Dwars door het Hageland
1 stages, 180 km
Sénéchal comes close to top 3 at Hageland
Partly contested on gravel roads, but containing also a series of short hills and cobbles, Dwars door het Hageland delivered again this year, and our team was in the spotlight from kilometer zero, assuming the pace-setting at the front of the peloton. The six riders who went clear were only allowed a one-minute advantage, which they kept until with 66 kilometers to go, when the race kicked off after several riders tried to skip away from the bunch.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step remained attentive and shut down those moves, before infiltrating neo-pro Jannik Steimle in a strong 17-man group which quickly eked out a 35-second advantage. Victorious in early July at the GP Vermarc Sport, Florian Sénéchal tried to come across, only for his valiant attack to be tracked by the other teams, while at the front the escapees began working together, sensing they had a chance of finishing it off.
Victorious as a stagiaire in last year’s Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, Steimle impressively handled the dirt tracks which seriously strung out the group, but a bit of hesitation from the leaders when two riders slipped up the road in a tricky left-hand corner saw the group trail the two by more than twenty seconds with 15 kilometers to go. Despite losing Zdenek Stybar to a late puncture, our team continued to chase hard and came close to bringing back the front duo, from where Jonas Rickaert (Alpecin-Fenix) took the win.
Florian Sénéchal surged from the reduced bunch on the slopes of the old Diest Citadel and made up some ground, before concluding the race in fourth place, a result that left him with a bitter taste at the end of the day: “I felt strong today, so I attacked early, but the guys who bridged across were reluctant when it came to sharing the workload, so we got caught. Then, once we were back in the peloton, the team chased hard and did a great job, but we came up short despite this strong effort. I’m a bit sad, because I had good legs today, but at the same time, more confident after today’s race.”
Photo credit: ©Luc Claessen / Getty Images