Kristoff wins Gent-Wevelgem

Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) took the win at Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday, sprinting to victory from a small peloton, having earlier been on the attack in a race dominated by the wind.

John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) finished a bike-length back in second place, while Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) continued his effervescent spring form by taking third.

Kristoff, who won the Tour of Flanders solo in 2015, launched his sprint early after riding the Jumbo-Visma train in the final kilometre. Jumping to the wheel of Adrien Petit (Direct Énergie), he hit the wind with 250 metres to go and had no equal in the race to the line.

It was a sprint finish that had looked far from inevitable for much of the day, with the peloton shattering in the crosswinds during the first hour. A large group including Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) got away after 50km of furious racing, eventually whittling down until the escapees were brought back with 20km to race.

The flat run-in was commanded by the sprinters' teams, including the well-represented Deceuninck-QuickStep, who were keen to keep it together until Wevelgem. Attacks flew in the final 15km, but it was impossible to escape the inevitability of a bunch sprint.

After a group of four attackers were finally caught in the final kilometre, it was Jumbo-Visma who led out the sprint. Kristoff appeared from behind the wheels to launch himself from long to take his second win of the season.

"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."

The wind, and of course, the climbs, had a big effect on the race, with Kristoff mentioning how his team's tactics were adjusted as a result.

"I was in the second group and we had Fernando in front," he said. "It was good racing by him to stay in front so we could take it easier in the back I knew Kemmelberg would be crucial, so I tried to attack and anticipate it before. I managed to come in the front over Kemmelberg, and I knew I was safe, being in the first group.

"But of course I was tired. It was a hard day from the start, but I saw everybody was really on the limit, so I knew I always have a good sprint when everybody is tired."

How it unfolded

The 175 riders at the start in chilly Deinze rolled away from the market square to start the race, but they wouldn't be together for much longer. During the first hour of racing, the peloton powered through crosswinds towards the Belgian coast. When turning left at Gistel towards the coastal town of Nieuwpoort the peloton split into several groups.

The star-studded first group was 20 strong. Several teams had multiple riders in the move, including Peter Sagan, Pascal Ackermann and Rüdiger Selig for Bora-Hansgrohe; Wout van Aert, Maarten Wynants, Mike Teunissen, Taco van der Hoorn and Danny van Poppel for Jumbo-Visma; John Degenkolb, Mads Pedersen, Jasper Stuyven and Edward Theuns for Trek-Segafredo.

Other riders to make the break were European champion Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott), Dutch champion Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie), Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates), Jan Willem van Schip (Roompot-Charles), Luke Rowe (Team Sky), Nokere Koerse winner Cees Bol (Team Sunweb) and Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

Before turning away from the coast and into a favourable tailwind, Jumbo-Visma lost Van der Hoorn and Van Poppel from the front after Van Poppel suffered a mechanical. Even with the loss of two riders, the leaders blasted through De Moeren at over 60km/h [the first two hours were raced at 52km/h], extending their advantage from 50 seconds to 1:20.

Heading towards the French border and the first climbs of the day, Lotto Soudal and CCC Team took control of the peloton, and the gap slowly started to come back down again.

With a first passage over the Baneberg and Kemmelberg, the lead group started to fall apart. First Van Schip dropped, followed by Selig, Ackermann, Declercq, Degenkolb and Wynants.

Accelerations in the peloton from in-form Zdenek Štybar, Yves Lampaert (both Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal) on the Kemmelberg and Monteberg reduced the advantage for the 12 remaining leaders to 35 seconds with 70km left to race.

Cooperation among those 12 leaders vanished on the wide roads following the Kemmelberg, and suddenly only Sagan, Teunissen, Trentin and Theuns remained out front. The quartet hit the first 'plugstreet' gravel section 59km from the finish 45 seconds ahead of 'peloton', which at that point consisted of less than 40 riders.

The gap remained the same over the following gravel sections, but soon afterwards, at 52km from the finish, Luke Rowe (Team Sky) put in an impressive effort to solo across the gap.

Perhaps inspired by Lowe making it up to the lead group, Kristoff clipped off the front of the chasers with 41km to go. He was midway to the leaders by the Baneberg, while over the top Van Aert and Van der Poel attacked with another 'cross champion - Zdenek Štybar - closing the move down.

Jumbo-Visma then took to the head of the peloton. Not to work though, with their man Teunissen up front. They acted as a rolling roadblock as the gap edged back up over 50 seconds.

On the final climb of the race, the Kemmelberg, Trentin put the pressure on in the lead group as Sagan looked to struggle. Further back, Štybar and Van Aert attacked, catching Kristoff before the trio were dragged back.

Heading into the final 30km, the five-man lead group was 35 seconds up the road, with sprinters Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) lurking in the chase group.

The QuickStep trio of Štybar, Lampaert and Gilbert duly went to work for their sprinter, bringing the gap down to 20 seconds by Ypres and the famous Menin Gate. It was over for the break shortly after, with the five men absorbed with 19km to race.

On the flat run-in, which saw the riders belted by crosswinds, short-lived attacks from Niki Terpstra (Direct Énergie), Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First) and Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) demonstrated how hard it would be to break away from the group. With a number of teams interested in keeping things together for a sprint finish, it would take something special to get away.

A small group clipped off with 6km to go, with Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Jack Bauer (Mitchelton-Scott), Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Jumbo-Visma) and Langeveld going on the attack. They hung out front until the final kilometre, when Deceuninck-Quick Step's superdomestiques took over.

But, as was the case last spring, it once again wouldn't be Viviani's race. The Italian was nowhere in the final sprint. Instead, it was Kristoff who prevailed, his powerful sprint proving unmatchable. 

Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates5:26:08
2John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-SegafredoRow 1 - Cell 2
3Oliver Naesen (Bel) Ag2R La MondialeRow 2 - Cell 2
4Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) Corendon-CircusRow 3 - Cell 2
5Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 4 - Cell 2
6Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 5 - Cell 2
7Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-ScottRow 6 - Cell 2
8Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 7 - Cell 2
9Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 8 - Cell 2
10Jens Debusschere (Bel) Team Katusha AlpecinRow 9 - Cell 2
11Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team SunwebRow 10 - Cell 2
12Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 11 - Cell 2
13Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 12 - Cell 2
14Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 13 - Cell 2
15Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 14 - Cell 2
16Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FdjRow 15 - Cell 2
17Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-SegafredoRow 16 - Cell 2
18Luke Rowe (GBr) Team SkyRow 17 - Cell 2
19Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck - Quick-StepRow 18 - Cell 2
20Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC TeamRow 19 - Cell 2
21Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team EmiratesRow 20 - Cell 2
22Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-StepRow 21 - Cell 2
23Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct EnergieRow 22 - Cell 2
24Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 23 - Cell 2
25Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 24 - Cell 2
26Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education FirstRow 25 - Cell 2
27Marco Haller (Aut) Team Katusha AlpecinRow 26 - Cell 2
28Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Corendon-CircusRow 27 - Cell 2
29Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma0:00:07
30Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma0:00:08
31Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott0:00:11
32Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:13
33Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo0:00:23
34Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie0:00:24
35Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Deceuninck - Quick-Step0:01:19
36Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise0:01:38
37Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:03:30
38Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team0:05:28
39Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:08:45
40Roy Jans (Bel) Corendon-CircusRow 39 - Cell 2
41Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Roompot-CharlesRow 40 - Cell 2
42Timothy Dupont (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling TeamRow 41 - Cell 2
43Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 42 - Cell 2
44Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FdjRow 43 - Cell 2
45Cees Bol (Ned) Team SunwebRow 44 - Cell 2
46Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 45 - Cell 2
47Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Wallonie BruxellesRow 46 - Cell 2
48Damien Touze (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 47 - Cell 2
49Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FdjRow 48 - Cell 2
50Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 49 - Cell 2
51Maximilian Richard Walscheid (Ger) Team SunwebRow 50 - Cell 2
52Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro TeamRow 51 - Cell 2
53Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 52 - Cell 2
54Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling TeamRow 53 - Cell 2
55Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team SkyRow 54 - Cell 2
56Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Dimension DataRow 55 - Cell 2
57Lars Boom (Ned) Roompot-CharlesRow 56 - Cell 2
58Dries De Bondt (Bel) Corendon-CircusRow 57 - Cell 2
59Silvan Dillier (Swi) Ag2R La MondialeRow 58 - Cell 2
60Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar TeamRow 59 - Cell 2
61Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 60 - Cell 2
62Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Ag2R La MondialeRow 61 - Cell 2
63Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-StepRow 62 - Cell 2
64Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC TeamRow 63 - Cell 2
65Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha AlpecinRow 64 - Cell 2
66Michael Schär (Swi) CCC TeamRow 65 - Cell 2
67Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FdjRow 66 - Cell 2
68Nico Denz (Ger) Ag2R La MondialeRow 67 - Cell 2
69Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 68 - Cell 2
70Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-ScottRow 69 - Cell 2
71Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 70 - Cell 2
72Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 71 - Cell 2
73Clement Venturini (Fra) Ag2R La MondialeRow 72 - Cell 2
74Ian Stannard (GBr) Team SkyRow 73 - Cell 2
75Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education FirstRow 74 - Cell 2
76Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky0:08:53
77Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck - Quick-Step0:08:55
78Franklin Six (Bel) Wallonie BruxellesRow 77 - Cell 2
DNFPascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 78 - Cell 2
DNFGuillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC TeamRow 79 - Cell 2
DNFStijn Steels (Bel) Roompot-CharlesRow 80 - Cell 2
DNFLukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC TeamRow 81 - Cell 2
DNFSzymon Sajnok (Pol) CCC TeamRow 82 - Cell 2
DNFMaximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg)Row 83 - Cell 2
DNFFabio Jakobsen (Ned) Deceuninck - Quick-StepRow 84 - Cell 2
DNFSjoerd Van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-CharlesRow 85 - Cell 2
DNFMoreno Hofland (Ned) EF Education FirstRow 86 - Cell 2
DNFSimon Sellier (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 87 - Cell 2
DNFSacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education FirstRow 88 - Cell 2
DNFJan Willem Van Schip (Ned) Roompot-CharlesRow 89 - Cell 2
DNFDaniel Oss (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 90 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 91 - Cell 2
DNFJulius Van Den Berg (Ned) EF Education FirstRow 92 - Cell 2
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 93 - Cell 2
DNFLogan Owen (USA) EF Education FirstRow 94 - Cell 2
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education FirstRow 95 - Cell 2
DNFJesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot-CharlesRow 96 - Cell 2
DNFZhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 97 - Cell 2
DNFYevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 98 - Cell 2
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 99 - Cell 2
DNFHugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro TeamRow 100 - Cell 2
DNFMagnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana Pro TeamRow 101 - Cell 2
DNFSonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 102 - Cell 2
DNFIvan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain-MeridaRow 103 - Cell 2
DNFJulien Duval (Fra) Ag2R La MondialeRow 104 - Cell 2
DNFAdam Blythe (GBr) Lotto SoudalRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFHeinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-MeridaRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFPawel Bernas (Pol) CCC TeamRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain-MeridaRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFBrian Van Goethem (Ned) Lotto SoudalRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFLawrence Naesen (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFSenne Leysen (Bel) Roompot-CharlesRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFJan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 114 - Cell 2
DNFEduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 115 - Cell 2
DNFBagdonas Gediminas (Ltu) Ag2R La MondialeRow 116 - Cell 2
DNFJimmy Janssens (Bel) Corendon-CircusRow 117 - Cell 2
DNFHector Carretero (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 118 - Cell 2
DNFCasper Phillip Pedersen (Den) Team SunwebRow 119 - Cell 2
DNFFlorian Stork (Ger) Team SunwebRow 120 - Cell 2
DNFKoen De Kort (Ned) Trek-SegafredoRow 121 - Cell 2
DNFAlex Frame (NZl) Trek-SegafredoRow 122 - Cell 2
DNFKiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 123 - Cell 2
DNFTom Wirtgen (Lux) Wallonie BruxellesRow 124 - Cell 2
DNFSven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 125 - Cell 2
DNFSimone Consonni (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 126 - Cell 2
DNFJustin Jules (Fra) Wallonie BruxellesRow 127 - Cell 2
DNFOliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 128 - Cell 2
DNFLukas Spengler (Swi) Wallonie BruxellesRow 129 - Cell 2
DNFAsbjørn Kragh Andersen (Den) Team SunwebRow 130 - Cell 2
DNFLasse Norman Hansen (Den) Corendon-CircusRow 131 - Cell 2
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Team SunwebRow 132 - Cell 2
DNFFrederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling TeamRow 133 - Cell 2
DNFAime De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling TeamRow 134 - Cell 2
DNFTom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling TeamRow 135 - Cell 2
DNFAndrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Gobert Cycling TeamRow 136 - Cell 2
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty-Gobert Cycling TeamRow 137 - Cell 2
DNFAmaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 138 - Cell 2
DNFMilan Menten (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 139 - Cell 2
DNFPreben Van Hecke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 140 - Cell 2
DNFKenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 141 - Cell 2
DNFJordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-BaloiseRow 142 - Cell 2
DNFKenny Dehaes (Bel) Wallonie BruxellesRow 143 - Cell 2
DNFLionel Taminiaux (Bel) Wallonie BruxellesRow 144 - Cell 2
DNFStijn Devolder (Bel) Corendon-CircusRow 145 - Cell 2
DNFReinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Dimension DataRow 146 - Cell 2
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FdjRow 147 - Cell 2
DNFPim Ligthart (Ned) Direct EnergieRow 148 - Cell 2
DNFMiles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FdjRow 149 - Cell 2
DNFMathieu Burgaudeau (Fra) Direct EnergieRow 150 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 151 - Cell 2
DNFLuka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-ScottRow 152 - Cell 2
DNFEdoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-ScottRow 153 - Cell 2
DNFCallum Scotson (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 154 - Cell 2
DNFJorge Arcas (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 155 - Cell 2
DNFTaco Van Der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 156 - Cell 2
DNFJaime Castrillo Zapater (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 157 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Valgren Andersen (Den) Team Dimension DataRow 158 - Cell 2
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 159 - Cell 2
DNFBernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Dimension DataRow 160 - Cell 2
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FdjRow 161 - Cell 2
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Dimension DataRow 162 - Cell 2
DNFJulien Vermote (Bel) Team Dimension DataRow 163 - Cell 2
DNFFilippo Fortin (Ita) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 164 - Cell 2
DNFZico Waeytens (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 165 - Cell 2
DNFHarry Tanfield (GBr) Team Katusha AlpecinRow 166 - Cell 2
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) Team Katusha AlpecinRow 167 - Cell 2
DNFMads Schmidt Würtz (Den) Team Katusha AlpecinRow 168 - Cell 2
DNFWillem Jakobus Smit (RSA) Team Katusha AlpecinRow 169 - Cell 2
DNFKenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions CreditsRow 170 - Cell 2
DNFLeonardo Basso (Ita) Team SkyRow 171 - Cell 2
DNFChristopher Lawless (GBr) Team SkyRow 172 - Cell 2
DNFFilippo Ganna (Ita) Team SkyRow 173 - Cell 2
DNFLars Bak Ytting (Den) Team Dimension DataRow 174 - Cell 2

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