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Gallery: The best images from Opening Weekend 2022

In-depth
28 Feb 2022
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Chris Auld captures the best moments from the men’s Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne

Words: Joe Robinson Photography: Chris Auld

And breathe. The cycling season proper started over the weekend with a series of one-day races across Belgium, and what a spectacle we were lucky enough to witness.

The men’s and women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, men’s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and women’s Omloop van het Hageland took place across a sun-kissed winter’s weekend where, in large part, things went to script. 

Saturday saw Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) win his first race of the season in an utterly dominant fashion at Omloop while Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) launched her sprint approximately 12km from the finish to beat compatriot Demi Vollering (SD Worx) later that day.

Both Van Aert and Van Vleuten put down scary statements of intent for the upcoming Classics season and futher proved their admirable versatility across almost any terrain they encounter. 

Then, on the Sunday, the world's fastest sprinter Fabio Jakobsen (QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl) broke the hearts of the galliant breakaway by outsprinting them on the line for his fifth win of the season already at Kuurne while Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) kept her career swansong going, winning from a reduced bunch at Hageland.

Jakobsen’s win was particularly poignant. Considering his continued comeback from life-changing injuries sustained at the 2020 Tour of Poland, the Dutchman showed humility and compassion post-race offering his solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

‘My mind and my prayers are with the people in Ukraine and the east of Europe. Let’s hope it doesn't escalate any further and we get peace over there because for us it’s nice to be here and enjoy bike racing again,’ said Jakobsen in the post-race mixed zone.

‘Here, it’s 25-year-old guys fighting on a bike for a win and there, it’s the 25-year-old guys like me fighting for freedom and their life. It’s not a nice time over there and here we enjoy this, but my mind is over there and that puts things in perspective.’

From the weekend of racing, our man on the ground Chris Auld followed the men’s peloton at both Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Here are his best images.

Opening Weekend through the lens of Chris Auld

An absolute pleasure to see the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen in such glorious sunshine on Saturday. Here is Jumbo-Visma’s Tiesj Benoot cresting the climb first at Omloop het Nieuwsblad.

Although those racing it were probably a bit too busy to admire the weather.

Tom Pidcock looks like he is barely even breathing as he crests the Muur. Keep an eye on him this weekend at Strade Bianche.

A tough day for British National Champion Ben Swift of Ineos Grenadiers who had hit the deck earlier in the race on his way to battling to 49th.

22-year-old Ben Turner of Ineos Grenadiers put in an impressive shift at Omloop on what was his WorldTour debut. Definite signs that Turner could produce big results in the years to come.

In his final season as a pro, Lotto Soudal’s Philippe Gilbert used Opening Weekend as preparation for his season’s main objective, Milan-San Remo on Saturday 19th March.

A smile or a grimace? We cannot quite tell. Either way, Wout van Aert made victory at Omloop look relatively easy.

First win of many for Wout this season, we suspect.

There was a party atmosphere at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne this Sunday with crowds finally allowed back on Belgian roadsides without Covid restrictions.

Despite the glorious sunshine, the temperatures were low enough to see riders wrapping up warm.

A beautiful scene as the Kuurne peloton roles through the Flemish countryside.

German QuickStep-Alpha Vinyl rider Jannik Steimle had no time for arm or leg warmers despite the brisk weather, and we like him for that.

Spy a smirking Taco van der Hoorn, who held on for 10th at Kuurne after the breakaway was caught 50m from the finish line.

Meanwhile, TotalEnergies’ big star Peter Sagan struggled on Opening Weekend, finishing 117th at Kuurne. The three-time World Champion caught Covid for the second time this winter. 

Nothing but a beautifully composed picture.

With the breakaway caught in sight of the line, Jakobsen continued his outstanding start to 2022 with victory at Kuurne over Lotto Soudal’s Caleb Ewan furthering claims he is the best sprinter in the world right now.

A win for Fabio Jakobsen is a win for cycling.

Has opening weekend whetted your appetite for more pro cycling? Get excited for next weekend with our full guide to Strade Bianche 2022.