Flobecq, Belgium - Jasper Philipsen captured his first win of the season at Le Triptyque des Monts et Châteaux Saturday after sprinting to victory during the opening stage of the three-day, four-stage race.
The Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling Team rider began the day after coming off an impressive start to his first year with the team after placing fifth at Rabobank Dorpenomloop Rucphen and third at Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne.
“I was really motivated for the race and hoping to get my first victory for the team,” said Philipsen. “Today’s stage was about trying not to lose any time with the team and put some guys in good position for GC because Monday is the hardest day with the TT and a hard afternoon stage.”
The 136 km stage from Pecq to Flobecq saw little action in the first half of the race after Marten Kooistra (SEG Racing) and James Fouche (Team Wiggins) broke away from the peloton. The two-man break managed to work together well to maintain a healthy advantage for the most of the stage, securing most of the sprint and KOM bonuses along the way.
“I wasn’t confident the peloton would be able to bring them back before the finish,” said sport director Koos Moerenhout. “The gap suddenly dropped very fast.”
Moerenhout said that Hagens Berman Axeon worked with Lotto Soudal U23 to try and bring the two riders back. With only 3 km remaining in the stage, the fast charging peloton caught the breakaway. Even though the course became hilly near the finish and the peloton thinned out some because of it, the team still had almost all of their riders up front.
“Jasper has already shown good form in the last couple of weeks and when we caught the break, I knew he had a good shot for the finish,” said Moerenhout. “Our riders showed great teamwork today.”
Philipsen, winner of Le Triptyque in 2017 while competing for BMC Development Team, was appreciative of how “perfect” the team rode to put him in position to sprint the final 100 meters to victory and happy that teammate Maikel Zijlaard placed third.
“We went full gas and got through the last corner with Jasper on my wheel,” said eighteen-year-old Zijlaard. “Then Jasper and Nils Eekhof (Development Team Sunweb) came over me and I kept sprinting to the finish for third [place].”
Ian Garrison and Will Barta finished 30th and 39th respectively on the stage, while Michael Rice finished in 50th place, and Joao Almeida in 67th.
“It’s nice for us to get a win in the first stage,” remarked Philipsen. “The next two days are going to be hard, but we have a strong team and can feel confident with all of our guys in good position for GC.”
Tomorrow’s 162 km stage from Tournai to Louze-en-Hainaut starts at 12:15 CEST (6:15 EST).
(Header photo of Jasper Philipsen by Davey Wilson.)