A daring late solo attack by Per Strand Hagenes has netted the Jumbo-Visma rider the biggest victory of his career in the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro, although the young Norwegian’s failure to salute as he crossed the line suggested he did not know he had actually won.
Strand Hagenes attacked two kilometres from the line from a break of 10 to claim the victory, with Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck) taking second, 17 seconds back, and Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) in third.
The rainsoaked race was shaped by a break of 30 riders going clear on the early series of hills en route to the finish in Munster, which was then whittled down to the lead group with some 70 kilometres to go.
Thanks to having three riders in the final move, Jumbo-Visma could use their strength in numbers to telling effect, as European Champion Christophe Laporte launched one attack before Strand Hagenes went clear to claim the win.
Germany’s last race of the 2023 season proved to be a tough one, as a prolonged, rain-soaked battle between a 30-rider group on the front and the main peloton wore out many of the potential contenders from a very early point.
The 30 riders’ gap never rose much above the 90-second mark for well over half of the course, where the painfully high pace on the last of the early climbs whittled down the attackers to just 10 for the last 70 kilometres.
The only team with three riders present, Jumbo-Visma dominated the break with Eduardo Affini, Laporte and Strand Hagenes. However, Jonas Koch and Danny Van Poppel (Bora-Hansgrohe), Edward Planckaert and Kaden Groves (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek), Nils Eekhoff (Team dsm-firmenich) and Soren Waerenskjold (Uno-X) all were up there and with a chance, too.
A lacklustre chase from the peloton, visibly tired by the atrocious weather conditions and long pursuit in the first three hours of racing made it increasingly clear the winner was going to come from the front group. And as they moved onto the closing three laps of a 4.3-kilometre city centre circuit in Munster, the 10 still maintained their minute’s advantage.
Van Poppel was the first to break the unspoken truce, but Jumbo-Visma’s strength in numbers meant they held the whip hand and it showed as Affini first bridged across to the Dutchman, then Laporte briefly jumped away with only Eekhoff on his wheel.
Planckaert then buried himself for Groves to try and ensure that the break would end in a sprint and bring back Laporte. But that was exactly when the last and least-well known of the Jumbo trio, Strand Hagenes then made a solo move.
Surprising his rivals with a classic jump away from the back of the group some two kilometres from the line, Strand Hagenes did not raise his arms as he crossed the line, saying when he was stopped well beyond the line, “I thought it was another lap”.
But with a gap of nearly 20 seconds on the opposition at the finish line after Jumbo-Visma’s fine display of racing strategy, the Norwegian was very much a deserving winner.
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