Welcome to live coverage of Dwars door Vlaanderen
It's a dreary day in Belgium as the riders roll out for the neutralised start.
The day began on a sombre note with a minute's silence for the victims of yesterday's plane crash in the alps.
Our reporters Barry Ryan and Daniel Benson are out in the field today. Read Barry's preview of the cobbled semi-classic here.
@Lotto_Soudal Wed, 25th Mar 2015 10:54:12
After a brief stint on the cobbles at the start of the month with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the arrival of Dwars door Vlaanderen marks the beginning of the run into the Tour of Flanders.
Today is a chance for the riders to deal the first mental blow to their rivals.
With defending champion Niki Terpstra in the line-up alongside Michal Kwiatkowski and Mark Cavendish, Etixx-QuickStep will be looking to make up for the bad luck they suffered at Milan-San Remo.
In total, 167 riders signed on this morning in Roeselare. You can peruse through the whole start list here.
A very active start to the race, plenty of attacks going off the front but nothing has stuck yet.
The slipper roads have already claimed their first victims and we've had a minor crash. Everyone seems to be ok though.
@DwarsdrVlaander Wed, 25th Mar 2015 11:07:33
There are four former winners in the race today. Including defending champion Niki Terpstra, we have 2013 winner Oscar Gatto, 2010 victor Matti Breschel and 2006 winner Frederick Veuchelen.
If Terpstra was to win today it would be his third time and would make him the record holder at the race. Currently there are 12 riders on two victories and nobody has ever taken back to back wins.
There are 12 Hellingen ahead of the riders today the first the Nieuwe Kwaremont comes after 87.9 kilometres followed by the Kattenberg, Leberg, Berendries, Valkenberg, Eikenberg, Taaienberg, Oude-Kwaremont, Paterberg, Hellestraat and finally the Nokereberg.
Markel Irizar becomes the second rider to abandon the race. Marco Haller is the other. The Katusha rider is off to hospital following a crash earlier on.
We finally have our first break of the day, after 15 kilometres Jay Thomson (MTN-Qhubeka), Brian Van Gosthem (Roompot) and Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha) have gone off the front.
The number of riders in this escape has grown to 11 now and they hold a slim advantage of 30 seconds over the peloton. We'll bring you names as we have them.
@wielerman Wed, 25th Mar 2015 11:18:51
165km remaining from 200km
Here are the 11 men that have managed to pull out a small gap on the peloton. Jonathan Castroviejo (Movistar), Joey Rosskopf (BMC), Sean De Bie (Lotto-Soudal), Tom Van Asbroeck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Sven Erik Bystrom (Katusha), Alexandre Pichot (Europcar), Guiseppe Fonzi (Southeast), Michael Reihs (Cult Energy), Jay Thomson (MTN-Qhubeka), Brian Van Gosthem (Roompot) and Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha).
Trek Factory Racing that not only have they lost Irizar from the race but Giacomo Nizzolo was involved in one of the several crashes today and has been forced to abandon, a blow for a team that already started the race with one ride less than most.
The 11-man break has not succeeded and they have been brought back. It's all together again for the peloton.
@DwarsdrVlaander Wed, 25th Mar 2015 11:49:10
We're nearing the first of the climbs. Here is what today's profile looks like.
In the first hour the riders have completed 47 kilometres, so they're going at a fair pace. Hour Record holder Rohan Dennis tried to get away on his own but couldn't escape the clutches of the peloton.
Dwars door Vlaanderen isn't the only race on today, stage 3 of the Volta a Catalunya has just begun. Alejandro Valverde won yesterday's stage in a bunch sprint. You can find the full report, results and gallery here.
The bunch are still all together as the begin their ascent of the Nieuwe Kwaremont. How long can the peloton keep this pace up?
World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski is looking fairly comfortable in the bunch so far today. Kwiatkowski crashed on the descent of the Poggio during Milan-San Remo on Sunday. There'll be more from Kwaitkowski on the website soon but Daniel Benson spoke to him at the start this morning and the Polish rider was in good health.
"I’m fine. I’m surprisingly healthy after my crash at Milan-San Remo and I’m happy with that. I’m feeling good with this period of racing and there’s enough recovery time to make sure that I’m in good shape," Kwiatkowski told Cyclingnews. "I’ll see how my legs go today but I think I’m fresh enough to remain at the front and my legs don’t feel tired. We have Maes and Terpstra here and both have more experience on these roads than me but of course I’m always wanting to be present at the front. I’ll just go out there and enjoy myself.
I’ll go from here, having a break and then go to Pais Basque and then the Ardennes.
Sean De Bie, Angelo Tulik, Sjoerd van Ginneken and Mads Pedersen had another attempt off the front but nothing came of it and it's gruppo compatto once again.
130km remaining from 200km
70 kilometres have passed and still no break has succeeded.
Marcus Burghardt is leading BMC along with Jempy Drucker today. Cyclingnews spoke to him this morning, here is what he had to say:
"I’m actually feeling pretty good and for me this weather is fine because it makes the rain harder. The main thing you need to do is make sure you keep safe on the roads because of the wet conditions but we have a few cards to play wit three leaders, me included in that, and we’ll try and do something before the final. There are several points where you need to be attentive, especially with the wind but I can see a small bunch coming to the line together."
Five riders more riders are off the front with a 35 second gap, while three riders are trying to bridge the gap.
Four of the men out front are Boris Dron (Wanty-Grouop Gobert), Jelle Walays (Topsport Vlaanderen), Adrien Petit (Cofidis), Brian Van Goethem (Roompot).
They have now been joined by Gert Dockx (Lotto-Soudal) and Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge) of the chasing group.
114km remaining from 200km
Mathias Brandle is the other rider from the initial move that is in that front group. The leaders have also been joined by Ruben Zepuntke (Cannondale) who was distances by the chasing group after he crashed. There are now eight riders up front after 86km.
Cannondale-Garmin will be delighted that Zepuntke has managed to get back into that front group. They've been without a victory so far this season and results really need to pick up for the American team. Daniel Benson spoke to directeur sportif and former rider Andreas Klier at the start of the race, here is what he had to say about the team's lack of results.
"The riders are healthy but we’ve not had too much success and you can see that if you look at the results. We obviously don’t have a sprinter and we chose for that set-up but the guys are going fast. That sounds strange but it’s fact and we’re hoping the big result and win will come soon.
"It’s difficult to say what’s missing at the moment. We’re working for it and we’re keeping our discipline as much as possible. If we do that, then the results will come because we have a strong group of guys here.
"In terms of pressure that comes from within. We obviously we always want to win, whether it’s the riders or the directors who are all ex-riders but it’s never one-on-one, there’s 200 people and it’s not that easy."
The eight leaders now hold a 2:10 gap over the peloton with Martin Mortensen (Cult Energy) chasing 30 seconds behind.
The official race twitter account posted this picture of Zepuntke following his crash. It looks like the German went down hard.
Mortensen has finally joined the lead group, making it 9 out front with a gap of 2:25 on the peloton.
Another abandon coming through the wires. Luke Durbridge is the latest rider to climbs off, no news on the reason why.
A quick reminder of the riders who are out front in the breakaway. Boris Dron (Wanty-Grouop Gobert), Jelle Walays (Topsport Vlaanderen), Adrien Petit (Cofidis), Brian Van Goethem (Roompot), Gert Dockx (Lotto-Soudal), Leigh Howard (Orica-GreenEdge), Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling) and Ruben Zepuntke (Cannondale), Martin Mortenson (Cult Energy).
100km remaining from 200km
The riders have hit the halfway point for today. 100 kilometres to go and the escapees have a gap of 2:40 on the peloton.
The leaders are passing through Oudenaarde where the Tour of Flanders will finish in a week and a half. The gap continues to grow to near three minutes as the close in on the ascent of the second climb of the day the Kattenberg.
We brought you the thoughts of Michal Kwiatkowski from the start of today's race. Here's a little more from the Etixx-QuickStep rider on his season so far. Kwiatkowski believes that a much calmer start to the year is helping him ahead of the Ardennes.
The women's Dwars door Vlaanderen is also under way. Currently three riders have a slim gap of 10 seconds on the bunch.
From @cyclingpronet the leaders have a taste of the cobbles on the Holleweg.
Nairo Quintana is also getting his first taste of cobbles during racing conditions. The Colombian is following his teammate Alejandro Valverde (who did it last year) in testing out the cobbles before the Tour de France. He did a recon earlier this week.
The peloton have the escapees in their sights. With just under 80km to go the nine men only have 22 seconds on the bunch.
78km remaining from 200km
Alex Kirsch has a little dig off the front of the front of the peloton. He has a small gap on the moment but he's plugging away.
IAM Cycling confirms that they had two riders in the serious looking pile-up near the start. One of them could be seen in what looked like a serious condition, possibly having hit his head in the incident. Pineau and Aregger were the two involved, although it's not clear which of the two was on the ground.
73km remaining from 200km
Etixx-QuickStep are doing the work on the front of the peloton, as Mirko Selvaggi of Wanty comes down in the middle of the group.
Kirsch has now joined the group, boosting their numbers to 10 but they only have 12 seconds on the bunch so it's unlikely this move will last much longer.
70km remaining from 200km
The escapees keep looking over their shoulders and gaps are beginning to form in that front group, they know their days out front are numbered.
Leigh Howard is the first of the escapees to be caught by the peloton. The leading group have just 14 seconds as Walays pulls them along.
More news on the IAM Cycling duo. Jerome Pinaeu is safely in the peloton but Marcel Aregger has been taken to hospital. We'll bring you more news as we find out.
As ever in Belgium, the biggest crowds at the start were gathered around the Etixx-QuickStep bus though the Movistar team also drew plenty of curious onlookers, eager to catch a glimpse of Nairo Quintana on unfamiliar terrain.
Like Alejandro Valverde twelve months ago, Quintana lines up at Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke to get some racing experience on the cobbles before the Tour de France’s trek over the pavé in July.
“It’s an important day. Normally these aren’t races for me but it’s important for me to come here and try the cobbles and get to know them well,” said Quintana, who diplomatically refused to rule out one day participating in Paris-Roubaix. “In time, I’d certainly like to come back and do Paris-Roubaix. It’s not a race that suits me but I like it.”
A bad start to this part of the cobbled classics season for LottoNL-Jumbo, they've confirmed that five of their eight starters have climbed off the bike. Jos van Emden, Mike Teunissen and Bertjan Lindeman were all involved in crashes while Maarten Tjallingii and Rick Flens have also called it a day.
The riders are on the Eikenberg and the remnants of the escapees are still plugging away. Wallays and Dockx still have a small gap with the former leading the way.
Wallays is keeping his bike firmly in the gutter as he tries to hold off the peloton, he's putting some time between himself and Dockx.
@TourDeJose Wed, 25th Mar 2015 13:57:17
A great effort by Wallays, who won Paris-Tours last year. He's only got 5 seconds on Deckx but he's pulled out an advantage of 37 seconds on the bunch as they pass through Eitkhove.
58km remaining from 200km
It's a long way to go for Wallays if he wants to get to the line alone. He's still got 58 kilometres to the finish in Waregem.
Behnd Wallays, the chasing group is now four riders. Former escapees Brandle, Kirsch and Dockx have been joined by MTN-Qhubeka's Youcef Reguigui.
55km remaining from 200km
Zepunkte hanging off the back of the peloton now, his shorts ripped to shreds. It's going to be a long journey home.
Kwaitkowski leading a severely diminished peloton following the Taaienberg. He looks at the rest of the group, none of them want to take up the pace setting so he pulls out a gap with a Topsport Vlaanderen rider.
Quintana looks like he's in trouble off the back of the bunch. This really isn't his terrain and with such a small frame he's going to struggle to keep the pace with the classics specialists.
Kwiatkowski and his band of brothers have caught Wallays, we now have five riders out front with a number of riders trying to chase back on.
Sorry it's four riders out front, they are Kwiatkowski, Wallays, Langeveld and Theuns.
51km remaining from 200km
A small change to the make-up of that front group it is actually Dylan Van Baarle and not Sebastian Langeveld.
We now have seven riders chasing down the lead group but the peloton is not too far behind and they don't look like they're going to be able to make it stick.
Among the riders in this chase group are Lars Boom, Sven Erik Bystrom, Matthias Bandle - who was in the original break, Nikolas Maes, Lars Bak, Marcus Berghardt and Cyril Lemoine.
Matti Breschel is also in the chasing group. He's one of several riders who were also racing at Milan-San Remo. Cyclingnews spoke to him this morning and here is what he had to say:
"The form is good and I finished well in Milan-San Remo so hopefully I’m not too tired out there. I know I’m down as the leader and captain but that doesn’t mean everything because this is really a big chance for all of us. We’ll have a number of tactics, and I don’t know how I’ll go after seven hours of San Remo."
Debusschere are part of a second chasing group along with Devolder. A lot of action at the front as the riders try to bridge to this front group, who have 27 seconds on the nearest chasers.
The two chasing groups have now come together, but the leading quartet continue to add to their advantage.
42km remaining from 200km
Nairo Quintana is one of the riders that has managed to make it into this second group, a huge effort from the Colombian.
Around 20 riders in this chasing group with Bystrom and Amador just off the front.
@Etixx_QuickStep Wed, 25th Mar 2015 14:24:54
The leaders are on the Kwaremont and they've got over a minute's gap now with 39 kiloemtres to go. This is a big effort from the four men, with Kwiatkowski doing much of the work on the front.
39km remaining from 200km
Behind, Amador has dropped Bystrom on the Kwaremont. He's got arounf three or four bike length's on the chasers.
Amador is caught and Boom has a go, as others are distanced off the back. At the top of the Kwaremont, Boom has pulled out a decent gap.
Kwiatkowski still working on the front, will he have anything left if this group manages to make it to the finish?
Quintana in trouble again on the cobbles. He may be one of the best climbers in the world, but the cobbles change everything. A brilliant effort from him nonetheless.
37km remaining from 200km
Boom is still pushing on alone he's bringing the gap down but it is still 38 seconds to the four leaders.
Two important names that aren't in the main chasing group are defending champion Niki Terpstra and his teammate Mark Cavendish, they've both been dropped.
A crash in the peloton. A Trek rider looks like he's been catapulted off his bike and he almost hits a camera bike.
The Trek rider is Devolder. That was some fall, hopefully the soft wet mud broke his fall a little.
Lars Boom also came down in the same place, ahead of Devolder but he looks like he is ok. Although, it has put an end to his attack.
A replay shows that both Devolder and Boom slipped on the wet tarmac, causing them to go down. Looks like the motorbike may have suffered the same fate.
With all of that happening, the four leaders now have 1:13 on the main group.
31km remaining from 200km
The chasing group has lost quite a few riders in the last few kilometres, only about 10 riders remaining now.
In the women's race Amy Pieters managed to avoid a fall to take the race win.
Former winner Oscar Gatto is in the chasing group. He took a dramatic victory in 2013 when the chasers caught Thomas Voeckler on the line, will something similar happen this year?
Both the leading and chasing groups have moved over into the dusty track on the side of the road. It's technically against the rules but the race jury generally allow it.
26km remaining from 200km
There are 11 riders in the chasing group, they are: Nikolas Maes and Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Etixx - Quick-Step), Andrey Amador (Movistar Team), Matti Breschel (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jempy Drucker (BMC Racing Team), Tiesj Benoot and Jens Debusschere (Lotto Soudal), Vyacheslav Kuznetsov and Alexey Tsatevich (Team Katusha), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis, Solutions Credits), Oscar Gatto (Androni Giocattoli).
@inrng Wed, 25th Mar 2015 14:48:33
23km remaining from 200km
The chasers are making little headway on the leaders with the gap still at 42 seconds with 23.8km to go. There's still plenty of road to run but this front group must be thinking about the victory now.
Some good news from Trek, Giacomo Nizzolo has avoided any broken bones as a result of his earlier crash, although he has a swollen knee.
20km remaining from 200km
20 kilometres and three climbs remaining for the riders. The four men out front still hold a 44 second advantage over the chasing group and doesn't seem to be going down at the moment.
A little reminder of who is out front at the moment. World Champion Michal Kwiatkowski is the most decorated of the group and would be a strong favourite if this group can stay out front. However, both Dylan Van Baarle and Jelle Wallays have a strong finishing kick. Recent Ronde van Drenthe winner Edward Theuns is also in the group.
The rain has been falling on the riders from the very start of the day and there's some very muddy faces out there. The riders will be happy to know that there's only 14.5 kilometres before they can get into the warmth of their own bus.
Benoot has been on the front for some time now and he's beginning to make a dent in the advantage of our four leaders. He's pulled it down to 32 seconds almost single-handedly.
Benoot is doing all this work for Jens Debusschere, who would be the favourite should it come to a bunch sprint.
The rain looks like it's coming down even harder now. Kuznetsov has pulled out a gap on the chasing group. He looks around for company but there's no one there to help him.
@TrekFactory Wed, 25th Mar 2015 15:11:31
9km remaining from 200km
Less than 10km to go and the leaders still have 30 seconds on Kuznetsov, the peloton are a further 12 seconds behind.
Just the Nokereberg in front of the riders in around a kilometre and then it's the run-in to the finish. Still 29 seconds for the leaders.
@SEGcycling Wed, 25th Mar 2015 15:14:26
Jelle Wallays looks like he's in trouble. He keeps looking around and talking to Theuns perhaps letting him know that he doesn't have much more left in the tank.
4km remaining from 200km
Wilfried Peeters giving Kwiatkowski some tacktical advice. The world champion needs to conserve some energy for the finish.
@nyvelocity Wed, 25th Mar 2015 15:20:24
3km remaining from 200km
The four escapees get the sense that they're going to stay away and the question is who strikes first?
Kwaitkowski seems to be wearing a skinsuit underneath his jersey. He's unlikely to be taking the jersey off though with the weather as it is.
The leaders are all looking at each other, nobody wants to go too early. Wallays is the first to go.
Into the final km
Wallays has got a good gap on the other three who seem to be happy to let Kwitakowski do the work
Theuns makes it a 1-2 for Topsport with Van Baarle taking third and Kwiatkowski missing out on the podium
Guillaume van Keirsbulck has broken away from the chasing group to take fifth but that will be a disappointing day for Etixx-QuickStep.
Topsport played it perfectly today, while Kwitkowski had nothing left after doing most of the work on the front.
Wallays gets a big hug from his mother after crossing the finish line.
He put in a huge effort today, making it into the original break and going it alone for a brief time when it looked like the break would be caught.
"I felt cramps towards the end, I wanted to give everything to Edward Theuns," he said at the finish.
Here is the top 10 at the finish today
1 Jelle Wallays (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
2 Edward Theuns (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
3 Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
4 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Etixx - Quick-Step
5 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
6 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
7 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
8 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
9 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
10 Aleksei Tsatevich (Rus) Team Katusha
@Cyclingnewsfeed Wed, 25th Mar 2015 15:33:04
That's it from us today but remember to stick around on Cyclingnews for the full report from Dwars door Vlaanderen and the latest action the Volta a Catalunya, which has 19 kilometres to go for the riders.
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