took the gap to 45 seconds, before riding the remains of the break off his wheel, with 16, respectively 9 kilometers to go, and going into time trial mode, tucked over the handlebars of his Specialized machine.
When the gap dropped to ten seconds inside the last kilometers, it looked like the catch would be inevitable, but Kasper gritted his teeth and kept pushing through the pain, going under the flamme rouge with the smallest of margins. The bunch drew closer in this nail-biting finale, but there was nothing else they could do, as the Dane finally eased up and stretched his arms to celebrate an incredible victory that came as testament of his bravery and determination.
“Bob told me in the bus this morning to do what he did last year, when he too attacked and claimed a solo victory here, so I just followed his advice, knowing the small and narrow roads would play into my favour. I jumped to counter an attack after the Kluisberg, joined the guys in the break and then dropped them one by one. It was really tough, my legs were screaming and I really suffered out there, but I kept going and began believing only at the 300-meter-to-go sign. The Opening Weekend was very good for us, we showed incredible teamwork and these results cement our confidence before the next Classics, when we want to be again up there”, said Kasper after his spectacular solo display, which saw him become just the second Dane in history to conquer Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images