Mads Pedersen wins Gent-Wevelgem

Trek-Segafredo's Mads Pedersen won a scintillating 82nd edition of Gent-Wevelgem, bridging up to Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First), Matteo Trentin (Team CCC) and Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck-QuickStep) inside the final kilometre, then powering past his three rivals to take the title, the first major Classics success of his career. 

Sénéchal came through to take second, with Trentin third, the four leaders finishing just ahead of a five-strong group that contained pre-race favourites Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).

"Three guys went from the group and I hoped that Van der Poel and Van Aert would close it," Pedersen said of the frantic finale to a race of non-stop action during its second half.

"I managed to jump across and to stay in the last wheel and do my sprint from there. It was the perfect situation for me."

The Dane always tends to thrive in inclement conditions and he admitted he'd enjoyed the showery weather.

"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. But I know how to handle it, so it's ok for me. The weather conditions were good for me," he added.

How it unfolded

The race began under the Menin Gate First World War memorial in Ypres, the riders rolling away to tackle a 232km course of two halves, the first flat and exposed, the second featuring three gravel sections and 11 climbs, including three of the iconic cobbled ascent of the Kemmelberg. 

The action began soon after the official start had been given, seven riders jumping away from the bunch to form the break of the day: Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Alexander Konychev (Mitchelton-Scott), Leonardo Basso (Ineos Grenadiers), Julien Morice (B&B Hotels), Kenny Molly (Bingoal), Gilles De Wilde (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and, in a surprising move, Bahrain McLaren sprinter Mark Cavendish. 

These seven riders pushed their advantage out to eight minutes, at which point van Aert's Jumbo-Visma team began to set a faster pace on the front of the bunch. Under the Dutch team's impetus, the break's lead was cut to less than two minutes coming onto the first of the race's 11 climbs, the Scherpenberg.

The whittling process continued over the next four climbs, the last of them the Kemmelberg. Beyond this key ascent, its cobbles slickened by the rain, the peloton split into three pieces, Van Aert pressing hard at the front of the first section. Van der Poel was quick to respond to his rival's acceleration, the Dutchman's effort so strong that only half a dozen riders initially managed to track him, Van Aert not initially among them, although he soon bridged up.

Passing through the three gravel sections set in between climbs five and six, this group continued to close the gap on the break. With 66km remaining, the two groups joined, the junction producing a lead pack of 26 riders. 

Soon after, nine riders clipped away off the front: Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First), Luke Rowe (Ineos Grenadiers), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r La Mondiale), Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma), Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix), Florian Vermeersch (Lotto-Soudal), plus Pedersen and Trentin. They pushed their lead out to almost a minute as they came onto the second climb of the Kemmelberg.

Here, Van Aert and Van der Poel attacked, their acceleration cutting the break's advantage in half and splitting the chase group. John Degenkolb (Lotto-Soudal), Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida), Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Bettiol and Sénéchal were with them, with Asgreen's teammate Yves Lampaert the last to join the party.

The final time up the Kemmelberg, Trentin and Küng rode clear of the lead group, while van Aert and van der Poel were the main drivers in the second. After Küng had briefly gone clear on his own, a lead group formed that featured the Swiss, Deceuninck's Asgreen, Lampaert and Sénéchal, Lotto's Degenkolb and Vermeersch, EF's Bettiol and Vanmarcke, Jumbo's Van Aert and Teunissen, plus Teuns, Trentin, Rowe, Pedersen and Van der Poel.

A flurry of attacks on the flat roads running towards the finish left Lampaert, Küng, Bettiol, Van der Poel, Degenkolb, Van Aert, Pedersen, Sénéchal and Trentin in contention for victory at the front. Knowing he would have little chance in a sprint, Küng accelerated with 6.5km, Van Aert reeling him in. Bettiol and Lampaert then tried to jump clear, their effort also nullified. The next to try was Van Aert, his solo effort chased down by Van der Poel. 

The action continued in the same vein. Once one attack was brought back, another went immediately in a frantic few kilometres. But no one managed to break the elastic and with 2.5km left to ride the nine contenders were still grouped together. At this point Küng made one final attempt to escape the specialist sprinters around him. 

Once again the Groupama-FDJ rider was thwarted, and as he was reeled in Trentin, Bettiol and Sénéchal burst clear, Pedersen chasing hard for several hundred metres to join the trio. Bettiol opened up the sprint, but it was Pedersen who charged through to win it, claiming his first one-day success since the World ChampionshipS in Yorkshire last year.

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo 5:19:20
2Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-Quickstep
3Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC Team
4Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Pro Cycling 0:00:01
5Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:03
6John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal 0:00:04
7Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep
8Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:00:07
9Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 0:00:08
10Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain McLaren 0:01:40
11Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-Quickstep 0:01:56
12Luke Rowe (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
13Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
14Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R la Mondiale 0:02:04
15Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Bora-Hansgrohe
16Johan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team 0:02:06
17Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Pro Cycling
18Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:02:13
19Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 0:03:02
20Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Circus - Wanty Gobert
21Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb
22Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R la Mondiale
23Amaury Capiot (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
24Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-Up Nation
25Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis
26Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
27Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
28Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA) NTT Pro Cycling
29Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
30Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
31Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
32Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team
33Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
34Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R la Mondiale
35Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama - Fdj
36Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team
37Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
38Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
39Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain McLaren
40Damien Touze (Fra) Cofidis
41Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-Quickstep
42Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 0:03:06
43Rasmus Tiller (Nor) NTT Pro Cycling 0:03:07
44Tom Scully (NZl) EF Pro Cycling 0:03:09
45Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) NTT Pro Cycling
46Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale 0:03:15
47Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
48Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation 0:06:11
49Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
50Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
51Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain McLaren
52Nils Politt (Ger) Israel Start-Up Nation
53Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC Team
54Taco Van der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
55Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
56Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
57Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling
58Julien Vermote (Bel) Cofidis
59Timo Roosen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
60Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
61Samuele Battistella (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling
62Aaron Van Poucke (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
63Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
64Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
65Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
66Georg Zimmermann (Ger) CCC Team
67Juri Hollmann (Ger) Movistar Team
68Michael Schär (Swi) CCC Team
69Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
70Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Movistar Team
71Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep
72Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep
73Niki Terpstra (Ned) Total Direct Energie
74Mark Cavendish (GBr) Bahrain McLaren
75Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
76Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
77Aksel Nõmmela (Est) Bingoal WB
78Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
79Leonardo Basso (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
80Alexander Konychev (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
81Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team
82Kenny Molly (Bel) Bingoal WB
83Christopher Lawless (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
84Bert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
85Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie
86Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo
87Julien Morice (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
88Mathieu Burgaudeau (Fra) Total Direct Energie
89Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
90Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma
91Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Pro Cycling
92Michael Gogl (Aut) NTT Pro Cycling
93Michael Valgren (Den) NTT Pro Cycling
94Julius Van den Berg (Ned) EF Pro Cycling
95Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNFStijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R la Mondiale
DNFLaurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
DNFJonas Castrique (Bel) Bingoal Wb
DNFYevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFNikita Stalnov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFDaniil Fominykh (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNFSean De Bie (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFOwain Doull (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFSonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain McLaren
DNFLionel Taminiaux (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFMarco Haller (Aut) Bahrain McLaren
DNFJonas Van Genechten (Bel) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFDavide Martinelli (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFCaleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
DNFTom Bohli (Swi) UAE Team Emirates
DNFKenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFRui Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
DNFEthan Hayter (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFSam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-Quickstep
DNFGilles De Wilde (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise
DNFCedric Beullens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFLudovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFDorian Godon (Fra) AG2R la Mondiale
DNFChristian Knees (Ger) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFBoy Van Poppel (Ned) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFTimothy Dupont (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
DNFLudwig De Winter (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFTom Wirtgen (Lux) Bingoal WB
DNFMarcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain McLaren
DNFSebastian Mora Vedri (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Circus-Wanty Gobert
DNFAlex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
DNFJérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFFabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
DNFKiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
DNFMickael Delage (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
DNFRyan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo
DNFTravis McCabe (USA) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFGuillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFAlexander Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFAndré Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFJonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Pro Cycling
DNFMark Donovan (GBr) Team Sunweb
DNFMax Kanter (Ger) Team Sunweb
DNFNils Eekhoff (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNFAlberto Dainese (Ita) Team Sunweb
DNFSasha Weemaes (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFNikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb
DNFJack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFItamar Einhorn (Isr) Israel Start-Up Nation
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFPascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFSenne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFDaniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFMaarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNFLukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFFrederik Backaert (Bel) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFJonas Koch (Ger) CCC Team
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFBarnabás Peák (Hun) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFLuca Mozzato (Ita) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept
DNFKaden Groves (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNFDimitri Claeys (Bel) Cofidis
DNFChristophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFAdrien Petit (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFNiccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie
DNFSebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Pro Cycling
DNFIñigo Elosegui Momeñe (Spa) Movistar Team
DNSTobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FDJ
DNSKévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).

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