The first laps on a difficult course in and around Binche proved demanding to the riders. After 1 hour and 46km on the road no rider had managed to break free of the pack. It was clear that this year’s Belgian Champion was going to be a war of attrition.
It wasn’t until the fourth lap that, on the initiative of Thomas De Gendt, a group of 7 broke free. However, they never managed to get more than a minute in front and the race was still wide open. Lotto-Soudal was the most active team and Armée, Campenaerts and De Buyst were among a group of 17 riders at the head of the race that also included Yves Lampaert.
BMC’s Van Hooydonck and the local Wanty Groupe-Gobert team kept the distance between the new leading group and a restless peloton within limits.
The Rue de la Pépinière sorted the chaff from the corn and just 6 remained in the leading group.
The big guns were starting to take position. Theuns’ and Pauwels’ timing was out, something that couldn’t be said of Gilbert.
An elite group of ten riders formed at the head of the race. Last year’s champion Olivier Naesen had missed the boat.
Gilbert had been the only consistent factor in the whole race and he sandwiched the other rider that had broken free Stuyven between himself and Lampaert. Lampaert broke free from his two challengers a couple of kilometres from the end of the race to take the tricolour jersey and the title of Belgian Cycling Champion 2018. Quick-Step Floors team’s joy was complete when Philippe Gilbert came in second. Jasper Syuven was 3rd.