The Wanty-Groupe Gobert rider Enrico Gasparotto finished second at Brabantse Pijl behind winner Petr Vakoc as the Ardennes Classic campaign begins in earnest.
The Ardennes races start this weekend, commencing with the Amstel Gold race, and culminating with Liege-Bastogne-Liege; and the Wanty-Groupe which has suffered in the past weeks because of the death of their teammate Antoine Demoitie.
But a second place for Gasparotto was a fitting way to remember their former teammate.
The Italian was in a five-man breakaway along with Tony Gallopin and Vakoc, but he couldn’t match the Czech’s rider speed on the final climb before the line.
Gasparotto ‘disappointed’ he didn’t win for Demoitie
Demoitie died of his injuries after a motorcycle hit him at Ghent-Wevelgem earlier this season; that was a fateful weekend for cycling as the day after another Belgium rider Dan Myngheer died after sustaining a heart attack at the Criterium International.
But speaking after Brabantse, Gasparotto said: "I thought Tony Gallopin was the strongest, but ultimately Petr Vakoc was too strong today.”
Some of the big names in cycling paid tribute to Demoitie, even Peter Sagan did after he won Tour of Flanders a couple of weeks ago; but for Gasparotto, he was ‘pleased’ with the result but said: “I'm still disappointed not to have won for Antoine Demoitié."
Gasparotto has been training separately from his teammates in order to improve his fitness and race sharpness ahead of the Ardennes.
And the 2012 Amstel Gold race winner said: “This rewards the hard work I've done for two weeks in Tenerife in Spain away from my teammates.”
His last race was at the Tour of Catalonia; but his result at Brabantse means he will go into the upcoming races with confidence; hopefully looking to spring a surprise.