Jasper Stuyven (Lidl-Trek) motored to a historic first European Gravel Championship title as well as the Belgian National Championship in the combined race in his home region near Leuven.
Tim Merlier (Soudal-Quickstep) out-sprinted Paul Voß to claim the silver medal for both championship events.
"It's a nice title - I'm really happy with it," Stuyven said.
"I felt good from the start. It's one of those days you can keep pushing. I started to feel the group was a little bit looking at each other and there were also tired legs. I decided to keep going and find a good moment and it was a nice solo."
Stuyven hails from the area and was familiar with the roads but more importantly he had the legs to get an advantage over the more experienced gravel racers.
"I had a few spots in mind (to attack) and technically I wasn't the best of the group but I also knew this was going to happen and I didn't want to take too many risks and maybe lose it all. I knew in the technical parts I had to be in front to not lose too much time on the really good guys. The other parts I knew with the power and the long distance I could make a difference."
Snaking through the forests of Brabant, the gravel, dirt, mud, cobbles, and paved paths, Stuyven looked smooth and powerful as he overcame a puncture on the second to last lap, bridged back to the front then attacked on the final lap putting more than a minute into his rivals.
The elite men's race was 159 kilometres long with one hilly long lap bookended by two flatter short laps before and after.
Ryan Kamp (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) hit out strong on the first lap before fading back and eventually dropping out of contention. One of the favourites Ivar Slik (Wielier Triestina) didn't make it past the first lap while Thibau Nys (Lidl-Trek) crashed on lap 2 and dropped out.
Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën), Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Dstny) and world champion Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Deceuninck) took the lead later in the opening lap before being joined by a larger selection.
On the second lap, Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) attacked into the second lap but was quickly caught back on the tough hilly long lap. Jasper Stuyven (Lidl Trek), Tim Merlier (Soudal-Quickstep), and Florian Vermeersch then went on the attack before being pulled back by a group also including Van Avemaet, Gianni Vermeersch, Alex Colman (Flanders Baloise), Paul Voß, Bert Van Lerberghe (Soudal-Quickstep), Frederik Raßmann (Dauner Akkon), Kevin Panhuyzen (Giant Liv Benelux Offroad), Petr Vakoc (Canyon Isadore) and Lander Loockx.
Colman attacked on the third lap, gaining a decent lead over the dozen riders in the chase.
Not long after, Stuyven suffered a puncture and luckily was near the tech zone and stopped for a very slow wheel change but was able to bridge across to the first chasing group.
Coming into lap five, Stuyven attacked out of the chase group and passed Colman on a climb as the leaders began lapping riders. Van Avermaet suffered a puncture and was out of contention.
Stuyven had a 38-second lead with Voß, Vakoc, Merlier, Gianni and Florian Vermeersch, Loockx heading into the final lap but extended that to almost a minute and had only to keep the air in his tyres and his tyres on the ground to secure the double titles.
|1||Jasper Stuyven (Lidl Trek)||4:16:27||BEL/EU|
|2||Tim Merlier (Soudal - Quick-step)||0:01:21||BEL/EU|
|5||Florian Vermeersch (Lotto Dstny)||0:01:22||BEL/EU|
|6||Petr Vakoc (Canyon Isadore)||0:01:23||EU|
|7||Bert van Lerberghe (Soudal Quick-step)||0:04:20||BEL/EU|
|8||Frederik Raßmann (Dauner Akkon)||0:04:21||EU|
|10||Kevin Panhuyzen (Giant liv Benelux Offroad Team)||0:04:26||BEL/EU|
|12||Jan Bakelants (Individueel)||0:08:20||BEL/EU|
|14||Laurens Sweeck (Crelan - Corendon)||0:10:47||BEL/EU|
|15||Jasper Ockeloen (Sockeloen)||0:10:47||EU|
|16||Laurens ten Dam||0:10:49||EU|
|17||Toon Vandebosch (Crelan-corendon)||0:10:50||BEL/EU|
|18||Frans Claes (Humanpwr - Pure Encapsulations)||0:10:52||BEL/EU|
|19||Gert Kivistik (Att Investments)||0:11:21||EU|
|20||Mattia de Marchi (Enough Cycling)||0:13:06||EU|
|23||Luis Neff (Rose Racing Circle)||0:13:07||EU|
|24||Lukas Vanderlinden (Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal)||0:13:08||BEL/EU|
|25||Piotr Havik (Classified Factory Team)||0:13:09||EU|
|26||Thijs Zonneveld (Beat Cycling)||0:13:13||EU|
|27||Seppe Rombouts (Rb Zelfbouw Uct)||0:13:21||BEL/EU|
|28||Nicholas Roche (Nr_grvl)||0:13:33||EU|
|29||Rick van der Sande (Cycle Passion-scott Racing Team)||0:14:08||BEL/EU|
|30||Alessandro de Marchi||0:15:29||EU|
|31||Clé Brent (Scorpions Racing Team (Continental))||0:15:35||BEL/EU|
|35||Len Dejonghe (Matériel Vélo.com uci Continental)||0:18:53||BEL/EU|
|36||Zak Coleman (Volkerwessels Cycling Team)||0:18:54||EU|
|37||Jarno Jordens (Stageco Cyclingteam)||0:18:56||BEL/EU|
|38||Arno van den Broeck||0:18:57||BEL/EU|
|39||Xavier Jove (Federació Andorrana de Ciclisme)||0:18:58||EU|
|41||Gleb Karpenko (National Team Estonia)||0:19:37||EU|
|42||Bas Peters (Giant liv Benelux Offroad Team)||0:20:00||EU|
|43||Tom Martin (Wheelbase Cabtech Castelli)||0:20:00||EU|
|45||Ben Thomas (Ben Thomas Coaching)||0:20:01||EU|
|48||Seppe Odeyn (Team Siktivity)||0:20:04||BEL/EU|
|49||Han Devos (Vp-consulting Prorace Cycling Team)||0:24:48||BEL/EU|
|50||Grégoire Lemaire (Brussels Cycling Team)||0:24:48||BEL/EU|
|51||Tristan Bloemen (Van Mossel Heist Cycling Team)||0:24:48||BEL/EU|
|52||Jan-Frederik Finoulst (Dcr Cycling Team)||0:24:49||BEL/EU|
|53||Lars Daniels (Ccn Ferei Metalac)||0:24:51||BEL/EU|
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