Ineos Grenadiers rider Dylan van Baarle gambled on a 50km solo break to win cycling's Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, rampaging over more than a dozen hills and tricky cobbled roads.
Also known as 'Across Flanders', the 184.1km race is a precursor to the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, and many of the contenders for the event competed in the sunshine through the lush green fields.
Dutchman Van Baarle broke with 52km to go with most of the 13 hills still ahead of him to secure the first classic win for Ineos since 2017.
"I'm so happy I could win like this, happy I was able to finish it off," said Van Baarle, who never led by more that 40 seconds.
"Those last 30km were never ending."
His relentless effort was of such power the peloton, including world champion Julian Alaphilippe and Mathieu van der Poel, eventually gave up the chase.
Van Baarle is more often seen heading up the Ineos train on the Tour de France due to his power riding from the front, and this is his second win in their colours.
"This is the greatest win of my career," he said on the line at Waregem with not a fan in sight due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Frenchman Christophe Laporte of Cofidis came second and Belgium's Tim Merlier of Alpecin-Fenix was third some 30 seconds back.
There were numerous spills on the narrow and winding cobbled roads and the heaviest involved Italian Elia Viviani, who was taken by ambulance for scans at a local hospital.
The usual start line at a bustling and carnivalesque downtown market square was replaced with the Roeselare football stadium on the outskirts of town due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Annemiek van Vleuten won the women's race earlier in the day beating Kasia Niewiadoma in a long-range sprint after the pair had been involved in a breakaway.