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Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2017

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage. We're in Roeselare's Grote Markt for the start of three major races that all take place within less than seven days. Today it's Dwars Door Vlaanderen before E3 on Friday and Gent-Wevelgem at the weekend - Belgium's equivalent to the three-day week. 

To bring you up to speed the riders are signing on, team by team, at the start and the action should kick off in just under 15 minutes from now.

As I'm sure you know, we've not Sagan, no Boonen and no Van Avmermaet, but there's still an impressive array of stars here. After Milan-San Remo last weekend it's full steam ahead into the Belgian Classics. Here's a link to the race start list

 As for the route, it can be divided in two. There's a real definition to the first half with no climbs or significant cobble sectors - it's virtually flat as the race loops over on itself. After around 85km things start to get interesting as we hit the first of 12 bergs. From that point there's little respite with the final five climbs likely to be decisive. 

Former Paris-Roubaix winner Johan Vansummeren is at the race this morning. He retired due to health issues last year but is a guest at the race with his last team, AG2R. The team were quick to clarify to the media that he is not at the race in a DS capacity. He will also be at E3 Harelbeke on Friday. 

The sun it out this morning and Astana were one of the last teams to sign on. They've a decent enough team but no real star here. Matti Breschel actually won this race several years ago but he's a long way off his best these days. Riccardo Minali - son of former Gewiss and Batik - Del Monte sprinter, Nicola Minali - is also here and riding his first season at WorldTour. Oscar Gatto is also in the team.

We're off and running now, through the neutralized zone. The flag will drop in just a few minutes with 203.km of Classics cobbles ahead of us. 

There are a few Cannondale jerseys towards the front of the peloton. They've an excellent chance of breaking their duck today. They've not won a race this season, their best result a second place courtesy of Simon Clarke on a stage of the Ruta del Sol. They've been slow starters in previous years but in Sep Vanmarcke they have the potential to pull of a major win today. Both rider and team really need. Supporting the Belgian are Langeveld, Mullen, Van Asbroeck, van Baarle, Bevin and Wippet.

And the flag drops. We are racing. It's only a matter of time before the attacks start.

I was about to say we'd had no attacks but in a matter of seconds three riders have jumped clear of the field. They have twelve seconds on a peloton that isn't sitting up. The pace has been frantic to say the least. 

200km remaining from 203km

Outside of the Classics bubble the big news of the day comes from Catalunya where race organisers have been pulled up by the UCI for not awarding Valverde and Movistar the correct penalty for pushing "assisting" in the team time trial. We've had three leaders in one day due to the farce with Rojas, Valverde and now Hermans pulling on the jersey. Here's the latest news on that matter

The three leaders on the road are: Jonas Rickaert (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise), Brian van Goethem (Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij), and Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy).

There's always pressure on QuickStep in these races. They're on the front at the moment but they'll be happy to see a non-threatening break go up the road. They don't have Boonen here but in Gilbert (on form in Paris Nice), Gavaria (on form throughout the year), Stybar and Terpstra they've a number of options for the race. A slight surprise that Trentin isn't here but he will get a chance later in the week. 

189km remaining from 203km

Belgium's other team - Lotto Soudal - arrive here with last year's winner and an array of talent in their squad. 

181km remaining from 203km

So the new leaders are: 

 

180km remaining from 203km

Don't forget you can download our latest Classics podcast right now. In this week's show we preview E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem. You can download it right here.

With the gap still holding at 25 seconds a few riders are trying to jump across to the break. The latest is Insausti from Bahrain Merida. 

174km remaining from 203km

With the gaps so small there's little chance of the leading five waiting for the chasing two - even though it will add some extra firepower. It's on Insausti and Duval to make the chase and they need to do it soon before they burn all their matches. 170km to go.

The five leaders are enjoying their freedom and have pushed the time gap out to 2'17. We're still a long way from the first climbs and cobble section of the race.

157km remaining from 203km

Just spotted that Carlos Betancur is at the race. The Colombian, who had 11 DNFs next to his name last year, is struggling this year too. He failed to finish his first two races of the year and then crossed the line in 134th place in Milan-San Remo. This is a contract year for Carlos so he needs to find his climbing legs if he expects a new deal from Movistar. That win in Paris-Nice (2014) feels like a long time ago. 

Duval has given up and sat up to wait for the bunch but Insausti is ploughing on by himself. He's cut the gap to 18 seconds with the bunch still at 2'17.

148km remaining from 203km

Quick-Step is controlling things on the front of the bunch at the moment, allowing the escapees to go out to 6:17 now. Quick-Step has a power-packed line-up today. Gaviria could take it in a bunch sprint while riders such as Gilbert, Keisse, Stybar or Terpstra would be good enough to force the breakaway. 

Don't forget there is also a women's Dwars door Vlaanderen, which has been newly promoted to 1.1 for this season. You can take a look at the preview here and the start list is here

We also have live action from the Volta a Catalunya stage 3 today. So, open up a second tab and gorge yourself on cycling today. 

This year is the first that the men's Dwars door Vlaanderen features on the WorldTour calendar, which means that even though many of the top Classics contenders are saving themselves for the weekend there is a strong line-up. However, the organisers are looking to attract the biggest names next year by moving the race to the Wednesday between Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders. 

After going up to over six minutes, the gap to the leasers up the road is now down to 5:16. Quick-Step still working on the front. 

Lunch in the bunch as the race passes through the feedzone. The gap is down to 4'30 with 118km still to go. 

Tim Declercq is doing the lion-share of the work on the front of the peloton and he's pulled a few more seconds off the break. The 28-year-old moved over from Topsport during the winter and has settled well at QuickStep. They've used him in a number of one-dat races so far but this is his first WorldTour race for Patrick Lefevere's men. He joined on a one-year deal. 

Mathew Hayman, who has raced well here in the past, spoke to Cyclingnews at the start this morning. Orica Scott have brought Caleb Ewan here for a possible bunch sprint:

"Caleb doesn’t know the roads here 100 percent but it’s worth the gamble. We’ll put a fair amount of the team around him and some other guys will get a bit of free role. It’s not a given that there’ll be a sprint here and even when there is, it’s a reduced bunch sprint," Hayman said.

106km remaining from 203km

Back onto flat roads and the first group are working well together but the gap has dropped back under three minutes. The climbs come think and fast from now as we see Insausti (Bahrain-Merida) take a long pull on the front of the break. His team come here with Sonny Colbrelli  - who won a stage in Paris-Nice a few weeks ago. No Haussler, as he's still out with an injury. 

Meanwhile a few more teams have moved up to join Lefevere's lobby of QuickStepers. Orica, Katusha, Lotto Soudal and AG2R are all there.  - They're racing into the foot of the next climb because positioning is key. They take a tight right hander, then another right before lining out. 97km to go with the gap at 2'37.

Gilbert is at the back. It doesn't look like he has a flat but something is up as that's not a great time to drift back to the team cars. Possible mechanical with his gears?

The pace eases at the front of the peloton as we reach a wide section of exposed roads. This is where so many crashes take place because tired riders switch off, look back to see what damage has been done... 

All of a sudden there's an injection of pace from Lotto Soudal as the race takes another tight corner. The bunch are about to hit the climb too, with the gap at 2'11. 

Wallays has caused a mini-split. Good for him! Quickstep, BMC and Jumbo are wise to it with a few more riders looking to bridge over. 

Wallays is sacrificing his chances right here with 93km to go. He's the only rider in that mini-split to take a turn and they're about to caught. 

The six leaders know their fate, we all know it too, and it's just a matter of time before the relentless peloton put them out of their misery. The gap is at 1'13 with 87km to go as Sunweb join the front of the peloton. Gilbert has recovered from whatever problem he had and is near the head of affairs as well. 

Riders are forced onto the grass as they look to hold position on yet another tricky corner. We've dry conditions out there today, otherwise we could be seeing a very different race. 

A big thank you to our friends at Steephill.TV

What's the frequency Kenneth Van Bilsen?

Van Bilsen is clear of the break and have 59 seconds on the main field. The peloton are lined out though as we see Katusha try and go clear. It's QuickStep who shut things down but Katusha go again. This time it's Sunweb who neutralise matters. 

Van Bilsen has been caught by the rest of the break as we head into the final 80km of racing. The gap to the break is 41 seconds. We're onto the  Berendries - where Sorensen dropped Jalabert in 96. 

And Gilbert has attacked. 

Several riders hope to go with the Belgian national champion and several small groups form over the top of the climb. The break have just 14 seconds. 

75km remaining from 203km

This is an interesting break because although not many 'leaders' have made it, enough teams are represented. Will they work together? It's FDJ who are forced to lead the chase. 

Gilbert's 11 are about to be absorbed by a larger group of around 15 riders. This group looks too big to cooperate, surely?

Gilbert has a teammate with him but the group is indeed too big. Hayman is in the split but only a handful of riders are willing to work. Cannondale, I think, have missed the split and they're on the front working with FDJ. 

Demare and Vanmarcke are the leaders who have missed out. Not quite sure where Degenkolb is but there are some Trek riders near the front of the chase. 

This lead group has 37 seconds. That went up rapidly as we see a few more riders contribute. BMC and Lotto Jumbo are working with QuickStep. Trek are chasing too so we can assume that Degenkolb has missed the split. 

The bunch are coming back - with the gap down to 22 seconds. 67km to go.

Katusha are also leading the chase and they've shaved another couple of seconds off the break's lead. 

Theuns, Breschel, Modolo, Perry, Stassen and Groenewegen and Durbridge are more of the names in the 21-man Gilbert group. The gap is at 19 seconds.

There's still a lot of work for the bunch to do. The gap is holding at 24 seconds as FDJ once more take over at the front of the field. Gerts has a rear flat and has to wait an age for a change. 

A Trek rider has gone off the road, over his bars and into a ditch. He needs medical assistance It's Reijnen who is down. 

Eikenberg is next and that's going to be key. QuickStep try and break the race apart with Lampaert accelerating. BMC try and go with him as we see a number of riders struggle. FDJ are losing their grip on the chase, as it moves out to 37 seconds. Cannondale have just one man near the front aiding the chase. 

44km remaining from 203km

Among the leaders are: Gilbert, Lampaert, Wallays, Breschel, Lampaert, Hayman, Vliegen, Teuns, Lemoine, Groenewegen, Marcato.

And here comes Cannondale. The gap is at 41 seconds with 55km remaining. QuickStep are trying to break up the chase as much as possible as Trek try and swamp them out of it. The jump in pace has moved the gap down to 35 seconds. 

Now onto the Tainenberg as QuickStep take up the pace setting with Durbridge and Hayman looking to keep things in check. FDJ have rallied and now the gap is at 22 seconds. 

52km remaining from 203km

This is playing into the hands of someone like Gaviria. He has a couple of men up the road, leaving him with five men should the peloton come back together for a bunch sprint.

Lotto Jumbo are on the front of the main field and trying slow things down. It leads to Coquard setting the pace for the chase. No offence to the talented French sprinter but he's not going to be able to make the difference. 

Up ahead and Gilbert takes another key turn on the front of the break. The gap moves back out to 37 seconds.

Now we see Bahrain lead the chase with the gap at least holding at 40 seconds. We've 45km to go and the race is still too close to call. 

Breschel takes a turn on the front for the break. Other than the one Bahrain rider all we have at the head of the bunch are Jumbo and Astana riders and all they are doing is slowing down the chase. This move could have a minute's lead in no time at all. 

The leaders are :


Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Philippe Gilbert, Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors), Loic Vliegen, Dylan Teuns (BMC), Mat Hayman, Luke Durbridge (Orica-Scott), Mike Teunissen (Sunweb), Dylan Groenewegen, Amund Jansen (LottoNl-Jumbo), Matti Breschel, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates), Lukas Postlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis)

37km remaining from 203km

Dayer Quintana comes down in a crash at the back of the field. That one didn't look too serious. 

It's Lutsenko who leads Gilbert and Hayman. 

The Astana man brings the lead out to 47 seconds as Vanmarcke comes alive. He's accelerated from the bunch but the gap isn't coming down. 

Lampaert is clearly told over the radio that Cannondale have reacted, so the QuickStep man surges to the front and lifts the pace. Vanmarcke is closely marked by Stybar. 

It looks like Gallopin has attacked and Vanmarcke is going backwards. Stybar matches the man from Soudal. 

35km remaining from 203km

Lampaert leads the break onto the Paterberg and he's looking to set up Gilbert. Hayman, so experienced, is right on the QuickStepper's wheel. Then we have the Astana duo, and then everyone else.

Stybar and Terpstra have attacked from the bunch as Gilbert attacks at the front. 

QuickStep want this race and all their riders are being let off the leash. The gap is at 32 seconds as Lefevere's men hit both groups. 

Gilbert has Lutsenko, Durbridge and... Lampaert with him. They'll work together... apart from the Astana man.

And now Lutsenko starts to work. This foursome could make it all the way to the finish. We've 30km go as we see Terpstra and Stybar tandem their way to the second group on the road. 

The leading four riders have 16 seconds on the chase with the Stybar-Terpstra tandem at 36 seconds.

The leaders hit a section of cobbles - it's 2km in length and Lampaert hits the front for Gilbert. 26km to go with the gap to the chase going out to 26 seconds.

25km remaining from 203km

Here are the top ten from today's women's race:
 

 

 

The four leaders have 48 seconds with 21km to go. The Gilbert group has the advantage but the chase is starting to organise.. but the gap moves out to 55 seconds. Terpstra gets on the race radio, looking for advice. Surely he'll be asked to just disrupt the chase further.

And now the gap moves out to over a minute. 18km to go. On paper Gilbert is the fastest man in the break. 

Lutsenko won a stage in Paris-Nice as well last year and at just 24 he's improving all the time. He will relish taking on Gilbert if it comes down to a sprint.

15km remaining from 203km

Durbridge has the Orica car come alongside him and there's a brief tactics talk before the Australian moves back into line and takes his turn. Can he cause a shock similar to Paris-Roubaix last year when Hayman beat Boonen to take the win?

10km remaining from 203km

It's Lampaert who once again leads, with Gilbert, Durbridge and then Lutsenko. 

Durbridge is on the chase. Can he catch the Belgian?

It's coming back together. We're back to four riders once more. Well almost as Gilbert goes again but this time Durbridge sticks to him like glue.

7km remaining from 203km

Dubridge comes through. He doesnt want to work so Lampaert attacks and it's Durbridge who has to respond. 

The QuickStep pair are working over the Orica man but I think Lampaert has a gap. Durbridge as sat up and Lutsenko has nothing left, so it seems. 

5km remaining from 203km

Just 4,000m left for Lampaert. He has 22 seconds on the second group and the win, if things stand, is heading to QuickStep. To be fair they've looked immense today.

2km remaining from 203km

Lampaert raises his arms as he crosses the line to win the 2017 Dwars Door Vlaanderen.

For second Durbridge leads out but Gilbert goes first.

And Gilbert takes second, Lutsenko third. 

Dylan Groenewegen (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) leads the peloton home a few minutes later.

Lampaert: For me it’s a dream that came true. It’s not that far from my home and I did a lot of recons to do this race. To win, for me it’s a fantastic gift that I can give to the team and thanks to everybody.

Here are the top ten: 

 

That was an important win for both Lampaert and QuickStep. They rode aggressively and had the numbers when it most mattered. 

That's all from our live coverage today. You can find our race report, images, and results, right here.

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