Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet has won a record fifth Nieuwsblad Flandrien award and his fourth in succession with the BMC rider feted at the ceremony in Ostend. Fabian Cancellara was honoured with a life time achievement award while Peter Sagan was named International Flandrien of the Year for the second year running with Jolien D'hoore the Flandrienne of the Year, 'cross world champion Wout Van Aert the Flandrien of the Field.
The Het Nieuwsblad organised awards have been been held annually since 2003 with Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert the only other winners of the Nieuwsblad Flandrien.
in 2016, Van Avermaet started his season with third place overall at Tour of Qatar with his first victory of the season coming at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Overall victory at the Tirreno - Adriatico came next and was followed by top-tens at Milano - Sanremo and Gent - Wevelgem before disaster struck at the Tour of Flanders as he crashed out with a broken collarbone. The 31-year-old returned to racing at the Tour of California and was then back in action at the Tour de France where he won stage 5 to Le Lioran and enjoyed several days in the yellow jersey as a result.
Post-Tour de France, Van Avermaet was then fifth at Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian in his final pre-Olympic Games race before he claimed the gold medal. There is further success in Canada where Van Avermaet was second at the GP de Quebec to Sagan, but reversed the result two days later with victory in the GP de Montreal. He closed out his season at the Abu Dhabi Tour, a week after coming tenth in the World Championships road race.
Lotto Soudal's Thomas De Gendt finished second to Van Avermaet with Timothy Dupont in third, Tom Boonen in fourth and Tim Wellens in fifth place.
Three stage wins at the Tour de France, where he also defended his green points jersey, a second World title and finishing top of the WorldTour rankings ensured that Sagan was the standout candidate for the international Flandrien award and duly won the prize. In a pre-recorded interview prior to the Doha Worlds, Sagan thanked the organisers for his award.
Olympic Games omnium bronze medallist Jolien D'hoore won her third Flandrienne of the Year with Van Aert the recipient of the the Flandrien of the Field award, with Bjorg Lambrecht, Jasper Philipsen and Thibaut Ponsaerts also claiming awards.
The retiring Cancellara was also honoured with a highlights video of his career during the ceremony, thanking the organisers for his award and the support of Belgians throughout his career.
"It's special to receive prizes but this is something even more because it's a special award," Cancellara said.
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