After a couple of breakaway attempts earlier in the race by other riders, Jungels was one of a group of five riders who managed a break after he set a brisk pace on the cobbles of the Varent. The Luxembourger, who is also the reigning Liège–Bastogne–Liège champion, then attacked off the front just under 17km from the finish line.
His teammates, meanwhile, did a grand job of disrupting the chasing pack. “The guys did an outstanding job protecting me from behind, we have a wonderful spirit in this team and it’s a real pleasure to be part of this squad.” With one lap left, the peloton trailed Jungels by half a minute, the lead was cut to less than 20 seconds juts 2km out, but he managed to outlast the chase and cross the line with daylight between him and second-placed Owain Doull of Great Britain.
Watch a video of the last 10km of the race.
“Winning races like this is the hardest way to do it, but also really nice to look at,” Jungels said. “We had a plan today and we fulfilled it, but it’s a win I wasn’t expecting at all, as the original plan at the start of the classics campaign was to gain experience on the cobbles and adapt to the style of racing, which is so different and more nervous than that of the Ardennes races.”
The victory can 24 hours after Zdenek Stybar’s won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (a race that descended into farce at one stage--see today’s breakfast briefing), meaning that Deceuninck – Quick-Step became the first team in 35 years to win both races of the Opening Weekend in the same season.