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Gent-Wevelgem: 233km

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Stephen Farrand

Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of Gent-Wevelgem.

  1. 10:03:58 CEST

    The sun is out and the temperatures are warm for this year's race. It should be another spectacular day of racing on the roads, cobbles and climbs  of Flanders.

  2. 10:08:22 CEST

    The riders are currently  gathering at the start in Deinze, on the outskirts of Gent.

  3. 10:10:21 CEST

    Tom Boonen is part of the Omega Pharma-QuickStep line-up but has signed on with his right thumb and wrist taped up after straining his ligaments in a crash at the E3 Harelbeke race.

  4. 10:13:52 CEST

    There is a late change in the OPQS team after Stijn Vandenbergh's partner gave birth to a baby girl at midnight. Guillaume Van Keirsbulck will replace Vandenbergh in the team.

  5. 10:17:17 CEST

    This year's race follows a different route for much of the first half of the race in remembrance of World War One.  

  6. 10:19:30 CEST

    The traditional route headed to the coast, with side winds often splitting the peloton into echelons. This year the route cuts across nothern Flanders, visiting numerous war memorials, battle sites and war cemeteries.

  7. 10:20:19 CEST

    Tom Boonen (OPQS) is the local hero but the start list includes some of the biggest names in the sport.

  8. 10:20:50 CEST

    Peter Sagan (Cannondale) wears dossard number 1 after his solo victory last year.

  9. 10:21:58 CEST

    Gent-Wevelgem is always a fascinating race because the sprinters have a chance to take on the Classics riders if they can handle the climbs of the Kemmelberg.

  10. 10:26:39 CEST

    Mark Cavendish (OPQS) is absent after being hit by a stomach virus but Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) is riding, so are Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol), Arnaud DEamre (FDJ.fr), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp), Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida), Bryan Cochard (Europcar), John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky).

  11. 10:28:36 CEST

    And they're off! 199 riders have rolled out from the start. The action will soon be underway after the official race start outside of Deinze.

  12. 10:29:17 CEST

    Check out the full start list here.

  13. 10:33:28 CEST

    Also riding are Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Lars Boom and Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), Greg van Avermaert and Taylor Phinney (BMC), Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), Tony Gallopin (Lotto Belisol), Geraint Thomas and In Stannard (Team Sky), Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka), Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling), Sam Bennett (NetApp-Endura) and Daniele Bennati (Tinkoff-Saxo).  

  14. 10:38:28 CEST

    As expected the first attacks have begun as soon as the flag is dropped.

  15. 10:40:58 CEST

    We already seem to have the early break of the race. Five riders have quickly gained a minute.

  16. 10:44:16 CEST

    The five are Manuele  Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo), Sebastian Lander (BMC) Marcel Aregger (IAM Cycling), Jacobus Venter (MTN-Qhubeka) and Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

  17. 227km remaining from 233km

    10:45:48 CEST

    After six kilometres the gap has jumped to 2:20.

  18. 10:51:38 CEST

    Gent-Wevelgem was first held in 1934, with Belgium's Gustaaf Van Belle the first ever winner.

  19. 10:52:27 CEST

    It has traditionally been known as the sprinter's Classic, with some of the fastest finishers adding their name to the list of famous winners.

  20. 213km remaining from 233km

    10:55:26 CEST

    After 20km on flat roads across the Flanders fields, the gap is up to 4:00.

  21. 10:57:20 CEST

    Local heros Briek Schotte, Rik Van Looy and Raymond Impanis dominated in the fifties.

  22. 10:59:09 CEST

    Eddy Merckx won three times in the sixties and early seventies, with Britain's Barry Hoban winning in 1974. He remains the only British winner. Will that change today?

  23. 11:00:41 CEST

    The late seventies saw some legendary battles between Roger De Vlaeminck, Freddy Maertens and Jan Raas. 

  24. 11:02:44 CEST

    The Italians arrived in force in the late eighties and nineties, with Guido Bontempi winning in 194 and 1986, Sean Kelly struck in 1988 and then Mario Cipollini win in 1992 and 1993 after losing to rival Djamolidine Abdoujaparov in 1991.

  25. 11:04:35 CEST

    The peloton is happy to let the break blast clear. The five no have a lead of 8:00.

  26. 11:05:41 CEST

    Cipollini won again in 2002, with Tom Boonen taking his first win in 2004.

  27. 11:06:29 CEST

    Team sky has two past winner in its team today but both Edvald Boasson Hagen and Brnhard Eisel were riding for HTC when they won in 2009 and 2010.

  28. 11:12:46 CEST

    Boonen also won Gent-Wevelgem on 2011 and 2012, with Peter Sagan the last winner in 2013.

  29. 11:15:55 CEST

    This year's race is officially called Gent-Wevelgem, in Flanders Fields because the race follows a unique route through the area that was the setting of the First World War 100 years ago.

    The race organiser Flanders Classics says it "wants to contribute to a fitting commemoration of the Great War and keep the memory of the conflict alive with future generations. As a tribute to the heroes and 600,000 people who fell in the Westhoek region."

  30. 198km remaining from 233km

    11:27:45 CEST

    After 35km of fast racing, the break of five riders has a lead of 10:30.

  31. 11:30:36 CEST

    The  Orica-GreenEdge team has confirmed via Twitter that Svein Tuft did not start today after his crash at E3 Harelbeke.

    "Last minute decision to pull Svein Tuft from #GW as a precautionary measure following his crash at #E3H. We started with seven."

  32. 11:37:54 CEST

    The break has entered the town of Diksmuide and will be at the first feed zone in 10km.

  33. 11:38:57 CEST

    It marks the first of the many WW1 memorial points the race route visits this year.

  34. 11:54:00 CEST

    The main peloton has begun to pick up the chase of the break, bringing the gap to below 10 minutes.

  35. 12:08:24 CEST

    The wind is usually an important factor in Gent-Wevelgem but it is warm and still in Flanders today. That favours the sprinters.

     

  36. 12:10:02 CEST

    With 163km left to race, its time for the peloton to enjoy the first feed of the race.

  37. 157km remaining from 233km

    12:16:21 CEST

    The gap is melting in the warm spring air. It is down to 7:40.

  38. 12:39:52 CEST

    The race has crossed the border into France and will begin the first of nine climbs: the Casselberg, in 20km or so. 

  39. 12:43:25 CEST

    Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) was relaxed before the start.

    "The weather's good, we have a nice spring day. Lets go for it. It looks like there could be 100 people in the sprint and a lot of riders seem to want a sprint finish We'll see what will happen on the Kemmel. There could be a few surprises," he told Sporza.  

  40. 12:50:20 CEST

    Last season Johnny Hoogerland was forced to look for a new team after Vacansoleil folded at the end of the year. The Dutch national champion is now riding for Gianni Savio’s Androni Giocattoli team. He’s had a steady start to the year and finished inside the bunch at E3 Harelbeke.

    Cyclingnews caught up with him at the start of Gent-Wevelgem to see how he was settling into the Pro Continental team.

    “It’s different, different culture. It is what it is. It’s an Italian team so it is very different to riding in a Dutch team. Basically, I do the same races. So in the programme I don’t really feel much different. It’s a lot smaller than in a pro team, that’s the big difference.”

    Hoogerland also got a chance to hold his three-month old daughter, who was born on Christmas day last year, before he rolled off to the start.

    “It’s special, it’s a big responsibility. It’s nice though,” he told Cyclingnews. It changes my perspective on life, but not on racing.”

  41. 12:58:06 CEST

    Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) is chasing history over the next three Sundays. He is the joint record-holder of victories at Gent-Wevelgem (three), the Tour of Flanders (three) and Paris-Roubaix (four), and he is looking for the wins that would put him alone at the head of the roll of honour for those three races. Two years ago, of course, Boonen completed the hat-trick of Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, and added E3 Harelbeke for good measure.

  42. 105km remaining from 233km

    13:01:11 CEST

    After twin ascents of the Casselberg, the race is now heading for the Catsberg, the final climb before we cross back over the border and in to Belgium. The five escapees retain a lead of 8:50 over the peloton.

  43. 13:05:02 CEST

    In the absence of Marcel Kittel and Mark Cavendish, André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) lines up as the favourite today, but as the German warily noted at the start, "That doesn't help you." Lotto will try to work for a bunch finish, but nothing is guaranteed at Gent-Wevelgem. "First we need to do 233 kilometres," Greipel said. "It’s not an easy race and we’re expecting a lot of attacks. I feel good, the condition is there, we just need the luck today."

  44. 13:10:41 CEST

    • Team Katusha

    No longer a dark horse following his fine win at Milan-San Remo, the modest Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) is still hoping to fly under the radar at Gent-Wevelgem. "I don’t expect to win but then I didn’t expect to win at San Remo either, so I hope I can do a good result," 

    Kristoff said

    .

  45. 13:16:01 CEST

    Greipel has stopped for a mechanical and gets a quick bike change.

  46. 13:16:53 CEST

    That's an unfortunate place for a problem but he's quickly back at the rear of the peloton.

  47. 13:19:21 CEST

    However the cobbled streets has lined out the peloton. Fortunately some teammates have dropped back to help him move back up.

  48. 13:22:26 CEST

    Stannard also suffers a mechanical, at the foot of the second climb of the Casselberg.

  49. 13:24:18 CEST

    Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp) has a flat. While up front, the peloton has gone the wrong way!

  50. 13:25:04 CEST

    Fortunately they realised very quickly. part of the peloton managed to take the left turn, while other riders had to turn back quickly. 

  51. 13:27:19 CEST

    Nuyesn is back on but is at the rear of the peloton on a very narrow lane. Some riders are jumping on the footpath and edge of the road to move up.

  52. 13:29:53 CEST

    The peloton has climbed up to the village of Cassel and passed the town hall that was the Allied HQ during WW1. It is now the Flanders Museum.

  53. 13:35:28 CEST

    It's almost time for the bergs in the meaty part of the 233km race route. The Catsberg is Helling number 3 of 9.

  54. 13:44:18 CEST

    Chris Sutton (Team Sky) stops for a flat but is quickly serviced by his team car.

  55. 13:45:26 CEST

    The in-car TV cameras give an inside view of what is happening and has just caught Cannondale manager Roberto Amadio taking a nap.

  56. 13:51:32 CEST

    Speaking to Belgian TV before the start, Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) refused the idea that Gent-Wevelgem will definitely end in a sprint.

    "First we need to do 233km. It's not an easy race. We expect a lot of attacks and we will find out what happens," he said.

    "The condition is there. We just need the luck today. I feel good."

  57. 91km remaining from 233km

    13:54:15 CEST

    The peloton is climbing the Catsberg.

  58. 13:54:45 CEST

    Upfront, FDJ.fr and Team Sky is leading the chase.

  59. 13:57:25 CEST

    Here we go! Ian Stannard (Team Sky) ups the pace and tries to split the peloton.

  60. 13:58:26 CEST

    Stannard is pulled back but now Eisel tries to sneak away.

  61. 13:59:21 CEST

    The peloton is about to tackle the Baneberg and the first climb of the Kemmelberg is only 10km away.

  62. 14:01:33 CEST

    The five breakaway riders are on the Baneberg but their lead is fading. It is now 5:00

  63. 14:07:54 CEST

    FDJ.fr is riding for Demare today. They will try to control the race and then set up the Frenchman for the sprint.

    Demare spoke to Cyclingnews before the start. Read what he told Brecht Decaluwé here.

  64. 14:09:52 CEST

    Crash! Several riders have landed in the ditch at speed.

  65. 14:10:53 CEST

    Fran Ventoso (Movistar) is amongst the victims.

  66. 14:12:27 CEST

    The break is on the approach to the Kemmelberg.

  67. 14:14:07 CEST

    Sebastian Lander is flying the flag for BMC in the break. This is his first Gent-Wevelgem and he's experiencing it up front.

    He earned his first top 10 finish for BMC in February with ninth on the final stage at Tour of Qatar. Last year, he started his first career Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España. He also helped Thor Hushovd win two stages and the overall at the Arctic Race of Norway. In 2012, he captured three Danish national titles: Elite road, Under 23 road and the team time trial.

  68. 14:15:20 CEST

    The break gets a huge cheer on the Kemmelberg but is starting to split.

  69. 14:16:19 CEST

    Here we go! The peloton hits the Kemmelberg cobbles.

  70. 14:16:58 CEST

    Boonen, Sagan and Cancellara are all near the front. Boonen is trying to ease the pain on his thumb and wrist.

  71. 14:17:32 CEST

    Cancellara is not letting Boonen out of his sight.

  72. 14:18:15 CEST

    Demare and Hushovd are also well to the front as they begin the descent.

  73. 14:19:22 CEST

    The riders no longer face the cobbled descent but the road descent is still technical. 

  74. 14:19:54 CEST

    Goss is at the back of the peloton and has swapped his bike with a teammate. It will be a tough job for him to get back on now.

  75. 75km remaining from 233km

    14:22:18 CEST

    Steve Chainel (Ag2r-La Mondiale) has a dig after the descent, sparking a split in the peloton.

  76. 14:22:54 CEST

    The peloton is on the Monteberg and the speed is causing more pain.

  77. 14:23:44 CEST

    Bram Tankink (Belkin) tries to go clear.

  78. 14:24:23 CEST

    As expected, the Kemmelberg has cut into the lead of the break. The five lead by just 2:00 now.

  79. 14:25:17 CEST

    Not surprisingly, Boaro and Veuchelen surge away from the other riders, who seem to be struggling.

  80. 71km remaining from 233km

    14:26:16 CEST

    The only rider not to make it is Seb Lander (BMC).

  81. 14:28:11 CEST

    Silvan Dillier (BMC) attacks from the bunch and goes clear alone. Tom Boonen (OPQS) is patrolling the peloton but opts not to chase him.

  82. 14:30:47 CEST

    Paul Voss (NetApp-Endura) crashes and it looks like Ian Stannard (Team Sky) ends up in the ditch. His race seems to be over.

  83. 14:33:48 CEST

    The tension is rising at the front of the peloton.

  84. 14:35:48 CEST

    The races passes close to the Messines Ridge, that was a strategic point in WW1.

    The memorial remembers 840 missing Kiwi soldiers.

  85. 14:37:33 CEST

    The riders also pass the Irish Peace Tower that remembers all Irish soldiers from WW1. 

  86. 14:38:57 CEST

    Riders are trying to form an attack to gain a gap before the second and final climb of the Kemmelberg.

  87. 14:40:48 CEST

    The speed is high at the front but Cancellara is at the back and enjoying some race food.

  88. 60km remaining from 233km

    14:41:59 CEST

    Ian Stannard (Team Sky) has been taken to hospital for a check-up after crashing in the ditch at speed after what looked like a touch of wheels.

  89. 14:47:47 CEST

    The women's Gent-Wevelgem has just ended, with Lauren Hall of the USA winning. We hope to have more on her success later.

  90. 55km remaining from 233km

    14:48:59 CEST

    In the men's race we now have several attackers between the break and the peloton.

  91. 14:50:34 CEST

    Dillier is there from BMC after hanging off the front for a while.  He has been joined by Parrinello, Mondory and Grivko.

  92. 14:54:19 CEST

    The Baneberg is approaching again and the race is close to coming back together.

  93. 50km remaining from 233km

    14:57:46 CEST

    A crash slows the rear of the peloton. Morkov (Tinkoff-Saxo) is one of those delayed.

  94. 14:58:08 CEST

    Up front Boaro goes on the attack on the Baneberg.

  95. 15:00:21 CEST

    Marcel Seiberg (Lotto Belisol) gets a wheel change from a teammate. He is a vital lead out man for Greipel and will fight to get back on.

  96. 15:01:20 CEST

    At the head of the peloton, Eisel is leading and looking back into the peloton. Everyone knows that position is vital before the final climb of the Kemmelberg.

  97. 15:01:57 CEST

    Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) is again at the back of the peloton. He is having a difficult season.

  98. 15:03:41 CEST

    Boaro is trying to reach the Kemmelberg ahead of the peloton.

  99. 15:06:06 CEST

    Cannondale is also looming at the front of the peloton.

  100. 15:07:09 CEST

    Crash!

  101. 15:08:04 CEST

    Several riders are down and tangled, including Haussler, Paolini, Dwosett and Pozzato. A Team Sky rider is also down.

  102. 40km remaining from 233km

    15:10:08 CEST

    Belkin leads the peloton onto the Kemmelberg as Boaro fights the cobbled section just up the road.

  103. 15:10:58 CEST

    Vanmarcke is leading for Belkin. Cancellara and Sagan is also close to the front.

  104. 15:11:21 CEST

    Boonen is a few places back but is ok. 

  105. 15:11:47 CEST

    This effort will surely split the peloton.

  106. 15:12:27 CEST

    Boaro makes it over the top and dives down the descent. But Sagan leads the peloton and they have him sight. 

  107. 15:13:23 CEST

    Greipel and Bennati are up there too. There is no sign of Boonen up front on the descent. Is he there?

  108. 15:14:11 CEST

    Cancellara is on the front, with Sagan taking over and doing a long pull on the front.

  109. 15:14:54 CEST

    The peloton is split but the groups are fighting to catch Cancellara and Sagan.

  110. 15:16:22 CEST

    Boonen is back to the front and shows all his rivals he is there. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) is also up front.

  111. 35km remaining from 233km

    15:17:10 CEST

    The peloton is now on the Monteberg, the final climb of the race.

  112. 15:19:06 CEST

    A second group is trying to catch the front group but the speed is very high.

  113. 15:20:07 CEST

    Dillier is driving the pace but it is unclear where teammate van Avermaert is.

  114. 15:20:44 CEST

    Offredo (FDJ.fr) jumps away but is followed by Stybar (OPQS) and others.

  115. 15:23:49 CEST

    The group contains around 40 riders, including several big-name sprinters.

  116. 15:24:55 CEST

    BMC is taking charge at the front and the other teams seem happy to let them do it. Several domestiques are dropping back to their cars for a last round of drinks and final tactics.

  117. 15:25:23 CEST

    Gatto is loaded up with bottles and will no doubt go on to help Sagan and Cannondale.

  118. 15:26:27 CEST

    Boonen is mid-peloton with several teammates. What plan will they hatch for the finale?

  119. 15:27:41 CEST

    A BMC rider tells his teammates to stop working and so Lotto-Belisol and Garmin-Sharp take over.

  120. 15:28:19 CEST

    Cannondale DS Zanatta has told his riders to eat and drink but not to work, saving their strength for the sprint.

  121. 25km remaining from 233km

    15:30:43 CEST

    A big group is close to catching the front group, with vital Lotto leadout man Marcel Sieberg in there.

  122. 15:32:54 CEST

    The race is passing through Ypres, a town at the centre of WW1. The riders dive under the huge Menin gate memorial arch.

  123. 15:35:28 CEST

    Dillier (BMC) is again on the attack and has dragged s trio clear.

  124. 20km remaining from 233km

    15:36:27 CEST

    The peloton is undecided on if they should chase the move. 

  125. 15:37:05 CEST

    But they should be careful, Devolder (Trek) and Amador (Movistar) are in the trio.

  126. 15:40:29 CEST

    Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (OPQS) tried to go across to the move but has faded and is about to be caught by the peloton.

  127. 15:40:48 CEST

    Cannondale has two riders leading the chase.

  128. 15:41:04 CEST

    But the trio up front now has 20 seconds.

  129. 15:43:16 CEST

    The peloton is 40-strong but is losing ground to the attack.

  130. 15:44:01 CEST

    OPQS has two riders on the front now but the gap is up to 30 seconds.

  131. 15:44:29 CEST

    Devolder is using his time trial skills to drag the trio way.

  132. 15:44:50 CEST

    Dillier and Amador are also working hard.

  133. 12km remaining from 233km

    15:45:48 CEST

    There is 12km to go. The peloton could have blown this.

  134. 15:47:24 CEST

    Cannondale, FDJ.fr and OPQS all have several riders but are not committed to a chase.

  135. 10km remaining from 233km

    15:48:28 CEST

    Garmin-Sharp also has several riders and the peloton is starting a more organised chase.

  136. 15:49:59 CEST

    Meanwhile, in Spain, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has won the Volta a Catalunya after a wet final stage in Barcelona.

    We'll have a full report and photo gallery soon on Cyclingnews.

  137. 15:50:25 CEST

    Crash!

  138. 15:51:00 CEST

    Farrar, Bennett and Greipel have all gone down! Thomas too.

  139. 15:51:46 CEST

    That will mean several teams will stop chasing the trio. 

  140. 6km remaining from 233km

    15:52:40 CEST

    The gap is 25 seconds now.

  141. 15:53:08 CEST

    OPQS is near he front but BMC is watching for any attacks.

  142. 15:53:57 CEST

    Meanwhile a battered and shocked Andre Greipel climbs into the Lotto Belisol team car, with images of him captured on the in-car camera.

  143. 15:54:31 CEST

    OPQS is now finally committed to the chase.

  144. 15:55:09 CEST

    The trio seem to be fading on the back streets of Wevelgem.

  145. 4km remaining from 233km

    15:56:05 CEST

    This is going to be very close. The gap is down to 15 seconds

  146. 15:56:49 CEST

    Giant-Shimano is also working for Degenkolb it seems.

  147. 15:57:13 CEST

    The peloton can see the break 150m up the road.

  148. 15:57:43 CEST

    There are 40 or so riders in the front peloton.

  149. 2km remaining from 233km

    15:58:40 CEST

    Belkin is leading the chase now, with traffic furniture splitting the group.

  150. 1km remaining from 233km

    15:59:14 CEST

    Last kilometre and the peloton comes back together.

  151. 15:59:32 CEST

    Here we go! Sprint finish!

  152. 16:00:32 CEST

    Sagan goes early but Degenkolb comes down the middle and seemed to beat him at the line. Demare seemed to get second.

  153. 16:01:10 CEST

    Degenkolb blows kisses to the camera. This a big win for him and Giant-Shimano. 

  154. 16:02:31 CEST

    A crash in the final 500m caused chaos and left several riders on the ground.

  155. 16:03:17 CEST

    Sagan made the mistake of going early. Demare came off Degenkolb's wheel but he ran out of road and legs and was a close second. 

  156. 16:04:04 CEST

    Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin)was fourth and Boonen (OPQS) fifth. Thor Hushovd  (BMC) was ninth. 

  157. 16:08:31 CEST

    Degenkolb described the finish as hectic due to the speed and late crash but he was super happy to have won a major Classic. He won the Hamburg Cyclassics race Gent-Wevelgem is something else.

  158. 16:09:43 CEST

    Wow. What a race. Like Milan-San Remo, this year's Gent-Wevelgem proved that a race route does not need to be difficult to make an exciting race.

  159. 16:13:05 CEST

    Thanks for joining us for our live coverage of Gent-Wevelgem. We'll have full coverage with interviews, a huge photo gallery and exclusive news on Cyclingnews.com very soon.

    We'll also have coverage of the Volta a Catalunya, Criterium International, the Coppi e Bartali and the women's Trofeo Binda race.