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) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling4:29:10 
2Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team0:00:23 
3Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
4Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling  
5Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
6Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ  
7Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling  
8Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team0:00:24 
9Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack Leopard  
10Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team  
11André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol0:00:40 
12Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ  
13Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
14Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha  
15Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
16Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar  
17Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team  
18Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team  
19Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
20Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling  
21Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2R La Mondiale  
22Sébastien Hinault (Fra) IAM Cycling  
23Lars Boom (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
24Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
25Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
26James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Accent Jobs-Wanty  
27Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ  
28Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
29Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team  
30Danilo Hondo (Ger) RadioShack Leopard  
31Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano  
32Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack Leopard  
33David Boucher (Fra) FDJ  
34Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ0:00:44 
35Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
36Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling  
37Sébastien Minard (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale  
38Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
39Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
40Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack Leopard  
41Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team  
42Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
43Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling  
44Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
45Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
46Anthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ  
47Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar  
48Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
49Nikolas Maes (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team0:00:51 
50Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ  
51Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Sky Procycling  
52Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
53Maarten Wynants (Bel) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
54Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha  
55Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:00:58 
56Luke Rowe (GBr) Sky Procycling0:01:04 
57Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team0:01:35 
58Adam Blythe (GBr) BMC Racing Team0:01:47 
59Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol0:01:58 
60Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:02:08 
61Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:03:03 
62Debusschere (Bel) Jens  
63Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar0:06:34 
64Florent Barle (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
65John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano  
66David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar  
67Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling  
68Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
69Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Sharp  
70Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNSRuslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNSDavid Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFTom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team  
DNFGert Steegmans (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team  
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team  
DNFMartin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team  
DNFGeraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling  
DNFLars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol  
DNFDirk Bellemakers (Ned) Lotto Belisol  
DNFGreg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol  
DNFJurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFDavide Appollonio (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFGedimias Bagdonas (Ltu) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFSteve Chainel (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFHugo Houle (Can) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFValentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFLloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFDmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFMaxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFRick Flens (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
DNFJos Van Emden (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMark Renshaw (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
DNFDavid Tanner (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
DNFSep Vanmarcke (Bel) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
DNFManuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
DNFEdward King (USA) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFPeio Bilbao (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFGarikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFAdrian Saez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFJuan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFRuben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFAlexander Serebryakov (Rus) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFIoannis Tamouridis (Gre) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFSteffen Radochla (Ger) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFDominique Rollin (Can) FDJ  
DNFJacob Rathe (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFTyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFAndreas Klier (Ger) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFRamunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFSebastien Rosseler (Bel) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFMartijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFMitchell Docker (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFSebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFJens Mouris (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFStuart O'grady (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFTomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFXavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha  
DNFVladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha  
DNFMarco Haller (Aut) Katusha  
DNFVladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha  
DNFAliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha  
DNFGatis Smukulis (Lat) Katusha  
DNFMattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFDavide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFElia Favilli (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFMassimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFAndrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFAlessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFDavide Vigano (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFAlex Dowsett (GBr) Movistar Team  
DNFEloy Teruel Rovira (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFEnrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFJesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFFrancisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFGiovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team  
DNFFabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFStijn Devolder (Bel) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFMarkel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFNikias Arndt (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFLuka Mezgec (Slo) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFReinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFTom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFTom Veelers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFDaniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFJonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFMarko Kump (Slo) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFAnders Lund (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFChristopher Juul Jensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFMichael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFMatteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFKris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  


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