Iljo Keisse wins Textielprijs Vichte
After more than 80 kilometers in the break, the experienced Belgian finished off the job by taking his second victory of the season.
Our team is on a hot run, which started last Friday with Fernando Gaviria's win at Kampioenschap van Vlaanderen, continued one day later when Matteo Trentin left everyone behind and captured his sixth success of the year in Primus Classic and most recently saw Iljo Keisse make it a hat-trick of victories for Quick-Step Floors in the space of a week.
The 85th edition of Textielprijs Vichte (174 kilometers), which took place on a fast circuit in Anzegem, a small town in the province of West Flanders, got off to a quiet start, the attacks starting to come only towards the end of the second lap. A hectic race unfolded from that point on, with Tim Declercq and stagiaire Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz among the ones trying to infiltrate into the break.
But it was only inside the 80 kilometers that a group finally took off, seven riders – including Iljo Keisse – snapping the elastic and building a 1:30 maximum gap. With six laps left, only four riders were still in the escape and their chances of making it looked slim, but grew again once 14 riders bridged across from the peloton. Pieter Serry was there and worked hard for Iljo, shutting down all the attacks while at the same time pushing the watts at the front and helping the group keep a 30-second advantage over the chasers.
Final kilometer of the race was a crazy one, as a handful of riders accelerated and split the group; Iljo Keisse wasn't there, but the 34-year-old Belgian put in a strong dig to join them, which he did, with just 500 meters to go. Then, just as the others were positioning themselves for the sprint, Iljo's never-say-die attitude surfaced once again as he attacked and opened a gap which he carried all the way to the finish line, where he nabbed his third victory at Textielprijs Vichte, after the ones of 2007 and 2008.
"In the first part of the race I took it easy, but then I went clear with several other riders and despite the break not going north of 1:30, we pulled hard to stay away. Then, with five laps to go, when we were only four men left at the front, 14 riders joined us, including Pieter, who did a fantastic job covering all attacks", explained Iljo after the finish in Anzegem, where Pieter concluded in fifth place.
The Belgian, who scored Quick-Step Floors' fifth victory at the race, continued: "I wanted to go for the sprint, but with one kilometer left a few riders broke clear. Fortunately, I closed the gap at 500 meters to go, and then, with only 350 meters remaining, I went again and gave the slip to the sprinters, managing to cross the line alone. In this time of the year I'm always quite good and the two recent wins give me a lot of motivation for my next races."
Rik Van Slycke, who followed the race from the team car, was jubilant after Quick-Step Floors' third consecutive victory on Belgian soil: "The tactic was to get in a small group and go to the finish, because there was no real sprinter in the squad, so our plan was to make the difference in the second part of the race by sending a few guys to the front. Some of our riders tried to go in the break, but it was only with 80 kilometers remaining that a group formed and luckily we had Iljo there, who did a fantastic job and took this well-deserved win. It was a perfect race and I am proud of how the team played it from the start until the very end and of the great spirit they've showed."
Photo credit: ©Vdbfoto.be