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Sagan wins Gent-Wevelgem

Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) took a hard-fought victory at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday after out-sprinting a strong four-man breakaway that successfully made it to the finish line ahead of a larger chase group.

The world champion won the drag race to the line ahead of Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha), who was the first to jump and held a powerful sprint for nearly 200 metres but was caught by Sagan and Vanmarcke as they crossed the line. Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) was fourth but suffered with cramps after being part of the aggressive quartet in the final Gent-Wevelgem of is long career.

Sagan has gone close to victory so many time and so was naturally happy to finally win a major Classic and win as the world champion. He dedicated his win to his wife’s father.

“I’m very happy I won finally in this rainbow jersey,” he said before climbing on the top step of the winner’s podium. “This is my second win at Gent-Wevelgem and this is for the father of my love because he’s having a hard time.”

He then explained the race and the thrilling finale.

“Fabian went on the last climb and then we got in the break. I think the fans saw who were in the break. We worked together from the start,” he said. “We played with group a little. Then in the finale there was a strong wind and we did full gas all day. We went slow near the finish because we had a lot of time on group. Fabian after a lot of kilometres is fast, then they know I’m fast if I feel good. Today I was very, very good and so the win came.”

How it happened

In the start town of Deinze, a few big names didn’t show up to the start due to illness, including Ian Stannard (Sky) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha), while Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) and Matti Breschel (Cannondale) all returned after illness. Riders were expecting wind to become an important factor on Sunday, although not as much as last year’s stormy edition.

The racing started outside of Deinze, after three kilometres of racing, when a small group went clear. The five brave attackers were Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff), Lieuwe Westra (Astana), Jonas Rickaert (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Josef Cerny (CCC) and later Simon Pellaud (IAM) got across to them. With the peloton happy to let them go clear, the five opened a lead of up to eleven minutes, averaging 40 km/h despite the strong side wind.

When approaching the feared flatlands of De Moeren, at 160 kilometres from Wevelgem, the speed in the peloton increased and echelons were formed in the wind. The first echelon of 34 riders gained a minute on the second group but unlike last year, it would not be a decisive part of the race. The biggest names who were missing in front were fast men Fernando Gaviria and Zdenek Stybar (Etixx-QuickStep), André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) but also Classics specialists Lars Boom (Astana) and Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo). Bouhanni quickly abandoned the race.

After the passage in De Moeren the race entered France with the first peloton still seven minutes down on the five leaders, while the gaps between the echelons grew up to a minute.

The first peloton kept the speed high and made the second group work hard to get back on as the tactics of Gent-Wevelgem unfolded yet again. At 114 kilometres from the finish the five breakaway riders were pulled back with the second peloton still one minute down. Twenty kilometres later, while still in France at the fourth climb of the day called Côte du Ravel Put, part of the second peloton finally managed to bridge back up with the front of the race. The first peloton now consisted of approximately fifty riders. It was not an easy day for any sprinters hoping to win in Wevelgem.

Just before climb five, the Côte de la Blanchisserie, Jens Debusschere (Lotto-Soudal) crashed hard over the handlebars. The winner of Dwars door Vlaanderen was forced to quit the race and was taken to hospital.

Time for the Kemmelberg

The Kemmelberg is the key climb in Gent-Wevelgem and again proved this year. On the first ascent the big guns kept quiet, saving their legs for the final ascent but as the peloton lined out on the descent a few kilometres later, Matteo Trentin initiated a breakaway move on the Monteberg climb that cones just after the Kemmelberg. He was joined by Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), Daniel Oss (BMC), Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and again Pavel Brutt.

The attack forced the Dimension Data and LottoNL-Jumbo teams to work hard in the small peloton and thirteen kilometres later the five were brought back. However it was a taste of things to come.

Once the five were caught back Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha) jumped away alone. The Russian rider quickly opened a gap of nearly a minute when starting the two final key climbs of the day: the Baneberg and the Kemmelberg at 40 and 35 kilometres from the finish. It was a clever move that would pay back big time later in the race.

Vanmarcke attacked on the Baneberg, kicking off the important attacks amongst the overall contenders. He was caught before the peloton hit the steep side of the Kemmelberg but he was clearly on form after a quiet build-up to the Classics. On the cobbled Kemmelberg, Sagan, Cancellara and Vanmarcke first crested the top of the climb and then they powered away towards Kuznetsov. The race had exploded in just a few seconds.

Stybar, Van Avermaet and Rowe were not far behind over the top but struggled to close the final metres after the descent. At 30 kilometres from the finish they were caught back by the chasing peloton, which trailed the four leaders by 20 seconds. The race was balanced on a knife-edge.

In the peloton fast men such Gaviria, Arnaud Démare (FDJ) and Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) were all waiting for a sprint finish. However the four attackers refused to wait for anyone and worked together to extend their lead. Sagan, Cancellara and Vanmarcke all did massive turns, with Kuznetsov sitting on before bravely doing his bit too.

Behind Etixx-QuickStep hit the front in pursuit but they had missed the big move once again this spring. They worked hard for Gaviria, with five riders chasing but as they ride under the Menin Gate in Ypres, at 23 kilometres from the finish, they were 35 seconds down on the leaders. At that moment they sat up and lost heart, knowing it was virtually impossible to catch the leading quartet. The trial of Etixx-QuickStep’s spring will no doubt begin in the Flemish media.

The mind games begin

Up front, the mind games before the sprint began with five kilometres to go. The riders took turns on the front but also watched each other carefully as if in a track sprint. The speed dropped as the tension rode.

Inside the finale kilometre Cancellara was stuck on the front as Sagan moved across the road several times to avoid being caught out.

Kuznetsov kicked first inside the final 200 metres. Cancellara got on his wheel but struggled to hold it, revealing later he had been hit by cramps. Sagan had no such problems and jumped up to Kuznetsov in a flash. He then kicked clear towards the line and sat up, lowering his arms in celebration as he crossed the line. Finally he had won as world champion and a rainbow soon crossed the Wevelgem sky as rain began to fall.

Sep Vanmarcke finished second and Kuznetsov third, bumping Cancellara off the podium. Sagan has finally won one of the big Sunday Classics. Round two is next week at the Tour of Flanders.

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Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff Team5:55:12
2Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
3Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha
4Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek-Segafredo
5Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ0:00:11
6Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step
7Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Team Katusha
9Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
10Michael Morkov (Den) Team Katusha
11Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
12Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-GreenEdge
13Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
14Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling
15Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
16Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
17Pavel Brutt (Rus) Tinkoff Team
18Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
19Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
20Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:17
21Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:19
22Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky0:00:24
23Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step0:00:28
24Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:00:29
25Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge0:01:07
26Bryan Coquard (Fra) Direct Energie0:01:22
27Berden De Vries (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton0:05:08
28Alexander Porsev (Rus) Team Katusha
29Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
30Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
31Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
32Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
33Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
34Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
35Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky
36Andrey Amador Bikkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team
37Oscar Gatto (Ita) Tinkoff Team
38Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre - Merida
39Nikolas Maes (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
40Zico Waeytens (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin
41Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:06:05
42Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal
43Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:06:06
44Amaury Capiot (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:06:08
45Yohann Gene (Fra) Direct Energie0:06:11
46Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx - Quick-Step0:06:16
47Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step
48Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team0:06:21
49Mitchell Docker (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:07:16
50Grégory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo
51Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team0:11:05
52Paolo Simion (Ita) Bardiani CSF
53Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
54Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton
55Roy Jans (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
56Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
57Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ
58Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ
59Tomasz Kiendys (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
60Marko Kump (Slo) Lampre - Merida
61Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
62Bert De Backer (Bel) Team Giant-Alpecin
63Raymond Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton
64Michael Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
65Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale
66Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
67Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
68Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
69Sébastien Turgot (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
70Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Etixx - Quick-Step
71Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky0:11:09
72Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Direct Energie0:11:11
73Marco Coledan (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
74Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Tinkoff Team
75Sander Helven (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
76Josef Cerny (Cze) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
77Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha
78Wesley Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton
79Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek-Segafredo
80Tyler Farrar (USA) Dimension Data0:11:57
81Nick Dougall (RSA) Dimension Data0:12:02
82Simon Pellaud (Swi) IAM Cycling0:12:03
DNFErik Baska (Svk) Tinkoff Team
DNFAdam Blythe (GBr) Tinkoff Team
DNFMichael Gogl (Aut) Tinkoff Team
DNFMichal Kolár (Svk) Tinkoff Team
DNFAndré Greipel (Ger) Lotto Soudal
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFJens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal
DNFJean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team
DNFRick Zabel (Ger) BMC Racing Team
DNFSven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Team Katusha
DNFSergey Lagutin (Rus) Team Katusha
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-Segafredo
DNFNiccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
DNFJos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
DNFThomas Leezer (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
DNFMatt Brammeier (Irl) Dimension Data
DNFReinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFMekseb Debesay (Eri) Dimension Data
DNFMark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data
DNFJay Robert Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFMaxime Daniel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFNico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFDamien Gaudin (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFHugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFQuentin Jauregui (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFLars Boom (Ned) Astana Pro Team
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFLieuwe Westra (Ned) Astana Pro Team
DNFArman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFGatis Smukulis (Lat) Astana Pro Team
DNFMatti Breschel (Den) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFPatrick Bevin (NZl) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFJack Bauer (NZl) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFSebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFDylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFWouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFOlivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) FDJ
DNFMatthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ
DNFJohan Le Bon (Fra) FDJ
DNFYoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ
DNFHeinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling
DNFLeigh Howard (Aus) IAM Cycling
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) IAM Cycling
DNFVegard Stake Laengen (Nor) IAM Cycling
DNFOliver Naesen (Bel) IAM Cycling
DNFMattia Cattaneo (Ita) Lampre - Merida
DNFGang Xu (Chn) Lampre - Merida
DNFChun Kai Feng (Tpe) Lampre - Merida
DNFRoberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre - Merida
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slo) Lampre - Merida
DNFFederico Zurlo (Ita) Lampre - Merida
DNFJorge Arcas Pena (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFCarlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) Movistar Team
DNFNelson Filipe Santos Simoes Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team
DNFAntonio Pedrero Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFJuan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFFrancisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFSøren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Giant-Alpecin
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
DNFTom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
DNFAlbert Timmer (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFSam Bewley (NZl) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFMagnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFSvein Tuft (Can) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFChristian Knees (Ger) Team Sky
DNFSalvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky
DNFAndrew Fenn (GBr) Team Sky
DNFElia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFJonas Rickaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFGijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFJef Van Meirhaeghe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFKenny De Haes (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFAntoine Demoitie (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFSimone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFTom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFMarco Marcato (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFMark Mcnally (GBr) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFDanilo Napolitano (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFLuca Sterbini (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNFAlessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNFNicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNFSonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNFMirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNFLorenzo Rota (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNFNicola Ruffoni (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNFAdrian Kurek (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
DNFMichal Paluta (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
DNFJaroslaw Marycz (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
DNFBartlomiej Matysiak (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
DNFGrzegorz Stepniak (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
DNFJonas Ahlstrand (Swe) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFHugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFNacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFChristophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFFlorian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFKenneth Van Bilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFRomain Cardis (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFTony Hurel (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFJulien Morice (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFAdrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFAngelo Tulik (Fra) Direct Energie
DNFTim Kerkhof (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton
DNFAndré Looij (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton
DNFIvar Slik (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton
DNFBarry Markus (Ned) Roompot - Oranje Peloton
DNSAlexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
DNSAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNSIan Stannard (GBr) Team Sky

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