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Fant. Neutral Story [Ronde 2018]
Mondory is a beast this year. I wouldn't put Ronde past him.
RIP Exxon Duke, David Veilleux, Double Feature, and Monster Energy

www.footiegame.net/images/Banderas/24/be.png Ronde van Vlaanderen

Brugge - Oudenaarde

www.footiegame.net/images/pcm/RVV18 - Profile.jpg

The route of the Ronde van Vlaanderen is very hard since they changed the combination of the Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg to the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg. The last circuit that they do around the cobbled climbs includes the Koppenberg, the Taaienberg and the Kruisberg before the final climbs to the Kwaremont and the Paterberg. Therefore, the groups that normally make it to the finish line in Oudenaarde are very small and solo attacks have a decent chance of succeeding. Additionally, the lack of cobbled specialists compared to races like the Ardenees makes for a very interesting race with many attacks.

www.footiegame.net/images/pcm/RVV18 - Break.jpg

Lotto and Quickstep did not want any surprises early on the day and they controlled the pace not to allow a big group to get away. A group of 6 formed the break of the day, including Daniele Bennati (FDJ), Brent Bookwalter (BMC), Marc Soler (UAE), Primoz Roglic (LottoNL) and Matteo Trentin (Astana). At the first climb to the Oude Kwaremont they had built a gap of 6' 15'' over the bunch but they were still 151 kilometers from the finish line. This was the point where the route started to get difficult as the run towards this climb was very easy.

www.footiegame.net/images/pcm/RVV18 - Greipel.jpg

A few riders attacked from very far out. Andre Greipel (HTC) was the last one to do it, with around 85 kilometers to go. When he reached the climb to the Kaperij, he was 77 kilometers from the finish line and 1' 40'' behind the early break. Geraint Thomas (Tinkoff) and Yoann Offredo (IAM) had attacked before and joined the front group but they were having to do the work there while others sat on their wheels. Meanwhile, the peloton was still keeping a steady but not too hard pace led by George Hincapie (Lotto) and Enrico Gasparotto (Quickstep). They were still losing 4' 50'' to the front of the race.

www.footiegame.net/images/pcm/RVV18 - Gilbert.jpg

The second climb to Oude Kwaremont was a lot harder than the first one and Philippe Gilbert (Vacansoleil) attacked as soon as they hit the top of the climb. However, Nick Nuyens (Lotto) and Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto) were driving the peloton and did not let him go far. Any attacks from this point onwards would be dangerous as the main group was less than 30 riders after the climb. The rain was falling down on the riders heavily and that would make it miserable. Meanwhile, Yoann Offredo and Geraint Thomas had left behind the rest of the original break and Andre Greipel had given up in trying to catch them.

www.footiegame.net/images/pcm/RVV18 - Koppenberg.jpg

Geraint Thomas could not follow the pace set by Yoann Offredo at Koppenberg and the French was trying to make it a solo win with 44 kilometers remaining. However, his gap to the group of the favorites had been cut to 2' 25'' and the pace had definitely increased. Peter Sagan (Sky) and Marco Marcato (Katusha) were the only riders to come back to the group of favorites but with the Koppenberg approaching the shape of the group would probably cahnge again. Lotto and Quickstep still had 5 riders each on a 30 riders peloton.

www.footiegame.net/images/pcm/RVV18 - Kruisberg.jpg

The attacks were expected and Bjorn Leukemans (Lotto) was the first to take off. The Belgian attacked soon after the Koppenberg, when many riders had tired legs. He went easily past Andre Greipel and Geraint Thomas and caught up to Yoann Offredo just before the Kruisberg. At that point he only had a 25 seconds gap over a chasing group of 7 riders where Lloyd Mondory (Quickstep) and Johan Vansummeren (Quickstep) were working at the front. No other riders were relaying with them, not even Cannondale, who had Sebastian Langeveld (Cannondale) and Fabian Cancellara (Cannondale). We could also see big gaps opening up behind them.

www.footiegame.net/images/pcm/RVV18 - Kwaremont.jpg

The leaders reached the last climb to the Oude Kwaremont with Lloyd Mondory almost catching up to Bjorn Leukemans, only 10 seconds separated them at the bottom. The French had left the rest of the members of the chasing group behind, some on the Kruisberg and some in the flat towards the Oude Kwaremont, and looked set to join the front of the race. Meanwhile, a group of 4 had formed behind them but they were already losing 1 minute: Greg van Avermaet (Euskaltel), Fabian Cancellara, Johan Vansummeren and Tom Boonen (BMC). Vansummeren was obviously not collaborating with them to chase his teammate.

www.footiegame.net/images/pcm/RVV18 - Paterberg.jpg

The top of the Paterberg was only 13 kilometers from the finish line in Oudenaarde and was the last climb of the race. Lloyd Mondory had looked set to catch Bjorn Leukemans but the Belgian pushed on in the two cobbled climbs and increased the gap to 25 seconds. Mondory had apparently run out of gas in the chase just before joining Leukemans. Meanwhile, Tom Boonen had lost track to the chasing group at the Oude Kwaremont but managed to rejoin them in the descent towards the Paterberg. However, their delay to the front had increased beyond the 2 minutes mark.

www.footiegame.net/images/pcm/RVV18 - Favorites.jpg

The group of chasers went past the Paterberg and Tom Boonen did not suffer as much as in the Oude Kwaremont. With 5 kilometers to go for Bjorn Leukemans, they were relaying but probably saaving energies for the final sprint. Johan Vansummeren did not want to chase but in principle Tom Boonen and Greg van Avermaet should be quicker than him in the final sprint. Meanwhile, Leukemans was riding towards his 2nd Ronde van Vlaanderen as he was constantly increasing his gap over Lloyd Mondory. He had 45 seconds and no difficulties in front of him.

www.footiegame.net/images/pcm/RVV18 - Sprint.jpg

Lloyd Mondory was on the way to facing another 2nd place in a cobbled monument. It would be the 5th time in a row that it happens to him and it could get in his mind. The win in Milano - Sanremo probably took some of the ghosts away but facing another disappointment in Flanders could hurt him ahead of Paris - Roubaix, a race that should fit him better than this one. Meanwhile, Bjorn Leukemans was entering the last kilometer of the race already celebrating with the fans that fill the sides of the roads seeing the Belgian win again.

www.footiegame.net/images/pcm/RVV18 - Finish.jpg

Bjorn Leukemans wins in Oudenaarde! The Belgian takes his second Ronde van Vlaanderen in style, again after a solo attack that no one else could follow. Leukemans had not had a great cobbles season so far but this surely makes up for the disappointing races that Lotto had, especially earlier this week. This is the 7th monument of his career, a mark that will be difficult to beat in the short future. Lloyd Mondory crossed the line 40 seconds behind with clear disappointment that he did not get the win.

The arrival of the third group was more interesting as Johan Vansummeren beat the others in the final sprint. He had not wasted any energies in the last kilometers since Mondory went to chase Leukemans and that gave him an edge. Tom Boonen was 4th, proving that he might make a comeback to his best shape, while Fabian Cancellara took the 5th position. This year's race was probably even harder than last season, given that the differences at the finish line were huge. As a proof, the 8th rider across the line was more than 7 minutes behind.

Today's Winner


Stage Results

1www.footiegame.net/images/Banderas/24/be.pngBjörn LeukemansLotto - Soudal6h46'21
2www.footiegame.net/images/Banderas/24/fr.pngLloyd MondoryQuick·Step Floors+ 40
3www.footiegame.net/images/Banderas/24/be.pngJohan VansummerenQuick·Step Floors+ 3'23
4www.footiegame.net/images/Banderas/24/be.pngTom BoonenBMC Racing Teams.t.
5www.footiegame.net/images/Banderas/24/ch.pngFabian CancellaraCannondale - Drapacs.t.
6www.footiegame.net/images/Banderas/24/be.pngGreg Van AvermaetEuskaltel - Euskadis.t.
7www.footiegame.net/images/Banderas/24/fr.pngYoann OffredoIAM Cycling+ 6'19
8www.footiegame.net/images/Banderas/24/nl.pngSebastian LangeveldCannondale - Drapac+ 7'12
9www.footiegame.net/images/Banderas/24/be.pngNick NuyensLotto - Soudals.t.
10www.footiegame.net/images/Banderas/24/be.pngPhilippe GilbertVacansoleil - DCMs.t.

Apart from the report of the Tour de Flanders, I wanted to add that it is quite likely that the pace of this story slows down quite dramatically. Real life is getting in the way and it has been almost 7 years of writing reports almost on a daily basis.

I want to thank everyone that has been following the story and I hope that it was interesting to follow. I will try not to let it die completely but please understand that updates will likely be sporadic.
Comming from a vic in Gent - Wevelgem, Lloyd looking good for a nice result in Vlaanderen.

Very sorry that you may have to "slow" this great story.
Where have those seven years gone, they have just flown by.

And i would certainly say that this story is up amongst the best but as you say real life is there to be lived so we understand, hope it doesn't die Sad
Of course we understand. Good luck with everything!
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