1 Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal WB 4:36:44
2 Damien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:00:03
3 Luca Mozzato (Ita) B&B Hotels p/b KTM 0:00:05
4 Jordi Meeus (Bel) Bora-Hansgrohe
5 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
6 Jake Stewart (GBr) Groupama-FDJ
7 Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos
8 Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
9 Jhonatan Narvaez Prado (Ecu) Ineos Grenadiers
10 Rudy Barbier (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
Hello and welcomee to our live coverage of the men's 2021 Danilith Nokere Koerse.
The men's race is just getting underway at the moment, while the women's race has under 20km to the finish.
The men will be covering 195km today, with 22 mostly short cobbled sections on the menu, plus numerous hills including five ascents of the cobbled Nokereberg (400m at 5.3 per cent).
The women have had to tackle Nokereberg six times during their 120km race.
🇧🇪 #NokereKoerseAnd they're off for 195 kilometres of racing 💪 Good luck guys 👊 pic.twitter.com/13usYHxuNeMarch 17, 2021
Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM), Jolien D'Hoore (SD Worx), Emma Norsgaard (Movistar), Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo), and Marta Bastianelli (Ale BTC Ljubljana) are all at the women's race.
Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation), Marc Sarreau (AG2R Citroën), Jhonathan Narváez (Ineos Grenadiers), Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ), Max Walscheid (Team DSM), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), and Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix) are in the men's race.
Lisa Klein (Canyon-SRAM), Grace Brown (BikeExchange), and Amy Pieters (SD Worx) are currently out in front at the women's race. Their gap is only 15 seconds inside the final 15 kilometres, though.
In the men's race, there's been a crash in the opening kilometres. Lotto Soudal neo-pro Xandres Vervloesem has been forced to abandon already.
Last lap for the women. 12km to go.
Last lap for Women Elite! #NokereKoerse #Women pic.twitter.com/6fTV4UOXNzMarch 17, 2021
The latest gap reported to the three leaders is reportedly 30 seconds, which is a big increase on the last report.
Now 26 seconds at Herlegemstraat with 9km to race. It's still Brown, Pieters and Klein out front.
The teams in the women's peloton are struggling to work together in these final kilometres. 7km to go and the gap is 35 seconds.
30 seconds for Klein, Brown and Pieters as they hit the final 5km.
It should be a sprint between the leading trio now. 26 seconds at 3km to go.
Here's a look at the pileup from near the start of the men's race.
Amy Pieters (SD Worx) takes it in a three-up sprint! Brown second and Klein third.
21 seconds later, Lotte Kopecky (Lotto Soudal) leads the peloton home in fourth.
Amy Pieters won Women Elite Danilith Nokere Koerse! #NokereKoerse #Women pic.twitter.com/nz4Rqg4HylMarch 17, 2021
Dutchwoman beats Grace Brown and Lisa Klein in three-up sprint
Back in the men's race and they've covered 47 kilometres in the first hour. No moves have made it away yet. A group of around 20 have been dropped in the bad weather, though.
It's windy and raining out on course. Not the best conditions.
145km to go
It's a hard day out there. Still no breakaway.
The race often sees a sprinter win from a reduced peloton (13, 28, 65 in the last three editions), with Cees Bol, Fabio Jakobsen and Nacer Bouhanni winning the race recently.
The weather could make it an even harder race today, but here's a list of the top sprinters taking part in any case:
Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Fenix), Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo), Marc Sarreau (Groupama-FDJ), Jordi Meeus, Martin Laas (Bora-Hansgrohe), Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers), Amaury Capiot (Arkéa-Samsic), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Rudy Barbier (Israel Start-Up Nation), Timothy Dupont (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles) Eduard-Michael Grosu (Delko)
Jannik Steimle and Jacob Egholm out on the course today.
Anthony Julien (AG2R-Citroën), Sébastian Grignard (Lotto-Soudal), Thibault Ferasse (B&B Hotels p/b KTM), Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF), Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles) and Ward Vanhoof (Sport Flanders-Baloise) have gone on the attack and got a gap. A breakaway, finally?
Damien Gaudin (Total Direct Énergie), Aaron Van Poucke (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise) and Yiber Sefa (Tarteletto-Isorex) chase.
Riders trying to chase back to the peloton during that very fast start to the race.
There's a minute between the lead group and the peloton, while the chasers are bang in between at around 30 seconds.
The break is settled as Anthony Julien (AG2R-Citroën), Sébastian Grignard (Lotto-Soudal), Thibault Ferasse (B&B Hotels p/b KTM), Samuele Zoccarato (Bardiani-CSF), Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles), Aaron Van Poucke, Ward Vanhoof (Sport Flanders-Baloise), Damien Gaudin (Total Direct Énergie) are away with two minutes in hand.
Albanian national champion Sefa was the man who missed out when the two breakaway groups merged. He's still chasing, though.
It's taken a while but here's a winner's shot from the women's race earlier on.
120km to go
Sefa is caught by the peloton.
The gap to the front is currently up to four minutes.
The final podium of the women's race.
95km to go
The gap to the peloton is 3:15 at the moment. Still the same riders out front.
The riders are just passing the finish line to complete the first of four laps of the finishing circuit. Five cobbled sectors and two climbs – including the closing Nokereberg – on the circuit.
It's still wet, cold, and windy out on the course. The break is full of muddy faced riders.
Norwegian team Uno-X controls the front of the peloton at the moment.
86km to go
Three minutes between the eight leaders and the slimmed-down peloton.
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The gap to the break hangs around the 3:05 to 3:20 mark at the moment. There's no rush to bring them back from the peloton.
The break hits the Lange Ast cobbled section, another tough uphill challenge.
The pace in the peloton has gone up a little after that cobbled sector – they're lined out as they pass through a town, and the gap is down to 2:45.
68km to go
Uno-X continue to lead the way. A Qhubeka Assos was up front briefly, too, but overshot a corner and dropped back.
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Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates) is tailed off the rear of the peloton on a cobbled sector as Owain Doull (Ineos Grenadiers) and a Bardiani-CSF rider hit the deck on the left-hand side of the road.
Doull is staggering about in some pain – he's torn the left-hand side of his jersey and bib shorts and is checked over by the race medics.
63km to go
A decent-sized group is out the rear of the peloton – it's more like a split with maybe 30-40 riders in each group now.
Back up the Nokereberg and through the finish once again.
59km to go
2:10 between break and peloton now.
Jelle Wallays (Cofidis) jumps from the peloton briefly but doesn't get anywhere. He gets a bottle from the side of the road before rejoining the peloton.
DSM's American youngster Kevin Vermarke is struggling at the rear of the peloton.
50km to go
Into the final 50km of the day we go, with Uno-X still commanding the peloton with a couple of riders. Qhubeka Assos and Deceuninck-QuickStep are also present. The gap is 2:25 now.
A shot of the peloton on this grim day out.
The gap is only going up at the moment. It's 2:40 now.
UAE Team Emirates and Rally Cycling move towards the front of the peloton.
And now Groupama-FDJ take control. Their man Jake Stewart will be among the favourites today.
A bit of an upping of the pace in the peloton as they string out on a downhill. Uno-X, Alpecin-Fenix, Israel Start-Up Nation all represented. They're still 2:15 down.
Dry roads on this section of the circuit.
The eight men out front are still up there, by the way. There haven't been an moves or anyone dropping.
Not a thriller so far.
Crash in the peloton on the narrow road. Everyone is back up and running. Martin Laas (Bora-Hansgrohe) probably the most notable name there.
Splits up front in the peloton. A small group of around 12 riders is away, with Mark Cavendish involved.
35km to go
Finally, an upping of pace in the peloton as they get going on the cobbles leading into the Nokereberg. The gap is down to 1:25.
Qhubeka Assos push on at the front. The peloton has disintegrated into groups of around 10-15 riders, with the first three groups a couple of seconds apart.
32km to go
Now the front two groups merge and there are around 30-35 men leading. One minute up to the breakaway.
A chasing group of around 15 riders are trying to get to the front.
30km to go
Another pass through the finish line for the break. One lap to go.
The peloton passes through a minute down with the chasers 1:10 back.
Stewart is in the chase group but most of the big names are in the main group.
Alpecin-Fenix, AG2R, Uno-X, Delko all represented at the front of what is left of the peloton.
25km to go
More riders are making their way back to the peloton. There's been no change in the situation though, with the peloton not exactly pushing hard. The gap remains at 1:20.
Now Bora-Hansgrohe and Alpecin-Fenix make a small push on.
More moves at the front follow, and the peloton is strung out.
20km to go
The pace has gone back down again after that brief burst. The gap remains at 1:15.
Neo-pro Zaccarato pushes on in the break.
The break remains together, though.
Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) makes a small push on the front of the peloton but doesn't commit. Alpecin-Fenix take over on the front.
Uno-X are back on the front, too.
The peloton is much larger than before now. They're a minute down as they head towards another cobbled sector. Marcato is out the back again, this time with a puncture.
15km to go
Qhubeka Assos and ISN push on at the front of the peloton and the pace goes up. Groupama-FDJ are also up there.
After that acceleration, the gap has come down to 35 seconds very quickly.
12km to go
Another cobbled section and Robeet attacks the break.
Gaudin is the only man who goes with him as the rest of the break is caught by Sep Vanmarcke.
10km to go
Vanmarcke has a small gap on the peloton, but he's not really getting away.
Still Robeet and Gaudin push on 20 seconds up.
And now Vanmarcke is caught.
Zaccarato still hangs between the leader and the peloton as a couple of riders hit out.
8km to go
The peloton split up again on that cobbled sector. Cavendish is in the second group.
27 seconds from the leaders to the peloton.
Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers) got away from the peloton and joined a couple of breakaway stragglers in the gap.
Hayter and Luca Mozzato (B&B Hotels) sweep up Zaccarato but they're just 15 seconds up on the peloton. Robeet and Gaudin are 20 seconds up the road as they hit another cobbled section.
6km to go
Cavendish crashes out of the peloton! He waits for riders to pass around him before getting up but he looks OK.
A bike change for Cavendish as his team car reaches him. He'll get back up and running but won't get back on in time for the finish.
4.5km to go
Hayter, Mozzato and Zaccarato are 15 seconds behind the leaders. The peloton has split up again behind.
Another Deceuninck-QuickStep on the deck. He stays down and it doesn't look good. The camera quickly cuts away.
4km to go
Hayter group is caught, now just 15 seconds for Robeet and Gaudin...
3km to go
Hayter's group is still out there actually. Just a few seconds up on the peloton.
Up front, Robeet pushes on and drops Gaudin.
We're not sure who the second QuickStep crasher was, but it wasn't Cavendish.
1km to go
Robeet passes the flamme rouge a couple of seconds up on Gaudin.
Gaudin won't make the catch. The peloton isn't close either.
Robeet has this in the bag!
Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles) wins Nokere Koerse!
Timothy Dupont, a teammate of Robeet's, crashes in the peloton just metres before the line.
They cross the line six seconds down, just behind Gaudin who took second.
The peloton really made a mess of that. Little co-ordination or energy in the chase for a long time and you can't say they deserved to take that.
Great win for Robeet and a big effort from Gaudin to take second, too.
It's the second victory of 26-year-old Robeet's career. He also won stage 4 of the Settimana Coppi e Bartali in 2019.
A look at the two heroes of the day.
It looks like B&B's Mozzato beat Meeus into third place.
Cavendish is crossing the finish line now. He looks fine after his crash.
His compatriot Jake Stewart took sixth place today.
Here's what Robeet had to say after his win:
"A win is a win. I'm happy. Normally I always work for the sprinters but today I was in the breakaway. I never get the chance to go for the win and today was something different. I'm really happy.
"In the last lap i felt really good, like I should try. we still had a bit of a gap, so I tried and succeeded. I love this weather. It suits me.
"I was on Gaudin's wheel and it was relatively easy. I knew that I had to finish this on my own. It was amazing to be at the front and at the two-kilometre mark I knew that I could win. I did it before in Coppi e Bartali."
And the riders go through the COVID-secure podium ceremony. Robeet, Gaudin and Mozzato on the podium. A nice golden cyclist trophy for the Belgian.
Het Nieuwsblad report that Deceuninck-QuickStep's Jannik Steimle has been taken to hospital after crashing late in today's race. Story to come.
German reportedly taken to hospital after accident late in race
Our full report and results for the race are up now. Click here to read.
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