There was little joy for BIKE Channel Canyon as Cameron Meyer soloed to victory in a scorching Dwars door de Vlaamse Ardennen.
The Aussie became the first foreign winner of the Belgian battle when he powered clear to beat Xandro Meurisse, of Wanty Groupe-Gobert, and Veranclassic Aqua Protect’s Maxime Vantomme by 59 seconds.
Meyer, 29, has spent much of his career in the World Tour with teams such as Garmin Cervelo, Orica GreenEdge and Dimension Data and his class shone through in the finale of the UCI 1.2 race.
Only 57 of the 186 riders who rolled out for the brutal contest finished. None of those were Tim Elverson’s troops as the near 30-degree heat and numerous bergs synonymous with the Tour of Flanders took their toll.
Matt Nowell, within pedal strokes of the flag drop, and Mitchell Webber attempted to get up the road during the early skirmishes. But their efforts to make an impact were scuppered by a charging pack.
And such was the attritional nature of the 200km race, by the halfway stage the grupetto accounted for half of the field. With climbs such as the Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg and Taaienberg starting to bite, Chris Opie, Joe Fry and Sam Lowe were out of the running.
Webber and George Atkins remained in the peloton, while Dexter Gardias and Nowell were in a sizeable chase group attempting to reel in the day’s eight-man break.
Meurisse, Jonas Rickaert, Jasper de Laat, Pierre Goebeert, Franklin Six, Rob Ruijgh, Yiber Sefa and Lawrence Naesen were working well at the head of affairs, though.
The Muur van Geraardsbergen, with 65km remaining, finally split the escapees apart. And Meurisse was the instigator as he set a fierce pace to blow four of his companions away.
A minute later the peloton hit the cobbled climb and it claimed more victims. At this point the chase group had been reeled in and suddenly Gardias, Webber, Atkins and Nowell were in trouble.
A new bunch of chasers formed, including eventual winner Meyer, and the race eased away from the British UCI Continental outfit.
BIKE Channel Canyon have been so prominent in recent trips to Belgium and Holland. It was not to be on this occasion, though.
Click here for the full result. Picture by Joeri De Coninck.