Sagan solos away for crafty Gent-Wevelgem victory

Cannondale rider foils breakaway companions

Peter Sagan (Cannondale) soloed to the win in the 2013 Gent-Wevelgem, launching a winning attack from a breakaway inside the final four kilometres. The runner-up in Milan-San Remo and E3 Harelbeke finished clear of Borut Bozic (Astana) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), with the sprinters left competing for the minor places in a race shortened by the snowy conditions.

Sagan, recently criticised for his race winning celebrations by Fabian Cancellara -  who pulled out at the feedzone  -  had plenty of time to celebrate at the line, treating the crowd to a series of wheelies.

"The classics are my first goal of the season," Sagan said in his winner's press conference.

"I wanted to win in Milan-San Remo but now I’ve found this victory and it gives me and my team real satisfaction. Now I’ve broken the ice for the next win."

"This might not be a win as big as San Remo or Paris-Roubaix but it’s an important race and I’m really happy but hope to continue now," he added.

Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling), who initiated the winning move on the second ascent of the Baneberg, had to settle for fourth.

At the team presentation in Deinze, Haussler had been vocal about his thoughts on the race, stating that the cold conditions could be a step too far and that the riders' safety could be compromised if the weather worsened. However with 6,000 VIPs at the race, the  organisers were always going to play every last card in an attempt to see the event start. The first 50 kilometres were cut, the first of the ascent of the Casselberg annulled and the race was on.

Haussler’s attack on the road as opposed to on the start line was one of the defining moments of the race as he sped towards a three-man move of Assan Bazayev (Astana), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil) and Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ).

"I just had to use a lot of energy because I was sitting in the third group straight after the start and I only just got back on before the Kemmelberg so it was a hard race," Haussler said regarding his race.

Before he could make contact he was joined by Sagan, former winner Bernhard Eisel (Sky), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Andrey Amador (Movistar), Borut Bozic (Astana), Maciej Bodnar (Cannondale), Yaroslov Popovich (Radioshack), Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), and Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol). Before long the break had an advantage of 1’30.

It sparked Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-QuickStep team into life but having lost Tom Boonen to a crash and with Vandenbergh up the road, reinforcements were sorely needed. Sky and BMC who had Eisel and Van Avermaet in the lead group were hesitant to chase but Blanco and Lotto obliged to cooperate inside the final 30 kilometres for Mark Renshaw and Andre Greipel respectively.

However the gap still held with Flecha and Bodnar providing steely back up for Bozic and Sagan.

Into the final 10km, the lead finally began to topple and with 7km to go the gap was a mere 48 seconds. The sprinters looked to have the race in their hands, especially with a stern wind aiding their chase.

Up ahead, Flecha surged to the front to try and inject some impetus but all that appeared to come with him were tired legs, frozen fingers and demoralised hearts.

Inside the 5 kilometre marker it was Haussler’s turn to give it one last assault but with the lead at 38 seconds the race was still heading towards a bunch sprint.

Vandenbergh launched an attack with 4 kilometres to go, in his first effort since joining the escape but he was quickly closed down.

Cue Sagan, who followed Flecha onto Vandenbergh’s back wheel before dipping his shoulders and accelerating away for his win.

A cold day and a shortened race

The cold weather in Belgium caused a lot of stir about whether or not the 75th edition of Gent-Wevelgem should go through or not. The evening before the race the organizers decided to get the race underway in Gistel instead of Deinze, covering the first 50 of the 238 kilometres long race by bus.

The cold northeast wind quickly resulted in the formation of several echelons. In front many favourites were present in a first group of 25 riders, including defending winner Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish, André Greipel and Peter Sagan. As Fabian Cancellara wasn’t present in this group his team did most of the work in the second echelon when battling the strong winds in the flatlands of De Moeren.

After entering France for about fifty kilometres of racing the first groups were heading for a junction. When taking on the Mont des Cats (or Casselberg) a second time the group with Cancellara finally reached the front of the race. On the following wide open roads the group split again though most of the favourites remained in front this time. The pace in front dropped slightly and that was the sign for Juan Antonio Flecha to attack.

The Spaniard was joined by Matthieu Ladagnous and Assan Bazayev. The trio quickly collected a maximal gap of two minutes on the peloton. That was until that peloton hit the Baneberg where Philippe Gilbert tested his legs. Shortly after that the race passed through the feed zone at 70km from the finish, and Tour of Flanders favourite Fabian Cancellara and many other riders abandoned the race there. A few moments later Tom Boonen hit the deck in the peloton when he hit a curb at high speed in the drop towards the town of Kemmel.

The Belgian champion needed a lot of time to get back on his bike. On the Kemmelberg Edvald Boasson Hagen increased the pace, swiftly marked by Peter Sagan and about thirty others. In the background Boonen quit the race after riding up the cobbled climb. Meanwhile the first chase group was trailing the three leaders by only forty seconds.

When turning back on wider roads to tackle the Baneberg, Kemmelberg and Monteberg for the last time, Heinrich Haussler set up a new move. The German Australian was joined by Sagan, former winner Bernhard Eisel (Sky), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and others. When powering up the Baneberg the peloton was back on their heels but after the climb the break was gone, together with Andrey Amador (Movistar), Borut Bozic (Astana), Maciej Bodnar (Cannondale), Jaroslov Popovich (Radioshack) and Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol).

The ten quickly caught up with the three earlier leaders, creating a leader’s group of thirteen riders. On the Kemmelberg Bazayev couldn’t keep up and dropped back into the peloton which trailed by 1:20. Mark Cavendish instructed Zdenek Stybar to keep the pace high. But Omega Pharma-QuickStep lacked the numbers to reduce the gap and received little support from other teams.

That was until Debusschere punctured out of the lead group and Lotto-Belisol moved to the front of the peloton. When riding through Ieper and the Menin Gate – an impressive passage with 30km to go - the eleven remaining leaders had just under 1:30 on the peloton. The efforts in the peloton were not enough to bring down the gap to the lead group because ten kilometres later it was still the same.

Full Results

# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling 4:29:10  
2 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:00:23  
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 Cycling Team 0:00:24  
9 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack Leopard    
10 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team    
11 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol 0:00:40  
12 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ    
13 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
14 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha    
15 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
16 Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar    
17 Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team    
18 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
19 Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
20 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling    
21 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2R La Mondiale    
22 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) IAM Cycling    
23 Lars Boom (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
24 Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
25 Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
26 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty    
27 Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ    
28 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team    
29 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team    
30 Danilo Hondo (Ger) RadioShack Leopard    
31 Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano    
32 Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack Leopard    
33 David Boucher (Fra) FDJ    
34 Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ 0:00:44  
35 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
36 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling    
37 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale    
38 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
39 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
40 Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack Leopard    
41 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team    
42 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
43 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling    
44 Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
45 Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
46 Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ    
47 Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar    
48 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
49 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:00:51  
50 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ    
51 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Sky Procycling    
52 Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
53 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
54 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha    
55 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:00:58  
56 Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:01:04  
57 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:01:35  
58 Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing Team 0:01:47  
59 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol 0:01:58  
60 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:02:08  
61 Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:03:03  
62 Debusschere (Bel) Jens    
63 Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar 0:06:34  
64 Florent Barle (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
65 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano    
66 David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar    
67 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling    
68 Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits    
69 Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Sharp    
70 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNS Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNS David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Gert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling    
DNF Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Davide Appollonio (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale    
DNF Gedimias Bagdonas (Ltu) Ag2R La Mondiale    
DNF Steve Chainel (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale    
DNF Hugo Houle (Can) Ag2R La Mondiale    
DNF Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Ag2R La Mondiale    
DNF Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale    
DNF Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Rick Flens (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Jos Van Emden (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Mark Renshaw (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
DNF David Tanner (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Edward King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
DNF Peio Bilbao (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Adrian Saez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Alexander Serebryakov (Rus) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Steffen Radochla (Ger) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ    
DNF Jacob Rathe (USA) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Andreas Klier (Ger) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Sebastien Rosseler (Bel) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Jens Mouris (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Stuart O'grady (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha    
DNF Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha    
DNF Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha    
DNF Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha    
DNF Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha    
DNF Gatis Smukulis (Lat) Katusha    
DNF Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Elia Favilli (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Massimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Davide Vigano (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Alex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team    
DNF Eloy Teruel Rovira (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team    
DNF Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard    
DNF Stijn Devolder (Bel) RadioShack Leopard    
DNF Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack Leopard    
DNF Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard    
DNF Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Tom Veelers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Daniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
DNF Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
DNF Marko Kump (Slo) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
DNF Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
DNF Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
DNF Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
DNF Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
DNF Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    


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