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.
|#||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|