Putt just outside top 10 at Johan Museeuw Classic
NIEUPOORT, Belgium – Aptly named after the famous Belgian hard man, the Johan Museeuw Classic (or Dwars door West-Vlaanderen) took place last Sunday and again, Tanner Putt delivered an incredible result: 11th place out of 150 riders who took the start line.
The “polar bear” improves placing from last weekend’s Le Samyn
“My legs are starting to adjust to the time zone change and the type of racing we’re doing,” Putt said. “I’m pleased I can mix it up with the top guys at the end. Hopefully next race I can crack the top 10.”
It was another tough weekend for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team. The one day race was just shy of 190 kilometers, with the well-known “De Kemmelberg” as the major obstacle halfway the race. Temperatures hovered around seven degrees Celsius, warmer than the previous race weekend, but continuous rain made it feel freezing.
Team director Hendrik Redant said the initial plan was to send one of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling riders into the break. The goal was a success, Canadian Alex Cataford was aggressive at the beginning of the race and successfully found himself in the three-man break of the day. The trio’s maximum advantage crept up to almost nine minutes at one point.
In the latter part of the race, the peloton reached the series of short, steep climbs and Quick Step used the change in terrain to increase the tempo. Their efforts quickly split the peloton into four groups. Sensing the danger, Travis McCabe, Daniel Eaton and Putt positioned themselves with the front group while their other teammates got back to the front after a 15-km chase.
“As the speed was very high through the feed zone, it was inevitable that there would be some crashes, and indeed, crashes occurred,” Redant said. “Travis McCabe got involved in one of them. Luckily with not too much damage for himself, he got away with some bruises.”
Meanwhile Cataford was working hard in the front, although his advantage was melting like snow in the sun. When the leaders entered the four cobbled 15 km local finish laps, their advantage was only one minute 10 seconds.
Eventually, Cataford was caught. Quick Step and Lotto-Soudal, the two strongest teams in the race, launched a counter attack with another three riders that stayed away until the finish.
Always a fighter, Putt jostled for position in the reduced field sprint and came across the line in fourth place, just out of the top 10 in the final results.
“Our team did well and little by little, they are getting used to the harsh cold Belgium weather and the more aggressive style of riding,” Redant said.