Jens Reynders has made a serious comeback last Sunday in Bech, during the 31st Grand Prix OST-Manufaktur. In a double sense! First of all, because during the 2017 season, the Belgian was diagnosed with a mononucleosis virus and had to end his season prematurely, in order to recover completely from his illness. In 2018, he returned stronger than ever with good results like in Paris-Troyes, the GP Lillers or, precisely, during this first win of the season at the Grand Prix OST-Manufaktur. Secondly, because it were the riders from Differdange who dominated the race most of the time with their offensive racing, leaving Team Leopard members and, to a lesser extent, those of the Prorace Cycling Team in a defensive state. Well, they managed to turn around the situation in the last lap, sending Reynders to a sprint victory that wasn't really expected any more.
Compared to the junior race in the morning, temperatures had risen dramatically by at least 2 degrees at the start of the 31st edition of the Grand-prix OST-Manufaktur, making it to a new record for the day with a solid -2 degrees. All of the riders were thus well wrapped up at the start of the 120-kilometer race. The snow did not show up in Bech and its surroundings on this chilly 18th of March, but it had nevertheless appeared on a few neighboring areas, preventing the trips of several pre-registered competitors and, therefore, reducing the number of starters to a mere 36. No matter, the action started right from the start of the race and three riders went on the attack at kilometer three, only to be reeled in a little bit later.
In the second lap, things were getting more serious already: seven riders broke away, including Colin Heiderscheid, Luc Wirtgen, Jens Reynders, Jan Petelin, Sascha Weber or Jorden De Haes and left the peloton at 36 seconds. Joshua Teasdale attacked out of the bunch a little bit later and managed to bridge up to the leading group, a group that was about to explode. Four riders found themselves in the lead with Luc Wirtgen, member of the Leopard Cycling Team, alone against three riders from Differdange: Petelin, Teasdale and Pardini, a former winner of the Circuit des Ardennes. The peloton wasn't far away, led by the Prorace Cycling Team riders, and the general regrouping was in the air during the fourth lap.
Not for me, sait Joshua Teasdale to himself, and he took off on his own while, behind him, there was actually a regroupement of about fifteen riders, thirty seconds behind the British leader from Differdange. Belgian Jorden De Haes attacked during the fifth lap, still 30 seconds behind the impressive Teasdale, but was joined minutes later by three more riders: Sascha Weber, Jens Reynders and Nils Heyns from the Belgian team SV Kontich. Other riders came back from behind and Teasdale was reeled in during lap eight, so that they were nine at the front now: Differdange's Joshua Teasdale and Olivier Pardini, plus Pit Schlechter, Luc Wirtgen and Jens Reynders from the Leopard team, Jorden De Haes and Sander Rietjens of the Prorace Cycling Team as well as the German Sascha Weber and the Belgian Nils Heyns. The rest of the peloton was more than a minute behind them now.
It was Heyns who resumed the battle by escaping from this group with two laps to go, before being joined a little bit later by Joshua Teasdale, again. The rider from Differdange was really boosted today and the duo had 36 seconds advantage at the sound of the bell. But behind, there were still three Leopards chasing together with the two riders from the Prorace Cycling Team: they managed to reduce the gap slowly, but surely, 20 seconds still at 5 kilometers from the finish line. Everything had to be decided in the last minutes of racing, with 8 riders still in the mix for the victory, Weber having mysteriously disappeared from the race.
Pit Schlechter and Luc Wirtgen sacrificed themselves to bring back Teasdale and Heyns, what they managed to do just before the red flag. The other rider from Differdange, Olivier Pardini, immediately started a counter-attack, but Jens Reynders managed to hang onto his wheel until the final sprint, which he launched inside the last 150 meters. The Belgian immediately took a few meters advantage and would not be reached again before the finish line. Jens Reynders wins in the 31st edition of the Grand Prix OST-Manufaktur, one second ahead of Pardini and Jorden de Haes in second and third spot. Reynders is also the best U23 rider of the race ahead of de Haes, while Pit Schlechter wins the Marcel Niederweis Trophy as best home rider in seventh place.
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