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Gent-Wevelgem 2019

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Good morning and welcome to our live coverage from the 81st edition of Gent-Wevelgem. We're in Deinze this morning for the start of the race, and we're about 50 minutes from the official roll out. We'll have live updates throughout the race, so sit back and stick with us for the next 250 or so kilometres. 

The peloton will begin the short neutralized zone at 11:08 but right now the riders are in the middle of sign-on. We've seen a number of teams ride up to the start already, but we're still waiting for defending champion Peter Sagan. He was slightly off the boil a few days ago in E3, but also suffered a mechanical. With the Tour of Flanders just a week away, he'll want to lay down a marker this afternoon. He's won this race three times and one more title would put him clear at the top of the all-time list. Ahead of some chap called Eddy Merckx. 

Our official start list is right here. There are so many contenders for today's race but it all really depends on how the race pans out. A super-aggressive race could see the bunch split apart and a small group of riders make it to the finish. Alternatively, we've seen this race end in a reduced bunch sprint. It can be incredibly finely balanced - which is part of the race's charm. 

 

Ten year's ago, of course, we had terrible weather and a huge split went early. That day Edvald Boason Hagen beat Aleksandr Kuschynski in a two-man sprint. Matt Goss  - the one from HTC Highroad, not Bros - was third. Luke Goss, on the other hand finished in the middle of the pack.

 

Our official start list is right here. There are so many contenders for today's race but it all really depends on how the race pans out. A super-aggressive race could see the bunch split apart and a small group of riders make it to the finish. Alternatively, we've seen this race end in a reduced bunch sprint. It can be incredibly finely balanced - which is part of the race's charm. 

 

Ten year's ago, of course, we had terrible weather and a huge split went early. That day Edvald Boason Hagen beat Aleksandr Kuschynski in a two-man sprint. Matt Goss  - the one from HTC Highroad, not Bros - was third. Luke Goss, on the other hand finished in the middle of the pack.

 

A bit about the route while we settle in for the day. The first 100 or so kilometres are flat but we head north from Deinze and towards the coast. Coastal roads means cross-winds and we're getting a few reports that the conditions aren't great out there today. By not great, we mean blustery, so we could see the race light-up in the cross winds before we even get to the climbs that pepper the second half of the parcours. That will suit a few teams, such as QuickStep, Visma and Team Sky, who have ridden well in the cross-winds so far this season. 

This, people, is the team to beat. They boast a huge favourite in Viviani, and then Gilbert, Lampaert, and Stybar, who are all flying at the moment. Jakobsen is a bit of an unknown as he was strong in the first part of the season but was hit with illness in the last few weeks. He's a fast finisher, so could be a plan B or C, depending on Viviani's condition after Milan-San Remo. 

 


11 Yves Lampaert (Bel)
12 Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
13 Elia Viviani (Ita)
14 Fabio Jakobsen (Ned)
15 Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg)
16 Iljo Keisse (Bel)
17 Zdenek Stybar (Cze)

 

Greg Van Avermaet leads a solid-looking CCC Team. They're entirely devoted to the Olympic road champion, who looked back to his best in E3 on Friday. He was eventually worked over by the strength in depth on show at QuickStep but you can never discount the man in bright orange. With Schar and Van Keirsbulck around him he's got a very handy support crew. 
 

61 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel)
62 Pawel Bernas (Pol)
63 Szymon Sajnok (Pol)
64 Michael Schär (Swi)
65 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel)
66 Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel)
67 Łukasz Wiśniowski (Pol)

 

A huge cheer goes up for  Mathieu van der Poel, who is making his debut here. The Dutch rider is certainly one to watch, not just because of his pedigree in cross', the fact that he's Dutch road champion but also because he's bang in form after an impressive win in the Grand Prix de Denain. His team boss has come out and said that the Classics will be like a playground for the talent all-rounder. You can read more on that, right here.

 

We're about 15 minutes away from the official roll out. There's a 3km neutralized zone and then the race will begin. 

 

Weather conditions are pleasant if a little chilly. Van Avermaet is wearing arm warmers and clothing to cover his ears but the sun is attempting to break through.

 

Just briefly, and in other news, it looks like Bernal will ride the Tour de France and the Giro. To be honest he's the only GC rider at Team Sky with a shred of form at the moment, and there had been talk of him skipping the Giro and focusing on the Tour but Portal has stated that the Giro remains plan A and that the Colombian will ride as a support rider at the Tour for Froome and/or Thomas. Probably. Here's the latest on that saga.

 

Heading through the neutralized zone in just a minute or two. The entire field is on the startline, and we've seen Sagan being ushered towards the front. It still seems odd, not seeing him in the rainbow jersey. 

 

Meanwhile we're also up and running in Catalunya with the final stage starting super, super early. You can follow the action, over here.

 

And we've started the 81st edition of Gent-Wevelgem. We have 3.7km of neutralized roads, and then the flag will drop.

 

 

And we're heading towards the coast but it's going to take around 100km or so to get there. There's the looming threat of cross-winds today but at the moment the field look relatively relaxed. That will all change in a minute, when we see a number of riders try and go into the early break.

 

 Crash. Crash. Crash.

 

In the neutralized zone and Dries De Bondt has taken a tumble.

 

Another tumble and this time it's a rider from Mitchelton Scott who hits the deck. There was a major fall in the women's race too during the neutralized zone. That time the race had to be stopped. What's going on?

 

 

 

"There's going to be a long battle from the start and that will decide who can be the winner but the last part comes at the end of a long day," Viviani told us at the start.

 


"There's a headwind in the last 30km and that's an advantage for me. I think the best option is for it be like last year, but then I missed out in the sprint with a mistake. I hope for the same again, but without the mistake. We have a super team, last year I had four guys with me and they're 100 per cent focused for my sprint. We're hear to continue the winning run. Everyone from our team can win. Four or five of us can be the leader."

 

 

Juul-Jensen, by the way, was the faller from Mitchelton-Scott but the Dane has quickly made it back to the rear of the peloton, and just in time as we're now officially racing.

 

 

"Whether I am nervous? I have never been nervous before a road race."
 

That was Mathieu van der Poel speaking to Sporza before the start of the race.

 

 

A couple of Trek-Segafredo jerseys hover near the front of the race. They really could do with a result today because it's been an awful spring campaign for them so far. Mechanicals, crashes and a number of top-level riders not performing, they need to up their game significantly if they're to get something out of today's race. 

 

They're not the only team struggling, however. Dimension Data seem to have reverted to type after a promising few weeks back in January and February. In Valgren and Boasson Hagen they have a previous winner and a rider who can win any one-day race throughout the spring. However, they were all sick during opening weekend, and didn't have a single finisher in Kuurne and like Trek they need to find their feet before the cobbled classics are over.

 

 

111 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor)
112 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den)
113 Lars Ytting Bak (Den)
114 Bernhard Eisel (Aut)
115 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA)
116 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita)
117 Julien Vermote (Bel)

 

241km remaining from 251km

We've covered 10km so far in the race, and while the peloton are tapping out a steady pace, there have been no significant moves off the front. It's only a matter of time though, because a number of riders are looking twitchy. There's an attack, it's brought back, and then the process is repeated again and again. 

 

There's a flat tire for Kenneth Van Bilsen but Cofidis are on it in a flash and the Belgium is quickly back with the peloton. There's still no race-changing action off the front but riders are still probing away with their attacks.

 

233km remaining from 251km

Almost 20km into the race and the peloton remain as one. To recap, we had a couple of minor falls in the neutralized section of the race, a chap from Cofidis had a flat tire, and we're in for some predicted cross-wind racing very soon.

 

There's a break clear of the peloton, at last, but no time gap at the moment and for now the bunch aren't willing to let this go. 

 

We need to talk about Arnaud.


Demare was third here last year, and on paper is a real contender for today. That said, he's not been at his best so far this season, in fact he's not taken a single win, even though he's been close on a number of occasions. Today's route and profile suits him, and he has the kick to challenge Viviani and Sagan for the win. He's also been second here before. Slightly pointless stat, but FDJ haven't won a race in Belgium since 2017 and that was Demare taking the Brussels Cycling Classic. They need to end that drought. 

 

218km remaining from 251km

We've seen a wave of further attacks, by the way, but nothing is sticking at the moment. It's a wearing down process but Benoot has had a flat tire and after some assistance makes it back to the main field. 218km to go!

 

We have our hands full today but there's also the women's edition of Gent-Wevelgem going on and right now they have 65km to go and the bunch is together. I'll try and bring you as much information from that race too. #sendcoffee.

 

Boels Dolmans and Sunweb are currently on the front in the women's race. CCC Liv are also in the thick of the action.

 

The women's race look like they're heading towards the Kemmelberg. It's flat out at the moment as they reach a stretch of flat road before the climbs start again. They've really put the hammer down.

 

In the men's race something has indeed happened. And we've got what looks like our first break of the day. 

 

Groezdev (Astana), Wirtgen (Wallonie-Bruxelles), Van Ginneken (Roompot-Charles) and Van Hecke (Sport Vlaanderen) trying to make it across. The tailwind hasn't really helped a break escape.

 

Crash. Crash. Crash

In the women's race and riders are all over the road. Trek have a rider down but she's on her feet. Movistar are also involved. Moolman Pasio needs to sort out her bike from the fall and Claudia Koster is sitting up but her race looks over. 59km to go.

 

Back to the men's race and that four-rider move has been shut down, and once again we're all together. 

 

51km covered in the first hour of the men's race, which is incredible but that strong tailwind has been a huge factor. It's all going to change after around 80km when we turn west and along the coast. 

 

Back to the women's race and Ale have sent a rider up the road but she's being hunted down by a gaggle of teams. 56km to go in that race. 

 

207km remaining from 251km

In the men's race (from now on just assuming I'm talking about the men's race unless stated) there's a split, with the bunch breaking into two segments. The gap is about 15 seconds at the moment.

 

Is it too early for a shameless plug for one of our fine products?

 

We've reduced the cost on our Holy Week film from 2018. You can relive the Classics from last season with Terpstra winning Flanders and Sagan winning Roubaix. There's loads of exclusive footage in there and plenty of interviews. It's well worth the discount price to either buy or rent. 

 

More details here.

 

200km remaining from 251km

So 200km to go and the pace remains frantic. The tailwind has basically carried the race north and halted any chance of a break forming. This probably suits QuickStep down to the ground because they've not been called into action yet in order to chase an early move and they can wait for the climbs to come in the second half of the race. 

197km remaining from 251km

That split in the peloton we mentioned a few minutes looks to have been healed and we're all back together.

 

Now this is interesting, just as the bunch looked to be regrouping, we see the split move out again and among the leaders are Sagan and Van Aert.

This is a super-strong group:

 

 

Sagan, Ackermann, Selig, Declercq, Trentin, Van Aert, Wynants, Teunissen, Van der Hoorn, Van Poppel, Rowe, Bol, Degenkolb, Pedersen, Stuyven, Theuns, Gaviria, Van der Poel , Terpstra, Van Schip.

 

Visma and Trek are very well represented, and QuickStep, having not been worried before, will have to react to this. The Belgian team only have one rider in the move, and along with Lotto-Soudal they'll need to shut this down. The gap is already at 28 seconds with 196km to go.

 

1'06 now for that leading group that contains last year's winner Peter Sagan, and two of his teammates. Van Aert has support, so too does Degenkolb. It's very, very early in the race but Van der Poel is also there. 

 

Teams finally seem to have woken up to the fact that you can't let QuickStep dictate the tempo of the race, and that instead of waiting for the action to unfold you have to hit them earlier and harder. This lead group is packed with team leaders and important domestiques, and while it should be caught, it's a real sign of intent from Quickstep's rivals.

 

A reminder of the riders in the break:

 

Sagan, Ackermann, Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), Declercq (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Van Aert, Wynants, Teunissen, Van der Hoorn, Van Poppel ( Jumbo-Visma), Rowe (Sky), Bol (Sunweb), Degenkolb, Pedersen, Stuyven, Theuns (Trek), Gaviria (UAE), Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), Terpstra (Direct Energy), Van Schip (Roompot ).

 

Astana, Bahrain Merida, AG2R, if they're smart they'll look at QuickStep to lead the chase. The Belgian team have a rider in the move, that's true, but he's not of the calibre of Sagan and some of the others. QuickStep will look around and say 'well we're not going to chase, we've already won everything so far this spring' so it's a really interesting phase of the race and we've not even hit the predicted cross-wind sections.

 

In the women's race we've hit the Kemmelberg with 38km to go. No major splits as they start the descent. 

 

191km remaining from 251km

1:35 for the leaders with 191km to go.

 

Back in the bunch and Van Avermaet and Demare near the front. They're concerned about this move that's gone clear and the gap has been reduced to 50 seconds. We're about to take a left and run west along the coast. 

 

In the women's race CN writer and pro rider Moolman Pasio is leading the peloton on the final climb of the race. We're down to around 30 riders and 35km to go. Spratt is near the front and there's an attack from Marta Bastianelli but Trek catch her.

 

Visma, with all that horsepower in the front group, continue to push on. They've caught QuickStep napping and are turning the screw as we approach speeds of 65kph. 

 

173km remaining from 251km

48 seconds for the Van Aert / Sagan group but Jumbo Visma have lost two riders, one of them to a puncture so we're down to 18 riders leading the race with just over 173km to go.

 

In the women's race there have been a number of attacks but we're onto the flat roads leading to the finish. 29km to go.

 

Colbrelli needs assistance. He's at the side of the road but the pace is so, so high that it's going to take a huge effort to come back at this point.

 

In the women's race with 27km to go Daniela Reis and Sofia Bertizzolo have 22 seconds over the field but Mitchelton are leading the chase. 

 

The bunch are holding the group that contains Sagan and Van Aert at 50 seconds. It looks like too many teams missed this move and they're not willing, even at this stage, to see a group go clear. Is it only a matter of time before the break sit up?

 

.@Tim_Declercq is in the main group, which leads the bunch by 40 seconds with 170 kilometers to go. #GWE19

@deceuninck_qst Sun, 31st Mar 2019 11:18:44

Over in Catalunya and there's been a huge crash.

 

Romain Bardet, Simon Geschke, Marc Soler, Eros Capecchi, Merhawi Kudus are among the riders to hit the deck. Bardet looks in some trouble and his race looks over.

 

Follow the action from that race, here.

 

That two rider break in the women's race is about to be caught with 24km to go.

 

163km remaining from 251km

A reminder of the riders in the break in the men's race:

 

Sagan, Ackermann, Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), Declercq (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Van Aert, Wynants, Teunissen, ( Jumbo-Visma), Rowe (Sky), Bol (Sunweb), Degenkolb, Pedersen, Stuyven, Theuns (Trek), Gaviria (UAE), Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), Terpstra (Direct Energy), Van Schip (Roompot).

 

We had two more from Visma in there earlier but one was dropped and another had a flat.

 

In the women's race it's back together and Sunweb increase the pace, all for Coryn Rivera. Reports earlier indicated she fell but she's in the mix and has survived the climbs. Trek and Mitchelton are also setting the pace. 21km to go,

 

The Sagan/Van Aert group are still working well, meanwhile, and they're holding the chase at 50 seconds. QuickStep's sole rider in the 18-man move is sitting there and just watching as the race unfolds. 

 

In the women's race Rivera is even working in the pace setting. Are they trying to split the field or is she working for another rider?

 

157km remaining from 251km

The men's race has covered the second hour of racing averaging 54.5 kilometers, while the group of Sagan and company retain their advantage of 55 seconds.

 

It's a fight for every second right now as the break extend their advantage to a minute. We've still got all ten climbs and over 150km of racing to go. 

 

Hectic racing on the closing circuit on the final stage at the Volta a Catalunya. Follow the final 30km live at… https://t.co/jzZVMK90zh

@Cyclingnewsfeed Sun, 31st Mar 2019 11:31:33

17km to go in the women's race and it's all together. 

 

.@AmalieDiderikse trying to get away there, but she gets reaction immediately. Are we going to a huge bunch sprint… https://t.co/mMI3jleRqb

@GentWevelgem Sun, 31st Mar 2019 11:33:20

Mitchelton take control in the women's race as we approach the final 12km of action. There have been a series of attacks in the latter stages but at present we're heading towards a bunch sprint.

 

Over in Catalunya things are really hotting up. Formolo is clear and Quintana is attacking too. Follow that race, here.

Lotta Lepistö has attacked from the bunch but she's not really going anywhere at the moment with 10km to go. Lisa Brennauer has a flat. 

 

150km remaining from 251km

1'14 for the 18-rider move in the men's race. The QuickStep car comes up to the break to talk to Declercq but there's not much he can do other than sit there and wait. He's being the perfect teammate at the moment.

 

Lotto Soudal aren't waiting for the sprint in the women's race. They keep sending riders up the road and this time Mitchelton and Roy bridge over. 7km to go.

 

139km remaining from 251km

1'22 now for the Sagan group. 139km to go.

 

5km to go in the women's race and Roy and her two companions are about to be caught. Vos is still in the frame and is one of the favourites for sure. We're going to stick with the women's race until the finish.

 

Eleonora van Dijk leads the bunch with 4.3km to go. there are so many sprinters still in the mix as Boels and Sunweb move up.

 

Last year's winner Marta Bastianelli is well-placed and has teammates around her. Three in fact. 3km to go.

 

Canyon SRAM have come to the front now with Hannah Barnes on the head of the race. 2km to go.

 

Now @ellenvdijk gives a dig. But she is quickly brought back. #UCIWWT #GWEWomen

@TrekSegafredo Sun, 31st Mar 2019 11:50:25

Four riders from Canyon lead the way with just over 1km to go.

 

A flurry of leadout trains are fighting for position at the front but not one team can dominate. 1km to go and Trek come through.

 

Here we go for the sprint...

 

Trek continue to lead out.

 

Kirsten Wild takes the win with a hugely impressive sprint.

 

Here's our report page from the women's race. Not much there at the moment but we're scrambling for results, photos and a report right now.

 

Wild was just too powerful for the opposition in that sprint.

 

Lorena Wiebes (Parkhotel Valkenburg) and Letizia Paternoster (Trek-Segafredo) finished second and third in the women's race.

 

Here's your top-ten from the women's race. 

We will leave the women's race there for now but check back on the CN homepage throughout the afternoon for news, reactions and our full report. Back to the men's race and with 125km to go the Sagan group still have 1'20 over the main field.

 

Miguel Angel Lopez is the winner of the Volta a Catalunya. 

 

Davide Formolo won the final stage in Catalunya and you can find our report, results and photos here but the overall wins goes to Lopez.

 

Back here in Gent-Wevelgem and the leaders crest the first climb of the day, the Catsberg. They still hold a lead of 1'20 with 114km to go.

 

A reminder of the danger up the road, here's the complexion of the riders in the break: Sagan, Ackermann, Selig (Bora-Hansgrohe), Declercq (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Van Aert, Wynants, Teunissen, ( Jumbo-Visma), Rowe (Sky), Bol (Sunweb), Degenkolb, Pedersen, Stuyven, Theuns (Trek), Gaviria (UAE), Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), Terpstra (Direct Energy), Van Schip (Roompot).

 

We've not really talked about Gaviria but he's probably the quickest in the break and there's pressure on his shoulders because UAE will not ride in order to chase this move down. When we get deeper into the climbs Gaviria will have to ride for himself and he's going to be put under pressure by Trek and Visma, and other teams that want to distance him before a possible sprint. There's still a long, long way to go though.

 

109km remaining from 251km

109km to go and the break pass through the feedzone. They're working together and they have been since they moved clear but they're going to have to increase that lead of theirs over the coming climbs. 

 

It's like Sagan and the rest of the break are following live coverage on Cyclingnews. Just as we suggested that they needed to find more time they extend their advantage to 1'30. And we're about 20km from the first ascent of the Kemmelberg.

 

92km remaining from 251km

92km to go and the leaders hold 1'14 over the bunch, as we see Sagan take a turn. Back to the bunch and Lotto Soudal and CCC are doing most of the chasing. Nothing from QuickStep at the moment because they've got a man in the break and it's almost the perfect situation for them. 

 

QuickStep, don't have to chase because they have a rider up the road, and they've already won so much this spring. For now they can look at AG2R, Lotto and CCC and say 'you've not won yet, so you need to chase if you want this one'.

 

Up front and Sagan is doing his share of the work, so there's just one passenger here in the form of Tim Declercq. 88km to go and the gap is at 1'08.

 

Dimension Data have also joined the chase and they're hunting a result after a so-far poor spring. They have Valgren in their ranks, and former winner Edvald Boasson Hagen. 

 

It's coming down but slowly, with the gap under a minute with 56 seconds. Van Schip (Roompot) has been dropped on the Baneberg, 

 

And Haller attacks from the bunch. He was active in E3 and he's at it again. This time he's marked by two riders, one of them is Mohoric.

 

So we're down to 17 riders up front as we hit the Baneberg with the lead holding at 83 seconds. The riders, including Sagan have really committed to this move, but we're seeing more and more teams join the chase at the front of the peloton. Lotto have lost a couple of riders though. 

 

Jens Keukeleire leads the peloton over the top of the climb and his efforts have worked in that it's brought the leaders to 40 seconds with 82km to go. Let's see what happens when we hit the Kemmelberg for the first time.

 

Cross-winds now and the bunch are almost splitting up and that's not helping the leading group because the pace is up once more. We're just a few kms from the Kemmelberg. There are already echelons forming in the main peloton.

 

Haller is still riding at the front and he almost takes down Jens Keukeleire. There's an exchange of words, probably not that friendly, and a shake of the head from the Lotto rider. The gap to the Sagan group is at 43 seconds but the bunch is split into several groups now. It's so hard to call this race at the moment.

 

Who from the main field will attack on the Kemmel and try to bridge up to the leaders like Sagan? 

 

75km remaining from 251km

And up ahead Sagan might be in trouble because he's losing both Ackermann and Selig on the Kemmel. A Visma rider has cracked and Degenkolb is also in trouble. Trek might lose three riders all at once!

 

Van Aert is doing the damage on the front and QuickStep are losing their man in the break too. The Kemmelberg has blown the race apart.

 

And now QuickStep hit the front of the peloton, they're 29 seconds down on the Sagan group. 

 

Gaviria has made the cut but behind that group we have riders all over the road as Stybar accelerates. 

 

Degenkolb is over the top but he's going to be swept up soon enough. 

 

Van Avermaet is near the front of the peloton and he's well placed with Naesen close by.

 

Direct Energie are leading the peloton at the moment with 73km to go but it's a really important moment for the break because a lot of those riders have shed their support crew. There are maybe 10 riders left in the lead. 

 

A couple of Trek riders are coming back so the lead group will swell again but the Kemmelberg tore that break apart. All that said, Sagan and Van Aert still have 42 seconds. Van der Poel is also there.

 

I count 12 riders left in the break as Lampaert leads the chase for the next group on the road. With Declercq dropped the QuickStep collective need to ride. Van Avermaet can just follow the wheels.

 

And Wynants and Degenkolb have been caught.

 

70km remaining from 251km

So our lead group is down to: Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Van Aert, Teunissen, ( Jumbo-Visma), Rowe (Sky), Bol (Sunweb), Pedersen, Stuyven, Theuns (Trek), Gaviria (UAE), Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), Terpstra (Direct Energy) with 70km to go.

 

 

Mohoric kicks off the front and looks to set something up but the acceleration is brought back and now Declercq is picked up and will start to set the pace for the peloton. The gap is 36 seconds with 69km to go.

 

67km remaining from 251km

Declercq looks like he's smiling but it's really a grimace as we approach a climb that isn't categorized and there's a split in the lead group with 67km to go and this is significant. Trentin, Sagan and a few others have gone clear.

 

Gilbert is moving Viviani up towards the front of the bunch.

 

Our four leaders are Sagan, Trentin, Theuns and Teunissen. They already have a huge gap on the next group and this race is a real battle of attrition. 

 

The situation with 65km to go:

 

Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott),Teunissen, ( Jumbo-Visma) and Theuns (Trek),

 

Van Aert, , Rowe (Sky), Bol (Sunweb), Pedersen, Stuyven, Theuns (Trek), Gaviria (UAE), Van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), Terpstra (Direct Energy).

 

Peloton at 30 seconds.

 

That's a a powerful foursome but Visma might be concerned because Van Aert would surely have been their plan A. Teunissen is no pushover though. 

 

QuickStep continue to lead the chase from the peloton and for once they're chasing the race rather than dictating the action. Are they letting their rivals burn out or are they under real pressure? 

 

It looks like the Van Aert and Rowe group has been caught so we just have four leaders and they have 38 seconds. As Haller attacks again.

 

And Direct Energie now lead the chase of the Sagan group. They take a right corner but just make it around without a fall. QuickStep are no longer chasing so it's up to the other teams to control this race and bring back Sagan. 

 

The four leaders are on the first of the gravel sectors. They have a lead of 37 seconds and the leaders are:

 

Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Teunissen, ( Jumbo-Visma) and Theuns (Trek),

 

Rowe who was in the lead group is now helping with the chase. We had a tailwind this morning so we could expect a headwind in the finale, so there's no need to panic right now for the bunch but they need to keep Sagan in check.

 

44 seconds now for the Trentin/Sagan group. Direct Energie are still doing the chase because they have Terpstra and the numbers to do so. Back in the bunch Degenkolb is at the rear of the field. 

 

This is a great ride from Theuns, who leads the break over the next gravel section. His career was in limbo after a huge crash a few years ago. He spent a year in Sunweb but it didn't really work but this is his best ride yet since his return to Trek.

 

Direct Energie are losing time, and the gap is out to 55 seconds with 56km to go. I think that the bunch still hold the advantage because we've still got a long way to go but the leaders are continuing to work well.

 

Onto the Catacombs, the third sector of gravel, and the gap is down to 35 seconds. Bauer is trying to slow things down, and so are Trek. That buys the leaders seven precious seconds but here comes Gilbert. 

 

Adrien Petit has a mechanical and he's calling for the Direct Energie team car. 53km to go and the gap is at 44 seconds.

 

49km remaining from 251km

49km to go and the gap is back out to 49 seconds. Luke Rowe has attacked from the bunch and he's 25 seconds down on the leaders. If he makes contact that will add some much needed strength to the break. Back in the bunch and Lampaert has started to chase for the pelorton and primarily Viviani. 

 

Luke Rowe is riding full throttle and he's less than 20 seconds down. The bunch are still 49 seconds down as Direct Energie once more come to the front.

 

53 seconds for the leaders and Sagan sees his advantage once again increase as a few domestiques drop back to the team cars for fresh bottles. 44km to go.

 

43km remaining from 251km

And Rowe makes contact with the leaders. That's an impressive turn considering he was in the break earlier but missed the split. 

 

And Kristoff has taken flight from the main field. 41km to go and the gap to the five leaders is at 48 seconds. Mohoric is also on the attack but he's been brought back. 

 

The peloton might have the numbers but they're running out of men. Van Aert shuts down the move from Gilbert and Mohoric but Kristoff is still clear as we race towards the final ascent of the Kemmelberg. This next climb is going to be key.

 

Interesting that Kristoff has attacked. Wasn't he meant to lead out Gaviria in races like this? 

 

Van Avermaet is near the front as we reach the Baneberg, which is 1.5km. It rises to 14 per cent and Trentin sets the pace. 

 

Kristoff is still alone and climbing well. but he's still 30 seconds off the leaders. Perhaps he wants a gap because he's worried about not making the cut on the Kemmel.

 

Onto the top of the Banberg, with the gap to the leaders and Van der Poel goes and he's matched by Van Aert. 

Van Aert will just sit on the wheels and Mohoric comes over. It looks like Stybar is going to shut this all down. 

 

And Mohoric goes and once more Stybar reacts and looks to close the gap.

 

36km remaining from 251km

36km to go and the five leaders have 42 seconds. The Kemmelberg still to come.

 

Click here for our exclusive interview with Matteo Trentin. We met him in Monaco last week, the morning after Milan-San Remo.

 

So we have our five leaders. Then Kristoff at 25 seconds, and then the peloton at 38 seconds.

 

And the leaders hit the Kemmelberg with Sagan on the front and then Rowe takes over. 

 

And now Trentin takes a turn. Even Sagan is hurting as Trentin presses on the pedals.

 

Trentin is leading now with Rowe looking to follow but Sagan is in trouble as Stybar accelerates from the bunch.

 

Van Aert and Stybar go together as the bunch explodes. 

 

Viviani is in the bunch as they crest the top of the climb, so too is Gavira. The leading five have come back together on the descent and they have 26 seconds on the second group but I'm not sure if that's Kristoff. It is! It's Kristoff, Van Aert and Stybar. 

 

31km remaining from 251km

That's a smart move from Kristoff and he can sit back now and say he has Gaviria in the bunch. What will Stybar do though? It does look like the peloton is coming back together though. 31km to go.

 

The five leaders are so committed and they have no choice. There are no more climbs, just the race to Wevelgem. Van Aert is just sitting on Stybar's wheel but Viviani appears to be in a group that contains Lampaert and Gilbert, so QuickStep are still well in contention for this race. 

 

Full results, report and photos for Gent-Wevelgem Women... Kirsten Wild wins Gent-Wevelgem women's race Wiebes an… https://t.co/GMl42f5rRS

@Cyclingnewsfeed Sun, 31st Mar 2019 14:06:05

The Stybar group has been caught and we just have our five leaders clear with 27km to go. They have 36 seconds, so the sprint is on. QuickStep have put two riders on the front so it's all for Viviani. Is Demare still in the mix? Kung is near the front for FDJ.

 

In the peloton for sure are: Viviani, Lampaert, Gilbert, Stybar, Van Aert, Van der Poel, Stuyven, Gaviria, Benoot, Terpstra, Degenkolb, Naesen, Van Avermaet, Küng and Langeveld.

 

40 seconds for the leaders as Visma slow it all down again. Viviani is even marking moves right now and there's some uncertainty. He looks around and QuickStep put a man back on the front. 43 seconds with 26km to go.

 

The five leaders Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott),Teunissen, ( Jumbo-Visma), Theuns (Trek), Rowe (Team Sky) continue to share the pace but that chase from QuickStep has taken another five seconds back. It's Stybar who is burying himself and he's now joined by Lampaert. They're going to save Gilbert to lead out Viviani. 25km to go in the race as Sagan takes a long turn on the front before Trentin and then Theuns come through. 

 

 

Degenkolb is there. He's in the mix and has two men. He was in the break but suffered on the climbs but the former winner is still in contention. 32 seconds for the leaders.

 

And even Gilbert is forced into action, so we have three QuickStep riders on the front leading the chase. The gap is at 33 seconds. 

 

Just 28 seconds now for the five leaders. It looks like the lights are about to go out.

 

They leaders head through Ypres with just a 20 second lead over the peloton as they go under the Menin gate. 

 

20km remaining from 251km

Nine seconds for the leaders with QuickStep still on the front. They've lost Lampaert but they still have Stybar and Gilbert.

 

They know that it's almost over but you can bet there will be more attacks once this move is caught.

There are still four Visma riders in the peloton, and they dont' have a complete sprinter, so expect more attacks. 18km to go and the catch is about to be made but Rowe has now attacked.

 

Rowe doesn't have a teammate in the main field so it's the best hand he can play right now. The rest of the break have been caught and now we see counter attacks.

 

Rowe has been caught 17km from the finish. Kristoff is there but so is Gaviria. 

 

Right now it's all on Viviani because QuickStep have done everything for him today. He was second last year but missed out to Sagan. It doesnt look like Demare is there.

 

Just a note on Gaviria, he's right at the back and that's not a great idea. Remember a few years ago Cavendish looked set to compete in the sprint here but was too far back, there was a tangle of wheels and his chances were blown. 

 

15km remaining from 251km

And now Terpstra has attacked with 15km to go.

 

And Stybar chases it down but it almost causes a split. In fact they can't bring back Terpstra and the gap is still there so Lotto Jumbo start to chase.

 

Visma move over the top of Terpstra and with 13km to go they lead the peloton. Van Poppel is here for the Dutch team but right now he's working on the front. And now Langeveld attacks and once more Visma look to cover it. Move caught. Nothing from Van Avermaet yet.

 

Riders are being dropped out the back though and now Visma try and attack.

 

That move is closed and now back comes Gilbert, as they look to control the race with 12km to go.

 

Lotto Soudal still have numbers here but everyone in the race is on he limit and running on fumes. Just 10km to go and this race is still wide open. And Pedersen attacks for Trek.

 

He can only gain a few meters but Kung is trying his best to come across. This is causing a split but Van Aert closes the move down.

 

Visma have the numbers to lead out Van Poppel and against Viviani over this distance he can run the Italian close.

 

8km remaining from 251km

8km to go. Who will attack next. Van der Poel is still there. 

 

Pedersen again and this is a key move because there's  a gap with a few riders over. Gilbert is there, and Van Aert. It's back together with 7km to go.

 

Gilbert sits on the front and again Trek go and it's Stuyven this time. He takes three riders wit him. Bauer, Langeveld and Grondahl Jansen. 

 

Stybar is leading the chase but what does he have left? The gap is around 50m. 5km to go. Gilbert is suffering.

 

The gap comes down by 10 meters. 

 

But then it goes back out again. This could be the winning move.

 

The gap is around seven seconds. 

 

Grondahl Jansen, Langeveld, Bauer and Stuyven could well decide this race. 3.5km to go.

 

The gap is still 5 seconds.

 

Rowe is now chasing on the front of the bunch but the gap is only getting bigger.

 

Stybar has nothing left  2.7km to go.

 

Now Rowe has attacked.

 

Seven seconds for the leaders.

 

2km remaining from 251km

Grondahl Jansen, Langeveld, Bauer and Stuyven could well decide this race. 2km to go with 6 seconds.

 

QuickStep come back again.

 

It's ten seconds for the leaders. 1.3km to go.

 

The gap is too big. They're not going to catch this. 1km to go.

 

Here come Direct Energie. The bunch are coming back. it's caught!

 

Here comes the sprint.

 

Bauer leads.

 

Visma launch.

 

Mohoric is here.

 

And Kristoff hits the front.

 

Kristoff! He's taken it. What a sprint from the Norwegian.

 

Incredible scenes at the finish, and what a sprint from Kristoff. That certainly wasn't a leadout, was it? He hit the front with 75km to go and I think Degenkolb took second place.

 

Where was Viviani? 

 

Kristoff wins Gent-Wevelgem https://t.co/jRI5c5llic https://t.co/Oc4QaBHS0D

@Cyclingnewsfeed Sun, 31st Mar 2019 14:49:51

Kristoff simply had the best line in the finale and there wasn't a single rider who had the power to come around him. That's a huge win for the former winner of Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders.

 

Naesen was third. Van de Poel was fourth, Van Poppel fifth. 

 

Here's our brief report, results and photos from the race. 

 

1 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
2 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
3 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
4 Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus
5 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
6 Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
7 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
8 Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
9 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
10 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin

 

It looked as though Viviani was either boxed in or simply didn't have the legs during that sprint. Kristoff though rode an intelligent race. He attacked before the final ascent of the Kemmelberg in order to save energy for later, and then, despite not having a leadout he came through the pack to take a convincing win. He's certainly one of the favourites now for the Tour of Flanders next week.

 

In other news today Miguel Angel Lopez won the Volta a Catalunya, with Davide Formolo taking the final stage. You can read about that here.

 

In the women's edition of Gent-Wevelgem, Kirsten Wild took the win. Here's our report, photos and results.

 

But here in the men's race we had it all. A really strong opening break that was reduced to Sagan, Trentin, and three others before a flurry of attacks in the final as virtually every squad tried to break the dominance of QuickStep. 


In the end it was Kirstoff who came out on top, taking his biggest win since the final stage of last year's Tour de France on the Champs Elysees. In terms of one-day wins that's probably his biggest victory since Flanders in 2015. No, we're not counting the Ride London Classic.

 

 

 

 

Let's hear from today's winner:

 

"Fernando [Gaviria] did a great race and was in the front all day, but he told me in the last 10km that he didn't feel good," Kristoff said after the finish. "So he said, 'OK, go for the sprint yourself', because normally I would lead him out.
 

"I found a good wheel and at the end I was the strongest in the sprint. It's a huge victory for me and it kind of saved my spring. I can see my shape is coming good for Flanders. This is slightly easier than Flanders, but to get this victory - it's one of the biggest victories in my career."

 

 

Lopez secures Volta a Catalunya victory Formolo wins final stage in Barcelona https://t.co/SZxx1S0efS https://t.co/x1Z8zVS8CO

@Cyclingnewsfeed Sun, 31st Mar 2019 15:36:46

A few more results from outside the top ten:

 

11 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
12 Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team
13 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
14 Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie
15 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
16 Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-Fdj
17 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
18 Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
19 Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
20 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team
21 Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team Emirates
22 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step
23 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie

 

A really dogged performance from Degenkolb too. Trek were really impressive today, it should be said. They had four riders in the main break at one point, and even though they lost riders  - including Degenkolb - on the first ascent of the Kemmel they held firm. Both Pedersen and Styuven softened up the opposition with a number of attacks in the closing stages and then Degenkolb came through to take second place. 

 

Let's hear from Peter Sagan, who was part of the main break of the day:

 

"It was a beautiful and exciting Gent-Wevelgem but a very hard one! We were going over 50km/h in the first two hours and when the strong winds created splits, I decided to take the opportunity and jump in the big break, together with Pascal and Rudi. They did a great job, worked hard and when we were left just four of us in the group, I gave my best to help stay ahead of the peloton. It wasn't possible and in the finale I didn't have the legs to go for the bunch sprint."

 

We've not talked about Naesen but he was third today. This is what the Belgian had to say:

 

"It was a real race. That's why we ride a bike. That's the classics. Today it was full gas from start to finish, and that type of race suits me well. As I get older, I am stronger when the race is long. I sprinted using my experience.
There was headwind, and I moved out from the wheels at the last moment. This is the third Sunday in a row that I'm on the podium. It's a good sign for next week with
A Travers Flanders on Wednesday, and then Tour of Flanders on Sunday.”

 

More from today's winner:

 

“I remained at the front of the group with Gaviria.“ Kristoff said. “At 10 kilometres out, we spoke and agreed that I would make this sprint and try to win. In the sprint, I was the strongest and that’s even if I was a little bit tired but all the riders at the front of the group raced hard and fast from the start. I pulled out a big win that carries a lot of weight in the spring classics.


The team has improved a lot and I’m benefiting from the work that I’ve done with my trainers and with training rides a little shorter but more intense, and the results are starting to show. The change is paying off. I’m also content because I feel my condition is improving and it’s a good signal ahead of the Tour of Flanders.”

 

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