Wout van Aert wins Gent-Wevelgem

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) claimed his first classic of the season at Gent-Wevelgem from a seven-man sprint.

The Belgian was the quickest in a small group that was nevertheless made up of quality sprinters, with Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Assos) taking second and Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) third.

The seven riders had all been part of a group of around 20 riders that broke clear in windy conditions during the first half of the race.

After working well together, that group was reduced to nine on the second ascent of the Kemmelberg, featuring Van Aert, Nizzolo, Trentin, Michael Matthews (BikeExchange), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert) and Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma). 

The dangerous sprint of Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was taken out of contention during the flat run-in to the finish, when he appeared to be struck by a bout of illness. 

With Van Poppel also dropped, that left the seven remaining riders to contest the sprint at the finish, which, despite the calibre of sprinter in the group, was comfortably won by Van Aert by a bike-length. 

Van Aert was pleased to make this early split, but expressed at the finish how much work was required to keep them from being caught.

"It was a sprint at high speed, we had a tailwind all the way back from the Kemmelberg and we were able to launch early enough. Everything went perfect and nobody came past.

“As it was only a group of about 20 guys, we still had to do a lot of turns. It was a whole day in the crosswinds, they never stopped actually. It was a massive effort, but definitely worth it.”

Although the likes of Deceuninck-QuickStep and AG2R Citroën made efforts to get back into contention throughout the day, their star riders like Zdenek Štybar, Yves Lampaert, Greg Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen all never recovered after missing out on the initial split. 

How it unfolded

The 83rd Gent-Wevelgem got under way without Trek-Segafredo and Bora-Hansgrohe, both of which had to pull out due to Covid-19 positives.

The 247km race began formulaically enough, with Stefan Bisseger, Jonas Rutsch (both EF Education Nippo), Yevgeniy Federov (Astana-Premier Tech), and Laurenz Rex (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB) forming the first break of the day.

However, things burst into life when a strong cross-tail wind ripped the race to pieces, and 21 riders went clear from the rest of the peloton.

The group included Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), Jack Bauer (BikeExchange), Luka Mezgec (BikeExchange), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange), Robert Stannard (BikeExchange), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Luis Mas (Movistar), Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Assos), Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Michal Golas (Ineos), Timothy Dupont (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles), Jeremy Lecroq (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) and Cyril Lemoine (B&B Hotels).

They closed the seven-minute gap to the four earlier escapees, to form a new lead group of 25 riders.

The beginning of the climbs halfway into the race offered a springboard for riders in the second group to bridge up to the first, and on the Baneberg, Zdenek Stybar, Davide Ballerini (both Deceuninck-QuickStep), Luke Durbridge (BikeExchange) and Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix) attempted to do so.

After the first ascent of the Kemmelberg, Stybar, Durbridge and Riesebeek were joined by Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Søren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM), Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R Citroën), to form a new chasing group of seven riders. 

These seven were caught by about a dozen more riders 76km from the finish, including Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën), and continued to get bigger as more riders such as John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) caught back on. 

Despite its bigger size, these chasers began to lose ground on the leaders, with the deficit up to over one minute by the start of the Plugstreets. 

The work from teams like AG2R Citroën, Qhubeka Assos and Groupama-FDJ shed many of the weaker riders from the chasing group on the approach to the second ascent of the Kemmelberg, but they were still unable to make any inroads to the lead group, which was working together cohesively. 

On the Kemmelberg, the pace set by Van Aert reduced the lead group to just nine riders: Bennett, Matthews, Trentin, Colbrelli, Küng, Nizzolo, Van Poppel and Van Hooydonck. They pressed on, and by the time they returned to the Kemmelberg for the third and final ascent 36km from the finish, had a lead of one minute over the nearest chasing group.

Trentin set the pace on the Kemmelberg this time, but the nine-man group remained intact. 

Bennett did especially well to keep up with these classics specialists on such a difficult climb, but the effort clearly took a lot out of him, and he was even caught on camera vomiting shortly after cresting it.

As they continued to work together, and the gap remained steady at around one minute, it became increasingly likely that the chasers behind were not going to catch them.  

The first attack among the leaders came from Van Hooydonck with 16km to go. His acceleration had the effect of dropping Van Poppel and, crucial, Bennett, who was still struggling from whatever had ailed him earlier. 

With so many strong sprinters among the remaining seven riders, there were no more attacks until 2km, when Küng made a move.

Küng was unable to get a gap, however, and had to resort instead to leading out the sprint. Van Aert passed him on the right-hand side 150 metres from the line, and no-one else could get near the Belgian as he sprinted to victory. 

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Full Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 5:45:11
2Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos 0
3Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0
4Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0
5Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0
6Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
7Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:03
8Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:52
9Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:00:54
10Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:01:25
11Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
12Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
13Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
14Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
15Jack Bauer (NZl) Team BikeExchange
16Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team 0:01:27
17Owain Doull (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:52
18Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:56
19Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie 0:01:57
20Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
21Michal Golas (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers 0:02:00
22Cyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
23Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
24Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
25Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:02:04
26Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:02:22
27John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
28Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
29Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
30Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
31Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
32Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeExchange
33Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
34Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
35Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM 0:03:19
36Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:04:18
37Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
38Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
39Ryan Gibbons (RSA) UAE Team Emirates
40Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
41Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange
42Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB
43Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
44Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
45Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
46Maarten Wynants (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
47Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
48Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
49Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
50Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo
51Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
52Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
53Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
54Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:04:34
55Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:04:40
56Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-Nippo 0:08:36
57Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
58Adrien Petit (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:11:24
59Niki Terpstra (Ned) Total Direct Energie
60Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal WB
61Artyom Zakharov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
62Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
63Thimo Willems (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
64Juri Hollmann (Ger) Movistar Team
65Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
66Andreas Stokbro NIELSEN
67Rick Zabel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
68Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
69Johan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team
70Cedric Beullens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
71Emil Vinjebo (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos
72Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
73Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
74Leonardo Basso (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
75Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix
76Kenny Molly (Bel) Bingoal WB
77Bert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
78Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
79Jos van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
80Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
81Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM
82Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
83Stijn Steels (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
84Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
85Jonas Castrique (Bel) Bingoal WB
86Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Cofidis
87Benjamin Perry (Can) Astana-Premier Tech
88Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team
89Andrey Amador (CRc) Ineos Grenadiers
90Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:11:30
DNFSep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFMads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFAndré Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFEdvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Total Direct Energie
DNFFlorian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFLoïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFAndrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFTaco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFKenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis
DNFDamien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNFStan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFEdoardo Affini (Ita) Jumbo-Visma
DNFDamien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFGeoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
DNFJulien Duval (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFChristophe Noppe (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFJasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFAlexis Renard (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
DNFPhilippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNFBram Welten (Ned) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFGijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
DNFSebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education-Nippo
DNFJasha Sütterlin (Ger) Team DSM
DNFCees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
DNFMarco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious
DNFMichael Gogl (Aut) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNFPiet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
DNFJonas Van Genechten (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
DNFMaximiliano Richeze (Arg) UAE Team Emirates
DNFIvo Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
DNFAlberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo
DNFJens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-Nippo
DNFCasper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM
DNFDaniel Arroyave Cañas (Col) EF Education-Nippo
DNFJulien Morice (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
DNFKévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
DNFRamon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ
DNFCameron Wurf (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
DNFArne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFFabio Van Den Bossche (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFLindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNFScott Thwaites (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix
DNFJelle Vanendert (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFLaurenz Rex (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFLudovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNFFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) EF Education-Nippo
DNFJelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis
DNFYevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
DNFYevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
DNFHugo Houle (Can) Astana-Premier Tech
DNFAndré Carvalho (Por) Cofidis
DNFLukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNFNiklas Märkl (Ger) Team DSM
DNFJonathan Milan (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
DNFAlex Edmondson (Aus) Team BikeExchange
DNFClément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFNico Denz (Ger) Team DSM
DNFSebastian Mora Vedri (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFAmaury Capiot (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFBenjamin Declercq (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNFFred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious
DNFGabriel Cullaigh (GBr) Movistar Team
DNFAmund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team BikeExchange
DNFPhil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
DNFLuka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
DNSJasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
DNSMads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
DNSKoen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
DNSMichael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNSQuinn Simmons (USA) Trek-Segafredo
DNSEdward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
DNSRyan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo
DNSKiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
DNSMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNSDaniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNSMarcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNSPascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNSNils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNSMikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates
DNSRüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe

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