Jos van Emden won impressively in the Belgian semi-classic Dwars Door West Flanders this afternoon. After 203 kilometres, Van Emden knocked out his breakaway companion Silvain Dillier in a two-up sprint. LottoNL-Jumbo team-mate Twan Castelijns came home ninth.
"I did not want the group to come back, so I took off," Van Emden said. "I had Dillier in my wheel and we worked well together until just before the finish. Then I started to play the game. Last Wednesday, I went for the win in Le Samyn, but had to accept defeat in the sprint. I thought, this isn’t going to happen here."
The race started in harsh conditions. The rain blew sideways through the 5° air. It helped whittle down the field.
After several climbs, a group of about 40 riders formed containing almost the entire LottoNL-Jumbo team with Amund Grondahl Jansen, Gijs Van Hoecke, Twan Castelijns, Victor Campenaerts, Steven Lammertink and Jos van Emden. In the final, Van Emden and Castelijns managed to breakaway with eight men. When a chasing group neared, Van Emden took control.
His tactics worked. He came off the wheel of his Swiss rival, who was somewhat surprised.
"I did not want to head into the sprint because my first kick is not that fast, but when I stood on the pedals to sprint, I felt strength in my legs and overtook the normally faster Dillier,” he added. “It's always nice to win this way. It helps if you’ve already ridden some finals as I did last Wednesday in Le Samyn. You learn from it. I am now nine years professional and it's my third win in a classic. All the other victories, I achieved in time trials."
Sports Director Grischa Niermann saw a strong team and coached Jos van Emden from the car to victory.
"I just told Jos that today he had to take his chances. He was not allowed to give this one away. This was his day,” Niermann said. “We tackled the race superbly as a team. We always were at the front and didn’t let anything surprise us. When Jos rode clear in the final, I had confidence that he was the strongest just like last week in Le Samyn. Behind Jos, Twan Castelijns did a magnificent job slowing down the others. The whole team fought in the race and that paid off with a great win."