Greg Van Avermaet wins Gent-Wevelgem

Keukeleire and Sagan complete podium

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) became the first rider since Jan Raas in 1981 to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem in the same season. The Belgian held off Orica-Scott's Jens Keukeleire with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) finishing in third.

Van Avermaet, enjoying the best season of his career so far, was a cut above the opposition, having been a threat on the final ascent of the Kemmelberg and following the key moves – or making them himself – until forming a winning escape in the closing kilometres.

It looked as though Sagan would be in contention to defend his 2016 crown when he Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors), and Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) created an impressive five-man group with Van Avermaet and Keukeleire with around 20 kilometres to go, but when Sagan and Niki Terpstra were unable to collaborate in the closing stages Keukeleire and Van Avermaet took their cue and opened up an unbridgeable gap. Despite a late chase from the world champion, Van Avermaet and Keukeleire entered the finishing straight with plenty of time to spare, and despite leading out from the front Van Avermaet had held off a plucky challenge from his fellow Belgian in the two-man sprint.

Sagan crossed the line in third, visibly disappointed with how others had raced against him. As for Van Avermaet, the march towards the Tour of Flanders continues.

"First, we rode away with a big group after the Kemmel and the co-operation wasn't 100 per cent. Then, we rode away with five riders and still the co-operation wasn't 100 per cent. There are always a few riders who want to save something, apparently," " said Van Avermaet.

On the defining split with Keukeleire, he added: "I didn't know about it because I was just doing my pull in front, when Fabio was shouting in my ear that we were with the two of us. I had to hurry to get to the wheel of Jens. "From there we kept going flat out. I suffered because it was full gas until the finish. We only had ten seconds. I preferred to ride to the finish with Jens then to do it with the three others."

How it unfolded

The sun was out at the start of the 79th edition of Gent-Wevelgem in Deinze. The 200 riders lined up in the crowded Deinze market square and paid tribute to Antoine Demoitié before taking the start. Last year, Demoitié died following a crash and collision with a motorbike during the race. After a small loop in Deinze, the peloton headed west for the first of 246 kilometres, with a passage through De Moeren part of the route. The pace was extremely fast early on, averaging 50 km/h during the first hour. Nevertheless, a group of nine riders escaped the peloton with Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Dennis van Winden (Israel Cycling Academy), Elmar Reinders (Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij), Hugo Houle (AG2R La Mondiale), Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac), Mark McNally (Wanty Groupe - Gobert), Jay Thomson (Team Dimension Data), Loïc Chetout (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) and Christophe Masson (WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect). The gap quickly grew to six minutes with FDJ taking the lead in the peloton.

As soon as the race hit the Catsberg, the peloton started splitting apart, partly due to the climbs but also because of the crashes on the narrow roads. After seven climbs, BMC used the crosswinds as a weapon and they accelerated, causing major damage in the peloton.

The pace briefly dropped before the first ascent of the Kemmelberg with 75 kilometres remaining. The climb split the group with only Chetout and Van Hecke able to stay clear.

Quick-Step Floors were quick to take the initiative. The gravel roads, a new feature of the race, saw Zdenek Stybar launch an attack on the first of three 'Plugstreets'. A few riders joined him and they bridged up to the former breakaway riders. In the peloton, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) punctured on the gravel roads and the Norwegian was forced to chase back.

Just before the tenth climb of the day, the Baneberg, there was another crash in the peloton, near the front of the bunch. Katusha's Tony Martin, LottoNl-Jumbo's Tom Leezer and Sky's Gianni Moscon were among the casualties. Sagan narrowly escaped trouble, using his cyclo-cross skills to stay out of danger. Shortly thereafter, the peloton caught the riders off the front, resetting the race.

On the final ascent of the Kemmelberg, Van Avermaet powered away. Sagan worked his way through traffic to join the Belgian rider in the move. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data), Stybar and Terpstra bridged on the descent. Sagan tried hard to keep a second group from bridging up but at 30 kilometres from the finish, Keukeleire, Kragh Andersen, Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida), Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac) and Scott Thwaites (Team Dimension Data) made contact.

With 22 kilometres to go, the leaders rode through Ypres with a bonus of 30 seconds on the peloton but the co-operation was gone. Keukeleire was the first to attack. He was caught back, but then tried for a second time. This time he was joined by Van Avermaet. Sagan bridged up solo, as Terpstra and Andersen did the same a few moments later.

The five leaders quickly established a 15-second lead on the chasers but with just over 15km to go Terpstra refused to come through after Sagan had taken a turn. Van Avermaet and Keukeleire had little time or energy for games and as the world champion and former Paris-Roubaix winner held their own private stand-off, the two Belgians rode away, ultimately to contest the victory between themselves.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team5:39:05 
2Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-Scott  
3Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:06 
4Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors  
5John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo  
6Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
7Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
8Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb  
9Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors  
10Sacha Modolo (Ita) Team UAE Emirates  
11Maxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
12Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
13Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
14Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe  
15Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
16Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb  
17Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe  
18Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
19Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
20Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
21Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky  
22Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
23Coen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
24Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar Team  
25Marco Marcato (Ita) Team UAE Emirates  
26Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-Scott  
27Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
28Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team  
29Scott Thwaites (GBr) Dimension Data  
30Yoann Offredo (Fra) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
31Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
32Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac  
33Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Astana Pro Team  
34Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale  
35Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
36Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
37Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
38Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
39Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
40Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
41Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
42Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
43Mitch Docker (Aus) Orica-Scott0:00:13 
44Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data  
45Koen De Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo  
46Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
47Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-Scott  
48Julien Vermote (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
49Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
50Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo  
51Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors  
52Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors  
53Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
54Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida0:00:30 
55Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac0:01:20 
56Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal0:01:32 
57Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:07:26 
58Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
59Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
60Elmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
61Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team  
62Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto Soudal  
63Huub Duyn (Ned) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
64Iljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step Floors  
65Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing Team  
66Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data  
67Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team  
68Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin  
69Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin  
70Mark McNally (GBr) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
71Simone Consonni (Ita) Team UAE Emirates  
72Ryan Mullen (Irl) Cannondale-Drapac  
73Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin  
74Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
75Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
76Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension Data  
77Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Israel Cycling Academy  
78Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ  
79Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb  
80Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
81Amund Grondahl Jansen (Nor) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
82Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
83Borut Bozic (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
84Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
85Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin  
86Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
87Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
88Raymond Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
89Berden De Vries (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
90Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
91Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale  
92Héctor Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team  
93Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
94Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe  
95Lars Boom (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
96Tyler Farrar (USA) Dimension Data  
97Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac  
98Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-Scott  
99Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac  
100Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
101Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott  
102Wesley Kreder (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
103Michael Morkov (Den) Katusha-Alpecin0:13:47 
104Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida  
105Federico Zurlo (Ita) Team UAE Emirates  
106Olivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ  
107Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ  
108Loic Chetout (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
109Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Sky  
110Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky  
111Christophe Masson (Fra) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
112Gregory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo  
113Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin  
114Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:13:51 
115Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky0:13:52 
DNFStef Van Zummeren (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFManuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
DNFOtto Vergaerde (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFMichaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFCyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFAidis Kruopis (Ltu) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFStijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFKenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFRudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFTimothy Dupont (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFMichael Goolaerts (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFDries De Bondt (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFMatti Breschel (Den) Astana Pro Team  
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFNico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFBenjamin Perry (Can) Israel Cycling Academy  
DNFKrists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy  
DNFChristophe Prémont (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan  
DNFMarco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFMichal Kolár (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFTaco Van Der Hoorn (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFAleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFAndreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFAndre Looij (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFJesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
DNFDaniel Turek (Cze) Israel Cycling Academy  
DNFRoy Jans (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
DNFMihkel Räim (Est) Israel Cycling Academy  
DNFJimmy Duquennoy (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
DNFZakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy  
DNFGuillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy  
DNFLudwig De Winter (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
DNFJulien Stassen (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFLawrence Naesen (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
DNFAlex Kirsch (Lux) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect  
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFLars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal  
DNFOscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFGuy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy  
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) Orica-Scott  
DNFJens Wallays (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFNuno Matos (Por) Movistar Team  
DNFCarlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team  
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Sunweb  
DNFAntonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb  
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Team Sunweb  
DNFBert De Backer (Bel) Team Sunweb  
DNFJorge Arcas Peña (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFJonathan Dibben (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFLorrenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJ  
DNFMagnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-Scott  
DNFNick Dougall (RSA) Dimension Data  
DNFOwain Doull (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFLuke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFThomas Leezer (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo  
DNFGijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Team LottNl-Jumbo  
DNFYoucef Reguigui (Alg) Dimension Data  
DNFMark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data  
DNFBoy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky  
DNFKristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Drapac  
DNFRobin Stenuit (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFRuslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFSven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin  
DNFChun Kai Feng (Tpe) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFMaxime Farazijn (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFIon Insausti (Spa) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFDavid Per (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFNikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb  
DNFOliviero Troia (Ita) Team UAE Emirates  
DNFSimone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFTom Scully (NZl) Cannondale-Drapac  
DNFVegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Team UAE Emirates  
DNFFilippo Ganna (Ita) Team UAE Emirates  
DNFWouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac  
DNFKiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) FDJ  
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) FDJ  
DNFMatthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ  
DNFMarc Sarreau (Fra) FDJ  
DNFMarko Kump (Slo) Team UAE Emirates   


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