Asix-rider break escaped in the Brussels Classic, and the compositio­n was: two Lotto riders - Philippe Gilbert and Tosh Van der Sande - two UAE Emirates riders - Marc Hirschi and Brandon McNulty, plus Remco Evenepoel of Deceuninck-Quick Step and Aimé De Gendt of Intermarch­é.

It was a fascinatin­g mix. Evenepoel was the form rider, and had won Druivenkoe­rs-Overijse just two days before. Gilbert’s experience makes him a danger in any one-day race and McNulty had also come within a few kilometres of contesting for gold at the Olympic road race just a few weeks before. And the fact that Lotto and UAE each had two riders meant that there were tactical possibilit­ies to combat Evenepoel’s good form.

However, as well as strong legs, Evenepoel had one other advantage: the race passes through his home village. With 18km to go, the group reached a T-junction with an ambiguous set of arrows posted up. Four riders went right; local boy Evenepoel, who knew exactly where he was and where the race was going, went left, with De Gendt. By the time the quartet had executed a U-turn, Evenepoel and De Gendt were far in the distance. The Belgians shared the work, but when Evenepoel attacked with 10km to go up a short drag, De Gendt could not respond and the young DQS rider celebrated a home win that had combined a little strength with a lot of knowledge of the parcours.

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