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Gent-Wevelgem Elite Men - Live Coverage

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Hello and welcome to live coverage of the men's Gent-Wevelgem race. The cobbled classics season has been curtailed by coronavirus, so the pressure will be on the riders to deliver the goods in the few races that remain. 

There were a few last-minute changes to the start list yesterday afternoon after Wanty-Group Gobert rider Jan Bakelandts tested positive for coronavirus. He and Tiesj Benoot were on a Belgian TV show together after competing at Brabantse Pijl. It means that Benoot has also had to pull out for safety reasons, though he has not yet been tested for coronavirus. Read more about that here. 

Wanty has been able to supply a substitute for Bakelandts but Team Sunweb is racing one rider down. They are not the only team to be short a rider or two with Groupama-FDJ, Movistar and Cofidis all not fielding their full complement of riders. 

It is a subdued start at the Menin Gate this morning but our reporter Brecht Decaluwe is on the ground. He spoke to Sep Vanmarcke about today's race. 

"It is a different season but same weather. Not a lot of wind but always some in the Moeren. 

"It's fantastic location but there shouldn't have been music. Apart from that it's a perfect fit for this particular race. The lack of fans along the course will make it different. Sometimes you thrive on the atmosphere, sometimes it makes you blow up your engine. I didn't do many races so I don't know where I'll be today."

Alexander Kristoff is the defending champion and will be among the contenders to take the title today. He will face some still competition, though. 

"It is at a different part if year but the race suits me. The same riders are here. I had a good Tour, just like the team. Usually I don't feel great after the Tour but now there was a big goal. The big favourites to me are Mathieu and Wout."

The race will be setting out from Ieper in the next half an hour. If you want to remind yourself what happened last year, then take a look at our report.

Wout van Aert is one of the major favourites for today's race. He has not raced since the World Championships last month.

"It was good to be back home. I rested a bit and tried to recharge the batteries. I trained well in the past 10 days. Recon went well but riding on the cobbles remains difficult. I'll only know in the race how I come out of the post-Tour and worlds. 

"The Moeren is the first critical point. I don't care if I'll be in a small or big group when heading to the finish. The classics riders approach these races with another schedule than other years. This is sometimes a build-up race for some but now it's a real target for everyone.

This start is bizarre, not to be on a podium to wave to the fans. Then again it's good the race can get underway."

Gent-Wevelgem 2020 start

Bagpipes played as the riders lined up at the start line under the Menin Gate.  (Image credit: Future)

Mathieu van der Poel, one of the other big favourites, was the last rider to line up at the start line. He missed the podium ceremony this morning. He'll want to make up for his error in the sprint at Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday. 

Gent-Wevelgem 2020 start

The peloton rolls out from the start of Gent-Wevelgem 2020 (Image credit: Future)

As the riders roll through the neutral start, let's recap what today's course looks like. The organisers have kept much of the route under wraps to prevent too many people standing on the roadside but we do know the major parts of this year's route.  There are 11 hellingen packed between the 135k marker and the 198k point, which is 34km to go. In the middle of all of that, there are three plugstreets for the riders to contend with. 

Wout van Aert at the start of the 2020 Gent-Wevelgem

Wout van Aert talking to the press ahead of the 2020 Gent-Wevelgem (Image credit: Future)

The women's race is also taking place today but it is without the defending champion after Kirsten Wild returned a positive test for Covid-19. Read the full story here.

Stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia is also taking place today as this is the madness that the 2020 season is giving us. You can follow the race live here.

It has been a busy start to the day in the peloton. Multiple attacks have gone off the front but nothing has yet stuck.

A group of seven has jumped off the front and has a small lead. They are: Mark Cavendish (Bahrain McLaren), Alexis Gougeard (AG2R), Alexander Konychev (Mitchelton-Scott), Leonardo Basso (INEOS Grenadiers), Julien Morice (B&B Hotels), Kenny Molly (Bingoal) and Gilles De Wilde (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise). It is unusual to see Mark Cavendish in a breakaway but 2020 has been an unusual year. 

Sebastian Mora has tried to join this leading group but he can't quite make it at the moment. The leaders now have 35 seconds on the peloton behind. 

208km to go

The gap is growing and now stands at 50 seconds. Astana and Israel Start-Up Nation are driving the chase behind after missing the move. 

The Belgian weather has turned on the riders and is has started to rain over the riders. We might not be in the spring, but the conditions are pretty similar. 

The leading group now has two minutes on the peloton behind. It is interesting to see Cavendish in the breakaway. In the unlikely event that the break could make it the whole way, he would be the undoubted favourite to take the win. Being in the break also means he starts the climbs earlier than the rest of the pack, like Kristoff did last year, and could still be in the mix in the sprint finish. He could also prove to be a very useful assistant to Sonny Colbrelli if the Italian goes on the attack. 

200km to go

The latest time check has the escapees at four minutes over the peloton. 

In addition to Cavendish, there are some strong riders in this breakaway. AG2R's Alexis Gougeard is a breakaway stalwart, while Leonardo Basso is also a good companion to have in an escape. 

The riders are passing by Wevelgem for the first time today. The next time they're in Wevelgem will be to contest the finish. 

The lead to the escapees has now increased to five minutes. 

The 23-year-old Kenny Molly, who is in today's breakaway, is making his Gent-Wevelgem debut. He's had a busy season so far and most recently raced at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. In September, he won the mountains classification at the Tour of Slovakia. 

Another of the escapees, Gilles De Wilde will be celebrating his 21st birthday tomorrow. A first-year neo-pro with the Sport Vlaanderen squad, he too is riding Gent-Wevelgem for the first time. Getting into the breakaway today will be a steep learning curve for the young Belgian. 

Sam Bennett would be among the favourites if he can hang onto the pack over the climbs. He's had a decent break from racing since winning the green jersey at the Tour de France and he is riding at the event for the first time since 2015. 

Speaking to Sporza, he had this to say ahead of the start: "It's really nice to perform here. It's a super hard race. The level is quite high here. It's my first race after the Tour and I don't know how the legs will be. In training it's been going well. You never know until the race gets underway. I should be pretty ok. Normally I'm stronger now (compared to last year). There's a few leaders in our team. We have a versatile team. There's a lot of guys who can do something today."

The leaders have been travelling at an average speed of 45.7kph over the first hour of racing.  

Alexander Konychev is another Gent-Wevelgem debutant in the breakaway today. He is riding his first season with Mitchelton-Scott this year. He's been thrown into some big racing in his neo-pro year and rode Milan-San Remo back in August. 

172km to go

Deceuninck-QuickStep is setting the pace in the peloton. The leaders' advantage has settled at five minutes, for now. 

We have one abandon so far, Kenneth Van Roy has stepped off the bike. It is not clear why he has had to leave the race. 

Pascal Ackermann has been on strong form this season but he abandoned the BinckBank Tour after two third places in the opening stages. These were his thoughts when he spoke to Sporza at the start of the day. 

"My shape is really good right now. It's better for me to have a hard race. My acceleration now isn't as good so I prefer a hard race. Last year? I didn't finish. It was too long and too hard. Three times over the Kemmel is a lot. I've never done it three times in a race. That will be hard."

The gap to the escapees continues to grow as the riders have ridden 70km. There's under 60km to go until they reach their first climb. 

Mathieu van der Poel will be hoping to make up for Wednesday's second place and take another win. He's been looking pretty relaxed so far today at the back of the peloton. 

This is what he said at the start of the day: 

"The night after the Brabantse Pijl wasn't super although I usually don't sleep well after a race. I replayed the sprint a couple of times in my head. It was a missed chance.

"The Kemmel was hard last year but the race was hard too with the wind. It was one of the hardest races I've done. This year there'll be wind again. This year I expect a group of ten riders to crest the Kemmel and if they can find co-operate then that'll be the group that will battle for victory.

[On Tim Merlier] "We talked about his chances. I'm the man who has to be there with the attackers and Tim has to try and survive. Last year there was a big group who sprinted and he has the capabilities to feature that main group too. We have two leaders today."

The weather is a bit unpredictable in Flanders today. There has been some rain over the riders. It's dry now but there is more rain expected to come after the heavens just opened in Wevelgem. 

Sep Vanmarcke has had a very truncated second part of the 2020 season. With his team not racing in Italy or not replacing cancelled racing days, he's contested just seven days so far. He was understandibly disappointed that Paris-Roubaix was cancelled, thus cutting his race days down even further. 

Before this weekend, he told Belgian media that he'd "been training for six to seven months to be almost 100 per cent for the first time in my life. I've never lost my morale during this difficult season, even though I have few racing days."

Read his full comments here.

145km to go

The six escapees continue to build their advantage and now have 7:30 over the peloton with 145km to go. 

The leaders are approaching De Moeren, where there is a possibility of some echelons. I don't want to build up your hopes just yet, though. 

A slightly slower second hour but still pretty quick with an average speed of 42.5kph. 

De Moeren is right by the border with France. When the race was due to go ahead in its usual slot in March, the organisers had planned a brief jaunt into France but decided several months ago to move the route for this weekend. It proved to be a wise decision given that Paris-Roubaix has had to be cancelled due to the spread of coronavirus. 

There has been a crash in the bunch. It seems about 10 riders have gone down after an Ineos rider hit a pole. We will bring you more news on that when we have it. 

Alpecin-Fenix's Senne Leysen has abandoned the race as a result of the crash. We have no news yet on his condition. 

125km to go

The riders are fast approaching the first climbs of the day and the leaders still have more than seven minutes over the peloton behind. The wind in De Moeren is not blowing too strong today so it has not done much damage to the bunch right now. 

We have a third abandon today after Lukas Postlberger stepped off. He would have been an important rider for Pascal Ackermann in the closing kilometres of the race. 

114km to go

Jumbo-Visma is setting the pace on the front of the peloton and they've done some serious damage to the advantage of the escapees. The gap has fallen to just 3:20 now. They do not want the six up front to have too much of an advantage when they hit the hellingen section. 

The peloton is going full gas in the chase now and the leaders have just 2:51. They could well be brought back very early in the climb section. 

2:20 is the gap now! Jumbo-Visma means business and this advantage is coming down quickly. 

The riders are just under 10km from the first of today's 11 climbs. 

The riders will take on five climbs before reaching the three plugstreets. The climbs, in order, are: Scherpenberg, Vidaigneberg, Baneberg, Monterberg and Kemmelberg. The Kemmelberg will be ridden three times today, no easy task. 

There was a split in the bunch, which has come together, but we now have attacks coming off the front of the peloton. The race is really on now. 

A puncture for Mathieu van der Poel, who is quickly tended to and back on his way to the peloton. 

Movistar rider Johan Jacobs is trying to bridge the gap to the escapees. He's making some progress, but will it be worth it?

Jacob's gap is still over 1:30 behind the leaders.

The pace was up in the third hour compared to the second, with an average speed of  43.9kph. 

The leaders get a spot of lunch. They're going to need to get it down quickly as the first climbs are coming up very soon. 

WEVELGEM BELGIUM OCTOBER 11 Mark Cavendish of The United Kingdom and Team Bahrain Mclaren Alexander Konychev of Italy and Team Mitchelton Scott Gilles De Wilde of Belgium and Team Sport Vlaanderen Baloise Alexis Gougeard of France and Team Ag2R La Mondiale Leonardo Basso of Italy and Team INEOSGrenadiers Julien Morice of France and Team BB Hotels Vital Concept Kenny Molly of Belgium and Team Bingoal Wb Breakaway during the 82nd GentWevelgem In Flanders Fields 2020 Men Elite a 2325km race from Ypres to Wevelgem GentWevelgem FlandersClassic on October 11 2020 in Wevelgem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

The breakaway at the 2020 Gent-Wevelgem. (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Jacobs is still in no-man's land between the leaders and the peloton. His chase seems to have lost some momentum at the moment. 

A puncture for Nils Politt. 

It is unfortunate timing for Politt to have that puncture. He's going to have quite the chase to get back onto the bunch. 

The breakaway has taken a bit more time back on the peloton, they now have 2:40 on the riders behind while Jacobs is about 1:30 back. 

John Degenkolb will be aiming to be in the mix at the finish today. He spoke to Sporza before the start and this is what he had to say:

"The race will open early and in the climbs you have to be there. We definitely need some luck and need as many guys as we can in the main group. 

Getting a win [in Luxembourg] was great for the confidence, after crasing out from the Tour. In the Brabantse Pijl I had some bad luck but it poorly timed puncture."

Ineos has now taken up the pace setting in the peloton as they hit the Kemmelberg. Kwiatkowski is the man at the head of proceedings with Luke Rowe right behind him. 

Van der Poel is right behind the Ineos team but there are some gaps further back. This dig by Kwiatkowski is putting the hurt on a few contenders. 

A mechanical for Ackermann on the Kemmelberg. Really bad timing for the German.

The road is a mixture of dry and wet but at least the rain has stopped, for now. We even have some sunshine. 

79.9km to go

A few teams have now come forward to help with the driving of this pace. Alpecin-Fenix and Trek-Segafredo are now lending a hand. The gap to the leaders is being demolished. The advantage of the escapees has dropped to 1:50. 

We're getting news that there is rain in Wevelgem, so it might not be dry all the way to the finish. 

An attack from Trentin. 

It looks like Kung and Vanmarcke chasing behind in what has become a small peloton. 

Jacobs has just a 15 seconds gap on the "peloton" and it won't be long before he is caught. 

The first peloton looks to have about 20 riders, and there is another 20 not too far behind them. A bigger group of about 40 is battling about 20 seconds behind the front peloton. 

Trentin has been brought back to the first peloton, which is now being paced by Jampy Drucker. 

The first two pelotons have come back together and the third is almost with them. The riders are restless, though, and there are lots of little moves off this front peloton. 

Jacobs has been brought back and we have a few echelons forming. 

The wind is not blowing super hard but the groups have split up again. The gap between the leaders and the chasers is 1:15.

73km to go

There have been a few crashes and Daniel Oss has ended up in a field. Owain Doull and a UAE rider have also gone down. Meanwhile, Wout van Aert is putting the pressure on. 

Van Aert really putting the hammer down. He's got about 15 riders with him and there's a 30-40-rider group chasing behind. 

A replay of the crash showes that the UAE rider who crashed got his front wheel stuck in the ridge in the middle of the tarmac. Doull and Oss crashed tried to avoid him. 

Another crash on a corner as Senechal hits the deck and Mullen wipes out on the same turn. The roads are really slippy at the moment. 

70km to go

The wind is gathering some pace now as the riders reach the plugstreets. The gravel roads are soaked with the rain and there is standing water in patches. 

Van Asbroeck had a mechanical issue on the gravel. An issue with his gearing or his chain, as he lost all drive and came to a sudden stop. 

Van der Poel attacks and he distances some big names, including Van Aert and Kristoff. He has about six other riders with him. 

Van Aert has made contact with the Van der Poel group and there are more about to make the juncture. Amidst all of this, the leaders are just 16 seconds up the road. 

Jumbo-Visma have now put the hammer down with Mike Teunissen and Wout van Aert. They pull a gap out on Van der Poel briefly. This is frenetic. 

66km to go

The breakaway has been caught. I wonder if Cavendish can hold on in this leading group. 

Right, I'm going to list a few riders that i can see in this front group, Pedersen, Van der Poel, Trentin, Kung, Van Aert, Cavendish, Teunissen. I'd say there are about 30 riders up there. 

Naesen is back in the first chasing group.

It seems that Ineos has missed the cut here. Basso is the only one up in that front group after being in the early breakaway. 

I missed Vanmarcke and Kristoff. They are both up there in this first group. 

63km to go

Stybar is up there and he puts in a big attack. Cavendish follows him. 

The main chasing group is now 39 seconds behind this leading group. 

Stybar's move has been brought back and we now have an attack from Vermeersch. 

This front group has 26 riders in it. The chasing peloton has about 30-40. 

Luke Durbridge is leading the chase in the second peloton. The big favourites for Mitchelton-Scott have missed out on this front move. 

Luke Rowe is now up at the front of this leading group. I didn't see him in there, he's been hiding very well. 

There are now 29 seconds between the front group and the chasers. Just nine riders remain in this leading pack.

The leading group is Vanmarcke, Rowe, Pedersen, Kung, Trentin, Gougeard, Teunissen, Gianni Vermeersch and a Lotto Soudal rider I'm still trying to identify. 

57km to go

Philipsen has attacked the chasing group but he doesn't have much of a gap. 

The Lotto Soudal rider is Florian Vermeersch. So, we have two Vermeerschs in this leading group. The gap to the chasers is now 48 seconds. 

UAE is probably the big loser in this split as most of the big teams have managed to get a rider into this front group. The leaders have now hit the Monteberg for the second time. 

Of course, Deceuninck-QuickStep has also missed the split. They have a lot of work to do if they want to bring back the leaders and they've put two riders on the front of the chase. 

54km to go

Philipsen is still trying get across to the leaders. He is 51 seconds back and the main chasing group is 20 seconds behind him. 

The leaders are back onto the Kemmelberg for the second time. 

Teunissen leads the way but there is no real injection in pace, they're just trying to get to the top in one piece. 

Gougeard is really having to dig deep on the climb. He's done really well after being in the early breakaway already. 

Philipsen has been caught by the chasing group on the Kemmelberg. 

Meanwhile, Van Aert and Van der Poel have attacked on the Kemmelberg with some others. Degenkolb and Teuns are chasing a little further back. 

That injection of pace from Van Aert and co has cut the gap to the leaders back down to 34 seconds. The chase is on!

Degenkolb and Asgreen have caught up with Van der Poel and Van Aert. Teuns is lingering a little further back. 

A Cofidis rider has come off on a corner just after the descent of the Kemmelberg. He looks like he has hit his head and may have concussion. 

Bettiol and Senechal are with the Van Aert and Van der Poel group. Teuns has now made the juncture after Degenkolb and Asgreen did it a short while ago. The seven-man group is 30 seconds behind the leaders.

Yves Lampaert has joined this first chasing group to add a little more fire power to it. 

The gap between the two groups is small but bridging a gap in a classic is an entirely different prospect to any other race. 

Lampaert is doing the donkey work in the chase group. It's likely to be between Asgreen and Senechal the men for the win for Deceuninck, if they can bring back the leaders. 

46km to go

The leaders have just 22 seconds on the chasers, while a third group that contains Kristoff is a further 30 seconds back. 

The Van Aer and Van der Poel group can see the leaders up the road. They can almost touch them they're so close. 

The third group is making little progress in their chase and they're now about a minute behind the leaders. UAE Team Emirates working hard on the front for Kristoff, but it's not reaping rewards at the moment. 

43km to go

The leaders are coming up to the Vidaigneberg, the next climb of the day. 

There are just three climbs remaining before a 34km run to the finish line. The long run fromt he last climb makes it that little bit harder for a breakaway group. 

While all of this is going on, the women's race is underway and has 117km to go.

The action has calmed down somewhat in the passage between the climbs but we can expect a lot of action as we do this last trio of ascents. The chasing group made up quite a bit of time on the last ride up the Kemmelberg, can they do it again?

40km to go

Lampaert is pushing on in this chasing group and dragging the rest of the riders along. He's brought the gap down to just 10 seconds.

The bridge has almost been made. Just a handful of seconds between the two leading groups. 

The leaders are not going to let these chasers close the gap too easily. They do not want Van Aert and Van der Poel with them. 

Back onto the Kemmelberg for the leaders. 

Trentin and Kung have attacked on the climb and have a small lead on the chasers.

Kung has dropped Trentin, who is back with the chaser, and he's riding alone. Maybe inspired by Dowsett's win yesterday, he's using his time trial skills. 

31km to go

The gap is pretty small at the moment as the chasing group, which has been joined by the other chasing group. 

Gianni Vermeersch has crashed in the chasign group. He seems relatively unhurt and he's back on his way with a new bike. 

Kung still holding a small gap over the group behind, who have not totally committed to the chase just yet. He has just seven seconds. 

The third group on the road is also closing in at 39 seconds behind Kung. This is far from over. 

Among those in the first chasing group behind Kung are: Asgreen, Lampaert, Senechal, Degenkolb, Florian Vermeersch, Teuns, Trentin, Bettiol, Vanmarcke, Van Aert, Teunissen, Rowe, Pedersen and Van der Poel.

Gougeard was dropped at some point and he is with Gianni Vermeersch trying to get back on. 

27km to go

My apologies, group 3 is G Vermeersch and Gougeard not the Kristoff group, who is further back down the road. 

Kung has been reeled back after his earlier attack.

Some pretty quick sprinters in this leading group, including Degenkolb, Trentin and Van Aert. I wouldn't count Van der Poel in a gallop to the line either. There are some non-sprinters in there too so we can expect a few attacks before the line. Rowe, Bettiol and Vanmarcke will not want to come to the line with the fast men. 

We finally get a time check on the Kristoff group, which is 1:13 behind the leading group. UAE are doing a lot of work as are Bora. 

22km to go

The leaders pass under the Menin Gate, where they started this morning, and are now making the run for the finish line. 

Gianni Vermeersch and Alexis Gougeard have been caught by the Kristoff group. It doesn't look like they're going to be able to bridge the gap to the leaders, unless something unexpected happens.

Into the final 20km now. Who will blink first?

I think that we can be certain that the winner will come from this group. A quick reminder of who is in there: Van Aert, Teunissen, Van der Poel, Bettiol, Vanmarcke, F Vermeersch, Degenkolb, Asgreen, Lampaert, Senechal, Kung, Trentin, Rowe and Teuns.

Deceuninck-QuickStep have the largest numbers in this leading group with three riders. Asgreen and Senechal have a decent kick in the sprint, maybe will see an attack from Yves Lampaert to test the waters.

And there we have it, no sooner to I write it, Lampaert launches an attack. 

Lampaert is brought back and Bettiol has a go off the front. Trentin is trying to bring him back. 

The attacks have caused some gaps and Rowe, Vanmarcke, Vermeersch, Teuns, Teunissen and Asgreen have been distanced. 

Teuns is trying to get across the gap but he's struggling. Rowe is leading the way in the chasing group. 

Another dig from Lampaert. He doesn't want this chasing group to get back. Kung now takes up the pace. 

11km to go

The gap between this leading group of nine and the chasers is now 20 seconds. 

Let's recap this leading group: Lampaert, Senechal, Van der Poel, Pedersen, Degenkolb, Kung, Van Aert, Tretin and Bettiol. 

There are a lot of top notch sprinters in this group. This is going to be some contest at the line. 

We may see Lampaert, Kung or Bettiol make an attack before the finish. QuickStep still has good numbers in here and can play that to their advantage. 

John Degenkolb stretches out on his bike as the pace calms down. It has been a wet and cold day and there will surely be some tired legs in this group. 

6.5km to go

Kung puts the hammer down coming out of a corner, testing the legs of his competitors. Van Aert keeps him pegged and he can't make a gap. 

Bettiol attacks and takes Lampaert with him. 

Degenkolb closes the gap to them and the move is shut down. 

Lampaert attacks and then Van Aert counter attacks with Degenkolb in his wheel. The gaps are opening up. 

Degenkolb can't close it and Van der Poel takes up the chase. He catches Van Aert.

They're caught and now Kung attacks

Van Aert is in his wheel and so is Lampaert and Bettiol. Van der Poel is chasing behind. 

2.9km to go

Van der Poel moves off and Trentin takes up the chase

It's all back together now

Kung attacks again

He's caught and now it's Trentin, Bettiol and Senechal on the move

1.4km to go

Pedersen is chasing

Under the flamme rouge 

Pedersen has caught the leading group

Bettiol starts the sprint

But it is Pedersen that wins

Lots of congratulations for the Danish rider who is absolutely delighted. 

Senechal took second place with Trentin taking third. 

That was a great ride from Pedersen. He initially missed the move from Trentin and had to chase back on. However, he easily took the sprint. 

Kung made a last gaps effort to bridge the gap in the finishing straight but it was never going to happen. 

Confirmation of the top 10 at Gent-Wevelgem. 

1 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
2 Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-Quickstep
3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC Team
4 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Pro Cycling
5 Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
6 John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
7 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep
8 Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
9 Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix

10 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain McLaren

Wout van Aert was understandibly disappointed to finish in eighth place in the end. 

"I rode to win. Some preferred that I didn't win rather than trying to win themselves," he said at the finish." 

He was asked if he was referring to Mathieu van der Poel and his answer was: "Yes".

"Each time I had the same rider on my wheel. I'm not going to close each gap for him."

WEVELGEM BELGIUM OCTOBER 11 Arrival Mads Pedersen of Denmark and Team Trek Segafredo Celebration Florian Senechal of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep Matteo Trentin of Italy and CCC Team during the 82nd GentWevelgem In Flanders Fields 2020 Men Elite a 2325km race from Ypres to Wevelgem GentWevelgem FlandersClassic on October 11 2020 in Wevelgem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images

Mads Pedersen wins Gent-Wevelgem 2020 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Some words from our winner today, Mads Pedersen:

"Three guys went from the group and I hoped that Van der Poel and Van Aert would close it. I managed to jump across and I could stay in the last wheel and do my sprint from there. It was the perfect situation for me.

 

"I think it wasn’t that long [of a sprint] but I like to do a long sprint. It fit me better. It was ok for me.

 

"It was pretty hard with conditions like this, it’s raining, it’s drying up, it’s raining and drying up so you’re getting cold and warm. I know how to handle it so it’s ok for me. The weather conditions were good for me.

 

"We will see, first we have a race on Wednesday. We will be happy with the win today."

More from Van Aert, who spoke to Sporza at the finish: "I pushed myself to win the race, but I was not given any freedom. I am disappointed, because I really worked. I would have had a chance in the sprint, too, but I couldn't react to everything. And it was always the same rider who was in my wheel. "

For our report, results and pictures from today's race then click here. 

Stage 9 of the Giro d'Italia has just finished. I won't spoil the surprise for you if you're saving it for later but you can find the results here if you want to know.

Outside of Pedersen's victory, a lot of the talk is going to be abotu Van Aert and Van der Poel and their failure to make it onto the podium. We often see when we have one or two huge favourites going into a race that they're almost cancelled out by that position. Nobody wants to take them to the line and they don't want to do all of the work only to be done over by their rivals. I think that is what we saw between these two today. Both expected the other to take the pull and neither wanted to help the other out. Given Van Aert's sprint ability, Van der Poel was likely more worried about carrying Van Aert to the line than the other way around. 

We've heard from Van Aert on what went on in the finale, let's hear what Van der Poel had to say: 

"I already did my sprint when I had to bring back those four a few kilometers from the finish."

 

"That was all or nothing then, or else they were gone and I could not participate for the win anyway. Even though I knew they would attack from behind my back.

 

"After that effort I was through. You have to gamble a bit in such a final. I kept an eye on a few men. I also knew that Pedersen would be dangerous, but he can gamble a little more than we can."

It has been a very busy day of racing and Paris-Tour also took place today. If you want to find out what happened, then take a look at our report.

There is another race going on at the moment with the women's Gent-Wevelgem into the final 30km. The start times of the men's and women's races were switched, which means the women had a much later start then usual. 

A very strong group has gone up the road, containing Deignan, Pieters, Van Dijk, Brennauer, Kopecky and D'hoore has 36 seconds on a chasing group. 

Several Belgian publications have reported on some comments from Mark Cavendish at the finish line. After crossing the line with tears in his eyes, he reportedly said that this may have been the final race of his career. He subsequently rode off without saying any more. Yesterday, Rod Ellingworth said the team was still in negotiations with the sprinter about a new contract but, perhaps, he is considering hanging up his wheels. 

Video footage from the finish area shows a very emotional Cavendish saying that he does think it is the last race of his career. 

John Degenkolb had a good race and finished sixth in the end, this is what he had to say after crossing the line. 

"It was kind of gambling but also about the legs. To go another time and another time, I tried hard to always be in the group for victory because I felt good. It was a hard race.

 

"My shape is good and we were up front. I was confident and the team was confident in me. It’s good to see that I’m up there, that’s why I love these races so much. It’s good to be here.

 

[On Flanders] "It’s one of the greatest races. It’s a big chance for us, of course, to have a good result."

There is now just four kilometres remaining in the women's race. Ellen van Dijk attacks from that group of favourites but she is shut down by Amy Pieters. 

It's getting very cagey after that attack from Van Dijk. Just 2.3km to go. 

Pieters attacks now and it is Van Dijk trying to shut her down. 

Van Dijk does a huge turn to bring Pieters back. The chasing group is almost on the leaders as they pass under the flamme rouge. 

Pieters goes again

Jolien D'hoore takes up the sprint and claims the win ahead of Lotte Kopecky. 

What a big day of racing we've had at Gent-Wevelgem. Mads Pedersen stormed to victory in the men's race and Jolien D'hoore has just taken the win in the women's event. 

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