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Wout van Aert punches to reduced sprint victory at Bretagne Classic-Ouest France

Van Aert kicks to first career victory at the GP Plouay WorldTour classic as he builds toward road worlds.

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Wout van Aert kicked out of a small group to win Bretagne Classic-Ouest France after a relentless attacking display Sunday.

The Jumbo-Visma ace surged past Axel Laurance (B&B Hotels) and Alexander Kamp (Trek-Segafredo) in an 18-rider gallop in Plouay to claim his first victory in the historic WorldTour classic.

Victory reverses Van Aert’s disappointment after being caught out by Marco Haller at the Bemer Cyclassic last weekend.

Van Aert countered a series of moves in the final hour of racing in north west France as rivals tried to neutralize his sprinting threat before he surged for his ninth victory of the season.

The Belgian was a dominant force at the Tour de France this summer with three stage victories, and now rides toward the world championships via the Canadian Grand Prix races.

“I was sick for a week after the Tour, but I took my time to recover,” Van Aert said at the finish. “I’m happy with my legs. At four weeks from worlds, it’s important to stay focused.”

Van Aert’s Tour de France and rainbow jersey rivals Tadej Pogačar (UAE Emirates) and Michael Matthews (BikeExchange-Jayco) were absent from the decisive action. Defending champ Benoît Cosnefroy (Ag2r-Citroen) finished 20th.

A six-rider move went off the front early of Sunday’s 254km Breton marathon.

Luke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Pierre Rolland (B&B Hotels), Chris Hamilton (DSM), Yevgeniy Gidich (Astana Qazaqstan), Johan Meens (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces) and Martin Urianstad (UNO X) made the escape and built out a solid gap.

Ten riders blasted across to the six leaders as the race clicked into its final hour as UAE Emirates, DSM, and Groupama FDJ all pushed two riders into the front group of 16.

The UAE Emirates duo of Matteo Trentin and Rui Oliveira did their best to keep the rest of the move alive, but the peloton had other plans.

Jumbo-Visma missed the breakaway and went on a mission to keep a lid on the race for Van Aert. The Dutch crew cut the gap to 30 seconds before Van Aert engaged race-mode.

The Belgian breezed across to the stragglers from the day’s break at 25km to go before the rest of the bunch clawed its way across. Van Aert kept hammering solo at the front of the 60-strong group while the rest of his team vanished.

Jan Tratnik (Bahrain Victorious) went solo out of the escape for several kilometers and was joined by Andrea Piccolo (EF Education EasyPost) and Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani CSF) for the final 13km circuit around Plouay.

The trio dangled some 15 seconds ahead of the fragmented break, but Van Aert kept motoring in a small pack of favorites that included threats like Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) and Jonathan Narvaez (Ineos Grenadiers).

The race all came together inside the final 5km.

Oliver Naesen (Ag2r Citroen) and Valentin Madouas (Groupama FDJ) tried to preempt the bunch sprint, but Van Aert marked them out.

Tratnik attacked again at 3km to go, but again, it was Van Aert that countered, and the race rumbled toward the final sprint.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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