In the end, Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) made it all look so startlingly easy. After soloing into Oudenaarde as the winner of the Tour of Flanders, the world champion celebrated his first Monument victory by pulling the seemingly now obligatory wheelie.
Most of the 117 riders who followed him across the finish could scarcely lift their heads, never mind their front wheels.
In years past, Sagan has suffered from an apparent surfeit of options in the finale of the big classics, never sure whether to bank on his sprint or go on the offensive, and all too often running out of energy at the crucial moment.
On Sunday, Sagan’s seemingly bottomless reservoir of strength was such that he could probably have afforded to make many of the usual mistakes and still win, but he displayed tactical nous, too, by tracking Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) when he attacked ahead of the Kruisberg, with some 32 kilometres remaining.