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Tour of Flanders: 256.8km

Complete Live Report

Live commentary by:
Susan Westemeyer

Tour of Flanders – Ronde van Vlaanderen -- Vlaanderens mooiste  -- whatever you want to call it, it is here.  256km, 18 hellingen und who knows how many cobblestones will face the field today.  And will the top favourite win, or will we have an upset?

 

  1. 09:45:11 CEST

    Hello and welcome to the Tour of Flanders, one of the monuments of cycling.  Things are getting serious in the cycling season now, with this race.

  2. 09:50:30 CEST

    We are up in the blimp today, looking down at the action. Cyclingnews' Dan Benson is on the ground, and tells us, "There's a little wind and it's overcast.  Could have some light rain in a bit."

  3. 09:52:14 CEST

    The race has started!  Sort of.  Now the field will ride for 15 minutes until the official start.

  4. 09:55:14 CEST

    Who is going to win today?  Or should we say, does anyone other than Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) really have a chance?  Talk about an overwhelming favourite!

  5. 09:59:15 CEST

    Let's take a look at the podium for the last six years:

    2010     Fabian Cancellara (Swi), Tom Boonen (Bel), Philippe Gilbert (Bel)            
    2009     Stijn Devolder (Bel), Heinrich Haussler (Ger), Philippe Gilbert (Bel)            
    2008     Stijn Devolder (Bel), Nick Nuyens (Bel), Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa)            
    2007     Alessandro Ballan (Ita), Leif Hoste (Bel), Luca Paolini (Ita)            
    2006     Tom Boonen (Bel), Leif Hoste (Bel), George Hincapie (USA)            
    2005     Tom Boonen (Bel), Andreas Klier (Ger), Peter Van Petegem (Bel)

    If you want to know who won going back to 1913, you can look here. 

  6. 10:04:51 CEST

    There was a rather large nature stop along the way, so some riders are still straggling along to the official start.  That means things will start a bit later.

  7. 10:06:27 CEST

    And they're off!  A Skil-Shimano rider is the first to attack, right from the get-go.

  8. 10:12:48 CEST

    Who can forget Cancellara's stunning win last season?  He simply pulled away on the Muur-Kapelmuur and kept on going and going and going, beating Tom Boonen by over a minute.   If you have forgotten what it was like, you can read more here.

  9. 10:15:47 CEST

    It looks like everyone wants to be in the escape group of the day.  That means everyone is taking off and no one is really getting away.  It makes for a fast start, though.

  10. 10:19:43 CEST

    Can Cancellara be beaten today?  Marc Sergeant (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Jonathan Vaughters (Garmin-Cervelo), Johan Muuseuw and Bernie Eisel (HTC-Highroad) talk about it here.
     

  11. 10:21:49 CEST

    We have a group trying to form.  Koen Barbe, Steven Caethoven, Roger Kluge, Yaroslav Marycz and Jesus Herrada are trying their luck.  Give us a minute to track down their teams.....

     

  12. 10:25:01 CEST

    And here they are with team names:   Koen Barbe (Landbouwkrediet), Steven Caethoven (Veranda's Willems), Roger Kluge (Skil-Shimano), Yaroslav Marycz (Saxo Bank-SunGard) and Jesus Herrada (Movistar).

  13. 10:26:17 CEST

    Why did we go to all that bother?  They are all back in the peloton again.

  14. 10:32:11 CEST

    The pressure is on Cancellara today, but his narrow shoulders are more than capable of carrying the burden.  “To come here as strong as I’m feeling and to be defending champion and number one favourite has not always happened, but I’m ready for that. The world knows I’m strong and the world knows I’m ready, so why should I step back,” he said at the team press conference this week.

  15. 10:36:49 CEST

    Four riders have won this race three times each:  : Fiorenzo Magni, Achiel Buysse, Eric Leman, and  Johan Museeuw.
     

  16. 10:37:52 CEST

    We have our first abandon of the day:  Jens Keukeleire of Cofidis.  We don't know why the young sprinter decided to throw in the towel so early.

  17. 10:41:34 CEST

    And now we are told that Keukeleire did not abandon.

  18. 10:47:30 CEST

    Things really are speedy today.  They covered the first 25km at a pace of 50kmh.

    Dominique Cornu tried to get away, but wasn't successful.

  19. 10:53:26 CEST

    At the front, David Boucher is trying to get away. At the back, Bert De Backer punctured and is now trying to catch up with the field.

  20. 10:57:43 CEST

    The group decided against Boucher, so everyone is all together again.

  21. 11:00:44 CEST

    If Cancellara needs any help today, he need look no further than his Australian teammate Stuart O'Grady.  He has been the Italian's main lieutenant in recent weeks, and looks to bring the “Swiss machine” to the finish line again today. 

  22. 206.8km remaining from 256.8km

    11:07:48 CEST

    Four more riders, including Caethoven again, tried to get away.  No go.

  23. 11:11:05 CEST

    Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) would like to win here. Or finish second. Or even third.  Hey, the guy is just out to have fun!

    “I go to the course to have fun. Therefore, there will always be a big smile on my face after arrival. Even if I finish second or third,” he said last week.
     

  24. 11:13:40 CEST

    Five riders have gotten a 30 second lead now:  Roger Hammond, Jeremy Hunt, Stefan van Dijck, Mitchell Docker and Sébastien Turgot.

  25. 11:17:34 CEST

    That would be:  Roger Hammond (Garmin Cervelo), Jeremy Hunt (Sky), Stefan van Dijck (Veranda's Willems), Mitchell Docker (Skil-Shimano) and Sébastien Turgot (Europcar)-

  26. 11:21:01 CEST

    Tom Boonen (QuickStep) hopes it comes down to a two-man sprint today, Boonen vs. Cancellara – and the Belgian has no doubt about what the outcome would be.......
     

  27. 11:24:08 CEST

    We have another report of an abandon:  Grega Bole of Lampre. The team started with only seven riders, so now they are down to six..

  28. 11:27:43 CEST

    The field isn't giving this group an easy time.  Their lead is only 45 seconds.

  29. 11:30:14 CEST

    Not surprisingly, Boonen has had rather a lot to say about today's race.   He said that not being the top favourite this year may make things more relaxed for him and take the pressure off of his team.

  30. 11:32:18 CEST

    Apparently the peloton decided to let them go.  The field took a mass nature break (so to speak) and the five leaders now have a gap of 1:30.

  31. 11:36:13 CEST

    The Italians got out on Friday and hit the road, deciding to try out the course rather than holding press conferences as so many other teams did.   You can take a peek at the action here. 

  32. 189km remaining from 256.8km

    11:39:40 CEST

    The leaders have now built their lead up by another minute.  The real fun and games are just about to start though, as they approach the first climb, the Tiegemberg.
     

  33. 11:44:25 CEST

    Dan Benson is here to take you along through Flanders.  Time for me to strap on the parachute and turn the blimp controls over to him.

  34. 11:51:04 CEST

    Thanks to Susan for getting us up and running with live coverage this morning. I'm back in the blimp after being at the start this morning.

    As you might expect the atmosphere was electric. I could hardly hear myself think when Gilbert came passed me, the crowds went crazy for him.  He's a big favourite. And to be honest, I think we've talked enough about Fabian for the last few days - not just us - but all media - so lets focus on some of the other riders today ahead of the real action.

  35. 189km remaining from 256.8km

    11:53:23 CEST

    On the road we have 189km left to race.

    Back to the favourites and Gilbert, for a second, the Belgian is in good form but it's going to be a big ask if he's to improve on his third place from last year. He'll have to be aggressive but if it comes down to a small group at the end of 256km, then he'll be in with a very good chance of cleaning up in the sprint.

  36. 11:54:23 CEST

    In Blythe - who'll look after him in the first 100km - Roetlandts, Boucher and Sieberg he's got the basis of a strong supporting cast.

  37. 11:58:30 CEST

    Our leaders by the way are on the top of the Nokereberg, the second climb of the day and their lead is up to 6 minutes. Hunt and Hammond in the lead group. Interesting stuff.

    I remember when Hunt was a pocket-rocket sprinter with Banesto in the mid-90s. Now he's one of the most experienced and trusted riders in the Classics.

  38. 12:00:05 CEST

    Will Fotheringham has just Tweeted:  willfoth

    Not much chance of either Brit "doing a Durand" and staying away all day because such things don't happen in 21st century but we can hope

  39. 12:01:29 CEST

    Durand of course was the last French winner. Moncassin  - I think  - was the last Frenchman to make it onto the podium. That was in 1997.

  40. 12:02:12 CEST

    And here are today's climbs. All 18 of them::

    1 Tiegemberg 70 km

    2 Nokereberg 80 km

    3 Rekelberg 127 km

    4 Kaperij 139 km

    5 Kruisberg 154 km

    6 Knokteberg 164 km
    7 Oude-Kwaremont 171 km
    8 Paterberg 175 km
    9 Koppenberg 181 km
    10 Steenbeekdries 187 km
    11 Taaienberg 190 km
    12 Eikenberg 194 km
    13 Molenberg 209 km
    14 Leberg 216 km
    15 Valkenberg 225 km
    16 Tenbosse 232 km
    17 Muur – Kapelmuur 242 km
    18 Bosberg 246 km

  41. 12:03:17 CEST

    Talking of Durand, he's part of our feature on the most iconic images seen in Flanders. You can view the lovely gallery, right here.

  42. 12:04:47 CEST

    You can tweet your thoughts on today's race to me at twitter.com/dnlbenson

  43. 12:09:34 CEST

    I don't really know the form of a couple of the rider's in today's break but good on Skil and Willems getting men in the early move. A lot of teams, in fact pretty much all the teams would have wanted a man present up there. Sky and Garmin will enjoy the fact they dont have to chase either.

    We spoke with Boasson Hagen at the start this morning. This is his first race since San Remo - he was out with an ankle injury - but he's up for today. I'm not sure if he'll have the form when the other big guns open up but he'll certainly be able to support Flecha for a good proportion of the race.

  44. 165km remaining from 256.8km

    12:10:27 CEST

    165km to go and the leaders have stretched their advantage to 6.15

  45. 12:16:08 CEST

    Back in the press room we're hearing things aren't going too well. The home press aren't too impressed with the fact that there are no Belgians in the early break.

  46. 157km remaining from 256.8km

    12:16:42 CEST

    The lead keeps going up. It's nearly 8 minutes.

  47. 12:19:33 CEST

    I've just been reminded that it's mother's day in the UK. Guys, make that call now and get it done before the race kicks into life. You don't want an angry mum calling you with 30km to go.

  48. 12:20:39 CEST

    From our Australian editor who is staying up late to watch the race from Sydney. @janeaubrey

    Great to see an Aussie in Mitch Docker in the early break at #Flanders! No Belgians in the group of five

  49. 12:22:32 CEST

    During the week we compiled a list of videos, interviewing the likes of Vaughters, Eisel, Museeuw and Sergeant on whether Cancellara was beatable. Here they are.

  50. 12:26:03 CEST

    News from Spain just coming in.... Carlos Sastre is out of pais vasco with bronchitis

  51. 12:26:45 CEST

    The lead is 8 minutes but back in the bunch there's a crash and Neirynck hits the deck.

  52. 12:33:41 CEST

    The leaders, their advantage holding at 8 minutes have just gone through the village of Zwalm. They'll face two sections of cobbles before hitting the next climb. Positioning will be critical before they hit the stones. they're not the most difficult sections of the day but you really dont want to be caught out or involved in a crash. As Haussler said in his blog, today is total stress, and you can't let up for even a minute.
     

  53. 12:35:03 CEST

    At the start this morning we caught up with Jim Ochowich. He's in the BMC car today, tweeting updates. But here's what he had to say at the start of the race. 

    “We’re good but you never know until they start riding. They feel good, they’re healthy and in very good form from the last races they came off of, so they’re starting the day in good shape.”

    “George and Ballan are spearheading the group. We’re looking to them for the final and the rest of the group will do what they need to do during the day to help them.”

    On Cancellara:

    “It’s never easy to be the favourite, and there’s no doubt that he is the favourite, but I think you have to counter that with some other opportunities during the day and put him on the defensive when he’s not expecting it, and then you could take advantage of that.”

  54. 12:35:23 CEST

    On Cancellara’s Leopard Trek team:

    “He doesn’t have the team he’d probably like to have here. That’s not discrediting anybody on his team, but they’re probably not as experienced as some other groups are.”

    On the possibility of sending a BMC leader up the road early on:

    “You’ve got to look for opportunities. You’ve got to put Cancellara on the defensive, because if you go when he goes, it’s awfully hard to stay there.”

  55. 12:36:45 CEST

    That quote about Cancellara's team is very interesting. Cancellara is going to have to marshal his troops well today. It could be his weakness but not all the riders at Leopard will have ridden the roads here as many times as guys like Andreas Klier, or Knaven, who's in the team Sky car. Or someone like Hayman.

  56. 12:37:54 CEST

    PiesG @dnlbenson Hammond Hunt and Docker is a strong group: Sky looking strong for today. My new bike light: http://flic.kr/p/9vq1Qt #flanders

  57. 12:41:26 CEST

    The bunch are on  that stretch of cobbles now and they're already strung out, with riders in the gutter. Shack are on the front setting the pace. they must be confident that Rosseler can do something. The gap is 6.26

  58. 12:42:16 CEST

    Garmin already near the front, in a little group, all  riding together. Similar to how they rode at Cervelo.

  59. 12:42:40 CEST

    They'll be looking to keep Hushovd and Haussler out of trouble today.

  60. 12:42:54 CEST

    Farrar of course too.

  61. 12:43:49 CEST

    Fighting position here with riders looking for the best line to take. Oh dear, Euskatel dont like Belgium do they? A couple of their riders out the back already.

  62. 12:44:28 CEST

    Klier on Eisel's wheel talks into his radio.

  63. 12:45:22 CEST

    Sharp turn from that section of stones and the back of the bunch grinds to almost a complete stop. And we have an atttack from Rabobank

  64. 12:45:50 CEST

    That's Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) who has gone off the front. Garmin trying to chase.

  65. 12:46:47 CEST

    Haussler has chased, that's interesting, and a group of around 15 riders has gone off the front. They've only got a few meters.

  66. 12:47:16 CEST

    We also spoke to Rolf Aldag at the start this morning.

    On Matt Goss:

    “Gossie was still suffering a little bit from illness, but he says he’s getting better and better and better, so let’s see what that means. It’s really hard. On the form from San Remo, I would definitely claim him as a main contender here, even if they wouldn’t bring him to the sprint but he’s struggling a bit, so we’ll have to see how that goes.”

  67. 12:47:30 CEST

    On HTC-Highroad’s tactics:

    “The ideal would be to get somebody in a good group before, and then they would be there to help each other, or if Cancellara comes from behind, at least we have a chance.”

  68. 12:47:51 CEST

    On the team’s ambitions:

    “Top 10 is always nice and is an amazing result in the Tour of Flanders, but the ambition should be to try and win it. If we waste energy in controlling the race and stuff like that, it will be difficult. So if we try to win it, we really have to play it the best way, act carefully and really save energy we have and then we might have a chance. It could be Gossie, it could be Bernie, depending on how the weather develops. If it stays dry it should be alright.”


  69. 12:48:07 CEST

    On Mark Cavendish’s selection in the HTC-Highroad team for Flanders:

    “It’s a little bit about experience, but he’s also really good at positioning, so if he stays with Bernie, he will bring him into the climbs and then see how far he gets, but I don’t really see a massive sprint with 80 guys.
    If he’s still he’s in a good position, we still have the tactical possibility of not riding on the front and waiting for him, but I haven’t seen any Tour of Flanders with a massive sprint in the last 200 years!”

  70. 12:49:34 CEST

    ChrisOHearn

    @dnlbenson with stuey in the Leopard team the rest could be pre-school toddlers and they'd still match anyone for experience.

  71. 12:50:39 CEST

    Hagen and Eisel are also in this group. they've got around 150 meters. I cant see any Leopard riders though. This could be a dangerous move.

  72. 12:51:31 CEST

    Haussler is driving along, Eisel too. They're going for it here. This could be very dangerous.

  73. 12:52:09 CEST

    Back in the bunch and Jens Mouris (Ned) hits the deck. Looks like he'll be okay though.

  74. 12:52:59 CEST

    Meanwhile, Hammond drives things along in the lead group as they're on the Rekelberg

  75. 12:53:54 CEST

    Ballan off the back. Not sure what the problem was for him. I think it was a problem with his bike.

  76. 12:54:37 CEST

    This big break might be too big if you know what i mean. There are a few too many passengers.

  77. 12:55:27 CEST

    Actually the gap has gone up. It's maybe 10 seconds. Leopard leading the chase.

  78. 12:56:42 CEST

    Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky)

    On his injury:

    “Hopefully it’s good. I’ve been doing some good training now. I don’t feel it since Milan-San Remo. Hopefully it handles the cobblestones as well.”

    On his form:

    “I haven’t been racing since Milan-San Remo, so I have to see how the form is. Juan Antonio is strong, Matthew is strong, there are a lot of strong riders in the team.”

    On riding Flanders to prepare for Paris-Roubaix:
    “It’s a big race to do as preparation, I don’t know exactly how the form is. I think it’s good, hopefully I do as good a job as possible for the team and then I’ll see.”

  79. 12:57:50 CEST

    Garmin at the front of the bunch. They're not chasing, just making sure they're all in good positions. The leaders have 4.47. The splinter group are at 4.18

  80. 12:58:51 CEST

    Stuart O’Grady (Leopard Trek)

    “We’ve got the odds-on favourite on the team, so my job becomes a little more complicated. Pretty much via the media we’ve got everything to lose but at the end of the day it’s a bike race and we’ve got to do everything we can, be at front, keep out of trouble and let the legs do the talking.

    “We’ll see what happens out on the road. Anything can happen. We’ve prepared for everything, we’ve trained for everything, we’ve raced this before and been in this situation before, hopefully we can handle it again.

  81. 12:59:06 CEST

    “There’s a lot of strong riders here today. Fabian’s definitely shown that he’s strong and he has the confidence, but it’s a bike race and anything can happen.”

  82. 12:59:50 CEST

    Cavendish is also in the second group. So that's at least Haussler, Eisel, Hagen and Cav. Leopard are chasing.

  83. 13:01:15 CEST

    Greipel is also there, a couple of Quick Stepers and Gusev. Group of about 20 including Gusev, Selvaggi, Steegmans, Kroon, Boasson Hagen and Tjallingii.

  84. 124km remaining from 256.8km

    13:02:04 CEST

    Leopard are having to do all the chasing here. And they're having to work from a long way out today. Katusha are helping though.

  85. 13:02:19 CEST

    Daniel Lloyd (Garmin-Cervélo)

    “I’m super nervous, which is normally a good sign. It’s a race I’ve been thinking about for a long time, hopefully it all goes to plan, but you can only plan so much.

    “There are so many experienced riders on the team, so we have their collective knowledge and Peter’s as well. A lot of the things that you hear in the team meetings seem simple but a lot of the teams don’t know it, and that plays to your advantage.”

  86. 13:02:32 CEST

    On Andreas Klier:

    “They used to call him GPS, but it’s probably best not to call him that now that we’re Garmin.”

  87. 13:03:04 CEST

    O'Grady is drilling it on the front but the gap to the Haussler group is 30 seconds.

  88. 13:04:27 CEST

    SITUATION
    Roger Hammond (Garmin Cervelo), Jeremy Hunt (Sky), Stefan van Dijck (Veranda's Willems), Mitchell Docker (Skil-Shimano) and Sébastien Turgot (Europcar)

    Group of Cavendish, Eisel, Gusev, Haussler, Wilson, Boasson Hagen 3.27

    Peloton at 4.00


     

  89. 13:05:34 CEST

    Grivko attacks from the bunch on a long flat stretch of road with Leopard already chasing. Not sure what he's doing there.

  90. 121km remaining from 256.8km

    13:06:01 CEST

    SITUATION
    Roger Hammond (Garmin Cervelo), Jeremy Hunt (Sky), Stefan van Dijck (Veranda's Willems), Mitchell Docker (Skil-Shimano) and Sébastien Turgot (Europcar)

    Group of about 20 including Vladimir Gusev (Katusha), Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil), Gert Steegmans (QuickStep), Kartsten Kroon (BMC), Andre Greipel (Oemga Pharma-Lotto), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Martijn Tjallingii (Rabobank)

    Peloton at 4.00
     

  91. 13:06:58 CEST

    Leopard win that battle and bring that very dangerous group back.  Greipel isnt giving up though and presses on with a couple of helpers.

  92. 13:07:59 CEST

    Crash in the bunch a number of riders are caught up. Doesn't look like anything serious though.

  93. 13:09:12 CEST


    SITUATION
    Roger Hammond (Garmin Cervelo), Jeremy Hunt (Sky), Stefan van Dijck (Veranda's Willems), Mitchell Docker (Skil-Shimano) and Sébastien Turgot (Europcar)

    Peloton at 3.00
     

  94. 13:09:53 CEST

    That break and subsequent chase has halved the gap to the leading group in just a few kms.

  95. 13:14:00 CEST

    the bunch are on the Kaperij now. No one taking control at the head of the bunch yet. Thomas is near the front though. Eating.

  96. 13:15:17 CEST

    That big break showed a real measure of intent from the likes of Quick Step and Garmin. They're not going to wait for Cancellara to go on the attack.

  97. 13:15:51 CEST

    The BMC team has one of the strongest line-ups for this Tour of Flanders. With Alessandro Ballan they have one of the three former winners at the start in Bruges in their ranks, and in Greg Van Avermaet, Karsten Kroon, Marcus Burghardt, George Hincapie and even Manuel Quinziato they have a lot of riders who can ride well in the finale today.

    Kroon has finished twice in the top 10 and the Dutchman hoped to be up there once again this year. “I'm the only rider who rode the Volta a Catalunya in preparation of the Tour of Flanders. I don't mind, as for me it seems to be the perfect build-up. Afterwards I rested a lot and now I'm 100% ready for a good race,” Kroon told Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé this morning.

  98. 13:16:03 CEST

    His teammate Van Avermaet showed during Milan-San Remo that he can deal with the distance of a race like Flanders. “I'm a bit nervous. When riding to the podium the crowd was very enthusiastic. It's fun to receive appreciation for my performances,” Van Avermaet said.

  99. 13:16:17 CEST

    Some riders at the start in Bruges were showing battle wounds from recent races, among them former ice hockey player Rob Goris (Veranda's Willems-Accent), who crashed in Gent-Wevelgem. He waved goodbye to ice hockey for races like today’s, and despite knowing that the cobbles wouldn't do his hand any good, he's starting the race. “The doctor put six screws in my hand instead of three. Right now I'm heading back to the team bus to sedate the hand,” Goris said.

  100. 13:17:16 CEST

    Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) attacks. We'll be sure to mention that in our race report.

  101. 13:18:30 CEST

    Puncture for Hushovd. Klier is with him. The Norwegian stops, takes off a layer of clothing and gets a new wheel. The bunch look like they've sat up and the lead holds at 3 minutes.

  102. 13:18:41 CEST

    Last year's breakaway hero Steve Chainel (FDJ) wasn't planning to repeat those exploits this year. “It's too bad because my hand is in bad shape. It was already hurt and during the Three Days of De Panne I crashed on it once again. Today I'll be riding as a domestique for William Bonnet and Dominique Rollin, who are both in good shape,” Chainel told Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé at the Bruges market square this morning.

  103. 13:19:08 CEST

    Lars Boom (Rabobank) was his usual cool self this morning, and the former cyclo-cross world champion was not intimidated by top favourite Fabian Cancellara (Trek Leopard), even though he was unable to get back up the Swiss when he attacked on the Oude Kwaremont in the E3 Harelbeke.

    “I think it's not all that special. Anyway, you've got to be in front all the time from the Kruisberg on. Every race I'm participating in I start to win and this race isn't different although I realize it will be very difficult,” Boom told Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé.

  104. 13:20:00 CEST

    The bunch go through the feed zone and the lead creeps up by a few seconds.

  105. 13:20:58 CEST

    Matthew Hayman (Sky) is one of the riders with a free role in Flanders and the Australian who lives in Belgium was even named as an outsider for the win by a Belgian newspaper. “That's nice. I've done these races before and I know I can do well in them. The goal is to go out and take my chances,” Hayman said on the startline this morning.

    It was actually surprising to see him at the start as his wife was supposed to give birth on Saturday. “There were no contractions yet so I told her I would go out and do a bike ride. I'm really in a good place right now. Life is good,” Hayman said. With a bit of luck the Australian might even bring along some flowers to the maternity ward.

  106. 110km remaining from 256.8km

    13:22:41 CEST

    110 km to go. The climbs are going to come thick and fast. here's a list of what's left.

     

    5 Kruisberg 154 km
    6 Knokteberg 164 km
    7 Oude-Kwaremont 171 km
    8 Paterberg 175 km
    9 Koppenberg 181 km
    10 Steenbeekdries 187 km
    11 Taaienberg 190 km
    12 Eikenberg 194 km
    13 Molenberg 209 km
    14 Leberg 216 km
    15 Valkenberg 225 km
    16 Tenbosse 232 km
    17 Muur – Kapelmuur 242 km
    18 Bosberg 246 km
     

  107. 13:25:41 CEST

    Vaitkus (Ltu) has around 40 seconds on the bunch but is still 2 minutes down on the leaders.

  108. 13:27:28 CEST

    Everyone is starting to fight for position now into the next climbs. Devolder, fresh from scoffing down his lunch, is in second wheel behind a teammate. Farrar close to the front.

  109. 13:27:44 CEST

    Recent winner of the Three Days of De Panne Sébastien Rosseler (RadioShack) was busy receiving the compliments of his colleagues for his victory. After his victory the Belgian enjoyed a nice Ename beer while talking to the press, as he did after his win in the Brabantse Pijl last year.

    “It's becoming a nice tradition. It's also a way to show that I'm not drinking often since I'm not racking up many wins in a season,” Rosseler told Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé while taking his position at the start line. “I think I recovered just in time from De Panne to do a good race today,” Rosseler added.

  110. 13:28:00 CEST

    Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé talked with Serguei Ivanov (Katusha), who had high aspirations for this year's Tour of Flanders as he probably has more experience in this race than any other rider in the field.

    “It's going to be very hard but I'll try to win. I hope to avoid mistakes and be there late in the race,” Ivanov said. When asked about top favourite Cancellara, the Russian had mixed feelings. “Normally he can't lose but to me, Cancellara has showed he's good too early and everybody else will be riding tactically against him,” Ivanov said.

  111. 13:28:50 CEST

    Crash and Burghardt, is down. The former Gent Wevelgem winner is on his feet and chasing. I think he just clipped someone's wheel.

  112. 13:30:05 CEST

    Griepel on the front, you have to admire the way he's riding for his team here.

  113. 13:31:09 CEST

    Everyone is trying to move up now, riders not giving an inch. Hayman leading the field around long corner and there's another crash. This time a Quick Stepper goes down.

  114. 13:31:42 CEST

    Malacarne. he's on his feet but he doesn't look great.

  115. 13:32:59 CEST

    Malacarne hit the ground hard. Looked like he simply ran out of tarmac and went up over the curb.

  116. 13:35:05 CEST

    The bunch hit the Kruisberg, the gap to the leaders is 2.15 as Posthuma hits the deck this time.

  117. 13:35:25 CEST

    Quick Step set the pace on the climb.

  118. 13:35:52 CEST

    Riders getting dropped already.

  119. 13:37:58 CEST

    Over the top and no real damage done. The big climbs are still to come but that will have sapped energy from everyone in the bunch.

  120. 13:40:16 CEST

    Skil and Vacan start to wind things up and the bunch splits slightly but then comes back together.

  121. 13:41:08 CEST

    Hammond, meanwhile, leads the break, who have 1.45 on the bunch. Sieberg from Lotto attacks.

  122. 13:41:40 CEST

    He's brought back without much trouble from the bunch.

  123. 96km remaining from 256.8km

    13:43:28 CEST

    Cav is there, at the back of the bunch, around 30-40 riders have been dropped already.

  124. 13:46:18 CEST

    Riders at the back of the bunch are practically sprinting to keep contact. The pace has shot up, with Voeckler's team and Garmin on the front. The gap to the leaders is just 1.19

  125. 13:47:35 CEST

    There's a slight headwind at the moment but a Skil rider has jumped off from the front of the bunch.

  126. 13:48:51 CEST

    Hushovd near the front , Gilbert too, that's the first time we've seen him as Astana send a rider up the road.

  127. 13:50:58 CEST

    Turgot leads the break up the next climb but the bunch aren't far behind now..

  128. 13:51:51 CEST

    Five Garmin riders on one side of the road, led by Klier as behind more riders are shelled out the back.

  129. 13:52:46 CEST

    Lloyd was leading the field there, took a corner too wide and hit the deck. Lucky he was going so fast and had a gap, otherwise he would have taken all the favourites down too. he's back up and with the bunch now.

  130. 13:53:25 CEST

    over the top and Lotto have put the hammer down. Must be a pre-planned tactic and they've got the field all strung out.

  131. 13:54:48 CEST

    On the radios Saxo Bank tell their riders to fight for their positions and that's just what they're doing. Theyll be looking to make sure Nuyens keeps near the front and out of trouble, in the hope he can do something later in the race.

  132. 13:55:47 CEST

    keep your tweets coming in. What have you made of the race so far. http://twitter.com/dnlbenson

  133. 88km remaining from 256.8km

    13:56:54 CEST

    Devolder. He's trying to get back on . he must have been dropped earlier. As Kroon crashes. That didnt look good. He's holding his shoulder.

  134. 13:57:48 CEST

    The leaders hit the Oude-Kwaremont 171 km and Turgot is doing all the work on the climbs. The gap to the bunch is 1.22

  135. 13:58:49 CEST

    Looks like Hunt has popped as boom Chavanel and Boonen hit the climb all on the front.

  136. 13:59:22 CEST

    Cooke is there. Sep from Garmin, BMC lead, Hayman close by.

  137. 86km remaining from 256.8km

    14:00:01 CEST

    At the back some riders are reduced to a crawl as Chavanel attacks! That's big move.

  138. 14:00:19 CEST

    Kroon is out of the race.

  139. 14:00:54 CEST

    PiesG

    @dnlbenson Cancellara seems to only have O'Grady with him - Money now moving towards Omega or Quickstep

  140. 86km remaining from 256.8km

    14:01:46 CEST

    Sky move up. That's Hayman and Boonen is right on his wheel.

  141. 14:02:16 CEST

    Cancellara is perhaps 15 riders back.

  142. 14:03:10 CEST

    Flecha, Farrar, Boom all moved when Hayman set up a fast pace. No sign from the champion yet. Now Thomas hits the front.

  143. 14:03:21 CEST

    Haussler too.

  144. 14:04:24 CEST

    The main bunch is down to around 60 riders. We have three riders up front left.


    SITUATION
    Roger Hammond (Garmin Cervelo), Mitchell Docker (Skil-Shimano) and Sébastien Turgot (Europcar)

    Peloton at 57 seconds
     

  145. 14:05:28 CEST

    Onto the Paterberg now.

  146. 14:06:23 CEST

    It's short but has sections of 20%. Chavanel has been brought back and Gilbert and Boonen hit the front. Still nothing from Cancellara.

  147. 14:06:43 CEST

    Gilbert, boonen then Thomas.

  148. 14:07:06 CEST

    Cancellara is way back.

  149. 14:07:29 CEST

    Hushovd too. they're playing a dangerous game here. Still a long way to go but.....

  150. 14:07:50 CEST

    Nuyens, way back in the main field.

  151. 14:08:10 CEST

    Goss is well back too.

  152. 14:09:24 CEST

    Chavanel is still up the road. he's with Clarke from Astana. He's got around 15 seconds on the Rabo led bunch.

  153. 14:10:20 CEST

    Thomas takes up the chase for Flecha as it looks like the Chavanel group will catch the three leaders soon. Things are building up nicely.

  154. 14:10:52 CEST

    CadelOfficial

    Thor looks good there. Eisel looked really comfortable...

  155. 78km remaining from 256.8km

    14:11:52 CEST

    Attack from Saxo Bank, Sky and then Quick Step react and bring it back together. Chavanel and Clarke make contact with the three leaders

  156. 14:13:10 CEST

    The Frenchman moves to the front straight away. He's got 12 seconds on the bunch. Now 10. He's too dangerous to get away and the riders behind are still fresh. This should help Boonen though.

  157. 14:13:42 CEST

    Nuyens and Devolder are out the back and chasing the main field.

  158. 14:15:01 CEST

    Chavanel isnt asking for any help. he's on the front, setting the pace. he finally asks for some help from Clarke but it doesn';t come and now they're on the Koppenberg

  159. 14:15:50 CEST

    The Frenchman puts down the hammer and only clarke can stay with him. behind are the bunch and it looks like they're sprinting.

  160. 14:16:11 CEST

    Saxo lead, Gilbert attacks.

  161. 14:16:36 CEST

    boonen chasing, Cancellara around 6 back but moving up. No sign of pippo.

  162. 14:17:20 CEST

    Flecha, Pippo coming back up Voeckler too.

  163. 14:18:12 CEST

    Gilbert is ripping everyone's legs off but is it all too much too soon?

    Devolder looks like he's coming back. Possibly.

  164. 14:18:59 CEST

    There are maybe a dozen riders in the Gilbert group. Cancellara, Boonen, Hushovd, Flecha all there.

  165. 14:20:29 CEST

    Hammond has done a good job staying in there and leads the Gilbert group.

  166. 14:21:11 CEST

    BMC have two riders in there. Garmin 3. Quick Step at least one.

  167. 14:22:52 CEST

    Chavanel is sitting up, he'll wait for Boonen now, Clarke is forced to do the same. Still 71km of racing.

  168. 14:24:02 CEST

    Boonen has Steegmans with him. Is Cancellara alone? Not any more as another group catch Gilbert and co.

  169. 14:24:40 CEST

    Onto Steenbeekdries and Bak has a dig and gets a small gap.

  170. 14:24:56 CEST

    SITUATION
    Sylvain Chavanel ( QuickStep) and Simon Clarke (Astana)

    Chase group including Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Tom Boonen (QuickStep), Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek), Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) at 0:20

  171. 14:25:51 CEST

    Thomas leading the field again. he's having a good, good race for team sky.

  172. 14:26:20 CEST

    Advantage Boonen , he doesnt have to do any work for the moment and has a very dangerous teammate up the road.

  173. 14:27:16 CEST

    Despite Cancellara not being near the front yet he's done enough to stay with the leaders. He's either on a bad day of very confident he can close any gaps.

  174. 69km remaining from 256.8km

    14:27:53 CEST

    Dangerous group off the front now. Langervald, Flecha, Boonen and Van Avermaet.

  175. 14:28:42 CEST

    Taaienberg now and Hushovd is leading the chase of the boone group. Flecha setting a fast pace though.

  176. 14:29:32 CEST

    Hushovd doing all the work for Cancellara. Chavanel and Clarke press on but the Boonen group is caught.

  177. 14:31:25 CEST

    Langeveld is stretching the peloton again, leading everyone on the downhill.

  178. 14:32:29 CEST

    Great riding from the Dutchman who has the entire field struggling to keep up with him.

  179. 14:33:04 CEST

    Chavanel and Clarke have 14 seconds.

  180. 66km remaining from 256.8km

    14:35:14 CEST

    66km to go and the race is delicately poised. Chavanel and Clarke have 14 seconds. Sky, BMC and AG2R on the front leading the chase. Leopard look like they've been blown away but Cancellara is still up there.

  181. 14:35:45 CEST

    The bunch hit the Eikenberg. Rabo setting the pace.

  182. 14:36:08 CEST

    the leaders have 30 seconds.

  183. 14:36:32 CEST

    Flecha looks strong. he's near the front, and hes' been there all day.

  184. 14:37:10 CEST

    Boom attacks.

  185. 14:37:27 CEST

    Boonen lets him go.

  186. 14:37:51 CEST

    Voeckler is leading the chase, Boonen on his wheel.

  187. 14:39:01 CEST

    Boasson Hagen is in between the Chavanel Boom group.

  188. 14:39:32 CEST

    Saxo are leading the chase.

  189. 14:40:11 CEST

    This group is good. Chavanel, Boom, Hagen, and Clarke. Garmin have to react, Leopard too. And Lotto.

  190. 14:41:25 CEST

    Cancellara sends a man to the front. he doesnt like that group ahead and he;ll need to chase them down. BMC look like they want to help chase too.

  191. 14:42:23 CEST

    Farrar is still there. he's got Hushovd on his wheel.

  192. 14:43:44 CEST

    The lone Leopard rider still on the front as Quick Step just sit in and keep Boonen near the front.

  193. 14:44:30 CEST

    The leaders have just 16 seconds but they're doing a good job of softening up the riders behind.

  194. 14:45:22 CEST

    It's mortensen on the front, burying himself for Cancellara but it's a tough job. he takes a corner so badly he leads half the field off the road.

  195. 14:45:45 CEST

    That's just tiredness not bad bike skills.

  196. 14:46:15 CEST

    Oh and Devolder is back with the leaders now.

  197. 14:46:59 CEST

    We've not seen a thing from Liquigas today. Thought they'd be in the thick of the action.

  198. 14:49:54 CEST

    guesdon attacks from the bunch. Lotto spring into life and put a man on the front.

  199. 14:51:29 CEST

    Cancellara near the front now. He's not had to lift a finger yet today. he was quite far back on some of the early climbs but he's still looking strong.

  200. 14:53:23 CEST

    Guesdon joined by three riders, BMC, Sky and Rabobank but the bunch aren't far behind.

  201. 14:55:35 CEST

    Guesdon, Hayman and the two other riders are closing in on the Chavanel group. The gap 18 seconds.

  202. 14:56:24 CEST

    SITUATION
    Sylvain Chavanel ( QuickStep), Simon Clarke (Astana), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Lars Boom (Rabobank)

    Van Avermaet (BMC), Mathew Hayman (Sky), Tom Leezer (Rabobank) and Frederic Guesdon (FDJ) at 0:20

    Chase group including Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Tom Boonen (QuickStep) Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek), Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) , Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) at 0:30

  203. 49km remaining from 256.8km

    14:58:40 CEST

    Guesdon driving the second group along but he's not getting much help from the men with him. Sky and Rabo already have a rider up the road.

  204. 14:59:09 CEST

    They're sprinting into the foot of the Molenberg.

  205. 15:00:11 CEST

    Lots of riders blocked including Devolder. Always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

     

    Flecha leads, Hushovd, Cancellara and Boonen lead.

  206. 15:00:35 CEST

    First time we've seen the champion in the front.

  207. 15:00:55 CEST

    he's just following moves, showing that he's there.

  208. 15:01:40 CEST

    Chavanel is on his own now. He dropped his breakaway companions.

  209. 47km remaining from 256.8km

    15:02:36 CEST

    Sylvain Chavanel ( QuickStep)

    Simon Clarke (Astana), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Lars Boom (Rabobank)

    Van Avermaet (BMC), Mathew Hayman (Sky), Tom Leezer (Rabobank)

    Chase group including Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Tom Boonen (QuickStep) Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek), Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) , Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) at 0:33

  210. 15:04:15 CEST

    Chavanel is riding a great race. He has 43 seconds on the bunch, is all alone and still looks strong. Still a long way to go, 46 km in fact.

  211. 15:05:19 CEST

    Cooke and Leukemans have attacked together and are also clear of the bunch. Thomas is trying to go too.

  212. 15:05:46 CEST

    Gilbert has to stop. Not sure if it's a crash or a problem with his bike.

  213. 44km remaining from 256.8km

    15:06:49 CEST

    That's not the time to have a problem in Flanders. Chavanel, meanwhile, extends his lead to 55 seconds.

  214. 15:07:12 CEST

    SITUATION
    Sylvain Chavanel ( QuickStep)

    Simon Clarke (Astana), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Lars Boom (Rabobank)

    Van Avermaet (BMC), Mathew Hayman (Sky), Tom Leezer (Rabobank)

    Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) and Cooke

    Chase group including Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Tom Boonen (QuickStep) Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek), Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) , Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) at 0:54

  215. 15:08:09 CEST

    Gilbert is back with the bunch at the back though, as they reach the next section of cobbles. Chavanel's lead is now 1 minute.

    Hushovd, the world champ, on the front.

  216. 42km remaining from 256.8km

    15:08:42 CEST

    Boonen attacks!

    Cancellara and pippo go with him

  217. 15:09:22 CEST

    Gilbert had no chance but this trio have a gap already.

  218. 15:10:17 CEST

    They're caught but Cancellara goes again. Boonen trying to chase. And gets there. Just

  219. 40km remaining from 256.8km

    15:11:04 CEST

    Cancellara catches boom and hagen, goes around but boonen cant and he's caught behind.

  220. 15:11:59 CEST

    Cancellara is on his own. 40km to go and just Chavanel ahead. Can Boonen come back. Cancellara is just 28 seconds behind the Frenchman.

  221. 15:12:22 CEST

    SITUATION
    Sylvain Chavanel ( QuickStep)

    Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek)

    Tom Boonen (QuickStep), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and Lars Boom (Rabobank)

    Van Avermaet (BMC), Mathew Hayman (Sky), Tom Leezer (Rabobank), Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) and Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank-SunGard), and Filipo Pozzato (Katusha)

    Chase group including Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) , Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) at 0:57

  222. 15:13:05 CEST

     Boom, Hagen, Boonen, Leukemans, van Avermaet, and Pippo, can they bring back Cancellara?

  223. 15:13:42 CEST

    Cancellara already has 20 seconds on Boonen's group.

  224. 15:14:31 CEST

    Chavanel knows what's coming. How long can he stop the inevitable?

  225. 15:16:49 CEST

    Cancellara is 20 seconds behind the lone leader. The chasers are still working but it's not having any effect. The champion continues to stretch his lead.

  226. 15:17:06 CEST

    SITUATION
    Sylvain Chavanel ( QuickStep)

    Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) at 0:26

    Tom Boonen (QuickStep), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Lars Boom (Rabobank),Van Avermaet (BMC), Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) and Filipo Pozzato (Katusha) at 0:45

    Chase group including Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) , Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) at ??

  227. 15:19:48 CEST

    Chavanel is giving it everything while behind, Boonen is urging the other riders to chase Cancellara. The leopard rider has 25 seconds on those behind him.

  228. 15:20:39 CEST

    Cancellara is closing in on Chavanel. the gap is 8 seconds.

  229. 15:21:17 CEST

    the Frenchman turns, sees Cancellara and eases up.

  230. 32km remaining from 256.8km

    15:22:23 CEST

    Cancellara doesn't even pay him any attention, and the Frenchman sits in.

    Gilbert is back with the Boonen group. There are many 15-20 riders together. Can they change the outcome of the race?

  231. 15:22:39 CEST

    SITUATION
    Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) and Sylvain Chavanel ( QuickStep)


    Tom Boonen (QuickStep), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Lars Boom (Rabobank),Van Avermaet (BMC), Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) and Filipo Pozzato (Katusha) at 0:38

    Chase group including Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) , Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) at ??

  232. 15:23:31 CEST

    Cancellara and Chavanel have 35 seconds on the chasers.

  233. 15:24:31 CEST

    So to summarize, 31km to go and it's Cancellara, along with a very tired Chavanel vs the entire peloton.

  234. 15:25:09 CEST

    flecha attacks from the bunch voeckler goes with him. and the gap is now 45 seconds.

  235. 15:26:22 CEST

    Cancellara as you would expect doing all the work on the front. The gap going out to 50 seconds. 29 km remaining.

  236. 15:27:34 CEST

    Geraint Thomas, a young rider who has had a great race, sits on the front but he's powerless to stop Cancellara. The gap is now one minute.

  237. 15:28:31 CEST

    All of BMC . The entire BMC team minus Kroon are on the front and work. That's 7 men. The gap holds at a minute.

  238. 15:29:29 CEST

    We're on the Tenbose. Cancellara sets the pace, still. Chavanel hanging in there.

  239. 15:31:00 CEST

    A slight gap but Chavanel manges to close it. Over the top and the gap is down to 56 seconds. BMC hit the climb now and set the pace. They're not racing for third, they're trying to close this gap.

  240. 15:31:54 CEST

    Garmin effectively say they're riding for third. Vaughters on the radio telling his riders not to work and to wait for the sprint.

  241. 15:32:46 CEST

    Devolder attacks! Oh he's caught.


  242. 15:33:45 CEST

    peters tells the Leopard car that Cancellara is 'too strong'.

  243. 15:35:18 CEST

    The Muur and the Bosberg still to come. How long can Chavanel hang on?

  244. 15:37:08 CEST

    Chavanel is doing all he needs: sitting in and letting Cancellara do all the work. He's under no obligation to work. Not sure he'd be able to either to be honest. The gap still 57 seconds.

  245. 15:41:25 CEST

    Coming to the Muur now. I dont have to tell you who is leading. the gap has come down though. it's 47 seconds.

  246. 15:42:15 CEST

    big moment now. Can Chavanel hang on. Can Cancellara drop him? 37 sec gap.

  247. 15:42:42 CEST

    He's still there the gap is 24 seconds!

  248. 15:43:03 CEST

    Langeveld doing all the work for the bunch.

  249. 15:43:25 CEST

    12 seconds!

  250. 15:43:41 CEST

    they're coming back.

  251. 15:44:00 CEST

    Gilbert now leading.

  252. 15:44:35 CEST

    Cancellara is getting caught. Boonen up there. Ballan too.

  253. 15:45:10 CEST

    Cancellara not giving up and digs in. he still has a gap.

  254. 15km remaining from 256.8km

    15:45:26 CEST

    SITUATION
    Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) and Sylvain Chavanel ( QuickStep)

    Peloton including Tom Boonen (QuickStep), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), Lars Boom (Rabobank),Van Avermaet (BMC), Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil), Filipo Pozzato (Katusha),
    Chase group including Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) , Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervelo) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) at 0:15
    [14:45:04] Susan Westemeyer: SITUATION
    Peloton together

  255. 15:46:19 CEST

    Caught. Ballan, Leukmans, Chavanel, Cancellara, Gilbert in the lead.

  256. 15:46:40 CEST

    Boonen is leading the chase with Flecha, they should come back.

  257. 15:48:40 CEST

    Boonen and co are losing group. These five look  set. They're working well.

  258. 15:49:01 CEST

    SITUATION

    Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek), Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil)

    Field at ??

  259. 15:49:37 CEST

    Thomas is bringing Flecha and Boonen back in

  260. 15:49:53 CEST

    Gilbert attacks on the bosberg.

  261. 15:50:03 CEST

    ballan chasing.

  262. 15:50:24 CEST

    Cancellara is dropped!

  263. 15:50:41 CEST

    Chavanel goes passed him.

  264. 15:50:56 CEST

    Gilbert has a gap. He's got a gap!

  265. 15:51:57 CEST

    Gilbert has a gap. Maybe 100 meters and he's got 11km to go.

  266. 15:52:16 CEST

    Can he do what Cancellara couldn't and finish this race off?

  267. 15:52:38 CEST

    Ballan chasing, leukemans and Chavanel behind him.

  268. 15:53:05 CEST

    SITUATION

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto)

    Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek), Alessandro Ballan (BMC), Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) at ??

    Field at ??

  269. 15:53:25 CEST

    And over to susan for the finale!

  270. 10km remaining from 256.8km

    15:54:11 CEST

    Susan jumping back in for the last 10 km.

  271. 15:55:11 CEST

    This has turned into a race!  It looked as if Cancellara would just ride off with the whole thing, but then things changed!

  272. 15:55:42 CEST

    Gilbert is hanging on to a narrow 5 second lead.

  273. 9km remaining from 256.8km

    15:56:41 CEST

    Cancellara leads the group up to Gilbert, and now a large group is coming up from behind to join them as well.

  274. 15:58:22 CEST

    We have 12 riders in the lead group now, including George Hincapie (BMC).

  275. 5km remaining from 256.8km

    15:59:14 CEST

    Nuyens takes over the lead work now.  Cancellara and Boonen are practically joined at the hip.

  276. 16:00:10 CEST

    A Sky rider at the head, now a Leopard, now  QuickStep....

  277. 4km remaining from 256.8km

    16:00:52 CEST

    Langeveld attacks!

  278. 16:01:21 CEST

    Cancellara goes for it again, followed by Chavanel and Nuyens.

  279. 16:02:02 CEST

    They have a lead but not a definite one.  Gilbert chases.

  280. 16:02:29 CEST

    AGain, Chavanel is letting Cancellara do all the lead work.  But now he jumps up front.

  281. 2km remaining from 256.8km

    16:03:11 CEST

    Will this trio hang on to its tiny lead?

  282. 1km remaining from 256.8km

    16:03:44 CEST

    The last km!

  283. 16:04:34 CEST

    The last cruve, and the three might make it.

  284. 16:05:12 CEST

    Cancellara opened the sprint and looked like he had good chances, but Nuyens was able to pass him and take it!

  285. 16:05:51 CEST

    Boonen launched a last-minute attack and came close, but it was too last minute.

  286. 16:06:27 CEST

    Cancellara hangs his head over his bike.  He probably can't believe that he didn't win.

  287. 16:07:41 CEST

    But we have an overjoyed winner in Nuyens!

  288. 16:09:22 CEST

    Our podium today is Nuyens, Chavanel and Cancellara.  Congratulations to all!

  289. 16:13:23 CEST

    Well, this race didn't turn out as expected but if anything, it was even more exciting!

    Thanks for joining us and reading along.