With Omloop het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, we can enjoy another day in front of the TV for Kuurne–Brussel–Kuurne. This second of the two always seems to get less attention than the previous race, maybe because it’s just not quite as magical as the Omloop. But KBK is still a race worth following. Sometimes it’s a mass sprint, while on other occasions an elite group makes the racing so tough that only the strongest survive. Great sprinters like Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan have all won this race, but also Classics racer Jasper Stuyven has also won it. These are the five riders we fancy for the 2019 edition of the race.
Last year, Dylan Groenewegen was an outsider and won the race. This year he is outright favourite. Over the past couple of years, this Dutch rider has continued developing and is perhaps the best sprinter in the world right now. It also helps a lot that his team Jumbo–Visma seems to have a much stronger sprint lead-out than it has had in the past. And the Kuurne–Brussel–Kuurne (KBK) team will be built around getting Groenewegen into the right position at the end for him to have the best chance of winning.
Matteo Trentin is a great sprinter and is the trump card of the Mitchelton–Scott Team. The 2018 season was not his best. He was indeed crowned European Champion, but didn’t really win anything else all season. He ended outside the top 15 in the 2018 KBK, but we still see him as a potential winner. During the early races in 2019 he has already won three times, and also had a couple of podium places. He’s clearly on form, and if the weather is mild, then it might be in his favour.
Jasper Stuyven won this race in 2016, and is a rider we have to include in our top five candidates. He is the only rider of the five who is not known as a sprint finisher. But he is often up there with the best in this type of race. In 2016 he won the race with a 17 second lead over the snarling peloton of sprinters. Maybe he can do it again…
Arnaud Démare is the biggest French hope in the sprint. In 2018, he finished this race in 2nd place, just behind Dylan Groenewegen. He has therefore proved that he can handle this race. However the latest news may change this: he was planning to ride the Omloop het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, but cancelled due to flu. That could save just the right amount of energy for KBK: if indeed he appears on the start-line…
This Dutchman is only 22 years old, but Fabio Jakobsen is already making a big impression. In 2018 he won a couple of good races, including the Scheldeprijs and a stage in the BinckBank Tour—in the latter, be beat big names such as Marcel Kittel, Caleb Ewan and Dylan Groenewegen. He has also won a stage in the Tour of the Algarve in 2019, beating Arnaud Démare, among others. So why couldn’t he be up there with the winners in 2019?
The Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne takes place on Sunday, 3rd of March and will be broadcast in the Low Countries by Eurosport and Sporza (Belgium).