Cancellara wins the 2014 Tour of Flanders

Van Avermaet, Vanmarcke podium

Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) defended his Tour of Flanders title in a pulsating final sprint to beat Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Sep Vanmarcke (Team Belkin) to the line.

The Swiss rider attacked with Sep Vanmarcke on the final ascent of the Kwaremont and joined forces with Van Avermaet and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) who had slipped clear earlier in the race.

The foursome held off a chase from Cannondale and Omega Pharma - Quick-Step with Alexander Kristoff leading home the rest of the field in fifth place. For all their dominance earlier in the race Patrick Lefevere’s team were forced to settle for three riders inside the top ten and Stijn Vandenbergh in fourth.

There was no doubting that this was Cancellara’s day with the Trek leader producing arguably his most complete performance to win his third Flanders crown. This may have lacked a long, lone solo attack but his race winning canvas was covered in masterstrokes; all of which were set against an uncertain background as his team lost both Stijn Devolder and Yaroslav Popovych through crashes.

His first real foray came on the Kwaremont, where he sailed clear with and eager Vanmarcke. The pair linked up on the penultimate climb, setting QuickStep’s plans alight in a move that also distanced Peter Sagan (Cannondale).

Even an attack from Vanmarcke on the Paterberg couldn't ruffle Cancellara’s feathers and on the Paterberg the duo reeled in a tiring Vandenbergh before setting their sights on Van Avermaet. The BMC rider was unquestionably the most aggressive rider in the race but when the four linked up inside the final run to the finish in Oudenaarde, Cancellara once again let his experience tell.

Vandenbergh was the first to attack from the leading group, having sat on for most of the day’s ride with Van Avermaet, but when the BMC rider countered Cancellara feigned exhaustion and ushered Vanmarcke to the front to chase down the two leaders.

Inside the finale kilometre, Cancellara appeared to draw away from the rest of the group. It gave him enough room, and enough time, to launch his sprint at the perfect moment.

New course, same magic

Big crowds welcomed the riders in Bruges for the start of the 98th Tour of Flanders. Rain showers also welcomed the riders and during most of the first hour the riders were treated to a spring soaking. Only when approaching Heule, town of the Ronde 2014, did a breakaway manage to distance the peloton. Eleven riders featured in front with Taylor Phinney (BMC) being the biggest name among them.

While the large group quickly collected a lead of four minutes, crashes scared the peloton. Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) and Johan Le Bon (FDJ.fr) were the first casualties and a little later Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp) rode into an elderly woman who stood on a traffic island in Wielsbeke. After the horrible crash both Vansummeren and the woman were brought to the hospital in bad condition.

Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin) also crashed but continued the race. Meanwhile, the lead group kept the pace high and when riding through Oudenaarde for the first time the gap was six minutes.

To the Oude Kwaremont

As the race tackled the first climbs, the gap of the lead group came back down. After the first ascent of the Oude Kwaremont the gap was five minutes. After three climbs, when approaching the 2650m pavé stretch of Kerkgate the bad luck for the Lotto-Belisol continued with their leader Jürgen Roelandts crashing out of the race.

On the descent of the Molenberg, and the peloton approached the Paddestraat there was another major crash. One rider slipped away in a left-hand corner and soon several riders were going down including Luca Paolini and former double winner Stijn Devolder. The peloton was split in two parts. On the Paddestraat, Omega Pharma – QuickStep put seven men on the front.

The crashes kept on coming. Popovych hooked into the clothing of a fan and went down hard, and on the wide roads towards the cobbles of the Haaghoek the second group with Devolder and Pozzato managed to come back to the front. Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Belisol) crashed at a bus stop platform to compound Lotto’s problems.

At the beautiful cobbles of the Haaghoek there were seven leaders left in front with Phinney, Romain Zingle (Cofidis), Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge), Stig Broeckx (Lotto-Belisol), Aliaksander Kuchynski (Katusha), James Vanlandschoot (Wanty-Groupe Robert) and Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) all clear. The peloton hit the cobbles three minutes later, still being led by Boonen’s troops.

The action explodes

When moving on towards the Kanarieberg – the ninth climb of the day - the speed in the peloton increased and the leaders were no more than two minutes clear. On the Kanarieberg Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) and Manuel Quinziato (BMC) attacked with Bernhard Eisel (Sky) managing to latch on.

At the foot of the 2.2km long Oude Kwaremont only Impey, Broeckx and Phinney had survived from the initial break.

Yet another crash occurred in the peloton when BMC-riders switched wheels. Stijn Devolder hit the deck again, along with four riders from Tinkoff-Saxo.

The situation after the Paterberg - just before the Koppenberg - saw Impey, Phinney and Broeckx with just over half a minute on a group of about forty riders. Belkin and QuickStep led this group to the tough cobbled Koppenberg climb. A second group with Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) followed; with a third group containing Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) at nearly a minute.

Impey led the race over the Koppenberg with a small gap over Terpstra, Boonen, Cancellara, Sagan, Vanmarcke, Geraint Thomas (Sky), John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano), Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), Stybar, Vandenbergh and only a few others which formed a lead group of about twenty riders.

On the cobbles of the Mariaborrestraat and Steenbeekdries the second group came back but in the meantime Stijn Vandenbergh, Dries Devenyns (Giant-Shimano) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) snuck away.

On the Taaienberg, Boasson Hagen and Devenyns dropped Vandenbergh. The two leaders had a handful of seconds on a star-studded group featuring Sagan, Cancellara, Boonen, Vandenbergh, Stybar, Terpstra, Degenkolb, Vanmarcke, Van Avermaet, Björn Leukemans (Wanty – Groupe Gobert) and Sébastien Minard (AG2R La Mondiale).

At 33km from the finish the duo were caught back and thirteen riders were leading. Devenyns attacked again, and soon after Van Avermaet tried his luck and broke clear with Vandenbergh on his wheel. Nobody in the lead group wanted to chase the leaders down and the pace dropped.

Sagan led the favourites-group over the cobbles as Degenkolb began to lose contact. Cancellara took over shortly after the cobbles which clearly hurt many riders. In front Van Avermaet received no support from Vandenbergh but still the duo gained half a minute on the favourites group as Vanmarcke attacked without success.

Omega lose their grip

At twenty kilometres from the finish the race turned on its head, first as Paolini and little later a large group with Pozzato, Thomas, Wiggins and others bridged back up with the favourites. When approaching the third ascent of the Oude Kwaremont the two leaders had 25 seconds on Leukemans and 45 seconds on the peloton.

Halfway up the climb, with Omega Pharma scattered and Sagan lacking punch, Cancellara began to stamp his authority on the race. The rest would have to fall in line.

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing6:15:18 
2Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
3Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
4Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
5Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha0:00:08 
6Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team0:00:18 
7Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team0:00:35 
8Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky0:00:37 
9Björn Leukemans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:00:41 
10Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Garmin Sharp0:00:43 
11Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar0:01:12 
12Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
13Nicki Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo0:01:15 
14Dries Devenyns (Bel) Team Giant-Shimano0:01:19 
15John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano0:01:25 
16Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale  
17Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
18Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
19Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) IAM Cycling  
20Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
21Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ.fr  
22Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky  
23Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Belisol  
24Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert0:01:35 
25Oscar Gatto (Ita) Cannondale0:01:41 
26Iljo Keisse (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team0:01:43 
27Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
28Steve Chainel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
29Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) MTN - Qhubeka  
30Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
31Jan Barta (Cze) Team NetApp - Endura  
32Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky  
33Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team  
34Maarten Wynants (Bel) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
35Zico Waeytens (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
36Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha0:03:52 
37Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica Greenedge  
38Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale  
39Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar  
40Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team0:04:12 
41Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cannondale  
42Stig Broeckx (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
43Jos Van Emden (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
44Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
45Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
46Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
47Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin Sharp  
48Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
49Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team  
50Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
51Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica Greenedge  
52Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica Greenedge  
53Zakkari Dempster (Aus) Team NetApp - Endura  
54Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano  
55Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team  
56Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
57Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Cannondale  
58Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team  
59Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team0:07:41 
60Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky  
61Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
62Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky  
63William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ.fr  
64Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Giant-Shimano  
65Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky  
66Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol0:08:17 
67Thomas Leezer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
68Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
69Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ.fr  
70Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
71Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
72Kenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
73Egoitz Garcia Echeguibel (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
74Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale  
75Yannick Martinez (Fra) Team Europcar  
76Jérôme Pineau (Fra) IAM Cycling  
77Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team Katusha  
78Scott Thwaites (GBr) Team NetApp - Endura0:09:49 
79Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek Factory Racing  
80Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
81Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin Sharp  
82Alexey Tsatevitch (Rus) Team Katusha  
83Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale  
84Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo  
85Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano  
86Stijn Devolder (Bel) Trek Factory Racing  
87Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
88Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano  
89Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Garmin Sharp  
90Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team  
91Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
92Gert Joeaar (Est) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
93Lars Boom (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
94Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar  
95Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky  
96Roger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling0:12:25 
97Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica Greenedge0:12:38 
98Michael Hepburn (Aus) Orica Greenedge  
99Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka  
100Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Team Katusha  
101James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
102Karsten Kroon (Ned) Tinkoff-Saxo  

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