Berliner Tageblatt - Slovenia's Tratnik steals in for Het Nieuwsblad win

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Slovenia's Tratnik steals in for Het Nieuwsblad win
Slovenia's Tratnik steals in for Het Nieuwsblad win / Photo: © Belga/AFP

Slovenia's Tratnik steals in for Het Nieuwsblad win

Visma-Lease a Bike's Jan Tratnik won the season opening Belgian cobbled classic on Saturday refusing to work with his escape partner UAE's Nils Politt and then overtaking the exhausted German in a desperate cat-and-mouse finish.

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It was the third straight win here for the Dutch team formerly known as Jumbo-Visma, who also collected third with Wout Van Aert, who had acted as a foil for Tratnik, and celebrated his teammate's win enthusiastically.

"This is the biggest win of my life for sure," said the 34-year-old Slovenian.

"I'm more in a domestic role helping the others usually," said a bashful looking Tratnik, whose top previous win was a stage on the Giro.

German rider Politt was also smiling despite the narrow defeat.

"It's now the second time I got second in a big race, but second is okay," said the UAE Team rider Politt who came second at Paris-Roubaix in 2019.

With 12 hills and nine cobbled sections the 202km race over narrow roads in Flanders had streetside fans cheering all along the course from Gent to Ninove.

Ineos rider Tom Pidcock was among the pre-race favourites but the Ineos rider eventually dropped out of the elite front group in blustery winds.

"There were 25 of us with a 1 minute lead for a while, but I ended up blowing (getting out of breath). At least I can go home and have dinner early," the Yorkshireman said.

Outsider Tratnick was not part of the escape group but leapt onto the attack when the chasing peloton caught the leaders.

Two time world champion Julian Alaphilippe had an awful day blighted by mechanical problems and a heavy fall when a rival rider fell right in front of him.