Greg Van Avermaet wins Gent-Wevelgem

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) became the first rider since Jan Raas in 1981 to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem in the same season. The Belgian held off Orica-Scott's Jens Keukeleire with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) finishing in third.

Van Avermaet, enjoying the best season of his career so far, was a cut above the opposition, having been a threat on the final ascent of the Kemmelberg and following the key moves – or making them himself – until forming a winning escape in the closing kilometres.

It looked as though Sagan would be in contention to defend his 2016 crown when he Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors), and Soren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) created an impressive five-man group with Van Avermaet and Keukeleire with around 20 kilometres to go, but when Sagan and Niki Terpstra were unable to collaborate in the closing stages Keukeleire and Van Avermaet took their cue and opened up an unbridgeable gap. Despite a late chase from the world champion, Van Avermaet and Keukeleire entered the finishing straight with plenty of time to spare, and despite leading out from the front Van Avermaet had held off a plucky challenge from his fellow Belgian in the two-man sprint.

Sagan crossed the line in third, visibly disappointed with how others had raced against him. As for Van Avermaet, the march towards the Tour of Flanders continues.

"First, we rode away with a big group after the Kemmel and the co-operation wasn't 100 per cent. Then, we rode away with five riders and still the co-operation wasn't 100 per cent. There are always a few riders who want to save something, apparently," " said Van Avermaet.

On the defining split with Keukeleire, he added: "I didn't know about it because I was just doing my pull in front, when Fabio was shouting in my ear that we were with the two of us. I had to hurry to get to the wheel of Jens. "From there we kept going flat out. I suffered because it was full gas until the finish. We only had ten seconds. I preferred to ride to the finish with Jens then to do it with the three others."

How it unfolded

The sun was out at the start of the 79th edition of Gent-Wevelgem in Deinze. The 200 riders lined up in the crowded Deinze market square and paid tribute to Antoine Demoitié before taking the start. Last year, Demoitié died following a crash and collision with a motorbike during the race. After a small loop in Deinze, the peloton headed west for the first of 246 kilometres, with a passage through De Moeren part of the route. The pace was extremely fast early on, averaging 50 km/h during the first hour. Nevertheless, a group of nine riders escaped the peloton with Preben Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Dennis van Winden (Israel Cycling Academy), Elmar Reinders (Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij), Hugo Houle (AG2R La Mondiale), Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac), Mark McNally (Wanty Groupe - Gobert), Jay Thomson (Team Dimension Data), Loïc Chetout (Cofidis, Solutions Credits) and Christophe Masson (WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect). The gap quickly grew to six minutes with FDJ taking the lead in the peloton.

As soon as the race hit the Catsberg, the peloton started splitting apart, partly due to the climbs but also because of the crashes on the narrow roads. After seven climbs, BMC used the crosswinds as a weapon and they accelerated, causing major damage in the peloton.

The pace briefly dropped before the first ascent of the Kemmelberg with 75 kilometres remaining. The climb split the group with only Chetout and Van Hecke able to stay clear.

Quick-Step Floors were quick to take the initiative. The gravel roads, a new feature of the race, saw Zdenek Stybar launch an attack on the first of three 'Plugstreets'. A few riders joined him and they bridged up to the former breakaway riders. In the peloton, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) punctured on the gravel roads and the Norwegian was forced to chase back.

Just before the tenth climb of the day, the Baneberg, there was another crash in the peloton, near the front of the bunch. Katusha's Tony Martin, LottoNl-Jumbo's Tom Leezer and Sky's Gianni Moscon were among the casualties. Sagan narrowly escaped trouble, using his cyclo-cross skills to stay out of danger. Shortly thereafter, the peloton caught the riders off the front, resetting the race.

On the final ascent of the Kemmelberg, Van Avermaet powered away. Sagan worked his way through traffic to join the Belgian rider in the move. John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data), Stybar and Terpstra bridged on the descent. Sagan tried hard to keep a second group from bridging up but at 30 kilometres from the finish, Keukeleire, Kragh Andersen, Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb), Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida), Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale-Drapac) and Scott Thwaites (Team Dimension Data) made contact.

With 22 kilometres to go, the leaders rode through Ypres with a bonus of 30 seconds on the peloton but the co-operation was gone. Keukeleire was the first to attack. He was caught back, but then tried for a second time. This time he was joined by Van Avermaet. Sagan bridged up solo, as Terpstra and Andersen did the same a few moments later.

The five leaders quickly established a 15-second lead on the chasers but with just over 15km to go Terpstra refused to come through after Sagan had taken a turn. Van Avermaet and Keukeleire had little time or energy for games and as the world champion and former Paris-Roubaix winner held their own private stand-off, the two Belgians rode away, ultimately to contest the victory between themselves.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team5:39:05
2Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-Scott
3Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:06
4Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quick-Step Floors
5John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
6Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
7Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal
8Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
9Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors
10Sacha Modolo (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
11Maxime Vantomme (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
12Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
13Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
14Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
15Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
16Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
17Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
18Jos Van Emden (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
19Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
20Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
21Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky
22Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
23Coen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
24Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar Team
25Marco Marcato (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
26Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-Scott
27Loïc Vliegen (Bel) BMC Racing Team
28Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team
29Scott Thwaites (GBr) Dimension Data
30Yoann Offredo (Fra) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
31Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal
32Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac
33Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Astana Pro Team
34Hugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale
35Bram Tankink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
36Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
37Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
38Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
39Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
40Andrey Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team
41Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
42Silvan Dillier (Swi) BMC Racing Team
43Mitch Docker (Aus) Orica-Scott0:00:13
44Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
45Koen De Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
46Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
47Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-Scott
48Julien Vermote (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
49Yves Lampaert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
50Fabio Felline (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
51Matteo Trentin (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
52Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors
53Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
54Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida0:00:30
55Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Cannondale-Drapac0:01:20
56Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Soudal0:01:32
57Robert Wagner (Ger) Team LottoNl-Jumbo0:07:26
58Pim Ligthart (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
59Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
60Elmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
61Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
62Moreno Hofland (Ned) Lotto Soudal
63Huub Duyn (Ned) Veranda's Willems Crelan
64Iljo Keisse (Bel) Quick-Step Floors
65Francisco Ventoso (Spa) BMC Racing Team
66Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data
67Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team
68Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
69Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
70Mark McNally (GBr) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
71Simone Consonni (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
72Ryan Mullen (Irl) Cannondale-Drapac
73Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin
74Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
75Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
76Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension Data
77Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Israel Cycling Academy
78Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
79Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Sunweb
80Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
81Amund Grondahl Jansen (Nor) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
82Stefan Küng (Swi) BMC Racing Team
83Borut Bozic (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
84Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal
85Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
86Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
87Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
88Raymond Kreder (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
89Berden De Vries (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
90Dylan Teuns (Bel) BMC Racing Team
91Gediminas Bagdonas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale
92Héctor Carretero (Spa) Movistar Team
93Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
94Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
95Lars Boom (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
96Tyler Farrar (USA) Dimension Data
97Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
98Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-Scott
99Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
100Florian Senechal (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
101Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott
102Wesley Kreder (Ned) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
103Michael Morkov (Den) Katusha-Alpecin0:13:47
104Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
105Federico Zurlo (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
106Olivier Le Gac (Fra) FDJ
107Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ
108Loic Chetout (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
109Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Sky
110Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky
111Christophe Masson (Fra) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
112Gregory Rast (Swi) Trek-Segafredo
113Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
114Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:13:51
115Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky0:13:52
DNFStef Van Zummeren (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFManuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNFOtto Vergaerde (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFMichaël Van Staeyen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFCyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFAidis Kruopis (Ltu) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFStijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFKenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNFRudy Barbier (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFAlexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFTimothy Dupont (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFMichael Goolaerts (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFDries De Bondt (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFMatti Breschel (Den) Astana Pro Team
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFNico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFBenjamin Perry (Can) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFKrists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFChristophe Prémont (Bel) Veranda's Willems Crelan
DNFMarco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFMichal Kolár (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFTaco Van Der Hoorn (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
DNFAleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFAndreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFAndre Looij (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
DNFJesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij
DNFDaniel Turek (Cze) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFRoy Jans (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
DNFMihkel Räim (Est) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFJimmy Duquennoy (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
DNFZakkari Dempster (Aus) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFGuillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFLudwig De Winter (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
DNFJulien Stassen (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFLawrence Naesen (Bel) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
DNFAlex Kirsch (Lux) WB Veranclassic Aqua Protect
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFLars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Soudal
DNFOscar Gatto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFGuy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) Orica-Scott
DNFJens Wallays (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFNuno Matos (Por) Movistar Team
DNFCarlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNFAntonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Team Sunweb
DNFBert De Backer (Bel) Team Sunweb
DNFJorge Arcas Peña (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFJonathan Dibben (GBr) Team Sky
DNFLorrenzo Manzin (Fra) FDJ
DNFMagnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-Scott
DNFNick Dougall (RSA) Dimension Data
DNFOwain Doull (GBr) Team Sky
DNFLuke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
DNFThomas Leezer (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
DNFGijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Team LottNl-Jumbo
DNFYoucef Reguigui (Alg) Dimension Data
DNFMark Renshaw (Aus) Dimension Data
DNFBoy van Poppel (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Sky
DNFKristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale-Drapac
DNFRobin Stenuit (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFAlexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFRuslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFSven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin
DNFChun Kai Feng (Tpe) Bahrain-Merida
DNFMaxime Farazijn (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFIon Insausti (Spa) Bahrain-Merida
DNFDavid Per (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
DNFNikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb
DNFOliviero Troia (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
DNFSimone Antonini (Ita) Wanty - Groupe Gobert
DNFTom Scully (NZl) Cannondale-Drapac
DNFVegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Team UAE Emirates
DNFFilippo Ganna (Ita) Team UAE Emirates
DNFWouter Wippert (Ned) Cannondale-Drapac
DNFKiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) FDJ
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) FDJ
DNFMatthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ
DNFMarc Sarreau (Fra) FDJ
DNFMarko Kump (Slo) Team UAE Emirates


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