Sagan wins Gent-Wevelgem

World champion out-sprints Vanmarcke, Kuznetsov and Cancellara in four-man dash to the line

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) took a hard-fought victory at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday after out-sprinting a strong four-man breakaway that successfully made it to the finish line ahead of a larger chase group.

The world champion won the drag race to the line ahead of Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha), who was the first to jump and held a powerful sprint for nearly 200 metres but was caught by Sagan and Vanmarcke as they crossed the line. Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) was fourth but suffered with cramps after being part of the aggressive quartet in the final Gent-Wevelgem of is long career.

Sagan has gone close to victory so many time and so was naturally happy to finally win a major Classic and win as the world champion. He dedicated his win to his wife’s father.

“I’m very happy I won finally in this rainbow jersey,” he said before climbing on the top step of the winner’s podium. “This is my second win at Gent-Wevelgem and this is for the father of my love because he’s having a hard time.”

He then explained the race and the thrilling finale.

“Fabian went on the last climb and then we got in the break. I think the fans saw who were in the break. We worked together from the start,” he said. “We played with group a little. Then in the finale there was a strong wind and we did full gas all day. We went slow near the finish because we had a lot of time on group. Fabian after a lot of kilometres is fast, then they know I’m fast if I feel good. Today I was very, very good and so the win came.”

How it happened

In the start town of Deinze, a few big names didn’t show up to the start due to illness, including Ian Stannard (Sky) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Matti Breschel (Cannondale) all returned after illness. Riders were expecting wind to become an important factor on Sunday, although not as much as last year’s stormy edition.

The racing started outside of Deinze, after three kilometres of racing, when a small group went clear. The five brave attackers were Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff), Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Josef Cerny (CCC) and later Simon Pellaud (IAM) got across to them. With the peloton happy to let them go clear, the five opened a lead of up to eleven minutes, averaging 40 km/h despite the strong side wind.

When approaching the feared flatlands of De Moeren, at 160 kilometres from Wevelgem, the speed in the peloton increased and echelons were formed in the wind. The first echelon of 34 riders gained a minute on the second group but unlike last year, it would not be a decisive part of the race. The biggest names who were missing in front were fast men Fernando Gaviria and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) but also Classics specialists Lars Boom (Astana) and Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo). Bouhanni quickly abandoned the race.

After the passage in De Moeren the race entered France with the first peloton still seven minutes down on the five leaders, while the gaps between the echelons grew up to a minute.

The first peloton kept the speed high and made the second group work hard to get back on as the tactics of Gent-Wevelgem unfolded yet again. At 114 kilometres from the finish the five breakaway riders were pulled back with the second peloton still one minute down. Twenty kilometres later, while still in France at the fourth climb of the day called Côte du Ravel Put, part of the second peloton finally managed to bridge back up with the front of the race. The first peloton now consisted of approximately fifty riders. It was not an easy day for any sprinters hoping to win in Wevelgem.

Just before climb five, the Côte de la Blanchisserie, Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) crashed hard over the handlebars. The winner of Dwars door Vlaanderen was forced to quit the race and was taken to hospital.

Time for the Kemmelberg

The Kemmelberg is the key climb in Gent-Wevelgem and again proved this year. On the first ascent the big guns kept quiet, saving their legs for the final ascent but as the peloton lined out on the descent a few kilometres later, Matteo Trentin initiated a breakaway move on the Monteberg climb that cones just after the Kemmelberg. He was joined by Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), Daniel Oss (BMC), Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and again Pavel Brutt.

The attack forced the Dimension Data and LottoNL-Jumbo teams to work hard in the small peloton and thirteen kilometres later the five were brought back. However it was a taste of things to come.

Once the five were caught back Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha) jumped away alone. The Russian rider quickly opened a gap of nearly a minute when starting the two final key climbs of the day: the Baneberg and the Kemmelberg at 40 and 35 kilometres from the finish. It was a clever move that would pay back big time later in the race.

Vanmarcke attacked on the Baneberg, kicking off the important attacks amongst the overall contenders. He was caught before the peloton hit the steep side of the Kemmelberg but he was clearly on form after a quiet build-up to the Classics. On the cobbled Kemmelberg, Sagan, Cancellara and Vanmarcke first crested the top of the climb and then they powered away towards Kuznetsov. The race had exploded in just a few seconds.

Stybar, Van Avermaet and Rowe were not far behind over the top but struggled to close the final metres after the descent. At 30 kilometres from the finish they were caught back by the chasing peloton, which trailed the four leaders by 20 seconds. The race was balanced on a knife-edge.

In the peloton fast men such Gaviria, Arnaud Démare (FDJ) and Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) were all waiting for a sprint finish. However the four attackers refused to wait for anyone and worked together to extend their lead. Sagan, Cancellara and Vanmarcke all did massive turns, with Kuznetsov sitting on before bravely doing his bit too.

Behind Etixx-QuickStep hit the front in pursuit but they had missed the big move once again this spring. They worked hard for Gaviria, with five riders chasing but as they ride under the Menin Gate in Ypres, at 23 kilometres from the finish, they were 35 seconds down on the leaders. At that moment they sat up and lost heart, knowing it was virtually impossible to catch the leading quartet. The trial of Etixx-QuickStep’s spring will no doubt begin in the Flemish media.

The mind games begin

Up front, the mind games before the sprint began with five kilometres to go. The riders took turns on the front but also watched each other carefully as if in a track sprint. The speed dropped as the tension rode.

Inside the finale kilometre Cancellara was stuck on the front as Sagan moved across the road several times to avoid being caught out.

Kuznetsov kicked first inside the final 200 metres. Cancellara got on his wheel but struggled to hold it, revealing later he had been hit by cramps. Sagan had no such problems and jumped up to Kuznetsov in a flash. He then kicked clear towards the line and sat up, lowering his arms in celebration as he crossed the line. Finally he had won as world champion and a rainbow soon crossed the Wevelgem sky as rain began to fall.

Sep Vanmarcke finished second and Kuznetsov third, bumping Cancellara off the podium. Sagan has finally won one of the big Sunday Classics. Round two is next week at the Tour of Flanders.

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Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team5:55:12 
2Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
3Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha  
4Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek-Segafredo  
5Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ0:00:11 
6Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step  
7Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
8Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team Katusha  
9Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
10Michael Morkov (Den) Team Katusha  
11Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
12Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-GreenEdge  
13Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
14Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling  
15Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
16Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
17Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff Team  
18Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data  
19Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
20Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:17 
21Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:19 
22Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky0:00:24 
23Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:28 
24Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:00:29 
25Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge0:01:07 
26Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie0:01:22 
27Berden De Vries (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton0:05:08 
28Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha  
29Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
30Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
31Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
32Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
33Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team  
34Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
35Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky  
36Andrey Amador Bikkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team  
37Oscar Gatto (Ita) Tinkoff Team  
38Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre - Merida  
39Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
40Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin  
41Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:06:05 
42Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal  
43Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:06:06 
44Amaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:06:08 
45Yohann Gene (Fra) Direct Energie0:06:11 
46Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step0:06:16 
47Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step  
48Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team0:06:21 
49Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:07:16 
50Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo  
51Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team0:11:05 
52Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
53Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
54Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
55Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
56Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
57Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ  
58Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ  
59Tomasz Kiendys (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
60Marko Kump (Slo) Lampre - Merida  
61Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
62Bert De Backer (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin  
63Raymond Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
64Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
65Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale  
66Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
67Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
68Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
69Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
70Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
71Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky0:11:09 
72Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie0:11:11 
73Marco Coledan (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
74Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff Team  
75Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
76Josef Cerny (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
77Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha  
78Wesley Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
79Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek-Segafredo  
80Tyler Farrar (USA) Dimension Data0:11:57 
81Nick Dougall (RSA) Dimension Data0:12:02 
82Simon Pellaud (Swi) IAM Cycling0:12:03 
DNFErik Baska (Svk) Tinkoff Team  
DNFAdam Blythe (GBr) Tinkoff Team  
DNFMichael Gogl (Aut) Tinkoff Team  
DNFMichal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff Team  
DNFAndré Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal  
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFJens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal  
DNFJean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team  
DNFRick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
DNFSven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Katusha  
DNFSergey Lagutin (Rus) Team Katusha  
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFNiccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFJos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
DNFThomas Leezer (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
DNFMatt Brammeier (Irl) Dimension Data  
DNFReinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data  
DNFMekseb Debesay (Eri) Dimension Data  
DNFMark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data  
DNFJay Robert Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data  
DNFMaxime Daniel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFNico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFDamien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFHugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFQuentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFLars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team  
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFLieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team  
DNFArman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFGatis Smukulis (Lat) Astana Pro Team  
DNFMatti Breschel (Den) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFPatrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFJack Bauer (NZl) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFSebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFDylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFWouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFOlivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ  
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) FDJ  
DNFMatthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ  
DNFJohan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ  
DNFYoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ  
DNFHeinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling  
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling  
DNFLeigh Howard (Aus) IAM Cycling  
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling  
DNFVegard Stake Laengen (Nor) IAM Cycling  
DNFOliver Naesen (Bel) IAM Cycling  
DNFMattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre - Merida  
DNFGang Xu (Chn) Lampre - Merida  
DNFChun Kai Feng (Tpe) Lampre - Merida  
DNFRoberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre - Merida  
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre - Merida  
DNFFederico Zurlo (Ita) Lampre - Merida  
DNFJorge Arcas Pena (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFCarlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Movistar Team  
DNFNelson Filipe Santos Simoes Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team  
DNFAntonio Pedrero Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFJuan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFFrancisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFSøren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFTom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFAlbert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFSam Bewley (NZl) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFMagnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFSvein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFChristian Knees (Ger) Team Sky  
DNFSalvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky  
DNFAndrew Fenn (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFElia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky  
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFJonas Rickaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFGijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFJef Van Meirhaeghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFKenny De Haes (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFAntoine Demoitie (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFSimone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFTom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFMarco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFMark Mcnally (GBr) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFDanilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFLuca Sterbini (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFAlessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFNicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFSonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFMirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFLorenzo Rota (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFNicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF  
DNFAdrian Kurek (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFMichal Paluta (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFJaroslaw Marycz (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFBartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFGrzegorz Stepniak (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
DNFJonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFHugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFNacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFChristophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFFlorian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFKenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFRomain Cardis (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFTony Hurel (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFJulien Morice (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFAdrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFAngelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFTim Kerkhof (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFAndré Looij (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFIvar Slik (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNFBarry Markus (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton  
DNSAlexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha  
DNSAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNSIan Stannard (GBr) Team Sky  

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