Jasper Stuyven had red-circled the Grand Prix Jef Scherens – Leuven, a race in the city where he was born, raised and where he still resides, and when it all came down to a bunch sprint he came through on his goal and jumped to the win.
“This feels really great! It may not be a WorldTour race, but it’s my hometown race, and there was a lot of pressure on my shoulders. I was really motivated and asked the guys to go all-in like a big Classic, and they did. They really rode incredible, and then it’s really nice to finish it off and win in front of the home crowds. The feeling is hard to describe,” exclaimed Stuyven.
A united and one hundred percent committed Trek-Segafredo team worked for Stuyven from the gun on a tough 14.5-kilometer circuit in Leuven, helping make a hard race. By the final laps, the bunched was reduced to just over 50 riders, and only Toms Skujins and Jasper Stuyven remained.
“We decided to make the race hard from the beginning, and it was not perfect since one part of the course was headwind, but we stuck to the plan,” explained Stuyven. “By making the race hard we risked being one man short in the final, but it turned out well. It was a great day from everyone.”
The breakaway was brought back with still 40 kilometers to race, and with not enough teammates remaining to defend, Skujins instead went on the offensive. In the last two laps, his attack created a breakaway group of three and the trio built a lead of 30 seconds before the Lotto Soudal led bunch finally contained them nine kilometers from the end.
“In the final, Toms attacked and attacked and put pressure on the other teams. From the moment we caught Toms back he put me in good position for the sprint,” continued Stuyven. “I saw there were some teams with a lot of guys left who would go for the sprint, and I felt confident and strong enough to sprint against those strong guys after a hard race like today.”
The last kilometers saw constant attacks, but with the help of Skujins and other teams interested in a sprint finish, it was all together under the red kite with Stuyven placed perfectly behind the Wanty-Group Gobert leadout train.
Stuyven launched his sprint in the last meters and led the way home, shouting and punching the air with joy over the line. And just behind, Toms Skuijns still had enough left in his tank to claim seventh.
“I think I am on a good streak at the moment and it’s really nice to finish the season in this way. I had a strong spring campaign with a lot of top tens, and now I grab podium places and wins, and that feels really good. Today the team believed in me, it was great teamwork all day, and this also gave me more confidence for the sprint. I am happy to pay back the team with this victory.”