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Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) won another close race but there was no doubt this time.
He won by a half-wheel’s length against Pascal Ackermann (UAE Team Emirates) in the reduced bunch sprint at the semi-classic that’s warming things up for monument season.
The win was the second on 2023 for Thijssen, who won a controversial photo finish at GP Jean-Pierre Monsere earlier this month against Caleb Ewan (Lotto Dstny).
Ewan later publicly claimed that he thought he was the winner, but that result has not been overturned.
Also read: Ewan challenges photo finish in Belgium
On Friday, the emotion came pouring out of Thijssen as he barreled across the line, this time without an asterisk.
“Now the difference was clear. All my frustration came out about that win,” he said. “Did I win or did I not win, that was all bullshit. This is a big middle finger: ‘here I am!’
“It is really fantastic to win here,” he continued. “When Juan Sebastián Molano started the sprint I really had to bite to keep the wheel from Ackermann. When it started to sprint, I thought: I can handle that. Then I just had to give it my all for 150 meters. I deliberately waited a long time, which worked out well.”
Sebastian Molano gave a long leadout to UAE teammate Ackermann, but Thijssen had the legs to come around him the closing 50 meters to the line.
Sam Welsford (Team DSM) crossing the line third, but there was no doubt who was first across the line.
— Intermarché-Circus-Wanty (@IntermarcheCW) March 17, 2023
Campenaerts KO’d for classics
Lotto Dstny rider Victor Campenaerts will miss the spring classics after suffering a fracture in his lower vertebras in a crash Friday at the Bredene Koksijde Classic.
It’s uncertain how long he’ll be sidelined, but the Belgian is steady performer across the northern classics. Last spring, he posted a string of top-5s, including fourth at Dwars door Vlaanderen.
“Of course I am really disappointed to miss the classics with Lotto Dstny. Everybody saw that we started the season really well and I was really eager to continue this good flow in the upcoming classics,” Campenaerts said. “Unfortunately, I am forced to follow them lying on the couch. I am convinced that my teammates will show some really nice things the next weeks, and from home I will be their biggest fan.”
Results powered by FirstCycling.com