An incredibly fun two-week run of Belgian cobbled classics started today with Dwars door Vlaanderen, a semi-flat but challenging warm up to the hellish Ronde van Vlaanderen. However, the race almost didn’t happen after terrorist attacks ripped through the Brussels airport yesterday. Race officials considered cancelling the race, but it went on, albeit short a few riders. Giant-Alpecin couldn’t get their team into Belgium to start the race, Movistar had to field a stunted four-man lineup, and Fabian Cancellara had to drive to the race from Switzerland.
Stunted as it was, the race had everything you want to see out of a Belgian classic; guys riding on the tiny dirt bike path instead of the road, a chaotically jumbled final 30 kilometers, and a dude boning it into a ditch.
Greg Van Avermaet, patron saint of the doomed solo break, made a doomed solo break in the final kilometers, but got swept up a few hundred meters from the line and it ended in a sprint. Fernando Gaviria led the sprint out for everyone else but faded to tenth (Young Gaviria is fast as hell, but he’s now had two straight wonky finishes and it appears he has more blood and thunder in him than guile at this point). Bryan Coquard took it towards the line, and it looked like he had the win, so he stood up and celebrated.
Only to completely bone it and get pipped at the line by Belgian hometown hero Jens Debusschere.
Coquard said he was shocked to see Debusschere pass him, and as you can see above, he really thought he had it in the bag. This is the funniest French collapse since Steve Cummings did the roadrunner “Beep beep!” and owned France’s two best cyclists at the Tour de France last year.
Update: A reader pointed out this wonderful Tumblr of premature celebrations and I am cringing.