Jasper Philipsen (UAE Emirates) won Stage 1 of the BinckBank Tour after a big crash in the peloton with 4.5km to go led to a huge pile-up.
A number of riders were knocked off their bikes and several were left nursing injuries after a touch of wheels involving Guillaume Boivin (Israel Start-Up Nation).
Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe) looked to be the favourite in the sprint finish but he finished third behind Philipsen and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo).
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'There's your big block!' - Huge pile-up at the BinckBank Tour
The crash meant plenty of the peloton - including some of the general classification favourites - rolled in well after the sprinters had crossed the line, with Stijn Steels (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) and Oliver Naesen (AGR 2 La Mondiale) both seemingly injured. As the incident happened with 4.5km to go the time was not neutralised so there could be some large time gaps in the general classification.
'What about that' - Philipsen pips Ackermann to Stage 1 victory
“It was quite a straightforward day in the beginning." Philipsen said after the race.
"With just two riders in the breakaway the peloton was confident that it was going to end in a bunch sprint. It was quite hectic in the end as everybody was still fresh so there were a few crashes on the run-in. I managed to stay out of trouble and had the legs to win. For me it’s the nicest win of my career so far and I’m super happy.”
The race was originally scheduled to take place from August 31 to September 6 but was pushed back a month and shortened from seven to five days.
There was little drama on the opening stage, which was 132km with a circuit finish in Ardooie, until the closing stages.
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) and Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep) all took three bonus seconds as they each won an intermediate sprint.
Sean de Bie (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles) made a move with 6km remaining but didn't get far and was reeled in by those who remained upright after the crash. Ackermann then seemed well positioned and well supported for the sprint finish but was pipped at the line by Philipsen.
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