Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the 2022 Tour of Flanders.
As the Cyclingnews blimp takes height, the riders are gathering in the centre of Antwerp for the start.
The sun is out and Cyclingnews reporters Patrick Fletcher and Barry Ryan are at the start, capturing the riders' final thoughts and the atmosphere of the big race.
The crowds are also back at the race after a two-year absence. We expect over a million people along the race route today, despite the sunny but cold weather.
This is the moment Alpecin-Fenix rode to the sign-on podium.
🇧🇪 #RVV22🅰️ @Stad_Antwerpen 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/ZzhcvLzWyqApril 3, 2022
The sign-on is over and the riders are on the move to the official race start on the outskirts of Antwerp.
The riders are wrapped up against the cold but there is a sense of nerves and pre-race tension in the air.
The riders will face 272km of racing when the flag drops the race starts.
The riders keen to go in the early break are gathering in the slipstream of the race director's car.
This was Ed Theuns's view from the sign-on stage.
Ok, let's go! @RondeVlaanderen pic.twitter.com/tky571eeL1April 3, 2022
The riders are in the tunnel that cuts below Antwerp. A last moment of calm.
This was the roll out from Antwerp.
#RVVmen🚩 Heeren, vertrekt! The men elite have just started their race to Oudenaarde. They will have to digest 271,2 km with 1️⃣8️⃣ hills and 7 cobbled sections. Let's go! 😃 #RVV22 pic.twitter.com/BzKRyobTsUApril 3, 2022
We're just minutes away from the official start.
The riders are along the river, with riders resolving last minute bike issues. Victor Campenaerts stops so a mechanic can reset his gears.
Wesley Kreder (Cofidis) and Søren Kragh Andersen (DSM) did not start due to illness.
There are also major problems at Astana: leader Gianni Moscon and some Italian teammates will probably not last too long after also feeling unwell.
Jasper Stuyven and Tom Pidcock are also riding back to the peloton after pre-race stops.
The pace is slow in the neutralised sector, as riders know they face a long, hard day in the saddle.
The neutralised sector is 9.3km long.
Niki Terpstra, Taco van der Hoorn and Brent Van Moer are near the front.
And they're off. Race director Scott Sunderland waves the flag and the race is officially underway.
We have attacks straight away!
270km to go
The pace has eased but there other riders trying to go up the road.
Manuele Boaro of Astana seems keen to go in the early break.
The flat roads south of Antwerp last for 130km, giving plenty of road for the early attack to form.
This is the map of the final part of the race, when the hills come thick and fast.
Manuele Boaro (Astana) is joined by Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar) but he peloton close them down.
Tadej Pogacar spoke about his chances at the start.
“I think the crowds are going to be crazy. It’ll be amazing. The last two years were a little sad but this year I think it’s going to be legendary,” Pogacar said.
"It's impressive", he said of the huge crowd on the Grote Markt.
"I'm confident in my form, but the slopes and cobblestones are going to be a challenge."
260km to go
We seem to have a more serious attack forming. There are seven riders away and others are trying to join them.
Sooner or later the peloton will close down the group and let them go.
Stan Dewulf, Sébastien Grignard, Manuele Boaro, Max Kanter, Tom Bohli, Mathijs Paasschens, Lindsay De Vylder, Luca Mozzato and Taco van der Hoorn all seem to be in the attack.
This one is serious, perhaps too serious to let go. Indeed, there is a chase by the peloton.
255km to go
The peloton isn't committed to the chase.
Jumbo-Visma seem keen to let the attack go. Other teams perhaps want a smaller group and so are trying to chase them down.
These are the 9 attackers:
Stan Dewulf (AG2R-Citroën)
Sebastien Grignard (Lotto-Soudal)
Lindsay De Vylder (Sport Flanders-Baloise)
Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert)
Mathijs Paasschens (Bingoal-Pauwels Sauces-WB)
Manuele Boaro (Astana Qazaqstan)
Luca Mozzato (B&B)
Tom Bohli (Cofidis)
Max Kanter (Movistar)
The 9 are working well together.
Behind the peloton eased but then a UNo-X rider surged away to spark the chase.
EF Education-EasyPost are not in the break and so are chasing in the peloton.
Team DSM are also upping the pace. But the break has a 30-second lead.
Matteo Trentin spoke of his own form and UAE's tactics to help Tadej Pogacar.
"It’s not too cold, so we’re pretty happy," the Italian said.
"It’s a day by day race scenario for me. After concussion and bronchitis together, it was kind of a shit situation. I’m getting better with every training day but it’s difficult to make a plan because you need to be 110% to be up front. So Tadej is our top guy. For me the goal is to be my best for him and for myself and for the team."
Ouch! A squeeze in the road sees several riders go down.
Tadej Pogacar is one of them.
He and the others are quickly up and away but that will cause some concern and a shot of adrenaline.
The road is only one lane ride as they pass through Sint-Niklaas. Position is vital even so early at the Tour of Flanders.
The pace in the peloton has slowed on the narrow roads, helping the break extend its lead.
Their gap is up to 1:20 and growing.
Riders in the peloton are already eating to keep their energy levels up.
The peloton is setting into chase mode with Tim Declercq (QuickStep) and Julien Vermote (Alpecin) on the front and leading the chase.
Matteo Trentin dropped back to the UAE team car.
Apparently to collect Tadej Pogacar's power meter that he lost it in the tumble.
240km to go
The nine attackers now lead by 2:30. The peloton has changed to tempo mode.
Ben Swift is also doing some of the early work to chase the attack for Ineos leader Tom Pidcock.
Riders are starting to take off some of the warm clothing as the race heats up.
It was close to zero before the start but will be around 7 for most of the day.
235km to go
The gap is up to 3:00.
The races passes through Hamme, near Greg Van Avermaet's hometown of Lokeren. The former Olympic champion takes time to wave to his fans.
GVA is now 36 and is riding his 15th Ronde.
The race has also passed the Stefan Kung fan club bar.
pic.twitter.com/nXGGrfua6rApril 3, 2022
The Stefan Kung song was sung as the peloton passed.
Kilomètre 35 👀 pic.twitter.com/ti5tNP2QOmApril 3, 2022