Ireland’s Conor Hennebry goes very close to victory in West Flanders

Posted on: June 8th, 2019

Conor Hennebry is just beaten on the line for victory in a 112km kermesse in West Flanders, Belgium, today (All photos with thanks to Martine Verfaillie)

Conor Hennebry has just been denied a victory in Belgium, finishing a very close 2nd in an elite kermesse in West Flanders.

The Dan Morrissey-MIG-Pactimo rider has enjoyed a very successful campaign at home already this season.

And having taken himself off to Belgium for a stint of racing he very nearly got it off to a winning start in Wervick today.

He was beaten on the line from a breakaway by Vito Braet (EFC-L&R-Vulsteke), one of Belgium’s up and coming U23 riders after a star junior career.

Just behind Hennebry in 3rd place was Jarne Van de Paar of Lotto-Soudal’s development team.

After 2½ hours of racing the sprint for victory came down to a five-man group that was 1:20 ahead of the next men home.

The racing was run over 16 laps of a 7km course, with two riders getting clear very early.

Conor Hennebry Belgian Kermesse
Matthew Sparrow at the head of the field racing in Belgium
Conor Hennebry Belgian Kermesse
Conor Hennebry has hit the ground running during his latest racing stint in Belgium
Conor Hennebry Belgian Kermesse
The men from Dan Morrissey-MIG-Pactimo: Hennebry and Sparrow

At the start of the second lap Hennebry and Lotto-Soudal’s Van de Paar clipped away from the main field.

They combined and bridged to the two leaders, making for four up front before two more joined them.

While the breakaway cooperated well, it was hard work up front as the circuit featured a number of exposed crosswind sections.

One of the escapees was dropped with about 40km remaining. As the leaders entered the final few laps the attacking started up front.

However, while those in the escape had been out front for over 100km and were on their last legs, none of the moves managed to stick.

Conor Hennebry threw in a hard dig of his own on the final lap but was caught with about 3km to go.

When the Irish rider was recaptured he decided to lead out the sprint; going with about 300 metres to the line.

However, his legs tied up just before the line, allowing Braet to nudge around him and take the victory.

Matthew Sparrow, a team mate of Hennebry’s at Dan Morrissey-MIG-Pactimo, was also riding the race.

On a day when the crosswinds and high speeds split the racing to pieces, Sparrow did well to finish.

He came home in 20th place in a group just over four minutes down on his team mate and the others in the breakaway.