The 77th edition of Gent-Wevelgem was one of the wildest in recent years with winds up to 90km/h buffeting the peloton after the race started in cold and wet conditions. Only 39 riders finished the 240km race, won by Luca Paolini (Katusha), with the weather conditions and hard racing taking its toll on the riders. 160 riders finished with DNF against their names while Dylan Groenewegen (Team Roompot) registered the only DQS of the race.
The victims of the many crashes included Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo) who broke his nose in a crash, Edvald Boasson Hagen (MTN-Qhubeka) hit a pole and broke his collarbone, Michael Schär (BMC) ended up in a ditch while Gert Steegmans (Trek) had a brief swim having been blown off the road.
Etixx-QuickStep duo Martin Velits and Lukasz Wisniowski also crashed during the race, causing them to withdraw. Post-race a broken right collarbone was confirmed for Velits while Wisniowski suffered an injured right knee.
Jack Bauer (Cannondale-Garmin) had a day to forget that involved a crash, and a mussette getting caught up in his rear wheel which saw the Kiwi throw his bike off the road into a ditch.
In the end, 38-year-old Paolini proved to be the master of the conditions, overcoming his bad misfortune for his first win since 2013.
"It was a very difficult day out there. I crashed twice and changed my bike. But I knew the route and know were to stay up front. After my bad luck I was lucky. It was so bad that we weren’t sure if we could carry on. But we're up in the north and this is real cycling. The strongest survived today," Paolini said.
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