Froome beats Sagan to International Flandrien prize

Thanks to completing the Tour de France-Vuelta a España double, Chris Froome's stock in Belgium rose enough to overtake three-time World Champion Peter Sagan in the voting for International Flandrien of the year in a poll by Het Nieuwsblad in Belgium.

In a videotaped message to the organisers, the Team Sky rider said, "Thank you very much for the Flandrien award for the second time, from Het Nieuwsblad. It's a very special award for me, and obviously winning it for a second time now is a huge honour, especially when I think back to where my career started back in Tielt-Winge in Belgium and to think now, I've won the Tour de France for the fourth time it's just been an incredible journey for me. One day I'm going to have to come back to Tielt-Winge and see where it all started."

The awards were given at a gala in Oostende on Tuesday, where Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) repeated as the Flandrien Het Nieuwsblad for the fifth consecutive year. The Paris-Roubaix winner beat out Tour of Flanders champion and former teammate Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) by 10 points in the voting.

“This trophy isn’t a race, but it’s still prestigious to win it,” Van Avermaet said, according to RTBF. “I had a super early season. The second part was less good given the circumstances but you can’t just win on command.

“My goal next year will be to win the Tour of Flanders. I’d also really like to win Strade Bianche. Those are my two principal objectives. I want to win the Ronde above all. It’s a race that suits me very well. If I won, I could win the Flandrien for a seventh time. I’m very happy with this trophy because the competition is enormous.”

The Belgian tipped his cap to his compatriot and former teammate Gilbert in an interview with Sporza.

“I knew it would be a two-way battle," Van Avermaet said. “We both rode a brilliant season, but I think I win on points. In other years, winning the Tour of Flanders and Amstel Gold Race would certainly have been enough for Gilbert, but not this year.”

Julien Vermote was given the gala's newest award, the Kilometervreter, a combativity prize for the season.

Sanne Cant, the reigning world champion in cyclo-cross, won the women's prize over Jolien d'Hoore by one point, while European 'cross champion Mathieu van der Poel won the award for cyclo-cross over world champion Wout Van Aert. New Lotto Soudal recruit and Tour de l'Avenir runner-up Bjorg Lambrecht was given the prize of U23 Flandrien.

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