The winner of the Milan-Sanremo race was beaten in the sprint for third place at the 105th Tour of Flanders cycle race on Sunday in Audenarde.
Jasper Stuyven was edged out by fellow Belgian Greg Van Avermaet, who launched his attack in the last three kilometres after the two frontrunners had broken away.
“I didn’t have a super feeling today either,” Stuyven said. “I have to be satisfied with fourth place. Kasper Asgreen and Mathieu van der Poel broke away on the last two climbs. The strongest ones were in front. If I’m not mistaken, it’s Kasper Asgreen who launched the first attack at the Molenberg. From then on, it was not quiet up to Audenarde.”
At one point, the gap separating leaders Asgreen and van der Poel from the pack was less than 20 seconds.
“You know that the closer you get to the finish, the more people look at each other and the more the rhythm is reduced,” Stuyven said. “I knew that if we didn’t catch up with Asgreen and Van der Poel five kilometres from the finish, we would be on course for third place. And that’s what happened.”
The preparation for the Tour of Flanders was not ideal for the Trek-Segafredo team, not least because of the pandemic and the absence it caused in Ghent-Wevelgem. However, Stuyven said he did “not wish to hide behind that.”
“It’s not because Ghent-Wevelgem fell through that I immediately lost condition. The uncertainty maybe caused a certain amount of stress, but that’s all,” he said.
He confirmed that he would be taking part in the Brabantse Pijl (Brabant Arrow) and Amstel Gold Race. “I added them to my programme after the postponement of the Paris-Roubaix race,” he explained.