WorldTeam Philippe Gilbert fifth at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

The 76th Omloop came down to a reduced bunch sprint.
Race 27 February 2021

Philippe Gilbert finished fifth at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The 76th edition of the Omloop eventually came down to a reduced bunch sprint, in which the Italian Ballerini was victorious. Gilbert reacts after his fifteenth Omloop participation.

It was quite a closed race, but that didn’t make it any less difficult”, begins Philippe Gilbert. “There was more of a constant high pace and we had a headwind during most of the final 70 kilometres. That made it quite difficult to create big gaps. The high and constant pace also meant that little damage could be done. In the end, the differences created by crashes were bigger than those by the accelerations.”

The 76th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad really kicked off on the Molenberg, where a first selection took place. Lotto Soudal missed out on this move, but at the foot of the Muur van Geraardsbergen – the penultimate climb of the day – it all came back together. In the end, a large group sprinted for victory. It was a scenario that Philippe Gilbert had expected beforehand.

Philippe Gilbert: “I was too far back when we started the ascent of the Molenberg, but I didn’t panic because several other teams also missed out. At yesterday’s team meeting, I actually predicted that it would come down to a bunch sprint. That is why I kept a low profile and didn’t waste any energy.”

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Gilbert managed to sprint to fifth place, the Italian Ballerini won.

“In the run-up to the sprint, I had to brake hard going into the penultimate corner as Asgreen blocked me and Trentin a little. I had to push hard to close that gap in the first place. Eventually, I paid for that effort at the line. I hadn’t got any acceleration left in the final straight. But I am definitely happy about my race. It was a day with a lot of good efforts and it gives me confidence for the races to come”, Gilbert said.

Lotto Soudal also had some bad luck in the Omloop as Frederik Frison, Brent Van Moer and Florian Vermeersch hit the deck. Van Moer incurred some abrasions, Frison incurred a blow to the neck and Vermeersch seems unscathed.

Photo credit: Facepeeters

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