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Gent - Wevelgem: 190km

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Susan Westemeyer

Gent-Wevelgem:  the cold will make it even more exciting this year. Who will survive the temperatures to take the win?

  1. 12:17:58 CET

    Welcome to the newest Arctic-temperature race!  Gent-Wevelgem is shortened but ready to roll.

  2. 12:20:00 CET

    This morning the race organizers met with the teams, and it was decided that the race would go ahead as planned. However, race director Frank Hoste later said that if any rider crashes on a patch of ice, the race will be stopped. Safety first!

  3. 12:25:31 CET

    Saturday afternoon race organizers announced that they would shorten the race by 45 km, moving the start to Gistel. That will make it a total of 190 km today, and the official start is at 12:30.

    We are now hearing, though, that the start will be delayed, anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.  We'll see what we can find out.

  4. 12:31:12 CET

    It is just taking a bit more time to get all the buses there, everything set up and so on. We will be on the road soon!

  5. 12:35:19 CET

    We also hear that there will be only 9 climbs today, instead of ten. The first climb, the Casselberg, will apparently only be tackled once, instead of the two times originally planned.

  6. 12:36:36 CET

    The race is now scheduled to start at 12:45, so in about 10 minutes.

  7. 12:40:08 CET

    Astana reported a DNS before things even got underway. Ruslan Tleubayev has to sit out because of a fever.

  8. 12:45:24 CET

    The race will now be 183.4km long, down from the originally planned 237.6.

  9. 12:49:34 CET

    And they're off! The race has finally started.

    There seems to be another DNS today, David MIllar of Garmin-Sharp.

  10. 12:53:13 CET

    The race started at Cafe Tourmalet which is a pub that was once founded by cycling legend Sylveer Maes. The riders unfortunately didl not have time to hop in for a drink. Team director Eric Van Lancker (Garmin-Sharp) referred to crosswinds right after turning away from the coast into the flatlands of De Moeren.

  11. 12:55:08 CET

    It is indeed windy. In fact, only a few minutes into the race,the peloton has fallen into at least five groups.

  12. 12:59:30 CET

    CN's Australian editor Jane Aubrey has come over to Belgium for the Spring Classics, and she talked to Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge) beofre the start. “It’s not raining at the moment but it’s still going to be freezing cold. It’s going to be a pretty epic day but it’s the same for everyone I guess.”

    Any injury concerns after his crash at Milan-San Remo? “It was more the cold and the stop starting that I think caused the problems.”

    As for today, “I think there’ll be a small group but it’s not going to be a full bunch sprint. Maybe 20, 30, 40 guys maximum.

    “I feel okay, I feel pretty good. It’s depends what the weather’s like out there how I’m feeling and how I’ve recovered. I haven’t raced since San Remo but hopefully the knee doesn’t flare up in the cold weather here again.”

  13. 13:01:02 CET

    What was it like at the start and sign-in today? Take a look at our photo gallery here.

  14. 13:03:47 CET

    Jane Aubrey also caught up with Taylor Phinney of BMC, who she said was in a good mood. “I don’t mind the cold as much as other people so for me it’s good conditions – it’s just going to be a cold day. Also windy and a bit crazy but it’s a classic so it’s always crazy. It’s a better course for me than the other day.

    “We’re all here for Thor, he’s our number one dude. We’re just going to try to animate the race and stay protected around him and bring him into the final, hopefully in that first select group.”

     

  15. 13:05:14 CET

    We have a lead group with a slight lead and a lot of big names. 26 riders, including Cavendish, Boonen, Hayman, Greipel, Boom and Hushovd now have 18 seconds on their chasers.

  16. 13:06:58 CET

    Sagan, Amador and Eisel also in that lead group.

  17. 13:09:39 CET

    As Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) tweeted this morning, “Off to the start of Gent-Wevelgem. Another day for survival, wearing lycra at freezing point temperature. At least it's dry.”

  18. 13:11:41 CET

    This is apparently the make-up of that lead group:

    Boonen, Cavendish, Stybar, Kwiatkowski (OPQ)
    Eisel, Hayman, Sutton (SKY)
    Greipel, Henderson, Willems, Sieberg (LTB)
    Boom, Wynants (BLA)
    Blythe, Oss, Phinney (BMC)
    Bodnar (CAN)
    Fischer (FDJ)
    Kuschynski, Paolini (KAT)
    Amador (MOV)
    Breschel, Morkov (TST)
    Fouchard (COF)
    Cousin (EUC)

  19. 13:13:02 CET

    This group is a go! They now have 1:55 on the second group.

  20. 13:16:01 CET

    Blanco's Sep Vanmarcke shared his thoughts on the weather on the team's Facebook page this morning. “Nobody can prepare for such cold temperatures the only thing you can do is to try to stay warm but you need to be careful, to many clothes will mean you will not be able to race at full speed. And then there is always the uncertainty of getting sick in these conditions. So its not an easy decision what to put on today."

  21. 13:19:20 CET

    The first two chase groups have merged and are now only 20 seconds behind that large group in the lead.

  22. 13:25:10 CET

    Daniel Benson is also on the spot in Belgium, and he talke to Heinrich Haussler. We think we may safely say that the IAM rider is not happy about things.

    “This isn’t sport any more, it’s bullshit. It’s not a race in these conditions because with the wind it’s minus 10. It’s pretty ridiculous. It could be every man for himself as soon as we hit the coast with the wind because it’s really strong and with open roads. I think we’ll see two or three groups but then the rest might pull out. I want to race hard but it’s a health risk at the moment because of the weather and I want to be ready for the bigger races that are coming up.”

  23. 13:26:51 CET

    Now the gap is back up to nearly a minute. Things seem to be relatively unsettled at the moment.

  24. 13:28:43 CET

    Tom Boonen has won this race the last two years. This year, though, he has had trouble getting up to speed, after a nasty intestinal infection last fall and an even worse elbow infection this winter. Will he be able to win again today, or will he save himself for the Tour of Flanders?

  25. 155km remaining from 190km

    13:30:22 CET

    The latest report has the first chase group at 28 seconds, and the next group at 40 seconds. And apparently some riders are already three minutes down.

  26. 13:32:49 CET

    Garmin, RadioShack and Orica-GreenEdge are not in the lead group, so they are avidly leading the chase.

  27. 13:36:08 CET

    Daniel Benson also chatted with Sky DS Servais Knaven before the race. He said, “No one knows how every is going to react to the cold and icy wind. It’s similar to what happened at Omloop where the guys had maybe one or two attacks in them and maybe that’s it. We’ll have to see.

    “In terms of the important sections, they’re all still the same. Of course the Kemmelberg is key but positioning for that climb is the most important aspect. Sometimes positioning starts 20 kilometres before the climbs.”
     

  28. 13:38:56 CET

    Here once again this high-powered lead group: Boonen, Cavendish, Stybar, Kwiatkowski (OPQ), Eisel, Hayman, Sutton (SKY), Greipel, Henderson, Willems, Sieberg (LTB), Boom, Wynants (BLA), Blythe, Oss, Phinney (BMC), Sagan (CAN), Fischer (FDJ), Kuschynski, Paolini (KAT), Amador (MOV), Breschel, Morkov (TST), Fouchard (COF), and Cousin (EUC).

  29. 13:42:18 CET

    While queuing up in front of the start podium with his teammates Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco) talked with Cyclingnews about the difficult circumstances. Teammate Maarten Tjallingii said he felt like a marionette. “We’re just here to entertain the VIP’s. They don’t care about us,” Tjallingii said. Vanmarcke was more realistic. “What do they want, a race cancellation? Then sponsors might pull out and next year there might not even be a race. We can’t only race when it’s at least 10°C. The conditions are what they are, unpleasant but it could be worse,” Vanmarcke said.

    Last year’s winner of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad is recovering from a knee injury but felt ready for these races. “It hurts but the doctors assured me that’s normal. In the E3 Harelbeke my instinct told me to go with the move on the Taaienberg but I went over the limit and didn’t recover in time for the next climb,” Vanmarcke added.

     

  30. 132km remaining from 190km

    13:44:35 CET

    The gap is back up again, now at 45 seconds. The peloton is back at 1:44, with another group nearly 4 minutes down now.

  31. 13:46:39 CET

    The riders from team Sky were enjoying the warmth of a coal fire before facing the cold wind on the start podium in Deinze. British champion Ian Stannard (Sky) was amongst the group who actually seemed to have fun with the circumstances. Back in 2010 the young Brit first gained notice when he finished third in a hellish edition of Kuurn-Brussel-Kuurne. This year Stannard continuously colours the finale of the spring classics.

    “It’s not that I fancy this weather. I prefer to stay inside, rest assured. I’m doing well nowadays simply because I made progression as a rider. All these tough races do make it hard to recover and I felt that in the E3 Harelbeke,” Stannard told Cyclingnews.

  32. 13:48:43 CET

    And the gap is back down to 23 seconds, as RadioShack, around Fabian Cancellara, leads the chase.

  33. 13:51:31 CET

    In contrast to the strong performance from the team in the Vuelta a Catalunya the Garmin-Sharp team isn’t going too well in the spring classics. At the chilly start in Deinze team director Eric Van Lancker informed Cyclingnews that the team ran out of luck.

    “David Millar is ill and doesn’t start. Martijn Maaskant injured his knee and lacks competition. Nick Nuyens abandoned the E3 Harelbeke and will probably be out for the rest of the spring classics too. We’ll have to count on Tyler Farrar and Johan Vansummeren. These are not the best races for Sebastien Rosseler either and Andries Klier is our road captain but we can’t expect him to ride the finale,” Van Lancker told Cyclingnews.

  34. 13:54:09 CET

    Handing things over to Dan Benson, who has dunked his fingers in hot coffee to thaw them out after being at the start earlier.

  35. 13:55:56 CET

    Thanks Susan.

  36. 13:56:53 CET

    A reminder of the break that's up the road:

    Boonen, Cavendish, Stybar, Kwiatkowski (OPQ), Eisel, Hayman, Sutton (SKY), Greipel, Henderson, Willems, Sieberg (LTB), Boom, Wynants (BLA), Blythe, Oss, Phinney (BMC), Sagan (CAN), Fischer (FDJ), Kuschynski, Paolini (KAT), Amador (MOV), Breschel, Morkov (TST), Fouchard (COF), and Cousin (EUC).

  37. 13:59:36 CET

    It's too dangerous to let escape, hence Cancellara putting his team to work on the front in a bid to bring them back.


    Cancellara isn't going to let today slip through his fingers that's for sure. Firstly,  he's in great form and there's every reason he can win again today. Secondly, as last year showed one moment can change a season and he'll want to utilise his form if anything goes wrong at Flanders and Roubaix. Finally, he'll want to see a better demonstration from his team after E3, where he was isolated - not that it mattered in the end.

  38. 14:01:16 CET

    The RadioShack led second group are just 23 seconds down on the leaders.

  39. 14:04:25 CET

    The riders who have made the break illustrates a couple of points too, firstly Omega don't want to miss a break that's too large because they're not going to get much help in bringing it back, especially as a number of riders are sure to pull  out during the feed.


    Secondly,  Sagan managed to position himself near the front when it mattered but again he's isolated and on his own. Liquigas have the fire power but at certain times they lack the experience and knowledge of an Andreas Klier or Eisel, who is Sky's road captain in today's race.

  40. 14:06:28 CET

    With regards to BMC, at the start they said Thor Hushovd was their leader for the race but the former winner has missed the split as Oss,  Phinney and Blythe are up the road. It means BMC won't do any chasing and Hushovd can sit tight in the hope that the race comes back together. The gap is now 28 seconds.

  41. 14:08:19 CET

    Breschel probably deserves a mention as he too is in the break. The Dane was third in this race  last year behind Boonen and Sagan and has a decent sprint on him when he's fit and on form.

     

    He's had a difficult couple of years and didn't really show much in E3 on Friday but this is a little bit better from the two-time Worlds  medallist. 

  42. 73km remaining from 190km

    14:12:57 CET

    The two groups have now come together.

  43. 14:16:15 CET

    What is your most memorable moment from the last ten years of this race? There have been many highlights, and Cyclingnews takes a pictorial look back at them.

     

  44. 14:23:21 CET

    Sky, Omega and BMC have now assumed control of the peloton. There's a slight lull in the action to some degree but the slightest sign of crosswinds will change that. Then the positioning ahead of Casselberg will begin.

  45. 14:24:21 CET

    There are now 53 riders in the lead group with peloton at 43 seconds.

  46. 14:26:50 CET

    GreenEDGE finally have some men in the lead group now having missed the earlier split.

  47. 14:29:53 CET

    The Cassleberg will only be taken on once this year, meaning that the descent is crucial because it leads into the Catsberg, where positioning will be crucial. If you're not in the first 20-30 riders at that point it could be very difficult to get back on terms.

  48. 97km remaining from 190km

    14:30:36 CET

    97km to go with the lead  group 50-strong. Not 53 as earlier reported.

  49. 14:36:32 CET

    Greg Van Avermaet has slipped off the front of the lead group and Ian Stannard is shadowing him to shut the move down.

    The entire peloton is starting to come back  together after some chasing from FDJ.

  50. 14:40:42 CET

    Hayman moves to the front at the request of Eisel - Sky's road captain -  and the pace immediately shoot s up. There's a gap in the bunch with Stannard, Phinney, Flecha gaining a few seconds. Hayman puts an end to the move but it's caused chaos behind.

    Another easing in pace, and the majority of those who have lost contact should come back.

  51. 14:42:33 CET

    Cancellara sits about half-way down the field but he need to move up because there are cross winds splitting the field at the  moment. and BMC doing all the damage.

  52. 14:43:50 CET

    Sagan has missed a small split and without any teammates is forced to do all the chasing and bring thing back together. Boonen is in the lead group, and there's a bit of watching and waiting going on between the leaders. It looks like it's all going to come back together again.

  53. 14:45:08 CET

    Sagan seems to have had enough and moves himself and one of his teammates straight to the front. He can't keep having to make these efforts if he's to win a Classic this season.

  54. 14:46:24 CET

    Gilbert and a number of his teammates continue to patrol the front of the bunch and it's interesting to see how much of a back seat QuickStep are taking at the moment.

  55. 14:46:47 CET

    As I saw that Maes moves up and sets the pace.

  56. 88km remaining from 190km

    14:50:00 CET

    There's yet another split in the peloton but once again the elastic can't be broken. Maes is still  making things hard though and has taken around 10 riders with him. Greipel is there and Van Avermaet but they've got less than 20 meters.

  57. 14:52:01 CET

    As the move comes back together Flecha launches himself off the front with Grivko trying to get across.

  58. 14:53:08 CET

    Flecha has a pretty solid team with him so it's a bit of a surprise to see him try this. Bazayev and one other rider are about to  make contact though.

  59. 14:54:41 CET

    The other rider in the move is Ladagnous and the trio link up with 86km to go as Cancellara drifts back to his team car for a word with Demol.

  60. 14:55:51 CET

    They've immediately opened up a 35 second lead and the bunch aren't giving too much chase at the moment. That will change as we start the run into the first climb.

  61. 14:56:29 CET

    And now Gilbert jumps.

  62. 14:57:23 CET

    The World Champion merely lifts the pace and it's enough to see Sagan come to life as the leaders now take on the Catsberg with a 43 second lead.

  63. 14:58:39 CET

    Cannondale muscle their way to the head of the field with Sky just behind them.

  64. 15:00:50 CET

    Ladagnous, Flecha and Bazayev have 52 seconds.

  65. 15:04:05 CET

    Alan Marangoni who rode the Classics last year for Cannondale is on the front for Sagan as the race towards the Kokereelberg begins with a twisting descent. If you're at the back now you might as well pack.

  66. 15:04:37 CET

    The three leaders have pushed their advantage out to 1:12.

  67. 15:08:51 CET

    The road narrows around a right hand bend and BMC and Sky flood the front with RadioShack just behind. That's the difference between those teams and Cannondale perhaps, they have the experience to know when to be at the front. Gilbert is currently setting the pace with Sagan now three or four rows back.

  68. 77km remaining from 190km

    15:11:13 CET

    The lead has gone out to 1:33.

  69. 15:14:28 CET

    The peloton aren't too worried about Flecha despite the gap going out to 2 minutes.

  70. 15:19:12 CET

    Flecha is certainly doing the lion share of the work in the lead group and it's paying off with the advantage up to 2:05.

  71. 15:19:38 CET

    As Gilbert sprints into the foot of the Baneberg

  72. 15:20:30 CET

    Gaps immediately appear in the peloton as Hayman leads a chase group.

  73. 15:20:56 CET

    Gilbert's acceleration clips 10 seconds off the leader's gap as they run through the feedzone.

  74. 15:22:38 CET

    The Boonen, Gilbert group is around 30 strong with Sagan there, Brechel too.

  75. 15:22:58 CET

    The Dane is first into the feedzone, keen to avoid any crashes or trouble.

  76. 15:24:20 CET

    Blythe hits the front but the new is that Fabian Cancellara has pulled out at the feedzone.

  77. 15:25:15 CET

    He'll most likely be heading home for a few days in preparation for Flanders.

     

    And Geraint Thomas has also pulled out too.

  78. 15:28:02 CET

    Gilbert has now drifted to the back of the peloton. We've not seen Cavendish in a while though so no indication if he's still with the leaders or not.

  79. 15:28:28 CET

    Boonen has crashed an is on the floor.

  80. 15:28:59 CET

    Peters is out of the car and with him.

  81. 15:29:16 CET

    Boonen is sitting up but his race looks over for sure.

  82. 15:29:45 CET

    Now he's on his feet as the three leaders start the Kemmelberg for the first time.

  83. 15:30:26 CET

    Boonen has started riding again as up ahead Flecha's class is showing and he opens up a small gap on his two other breakaway partners.

  84. 15:31:13 CET

    Will Omega wait for Boonen at this crucial moment. Seeing the Boonen crash he seemed to clip the curb and lose control.

  85. 15:31:35 CET

    As Boasson Hagen leads Sagan on the climb with a small gap behind.

  86. 15:31:55 CET

    As Flecha starts the descent.

  87. 15:32:08 CET

    The three leaders are back together again.

  88. 15:33:31 CET

    The peloton crest the top of the climb all together.

  89. 15:34:10 CET

    As Boonen continues on alone. There's little chance of him making contact at this point though.

  90. 63km remaining from 190km

    15:35:11 CET

    The three leaders have 49 seconds as they race towards the Monteberg, which is just 2 kilometres away.

  91. 15:35:53 CET

    Peters has said that Boonen is complaining about soreness in his knee and leg after his spill.

  92. 15:36:52 CET

    There a few splits in the bunch on the Kemmel and they'll be hard to close at this stage. Still no sign of Cavendish as we have confirmation that Boonen has quit the race.

  93. 15:38:23 CET

    Luke Rowe takes over at the front for Sky with a number of teammates and riders from BMC close by. Flecha's posse have just 35 seconds left.

  94. 15:38:45 CET

    Boonen is complaining that he was pushed into the curb by a rider.

  95. 15:40:22 CET

    With the field fracturing BMC are looking to take full advantage. Cavendish and Greipel are both in the lead group. Confirmed.

  96. 15:42:51 CET

    And Haussler attacks off the front but it's worth noting that Sagan has four men with him in the front group.

  97. 15:43:37 CET

    Haussler has a small gap but the peloton aren't going to let him get too far up the road.

  98. 15:44:06 CET

    The IAM Cycling leader looks back, sees he's going no where and sits up.

  99. 56km remaining from 190km

    15:45:29 CET

    Well, Haussler's opening a bit of gap now with Cannondale leading a small chase group.

  100. 15:46:22 CET

    The chase group has two Cannondale riders, Eisel and three or four other riders as they now make contact with Haussler. Amador is there too.

  101. 15:46:43 CET

    The Flecha group has just 17 seconds now.

  102. 15:48:24 CET

    The Haussler/Eisel move has been shut down as the bunch hits the Baneberg.

  103. 15:51:42 CET

    Brsechel launches an attack from the peloton and the Haussler move is still clear at the moment.

  104. 15:53:01 CET

    The Haussler/Eisel group have caught the Flecha move so we have 10 riders in the lead now with a 50 second gap.

  105. 15:53:42 CET

    Sagan is in the lead group with Bodnar a teammate.

  106. 15:54:13 CET

    Sagan is in the lead group with Bodnar a teammate.

  107. 50km remaining from 190km

    15:55:49 CET

    50km to go and the Sagan group as it's now being called, has 1:04 on the peloton.

  108. 15:58:48 CET

    A big job for Bodnar here as he'll be tasked with extended the break's lead but it's Sagan who takes charge.

  109. 15:59:32 CET

    The lead has gone out to 1:34

  110. 16:00:14 CET

    The lead has gone out to 1:34 as the break take on the Kemmel for the last time.

  111. 16:00:42 CET

    Vandenbergh (OPQ)
    Eisel (SKY)
    Debusschere (LTB)
    Bazayev (AST), Bozic (AST)
    van Avermaet (BMC)
    Bodnar (CAN), Sagan (CAN)
    Ladagnous (FDJ)
    Amador (MOV)
    Popovych (RLT)
    Flecha (VCD)
    Haussler (IAM)

  112. 16:01:09 CET

    Haussler and Popo are struggling as Flecha sets the pace.

  113. 16:02:23 CET

    Over the top of the climb and the chase has fragmented as Sagan sets pace at the head of the break.

  114. 16:03:11 CET

    Cavendish digs deep in the bunch as they crest the Kemmel, Hushovd, Boom, Greipel, Stannard are all there.

  115. 16:03:58 CET

    Sky are leading over the top so perhaps they're not happy putting Eisel up against Sagan in the sprint. That will play into Cavendish's hands.

  116. 16:06:26 CET

    Popo and Haussler have made it back to the break but there are a couple of passengers in Eisel and Vandenbergh as Breschel attacks again from the peloton.

    Bodnar has a puncture and drops out of the lead group so Sagan is on his own. The Cannondale rider moves to the front straight away and the gap is now at 1'17

  117. 16:07:56 CET

    And with the Kemmel over it's Omega who move to the front and set the pace. Boasson Hagen is also in the Cavendish/Greipel group and Bodnas has made it back to the leaders. Impressive riding.

  118. 42km remaining from 190km

    16:08:19 CET

    42km to go and the gap is at 1'18

  119. 16:09:42 CET

    BMC may be caught in two minds here because Van Avermaet is a decent sprinter and possibly their best option today.

    Pozzato is also in the Cavendish group.

  120. 16:11:20 CET

    Debusschere has a flat and is dropped from the lead group.

  121. 16:13:56 CET

    Eisel slips back and has a word with the DS in the Sky car. The gap isn't getting any bigger so he might be asked to work in a bid to weaken Omega if the bunch does come back together. Saying that, we've seen Cavendish win on his own too.

  122. 16:17:00 CET

    Sagan is still taking turns on the break, along with Haussler so they certainly see this as their best chance of a win today.

  123. 16:17:54 CET

    Katusha and BMC flood the front of the peloton though and this will help the sprinters like Cavendish and Greipel.

  124. 16:18:27 CET

    Lotto finally join the party on the front of the peloton now.

  125. 16:19:52 CET

    And Van Avermaet has stopped taking turns so Sagan won't want to give him an easy ride to the finish. This could spell the end of the break even though their lead has moved out to 1'32

  126. 16:24:53 CET

    The leaders reach Ieper, included for the first time this year. They hold a lead of 1'29.

  127. 16:25:45 CET

    Vandenbergh sits at the back of the group. He's not been called back yet for the chase which is understandably given how many other teams have the same ambitions as Cavendish for the sprint.

  128. 30km remaining from 190km

    16:26:23 CET

    30km to go with the gap at 1'28.

  129. 16:32:04 CET

    And now Susan is taking over until the finish.

  130. 16:33:19 CET

    Haussler sees the gap shrinking slightly and kicks up the speed.

  131. 16:34:57 CET

    Blanco, Sky, Lotto all pulling the field along in chase of that front group.

  132. 23km remaining from 190km

    16:37:38 CET

    23 km to go, and the gap is 1:29.  Still too early to know whether the gap will hold or not.

     

  133. 16:40:10 CET

    Lotto and Blanco leading the chase now.

  134. 16:41:55 CET

    Cannondale continues to lead the escape group. No surprise, as Sagan is certainly a hot favourite to win on this cold day.

  135. 18km remaining from 190km

    16:44:51 CET

    The gap has actually picked up a few seconds, and is now at 2:34. We are getting ready to predict that this group will make it through to the end.

  136. 16:46:15 CET

    Once again that neon green of Cannondale pushing at the head of the break group.

  137. 16:47:44 CET

    Eisel at the rear of the group.

  138. 16:48:39 CET

    There are no more climbs left.

  139. 16:50:24 CET

    Haussler takes another turn in the lead, followed by Eisel.

  140. 16:51:49 CET

    Bodnar falls back to the team car to take off and deliver a jacket.

  141. 16:52:13 CET

    But he is of course quickly back up to Sagan's side.

  142. 16:53:04 CET

    There may be no more real climbs today, but that certainly doesn't mean that the course is now flat!

  143. 12km remaining from 190km

    16:54:20 CET

    12 km and the gap is 1:25. If the chasing group really turns on teh speed, and holds it, then they have a chance of catching this group. But that is beginning to seem unlikely.

  144. 9km remaining from 190km

    16:58:34 CET

    Well, the chasers finally realized it was time to get down to business. With 9 km to go, the gap has fallen to 1:02.  It is still possible for them to catch the leaders but....

  145. 16:59:38 CET

    The gap is falling steadily now, but the break group isn't going to give up without a fight.

  146. 17:00:29 CET

    Lotto and Blanco at the head of the chase, and we caught a glimpse of an OPQS jersey near the front, too.

  147. 17:00:58 CET

    Once again it is Bodnar at the head of the lead group, pushing the pace as much as he can.

  148. 17:01:50 CET

    Six km and only 40 seconds. Who would have thought it?

  149. 17:02:29 CET

    Bodnar again. He is going to be tired this evening!

  150. 17:03:00 CET

    Popovych is at the other end of the group, and looks to be having trouble hanging on.

  151. 17:03:48 CET

    Bodnar has done his duty and now falls back out of the lead group.

  152. 17:04:52 CET

    4 km and 32 seconds....Haussler, Sagan and a third rider have a small gap.

  153. 17:05:29 CET

    They are caught and Sagan takes off solo -- and he will have an excellent chance!

  154. 17:05:59 CET

    Eisel leads the chase, but it may well be in vain.

  155. 17:06:29 CET

    Eisel, Van Avermaet and Popovych are the chasing trio. 3 km, and 40 seconds to the field.

  156. 17:06:46 CET

    Sagan has 12 seconds on the chasing trio.

  157. 17:07:57 CET

    Sagan increase his lead, up to 16 seconds with 2 km to go. He is copying Cancellara, with this solo move.

  158. 17:08:25 CET

    Flamme rouge and Sagan should easily have this one in his pocket.

  159. 17:09:07 CET

    Amador takes off in chase, or at least in chase of second place.

  160. 17:09:28 CET

    And SAgan easily cruises in to a solo victory!

  161. 17:10:46 CET

    Bozic took second place.

  162. 17:11:50 CET

    And Van Avermaet was third. Greipel won the sprint of the field, some 39 seconds after Sagan crossed the line.

  163. 17:13:19 CET

    Sagan is known for his victory celebrations, and today was no exception. No dancing this time, but a series of wheelies.

  164. 17:15:03 CET

    The first chasing group came in 28 seconds down, so Sagan had built himself up a good lead.

  165. 17:17:15 CET

    And here are the top ten finishers today:

    1    Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling    4:29:10
    2    Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team    0:00:28
    3    Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
    4    Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling    
    5    Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
    6    Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ    
    7    Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling    
    8    Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
    9    Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack Leopard    
    10    Andrei Amador Bipkazacova (Crc) Movistar

  166. 17:18:13 CET

    Thanks for reading along and be sure to join us for the spring season. And we will do our best to try and find some spring weather!