by David Evans
Relative unknown January Denuwelaere (Style and Concept) out sprinted World Champion Zdenek Stybar (Quick Step) in Bredene on Thursday.
The race is not part of the Superprestige or World Cup classifications, meaning some big names such as Bart Wellens, Sven Nys and Kevin Pauwels took the opportunity for a rare festive season day off.
Denuwelaere, Stybar and Dieter Vanthourenhout (BKCP-Powerplus) rode away together early on in the race. Vanthourenhout found himself gapped, leaving the 23 year old former motocross rider Denuwelaere battling the reigning World Champion for his first win at this level. A mistake by Stybar in the sandbox allowed Denuwelaere to get back onto his wheel after previously fading. Stybar tried to out-muscle his young companion by leading out the sprint. A strong headwind put paid to this display and Denuwelaere was able to pass the rainbow jersey at the last.
Speaking to a Belgian journalist, Denuwelaere said “I’ve surprised myself and everyone.”
Vanthourenhout held on for the final podium spot and a slightly sick Niels Albert (BKCP-Powerplus) finished 25″ down in 4th.
Elite Men’s Results:
1 Jan DENUWELAERE BEL 2 Zdenek STYBAR CZE 3 Dieter VANTHOURENHOUT BEL 4 Niels ALBERT BEL 5 Michael VANTHOURENHOUT BEL 6 Kenneth VAN COMPERNOLLE BEL 7 Vinnie BRAET BEL 8 Matthieu BOULO FRA 9 Florian VOGEL SUI 10 Tim MERLIER BEL 11 Jiri POLNICKY CZE 12 Jelle BRACKMAN BEL 13 Geert WELLENS BEL 14 Ian FIELD GBR 15 Vojtech NIPL CZE 16 Toon DEVENYNS BEL 17 Gianni DENOLF BEL 18 Martin GUJAN SUI 19 Radek POLNICKY CZE 20 Matthias BOSSUYT BEL 21 Ritchie DENOLF BEL 22 Lubomir PETRUS CZE 23 Christophe BALANEC FRA 24 Yannick MAYER GER 25 Bjorn RONDELEZ BEL 26 Stijn PENNE BEL 27 Sven VANDOUSSELAERE BEL 28 Maxim DE BUSSCHERE BEL 29 Kevin VAN HOOVELS BEL 30 Zico WAEYTENS BEL 31 Jelle WALLAYS BEL 32 Guillaume VAN KEIRSBULCK BEL 33 Erwan GOASGUEN FRA 34 Stijn MORTELMANS BEL 35 Valentijn VAN DE VELDE BEL 36 Craig RICHEY CAN 37 Michael COTTY GBR 38 Yoann CORBIHAN FRA 39 Romain PINOT FRA 40 Jake WELLS USA