Davide Ballerini continued his strong start to the cycling season by sprinting to victory on Saturday in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the opening Belgian classic of the year. The Italian sprinter who rides for Deceuninck-Quick Step edged Briton Jake Stewart of Groupama in the bunch finish at the end of the 124 mile run from Ghent to Ninove. Sep Vanmarcke of Israel Start-Up Nation was third.

In a race that was marked by the usual attacks, Ballerini was part of one dangerous breakaway that also included heavyweights Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe and Belgian Greg Van Avermaet.

26-year-old Ballerini won the first two stages of the Tour de Provence earlier this month but the victory in a WorldTour level race was the biggest of his career.

“It’s a dream come true,” Ballerini told broadcaster Eurosport.

“This is the start of the really big classics. I love it and I love this team. It was my dream since I was a baby when I saw my first race on TV.”


In the women’s race, world champ Anna van der Breggen took the second victory of her last four starts. Van der Breggen attacked the lead pack on, the Bosberg, the final cobbled climb of the day. She held off the chase group and finished with a 23-second lead over Emma Norsgaard and her teammate Amy Pieters.


1  BALLERINI Davide Deceuninck – Quick Step 4:43:03
2  STEWART Jake Groupama – FDJ 0:00
3  VANMARCKE Sep Israel Start-Up Nation 0:00
4  HAUSSLER Heinrich Bahrain – Victorious 0:00
5  GILBERT Philippe Lotto Soudal 0:00
6  ARANBURU Alex Astana – Premier Tech 0:00
7  SÉNÉCHAL Florian Deceuninck – Quick Step 0:00
8  TRENTIN Matteo UAE-Team Emirates 0:00
9  GENIETS Kevin Groupama – FDJ 0:00
10  POLITT Nils BORA – hansgrohe 0:00



1  VAN DER BREGGEN Anna SD Worx 3:21:00
2  NORSGAARD Emma Cecilie Movistar Team 0:23
3  PIETERS Amy SD Worx 0:23
4  KOPECKY Lotte Liv Racing 0:23
5  BARNES Hannah Canyon SRAM Racing 0:23
6  BASTIANELLI Marta Alé BTC Ljubljana 0:23
7  BRENNAUER Lisa Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling 0:23
8  BROWN Grace Team BikeExchange 0:23
9  CAVALLI Marta FDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope 0:23
10  LONGO BORGHINI Elisa Trek-Segafredo Women 0:26


RBA/AFP Photos Bettini

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