Kristoff conquers Tour of Flanders

Norwegian sprinter dispatches Terpstra from two-man breakaway

Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) took a convincing sprint finish to win the 2015 Tour of Flanders ahead of breakaway companion Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) led home the remnants of the chasers and was forced to settle for third.

Kristoff and Terpstra jumped clear after the ascent of the Kruisberg, with the Dutch rider first to open up a gap on the rest of the race favourites.

Despite never holding more than a thirty second lead and a late counter attack from Van Avermaet and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), the leading duo survived until the finish. Coming into the final kilometre Terpstra sat back and forced Kristoff to the front but the 2014 Milan-San Remo winner held his nerve and comprehensively took the sprint to secure the second Monument of his career.

"I'm really happy to win, it's a really good feeling," Kristoff said. "My family is here today, and it was a big dream and my big goal this season and I managed to do it.

"At the end, I came with Niki, and he didn't really want to work with me, but I understand that. In the end I could still beat him."

Kristoff is the first Norwegian to win the Tour of Flanders but coming into the race he was among the red-hot favourites having enjoyed an incredible start to the season already. His performance matched that of his Katusha team – measured, calculating and almost faultless.

Even when the Norwegian saw several of his teammates involved in crashes the game plan remained the same with the squad wisely intent on keeping their leader out of trouble for as long as possible. Every effort appeared rehearsed and refined and whereas Team Sky looked impressive but ultimately short of numbers when it mattered most, Kristoff rounded out the display with a textbook finishing – latching onto the Terpstra express when most of his rivals looked intent on holding back and then working with the Dutchman. Even Terpstra’s understandable lack of commitment in the finale could not break Kristoff from his stride.

Van Avermaet and Sagan’s late cameos glossed over the larger chase group who fought tooth and nail on the final ascents of the Paterberg and Kwaremont but had little shared agreement or power to bring back the leading duo.

How the race unfolded

After a slightly delayed start due to a farmer’s protest the 199 riders for the Tour of Flanders were able to roll out from the historical market square of Bruges and head south towards Kortrijk and the Flemish Ardennes hills near finish town Oudenaarde.

After 20 kilometres of racing five riders managed to distance the peloton, with Jesse Sergent (Trek Factory Racing), Damien Gaudin (AG2R), Ralf Matzka (Bora), Matthew Brammeier (MTN Qhubeka) and Dylan Groenewegen (Roompot Oranje Peloton).

Clément Venturini (Cofidis) briefly featured in front but dropped back into the peloton. Brammeier won the bonus sprint in Sint-Eloois-Winkel, winning his 73kg weight in the local ‘Steene Molen’ beer.

A counter-attack with Lars Ytting Bak (Lotto-Soudal) and Marco Frapporti (Androni) bridged up to the five leaders, creating a group of seven. The Sky-led peloton allowed the group the distance and they collected a lead of nearly seven minutes when approaching Zwevegem, this year’s ‘village of the Ronde’, after 60 kilometres of racing.

As the peloton started to hit the first climbs the gap was coming back down.

Bradley Wiggins crashed, probably in the first crash of the day, just before the first ascent of the Oude Kwaremont. A few bike switches later he was back in the peloton where his teammates set the pace behind the seven leaders.

There were several counter-attacks during the first of three loops near Oudenaarde. André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) featured in almost all of them. Nevertheless none of these attacks managed to gain distance on the peloton. Meanwhile, Paolini, Sagan, Degenkolb and Pozzato were confronted with flat tyres but they all kept cool and returned to the front.

On the wider roads towards the cobbles of the Haaghoek a Shimano service car tried to overtake the lead group but while doing so the car sideswiped Jesse Sergent. The incident was similar to the crash that took out Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland in the 2011 Tour de France.

Sergent, a 26-year-old rider from New-Zealand, was forced to abandon the race, bringing the lead group down to six riders, with about three minutes on the Sky-led peloton.

In Schorisse there was another incident with a neutral car from Shimano. This time they rode into the back of the FDJ team car. As a result the FDJ-car took down their own rider who had been visiting the team car. Two damaged cars, an injured FDJ-rider and a furious Marc Madiot was the outcome of another avoidable incident.

On the tenth climb of the day, the Kaperij, there were a few accelerations. In front Bak and Gaudin distanced their breakaway companions.

André Greipel was again trying to anticipate the moves from the team leaders, without gaining much distance as the pace in the peloton increased when approaching the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont.

Belgian champion Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) led the peloton on the climb with the break finally caught at the top of the ascent.

Greipel kept trying to sneak away, this time just before the famous Koppenberg. On the steep cobbled climb several riders were dropped, including Wiggins, while Devolder and Thomas were leading the peloton, bringing Greipel back. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) attacked after the Koppenberg and created a gap of half a minute. Greipel and Chavanel tried the same but without success.

With 36 kilometres to go the finale started. On the Taaienberg the big guns started firing with a first move from Terpstra. Once over the top Van Avermaet attacked and eventually a large group distanced the peloton.

While riding towards the third and final loop Lutsenko was again on the attack, together with Van Avermaet and Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida). They were caught before hitting the Kruisberg. When entering the final loop only 26 riders were left in front. The biggest absentee was Sep Vanmarcke. While Tersptra and Kristoff attacked the lead group Vanmarcke was spotted trying to bridge up with the main group after the Kruisberg but the Belgian was unable to make contact.

With Terpstra and Kristoff clear the onus was on Giant-Alpecin, Lotto Soudal, Team Sky and BMC to lead the chase and when the gap dropped to around 15 seconds a juncture looked possible.

However when Thomas attacked he found a determined Stybar glued to his wheel and with the final climbs out of the way the rest of the field were racing for third.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha6:26:32 
2Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step  
3Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:00:07 
4Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo0:00:16 
5Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:00:36 
6Lars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team  
7John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin0:00:49 
8Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
9Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step  
10Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling  
11Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
12Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
13Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
14Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky  
15André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal0:02:28 
16Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
17Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team  
18Marco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
19Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica GreenEdge  
20Nelson Santos Simoes Oliveira (Por) Lampre-Merida0:02:34 
21Dries Devenyns (Bel) IAM Cycling0:03:02 
22Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:03:11 
23Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr0:03:23 
24Yves Lampaert (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
25Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
26Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling  
27Bjorn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
28Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team  
29Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek Factory Racing  
30Yoann Offredo (Fra)  
31Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin  
32Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
33Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha  
34Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team  
35Oliver Naesen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
36Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team  
37Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
38Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team  
39Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
40Paul Voss (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
41Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
42Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
43Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
44Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
45Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling  
46Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
47Oscar Gatto (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
48Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha  
49Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
50Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky  
51Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
52Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha0:03:29 
53Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
54Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team0:03:35 
55Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team0:06:36 
56Jack Bauer (NZl) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
57Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky  
58Tyler Farrar (USA) MTN - Qhubeka0:07:08 
59Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
60Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
61Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
62Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal  
63Mickael Delage (Fra)  
64Scott Thwaites (GBr) Bora-Argon 18  
65Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing  
66Wesley Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot  
67Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
68Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
69Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
70Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Team Roompot  
71Thomas Leezer (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
72Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
73Matti Breschel (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo  
74Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Team Europcar0:07:32 
75Jarl Salomein (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:09:17 
76Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
77Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha  
78Aleksei Tcatevich (Rus) Team Katusha  
79Tim Kerkhof (Ned) Team Roompot  
80Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Katusha  
81Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
82Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin  
83Iljo Keisse (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
84Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team  
85Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar  
86Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
87Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky  
88Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step  
89Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
90Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
91Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:10:27 
92Bert De Backer (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin  
93Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
94Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale  
95Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
96Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo  
97Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step  
98Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
99Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky  
100Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek Factory Racing  
101Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo  
102Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica GreenEdge  
103Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
104Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
105Johan Van Summeren (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale  
106Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
107Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:12:55 
108Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
109Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
110Tony Hurel (Fra) Team Europcar  
111Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
112Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
113Ruben Zepuntke (Ger) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
114Angelo Tulik (Fra) Team Europcar  
115Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
116Luka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre-Merida  
117Leigh Howard (Aus) Orica GreenEdge  
118Antoine Duchesne (Can) Team Europcar  
119Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team  
120Sjoerd Van Ginneken (Ned) Team Roompot  
121Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
122Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo  
123Damien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
124Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
125Sam Bewley (NZl) Orica GreenEdge0:15:02 
126Brian Van Goethem (Ned) Team Roompot  
127Kristoffer Skjerping (Nor) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team  
128Louis Verhelst (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
129James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
130Maxat Ayazbayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
131Berden De Vries (Ned) Team Roompot  
132William Bonnet (Fra)  
133Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFDylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Roompot  
DNFAndreas Stauff (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFJay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFYaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFIvar Slik (Ned) Team Roompot  
DNFJimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFSébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFRoy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFQuentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFGediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFSean De Bie (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
DNFVincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFYannick Martinez (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
DNFLars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal  
DNFJesse Sergent (NZl) Trek Factory Racing  
DNFAlbert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin  
DNFClément Venturini (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFBjorn Thurau (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
DNFAdam Blythe (GBr) Orica GreenEdge  
DNFRalf Matzka (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
DNFFabio Taborre (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFFrantisek Padour (Cze) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFAlberto Nardin (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFMarco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFTiziano Dall´Antonia (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFShane Archbold (NZl) Bora-Argon 18  
DNFSimone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
DNFEnrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFNikolay Trusov (Rus) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team Katusha  
DNFMichael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff-Saxo  
DNFElia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky  
DNFSalvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky  
DNFChristian Knees (Ger) Team Sky  
DNFRick Flens (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFBram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFFrancesco Chicchi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFMatthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling  
DNFYoucef Reguigui (Alg) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFGerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFMatthieu Ladagnous (Fra)  
DNFMatt Brammeier (Irl) MTN - Qhubeka  
DNFSébastien Chavanel (Fra)  
DNFMarc Sarreau (Fra)  
DNFMichaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFRobert Thomas Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNL-Jumbo  
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling  
DNFJohn Gadret (Fra) Movistar Team  
DNFVicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) IAM Cycling  
DNFDavid Boucher (Bel)  
DNFAdrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFNiccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFSacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFMaximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Lampre-Merida  
DNFGert Joeaar (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
DNFRoberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFJuan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFDayer Uberney Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team  
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Argon 18  
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling  

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