Kristoff wins Gent-Wevelgem

Degenkolb is second in reduced-bunch sprint

Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) took the win at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, sprinting to victory from a small peloton, having earlier been on the attack in a race dominated by the wind.

John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) finished a bike-length back in second place, while Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) continued his effervescent spring form by taking third.

Kristoff, who won the Tour of Flanders solo in 2015, launched his sprint early after riding the Jumbo-Visma train in the final kilometre. Jumping to the wheel of Adrien Petit (Direct Énergie), he hit the wind with 250 metres to go and had no equal in the race to the line.

It was a sprint finish that had looked far from inevitable for much of the day, with the peloton shattering in the crosswinds during the first hour. A large group including Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) got away after 50km of furious racing, eventually whittling down until the escapees were brought back with 20km to race.

The flat run-in was commanded by the sprinters' teams, including the well-represented Deceuninck-QuickStep, who were keen to keep it together until Wevelgem. Attacks flew in the final 15km, but it was impossible to escape the inevitability of a bunch sprint.

After a group of four attackers were finally caught in the final kilometre, it was Jumbo-Visma who led out the sprint. Kristoff appeared from behind the wheels to launch himself from long to take his second win of the season.

"Fernando [Gaviria] did a great race and was in the front all day, but he told me in the last 10km that he didn't feel good," Kristoff said after the finish. "So he said, 'OK, go for the sprint yourself', because normally I would lead him out.

"I found a good wheel and at the end I was the strongest in the sprint. It's a huge victory for me and it kind of saved my spring. I can see my shape is coming good for Flanders. This is slightly easier than Flanders, but to get this victory - it's one of the biggest victories in my career."

The wind, and of course, the climbs, had a big effect on the race, with Kristoff mentioning how his team's tactics were adjusted as a result.

"I was in the second group and we had Fernando in front," he said. "It was good racing by him to stay in front so we could take it easier in the back I knew Kemmelberg would be crucial, so I tried to attack and anticipate it before. I managed to come in the front over Kemmelberg, and I knew I was safe, being in the first group.

"But of course I was tired. It was a hard day from the start, but I saw everybody was really on the limit, so I knew I always have a good sprint when everybody is tired."

How it unfolded

The 175 riders at the start in chilly Deinze rolled away from the market square to start the race, but they wouldn't be together for much longer. During the first hour of racing, the peloton powered through crosswinds towards the Belgian coast. When turning left at Gistel towards the coastal town of Nieuwpoort the peloton split into several groups.

The star-studded first group was 20 strong. Several teams had multiple riders in the move, including Peter Sagan, Pascal Ackermann and Rüdiger Selig for Bora-Hansgrohe; Wout van Aert, Maarten Wynants, Mike Teunissen, Taco van der Hoorn and Danny van Poppel for Jumbo-Visma; John Degenkolb, Mads Pedersen, Jasper Stuyven and Edward Theuns for Trek-Segafredo.

Other riders to make the break were European champion Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Dutch champion Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Jan Willem van Schip (Roompot-Charles), Luke Rowe (Team Sky), Nokere Koerse winner Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) and Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

Before turning away from the coast and into a favourable tailwind, Jumbo-Visma lost Van der Hoorn and Van Poppel from the front after Van Poppel suffered a mechanical. Even with the loss of two riders, the leaders blasted through De Moeren at over 60km/h [the first two hours were raced at 52km/h], extending their advantage from 50 seconds to 1:20.

Heading towards the French border and the first climbs of the day, Lotto Soudal and CCC Team took control of the peloton, and the gap slowly started to come back down again.

With a first passage over the Baneberg and Kemmelberg, the lead group started to fall apart. First Van Schip dropped, followed by Selig, Ackermann, Declercq, Degenkolb and Wynants.

Accelerations in the peloton from in-form Zdenek Štybar, Yves Lampaert (both Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) on the Kemmelberg and Monteberg reduced the advantage for the 12 remaining leaders to 35 seconds with 70km left to race.

Cooperation among those 12 leaders vanished on the wide roads following the Kemmelberg, and suddenly only Sagan, Teunissen, Trentin and Theuns remained out front. The quartet hit the first 'plugstreet' gravel section 59km from the finish 45 seconds ahead of 'peloton', which at that point consisted of less than 40 riders.

The gap remained the same over the following gravel sections, but soon afterwards, at 52km from the finish, Luke Rowe (Team Sky) put in an impressive effort to solo across the gap.

Perhaps inspired by Lowe making it up to the lead group, Kristoff clipped off the front of the chasers with 41km to go. He was midway to the leaders by the Baneberg, while over the top Van Aert and Van der Poel attacked with another 'cross champion - Zdenek Štybar - closing the move down.

Jumbo-Visma then took to the head of the peloton. Not to work though, with their man Teunissen up front. They acted as a rolling roadblock as the gap edged back up over 50 seconds.

On the final climb of the race, the Kemmelberg, Trentin put the pressure on in the lead group as Sagan looked to struggle. Further back, Štybar and Van Aert attacked, catching Kristoff before the trio were dragged back.

Heading into the final 30km, the five-man lead group was 35 seconds up the road, with sprinters Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) lurking in the chase group.

The QuickStep trio of Štybar, Lampaert and Gilbert duly went to work for their sprinter, bringing the gap down to 20 seconds by Ypres and the famous Menin Gate. It was over for the break shortly after, with the five men absorbed with 19km to race.

On the flat run-in, which saw the riders belted by crosswinds, short-lived attacks from Niki Terpstra (Direct Énergie), Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) demonstrated how hard it would be to break away from the group. With a number of teams interested in keeping things together for a sprint finish, it would take something special to get away.

A small group clipped off with 6km to go, with Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Jack Bauer (Mitchelton-Scott), Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Jumbo-Visma) and Langeveld going on the attack. They hung out front until the final kilometre, when Deceuninck-Quick Step's superdomestiques took over.

But, as was the case last spring, it once again wouldn't be Viviani's race. The Italian was nowhere in the final sprint. Instead, it was Kristoff who prevailed, his powerful sprint proving unmatchable. 


#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates5:26:08 
2John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo  
3Oliver Naesen (Bel) Ag2R La Mondiale  
4Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus  
5Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
6Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie  
7Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott  
8Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
9Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
10Jens Debusschere (Bel) Team Katusha Alpecin  
11Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb  
12Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team  
13Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
14Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie  
15Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
16Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-Fdj  
17Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo  
18Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky  
19Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step  
20Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team  
21Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team Emirates  
22Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step  
23Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie  
24Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma  
25Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
26Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First  
27Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha Alpecin  
28Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
29Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma0:00:07 
30Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma0:00:08 
31Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:11 
32Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:13 
33Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo0:00:23 
34Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie0:00:24 
35Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Deceuninck - Quick-Step0:01:19 
36Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:01:38 
37Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:03:30 
38Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team0:05:28 
39Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:08:45 
40Roy Jans (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
41Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Roompot-Charles  
42Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
43Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
44Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-Fdj  
45Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb  
46Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
47Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
48Damien Touze (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
49Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-Fdj  
50Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
51Maximilian Richard Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb  
52Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team  
53Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
54Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
55Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Sky  
56Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Dimension Data  
57Lars Boom (Ned) Roompot-Charles  
58Dries De Bondt (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
59Silvan Dillier (Swi) Ag2R La Mondiale  
60Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar Team  
61Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
62Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Ag2R La Mondiale  
63Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step  
64Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team  
65Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha Alpecin  
66Michael Schär (Swi) CCC Team  
67Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-Fdj  
68Nico Denz (Ger) Ag2R La Mondiale  
69Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
70Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott  
71Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
72Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates  
73Clement Venturini (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale  
74Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky  
75Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First  
76Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky0:08:53 
77Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step0:08:55 
78Franklin Six (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
DNFPascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFGuillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team  
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Roompot-Charles  
DNFLukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC Team  
DNFSzymon Sajnok (Pol) CCC Team  
DNFMaximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg)  
DNFFabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck - Quick-Step  
DNFSjoerd Van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Charles  
DNFMoreno Hofland (Ned) EF Education First  
DNFSimon Sellier (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFSacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First  
DNFJan Willem Van Schip (Ned) Roompot-Charles  
DNFDaniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFJulius Van Den Berg (Ned) EF Education First  
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFLogan Owen (USA) EF Education First  
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First  
DNFJesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot-Charles  
DNFZhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFYevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
DNFHugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team  
DNFMagnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana Pro Team  
DNFSonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFIvan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFJulien Duval (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFAdam Blythe (GBr) Lotto Soudal  
DNFHeinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFPawel Bernas (Pol) CCC Team  
DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFBrian Van Goethem (Ned) Lotto Soudal  
DNFLawrence Naesen (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFSenne Leysen (Bel) Roompot-Charles  
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFJan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFEduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFBagdonas Gediminas (Ltu) Ag2R La Mondiale  
DNFJimmy Janssens (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
DNFHector Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFCasper Phillip Pedersen (Den) Team Sunweb  
DNFFlorian Stork (Ger) Team Sunweb  
DNFKoen De Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFAlex Frame (NZl) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFKiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo  
DNFTom Wirtgen (Lux) Wallonie Bruxelles  
DNFSven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFSimone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFJustin Jules (Fra) Wallonie Bruxelles  
DNFOliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates  
DNFLukas Spengler (Swi) Wallonie Bruxelles  
DNFAsbjørn Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb  
DNFLasse Norman Hansen (Den) Corendon-Circus  
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb  
DNFFrederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
DNFAime De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
DNFTom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
DNFAndrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling Team  
DNFAmaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFMilan Menten (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFKenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFJordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise  
DNFKenny Dehaes (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
DNFLionel Taminiaux (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles  
DNFStijn Devolder (Bel) Corendon-Circus  
DNFReinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Dimension Data  
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-Fdj  
DNFPim Ligthart (Ned) Direct Energie  
DNFMiles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-Fdj  
DNFMathieu Burgaudeau (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
DNFLuka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott  
DNFEdoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott  
DNFCallum Scotson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott  
DNFJorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFTaco Van Der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma  
DNFJaime Castrillo Zapater (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFMichael Valgren Andersen (Den) Team Dimension Data  
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFBernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Dimension Data  
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-Fdj  
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Dimension Data  
DNFJulien Vermote (Bel) Team Dimension Data  
DNFFilippo Fortin (Ita) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFHarry Tanfield (GBr) Team Katusha Alpecin  
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) Team Katusha Alpecin  
DNFMads Schmidt Würtz (Den) Team Katusha Alpecin  
DNFWillem Jakobus Smit (RSA) Team Katusha Alpecin  
DNFKenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFLeonardo Basso (Ita) Team Sky  
DNFChristopher Lawless (GBr) Team Sky  
DNFFilippo Ganna (Ita) Team Sky  
DNFLars Bak Ytting (Den) Team Dimension Data  

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