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Tour of Flanders 2016


Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 100th edition of the Tour of Flanders. It's the second monument of the season, one of the biggest days on the cycling calendar and we'll have every inch of it covered right here. 


Good morning, and a warm welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Tour of Flanders. The Ronde van Vlaanderen in Flemish speak, and a special one too - it's the 100th edition of this iconic race through the fields, up the hills, and over the cobbles of the Flanders region.

Excitement is building at the start town in Bruges. Words can't do justice to the place this race holds in the hearts and minds of Belgium - in particular those from the Flanders region.

Wanty-Groupe Gobert riders have just taken to the stage where they have observed a minute's silence in honour of Antoine Demoitié, their rider who tragically lost his life last week after a crash at Gent-Wevelgem. 

And now it's Team Sky who sign on and two of their star men are called up onto the stage - Geraint Thomas and Michal Kwiatkowski.

The world champion Peter Sagan looking relaxed as ever...

Tiesj Benoot takes the stage now to a rapturous ovation from his home crowd. This young man carries the hopes of many in Belgium as the nation's next Classics star, thanks mainly to his fifth place on his Flanders debut last year. 

Now for one of the titans of this race, of the sport as a whole. Fabian Cancellara, and his last ever Tour of Flanders. 

Another titan of the Classics and another three-time De Ronde winner, Tom Boonen. 

And they're off! The riders roll out of Bruges for the neutral start and the 100th edition of the Tour of Flanders is underway. 

The neutral zone is 8km long and takes the riders to Loppem where the flag will drop and racing will begin in earnest. 

“A win in Flanders – why not?" says perennial nearly-man Sep Vanmarcke. "I’m feelling fresh. A bit of pressure is normal. I’ve still got many more chances in the coming years. If I can win it now I will not hesitate though.”

So this is what the riders are facing: 255 kilometres, 18 hellingen (climbs - some cobbled), 7 kasseien (cobbled sectors).

The flag has dropped and the race proper is underway. The riders will head out towards the finishing town of Oudenaarde and after that the parcours will really begin to shake up the race.

Lots of interest in getting into the day's break, naturally. Nothing sticking just yet but it's fast and furious out there. 

There are four former winners out there today: Fabian Cancellara and Stijn Devolder (Trek-Segafredo), Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep), and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha). 

The Women's Tour of Flanders is just about to kick off now. We'll keep you posted with the key events in that race.

Two of the big pre-race favourites before the start. Greg Van Avermaet on the left, winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Alexander Kristoff, reigning Ronde champion, on the right. Both will surely play a key part today.

Yesterday we spoke to Edvald Boasson Hagen, who's had a promising start to the season, with expectations rising once again ahead of the Classics. He told us he feels he is just behind the top favourites here at Flanders. 

230km remaining from 255km

The speed is still high in the bunch as a proper breakaway is yet to be formed.

"It took many years... Then suddenly, in 2010, I was just always up there. It was a late love, but a lasting one."

209km remaining from 255km

Milan-San Remo winner Arnaud Demare (FDJ) said this morning he was hoping for a top-5 finish.

The peloton are making their way through Dentergem in West Flanders. A group including Kenny Dehaes and Gatis Smukulis forged clear with around 10 seconds but have been brought back. 

In slightly uglier news, British newspaper the Sunday Times ran another doping investigation story today, in which a doctor is alleged to have doped 150 professional sportspeople, including British Tour de France riders. 

The thousands of fans at the side of the roads, the flowing Belgian beer and the party atmosphere speak for themselves, but if further indication was needed as to the importance here of De Ronde, Belgian vice prime minister Kris Peeters is on a race motorbike today working as an ardoisier. Love it.

This is a crazy start to the race. About 40 riders gathered in the bunch and behind them it's strung out into a line. Well into the race now and there's still no sign of anything sticking.

As I say that, Luke Postlberger of Bora-Argon 18 goes clear and is joined by a few more riders. Let's see if this one sticks.


Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief as this break establishes itself and the race settles into a calmer and more familiar pattern. Not long now, though, until the cobbles and climbs begin.

Each and every Lampre-Merida rider is using disc brakes today, with the Italian team making history in the process. Below is our report and pictures from Bruges.

The riders pass over the first cobblestones of the 2016 Tour of Flanders. It's the 1600-metre Huisepontweg and the breakaway riders cover it with a lead of around 1:30.

As we head through the finishing town of Oudenaarde, Kenny Dehaes is stubbornly refusing to take no for an answer. Having tried to break away earlier on in the race, he missed the boat for the crucial move and is desperately trying to counter. He went clear with Roy Curvers but was brought back, and now he's gone again in the hope of bridging across. 

The gap back to the bunch is now over four minutes as Cancellara drops back to his team car behind a bunch that is now happy to roll along. 

De Haes is 1:45 down on the leading group. Wanty-Groupe Gobert will have wanted to get into the breakaway today - they always would ordinarily but perhaps especially today as a tribute to the late Antoine Demoitié.

Rafal Matzka (Bora-Argon 18) has abandoned at the first feed zone in Melden. 

Onto the Oude Kwaremont!

The peloton is strung out as they tackle this narrow climb, but it's relatively contained in there at the moment.

No fierce injections of pace but that doesn't mean riders aren't struggling to hold on at the back. These climbs will really take their toll as the day goes on. 

There was more security at the start in Bruges this morning, compared to previous years. It's the same, too, by the side of the Kwaremont, where the big hospitality tents are located. Away from the VIP buffet and pressed up against the barriers right by the roadside are crowds at least 10 people deep. Great to see. 

Dehaes is dangling out in no-man's land at the moment. He has slipped back to 2:30 on the Kwaremont and it's looking like a brutal one for the Belgian.

Mechanical for Kwiatkowski. We're over the Kwaremont but the next climb comes very soon. 

Crash. These accidents are commonplace in races like these and several riders come down on a flat tarmac section of road. 

Arnaud Demare (FDJ) is down, ripped jersey, with a teammate too. They're standing up but aren't yet back on their bikes. Geraint Thomas went down but is back on. 

The crash occurred at the front of the bunch and it looks like Demare took a blow to the head as he went down. He's still not on his bike - this could be race a devastating blow to the hopes of the Milan-San Remo winner. 

I think Sep Vanmarcke also went down in that crash. Either way, there's something wrong with his bike and he's stranded at the side of the road. The Tinkoff car kindly stops but nothing can be done. Finally, he the LottoNL-Jumbo car arrives and he gets a new bike.

Vanmarcke has two teammates here and so begins the chase back on. 

Onto the second climb of the day now for the bunch. It's the Kortekeer with maximum gradients of 17% and Tinkoff are up there at the front in numbers, with Peter Sagan well shielded. 

Footage of that Demare crash can be found in this tweet:

Mark Renshaw peels off the course - is his day done? Edvald Boasson Hagen now stands at the side of the road with a mechanical. Not a good few minutes for Dimension Data. 

Onto the Eikenberg they go, the third climb of the day. It's cobbled, narrow, 1200 metres long, with a maximum gradient of 10%. The pace in the bunch is high as they hit it.

Confirmed: Arnaud Demare (FDJ) has abandoned the race.

Lieuwe Westra (Astana) takes the bunch over the Eikenberg, where mechanics and soigneurs await at the top with wheels and bottles. Meanwhile, the breakaway riders hit the Wolvenburg up ahead with a lead of 4:15.

Another big crash in the bunch between the climbs.

Lots of riders down or held up. One Lotto Soudal man and one from Direct Energie are on the ground, along with one from Topsport. 

We're still waiting on the names of those riders that are down. It looks like the end of the day for a BMC rider, too. 

The race goes on and Kenny Dehaes has finally been caught by the bunch, his attempts to bridge to the break ending in failure. Still, a valiant effort. 

We believe the Lotto Soudal rider was Tiesj Benoot, 22 years old and fifth on his Flanders debut last year. What a cruel blow. 

Etixx-QuickStep now dominate on the front of the bunch as we hit more cobbles. 

Here's our report from the start line in Bruges this morning, with quotes, insight, and photos. 

Tiesj Benoot is out of the race and has been taken away in an ambulance. (photo from @Hermantk)

What a race this has been so far, it has already been so gruelling. And it's showing in the bunch, which is quite reduced at the moment. Behind the long line of riders, Jasper Stuyven, a key man for Cancellara, has just regained contact after chasing back on behind the cars. 

Etixx-QuickStep driving it at the moment. Still 120km to go but the pace is really high and the peloton is strung out into one big line. 

Madness. In the chaos caused by that last crash, a mechanic was run over by a car. We're not kidding...

Onto the Molenberg for the bunch! A short one, but devilishly steep. 

The riders makes their way through the fields and the pace of Etixx-QuickStep has created a split in the bunch. 

There's only about 25 riders in this front group. Etixx and Sky with numbers in there. The rest of the bunch is strung out behind, with riders desperately trying to close the gap. 

The ferocious pace and action in the bunch has caused the gap to the break to tumble - it's coming down to one minute now. Still 113 kilometres to go. 

The Paddestraat cobbles are up now, the parcours not letting up. Team Sky lead the bunch, going down the slightly smoother ground at the side of the road. 

Confirmed: the BMC rider that came down in the Benoot crash was Marcus Burghardt. Like the Belgian, he has been taken to hospital. 

Three Trek-Segafredo riders lead the second peloton, including Stuyven, as they try desperately to make it over the Cancellara, who is safely in the front peloton. 

We're coming up to the famous Haaghoek sector of cobbles, and it precedes three climbs in the space of 10km. 

The pace eases in the bunch as a couple of attacks go. That allows the Trek riders to drag this back together. The groups rejoin but what an effort that was to do so, and that will surely have taken its toll. 

And immediately another mechanical for Stuyven! And again for Vanmarcke. 

Another crash and it's a bad one, high-speed. 

Four BMC riders taken out. Greg Van Avermaet is down and hurt. 

Van Avermaet, smashes his helmet to the ground and puts his head in his hands, in tears. What a devastating blow for the Belgian, who was come close to winning Flanders so many times and who was in such good form coming into the race. 

A BMC rider bumped into an Astana man, causing the crash and bringing them all down. Schar and Quinziato also taken out for BMC. It looks like race over for the American team. Van Avermaet will almost certainly abandon.  

The riders go past the 100km to go banner. Etixx take it up once more, with the gap to the break at 1:10.

Confirmed: Van Avermaet and Schar have abandoned the race. 

Onto this next series of climbs and it's Tony Martin who leads onto the Leberg. 

André Greipel attacks. Lotto Soudal have lost Benoot but they're clearly still interested in igniting the race. 

Nils Pollit has dragged compatriot Nils Politt (Katusha) with him, and the duo have around 10 seconds on the peloton. 

Up ahead the breakaway is breaking up, with four of the riders now dropping away. Erviti and Van Hoecke are the last two men standing out front. 

Here's our report on Van Avermaet's crash - and those of Benoot and Demare. 

The leading duo hit the Valkenburg, 540 metres long maxing out at 12.8%. They only have just over 30 seconds over the bunch. 

The leading duo hit the Valkenburg, 540 metres long maxing out at 12.8%. They only have just over 1:30 over the bunch. 

A Tinkoff rider has a dig from the peloton. He's marked by Etixx but it's all contributing to the softening up process. 

Just over 15km remain in the Women's Tour of Flanders. Lizzie Armitstead up at the front of the race. 

Another attack now as Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana) and Dimitri Claeys (Wanty) go clear of the bunch. 

79km remaining from 255km

Former breakaway rider Houle has latched onto Greipel and Politt and they're closing in on the two leaders. 

The bridge is made at the front of the race and there are now five riders out front as they make their way onto the 9th climb of the day: the Kaperij. 

Into the crucial phase of the women's race and Lizzie Armitstead and Emma Johanssen have a gap on the Paterberg. 

Lars Boom pulls to the side of the road to get a new rear wheel.

Claeys and Gruzdev make the bridge now, so we have seven riders out front, with 1:30 over the peloton. Simple, for now. 

The peloton hit the feed zone between Flobecq and Ellezelles. They'll need that sustenance ahead of the most crucial phase of the race, which begins at the -55km mark with the second ascent of the Kwaremont. 

Women's race: Final 5km and Armitstead and Johansson have 20 seconds on the peloton. 

Kanarieberg is the next climb for the men's race and Etixx, Trek, and Orica all have men tapping it out at the front. Nothing silly at this moment in time, with riders still taking on drinks and gels. 

Women's race: the two leaders go under the flamme rouge with a lead of 10 seconds. They still have to work here. 

Women's race: Armitstead is in the lead, Johansson sitting tight on the wheel. 

Women's race: There's a group of six closing in on them. Who's going to open the sprint?

Women's race: Photo finish! Johansson jumps first and it's a long two-up sprint. I think Armitstead edged it. 

Lizzie Armitstead wins the Women's Tour of Flanders. 

Women's race: Armistead had just that bit more than Johansson in the sprint, and she adds to her wins at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, and the Trofeo Alfredo Binda. The Boels-Dolmans domination of the Women's WorldTour goes on...

We'll have a report from the women's race up on the site very shortly, but now back to the men's race. 

64km remaining from 255km

Who is going to strike out for glory today? 

57km remaining from 255km

90-degree right hand bend sees several riders lose momentum. It's frantic in there now. 

Have a read of our report from the women's race:

The leading group hit the cobbled section of the Kwaremont, and their advantage has been reduced to less than 2 minutes. 

The bunch hits the cobbled section, Lotto, Katusha on the front with Edvald Boasson Hagen up there on the left hand side. 

Lotto were just tapping it out there - they have Greipel up the road after all - and Etixx-QuickStep weren't happy with that. Stijn Vandenbergh puts in a real injection of pace now. 

Vandenbergh has a gap, and he has a Cannondale rider for company. The other teams behind look at each other and no immediate action is taken...

No initial response in the bunch but counter attacks now going in the gap between the Kwaremont and the Paterberg. 

The leaders hit the gruelling gradients of the Paterberg.

Vandenbergh and Langeveld crest the Paterberg and they're followed by this thinning bunch about 15-20 seconds later. 

This is what these climbs do: the back of the bunch is coming over the top almost a minute down on those at the front. So important to be well positioned. The riders are strung out into a single file line as the road flattens out once more. 

Next up: Koppenberg. 600m with maximum gradient of 22%.

50-60 riders now in the bunch, many riders distanced. 

The leading group, which includes Greipel, now has less than a minute. 

Correction: It's Dylan van Baarle who's with Vandenbergh.

Greipel attacks from the lead group. The German takes a lead onto the Koppenberg.

Greipel animated last year's Tour of Flanders, and he's in the same mood again today. 

Vandenbergh and van Baarle hit the Koppenberg and it's the former who looks the stronger.

The race is well and truly on in this main group, and it's splitting up now as they hit the Koppenberg. Cancellara and Sagan were up there close to each other, Boasson Hagen too. 

We have a back-up at the rear end of that group as many riders are forced to unclip and put there foot down. These climbs are predictably wreaking havoc on this bunch.

We've had a junction at the head of the race, with Vandenbergh and Van Baarle linking up with the leaders. 

Ian Stannard (Team Sky) is one of the riders who made a move in among that action in the group of favourites. Team Sky have options for this race, and this could be a good move from the two-time Het Nieuwsblad winner. 

Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) puts in an attack on the Steenbeekdries.

There are a few groups now forming on the road as things really get chaotic and the leaders hit the famous Taaienberg. Aka Boonenberg

A group has formed with Vanmarcke, De Vreese, Keukeleire, Stybar, Devolder and Gatto.

Behind them, the main group - though it only contains around 20 riders - is forging on with Cancellara, Sagan, Thomas, Kwiatkowski, Boonen.

Stannard links up with former leaders Politt and Van Hoecke. They're unable to offer much as the Sky man furiously pushes the pedals round in pursuit of the head of the race. 

Regroupement in the groups behind the leaders. Kwiatkowski now goes with Sagan.

They've made this happen. It's the two men who contested E3 Harelbeke and they've been joined by Vanmarcke. They have a clear lead of several seconds. 

Panic now as the other riders realise the last two world champions and a Flandrien are up the road. This a key move and no one wants to miss out. 

Onto the Kruisberg for the leaders. 450 metres with an average of 9%

Reigning champion Alexander Kristoff is in the group of favourites behind the trio of Sagan, Kwiatkowski, and Vanmarcke. 

Sagan, Kwiatkowski and Vanmarcke are now 30 seconds behind the leaders and that gap is closing fast. They have 30 seconds themselves over the chasers behind. 

It's Trek-Segafredo who are chasing here through Stijn Devolder. The Belgian, though, tires and falls away. Astana take it up now. 

Etixx-QuickStep have numbers in that main group but aren't contributing to the chase. They do have Vandenbergh up the road. 

34km remaining from 255km

How will this one play out? Does the main group have enough firepower, enough willing members, to close this down?

Greipel finds himself at the head of the race as the strongest sprinter in there...

Katusha are now contributing to the chase. Kristoff must be feeling concerned.

There are about 25 riders in this main chase group. They've brought the gap down to 27 seconds. With the Kwaremont-Paterberg combo to come, they need to bring this one down. 

The lead group come into Kwaremont and they'll soon hit the climb for the final time. Surely we'll see some more attacks in this lead group. 

Sagan leads onto the climb. Max gradient 11%

Greipel is dropped. Vanmarcke on Sagan's wheel, Claeys behind. Kwiatkowski gapped. 

Cancellara makes the bridge!

This is amazing from Cancellara. They whittled down the gap on the approach to the climb and the Swiss rider then put on the burners. He has passed Kwiatkowski. The other chasers also bridge across. 

Sagan and Vanmarcke have established an advantage. 

Cancellara is the third man on the road in pursuit. 

Off the Kwaremont now. Sagan takes a drink and thinks about the Paterberg. Cancellara is hot on the heels. 

Vandenbergh and Terpstra have formed a group behind Cancellara with Erviti and Claeys. 

Vandenbergh drops away but he's delivered Terpstra to Cancellara

What can Cancellara do on the Paterberg? If his display on the Kwaremont is anything to go by, Sagan and Vanmarcke should be worried. 

Sagan leads the race onto the Paterberg. The last climb of the day but gradients of 20%

Vanmarcke comes to the front now. They have 18 seconds on Cancellara and Terpstra.

Sagan gets a gap with a seated acceleration!

Vanmarcke cracking. 

Terpstra has also cracked. Cancellara comes up to Vanmarcke just at the top of the climb

12km remaining from 255km

Sagan folds his arms over his handlebars. He just has to get his head down and give this everything. How well can Cancellara and Vanmarcke work together?

Cancellara is leading the chase here. Vanmarcke looks like he's suffering but he's holding the wheel for now.

Is this too far for Sagan? It depends how fresh the duo behind are. And right now Vanmarcke doesn't look good - is he bluffing? Either way, Cancellara comes through and it's him against Sagan as it stands. 

The remnants of the main group is a minute behind Sagan, 45 seconds behind Cancellara and Vanmarcke. 

There is a chase group behind with Kristoff, Thomas, Rowe, Boom, Terpstra and others. 

6km remaining from 255km

Sagan would ordinarily win a sprint against Cancellara and Vanmarcke - but he's still trying to do this solo with 5.5km to go. 

Could both the men's and women's world champions win the Tour of Flanders in the rainbow bands on the same day? It's looking likely. 

3km remaining from 255km

25 seconds now with less than 2km to go. He's going to do it. 

25 seconds behind Cancellara and Vanmarcke are Thomas, Kristoff and others, but it looks like the podium is settled. 

1km remaining from 255km

Peter Sagan wins the Tour of Flanders

The world champ sits up, raises his arms, and whips up the crowd as he soaks up the victory.

Cancellara salutes the crowd as he comes in for second. Vanmarcke isn't contesting the sprint and he rolls in for third. 

Sagan pulled a wheelie there for the cameras just after crossing the line. He's now mobbed by fans, media, and team staff. 

Peter Sagan dedicates his win to Antoine Demoitié and Daan Myngheer, who both died last week. 

"The race was very hard today. It's very hard to work with other guys because no one wants to work with me... so it's better to drop everyone."

Top 10

Brief report now live on Cyclingnews. We'll add to that shortly with a photo gallery and full results.

The thing about winning the Tour of Flanders is, it always generates hype ahead of Paris-Roubaix exactly a week later.

Cancellara consoles himself with a Kwaremont beer after the finish.

Here's Peter Sagan crossing the line

That's it for our live coverage of the 100th Tour of Flanders. What a race it was. Thanks for joining us and keep an eye on Cyclingnews for all the news and reaction from Belgium. 

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