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Gilbert solos to thrilling Tour of Flanders win

OUDENAARD, Belgium (AFP) – Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) carried his bike over the line above his head as he won the prestigious Tour of Flanders for the first time on Sunday with a remarkable solo breakaway.

Gilbert, 34, attacked alone with 55km of the 261km race to go and held on to win as world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Olympic gold medalist Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) crashed 17km from the end of the cobbled classic.

Van Avermaet, the in-form rider this spring, picked himself up to take second place ahead of Gilbert’s Quick-Step Floors team-mate Niki Terpstra but the crash with Sagan and Oliver Naesen potentially robbed the race of a grandstand finish.

Top 10

  • 1. Philippe GILBERT, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, in 6:23:45
  • 2. Greg VAN AVERMAET, BMC RACING, at :28
  • 3. Niki TERPSTRA, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at :28
  • 4. Dylan VAN BAARLE, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC, at :28
  • 5. Alexander KRISTOFF, KATUSHA-ALPECIN, at :52
  • 6. Sacha MODOLO, UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at :52
  • 7. John DEGENKOLB, TREK-SEGAFREDO, at :52
  • 8. Filippo POZZATO, WILIER-TRIESTINA, at :52
  • 9. Sylvain CHAVANEL, DIRECT ENERGIE, at :52
  • 10. Sonny COLBRELLI, BAHRAIN-MERIDA, at :52

Instead, Gilbert’s audacious solo breakaway paid dividends.

“Until two kilometres to go I wasn’t really sure I could resist the guys behind because they were coming a little back,” said the Quick-Step Floors rider. “I was really focusing on my effort until almost the last kilometre. Then in the long straight I could see the finish line at the end.

“I was looking back and I saw I still had a gap so I thought: ‘I will do something special’.

“I thought this will be a nice picture with the bike in the air and the jersey stretched – something special.”

Victory in Flanders added to the 2012 world champion’s impressive resume that includes stage wins at all three Grand Tours and victories in twother ‘Monument’ races – Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro di Lombardia.

Gilbert has also won major one-day classics including Amstel Gold, Flèche Wallonne and Clasica de San Sebastian, but this victory tops the lot.

It was his seventh participation at Flanders and first for five years having previously come third in 2009 and 2010.

But while a BMC team-mate of Belgian compatriot Van Avermaet’s he was forced to ride the Ardennes classics rather than the cobbled ones.

Gilbert has won many big races during his career including two other prestigious ‘Monuments’ – Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Giro di Lombardia. He has also won stages at all three Grand Tours but he said one memory stands out above all others: winning the world title in 2012.

“It’s hard to say, every big victory like this is nice,” he said. “When I won the worlds it was something really special – I think this will always stay the biggest win of my life but winning Liège and this one in Flanders is really nice.”

After-burners

He was part of a group of 14 riders who broke clear of the peloton around 90km from the finish as another team-mate, three-time Flanders winner Tom Boonen, accelerated up the iconic Muur climb.

Both Van Avermaet and Sagan were caught out and left in the peloton, which quickly lost a minute.

They had started to close in when, with 55km to go and on the second ascent of the 2.2km-long Oude-Kwaremont climb, Gilbert turned on the after-burners and broke clear on his own.

A crash took out Belgian Sep Vanmarcke, third in 2014 and last year, also taking down Briton Luke Rowe and forcing Maciej Bodnar off the road.

It slowed the breakaway allowing Van Avermaet and Sagan, amongst others, to catch the breakaway group.

But Gilbert remained out front on his own with a little over 30 seconds.

The Belgian champion stretched out his lead to over a minute but he had a long way to go solo to try to hold off a group containing many of the favourites and strongest riders in the race.

On the Taaienberg climb at 37km from the finish, Boonen suffered a mechanical problem that ended his chances while Sagan and Van Avermaet went on the offensive.

They formed a seven-man chase group just under a minute behind as Gilbert hit the third and final ascension of the Oude-Kwaremont climb with 18km left.

Sagan attacked on that climb with only Van Avermaet and Naesen able to follow but suddenly, the world champion clipped the barriers separating riders from fans and went down, taking his two companions with him.

Those three looked the only ones capable of catching Gilbert and their crash left the Belgian free to ride to victory.

“I thought we would catch him but destiny didn’t want that,” said Sagan, the Flanders winner last year. “Whether it was my fault, I don’t know. I didn’t clip the barriers, if I had I would have gone down immediately.

“Something pulled my bike back and then the others crashed into the back of me.”

Van Avermaet did manage to climb back on his bike and form a chase trio with Dylan Van Baarle and Terpstra, who was merely sitting in behind the other two chasers.

Gilbert was tiring but with only two men working behind to try to catch him, the gap was too much to close.

Van Avermaet took the sprint finish for second leaving him to wonder what might have been without his crash, however he was gracious in defeat.

“I was aiming for the win but it didn’t work out. I was riding a very strong race,” he said. “Phil deserves the win.”

Results

  • 1. Philippe GILBERT, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, in 6:23:45
  • 2. Greg VAN AVERMAET, BMC RACING, at :29
  • 3. Niki TERPSTRA, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at :29
  • 4. Dylan VAN BAARLE, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC, at :29
  • 5. Alexander KRISTOFF, KATUSHA-ALPECIN, at :53
  • 6. Sacha MODOLO, UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at :53
  • 7. John DEGENKOLB, TREK-SEGAFREDO, at :53
  • 8. Filippo POZZATO, WILIER-TRIESTINAIER-TRIESTINA, at :53
  • 9. Sylvain CHAVANEL, DIRECT ENERGIE, at :53
  • 10. Sonny COLBRELLI, BAHRAIN-MERIDA, at :53
  • 11. MICHAEL VALGREN ANDERSEN, ASTANA, at :53
  • 12. Luke DURBRIDGE, ORICA-SCOTT, at :53
  • 13. Matteo TRENTIN, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at :53
  • 14. Yoann OFFREDO, WANTY-GROUPE GOBERT, at :53
  • 15. Gianni MOSCON, TEAM SKY, at :53
  • 16. Scott THWAITES, DIMENSION DATA, at :53
  • 17. Tony GALLOPIN, LOTTO SOUDAL, at :53
  • 18. Nelson OLIVEIRA, MOVISTAR, at :53
  • 19. Fabio FELLINE, TREK-SEGAFREDO, at 1:01
  • 20. André GREIPEL, LOTTO SOUDAL, at 2:29
  • 21. Baptiste PLANCKAERT, KATUSHA-ALPECIN, at 2:29
  • 22. Edvald BOASSON HAGEN, DIMENSION DATA, at 2:29
  • 23. Oliver NAESEN, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 2:32
  • 24. Alberto BETTIOL, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC, at 2:32
  • 25. Alexander EDMONSON, ORICA-SCOTT, at 3:30
  • 26. Adrien PETIT, DIRECT ENERGIE, at 3:30
  • 27. Peter SAGAN, BORA-HANSGROHE, at 3:30
  • 28. Nikias ARNDT, SUNWEB, at 3:30
  • 29. Pim LIGTHART, ROOMPOT-NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ, at 3:30
  • 30. Magnus Cort NIELSEN, ORICA-SCOTT, at 3:30
  • 31. Julien DUVAL, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 3:30
  • 32. Matti BRESCHEL, ASTANA, at 3:30
  • 33. Marco MARCATO, UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 3:30
  • 34. Matthieu LADAGNOUS, FDJ, at 3:30
  • 35. Julien VERMOTE, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 3:30
  • 36. Yves LAMPAERT, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 3:30
  • 37. Tom BOONEN, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 3:30
  • 38. Boy VAN POPPEL, TREK-SEGAFREDO, at 3:30
  • 39. Frederik BACKAERT, WANTY-GROUPE GOBERT, at 3:30
  • 40. Florian SENECHAL, COFIDIS-SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 3:30
  • 41. Stefan KÜNG, BMC RACING, at 3:30
  • 42. Nils POLITT, KATUSHA-ALPECIN, at 3:30
  • 43. Luka PIBERNIK, BAHRAIN-MERIDA, at 3:30
  • 44. Preben VAN HECKE, SPORT VLAANDEREN-BALOISE, at 3:30
  • 45. Stijn VANDENBERGH, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 3:30
  • 46. Thomas SPRENGERS, SPORT VLAANDEREN-BALOISE, at 3:30
  • 47. Alexey LUTSENKO, ASTANA, at 3:30
  • 48. Guillaume VAN KEIRSBULCK, WANTY-GROUPE GOBERT, at 3:30
  • 49. Silvan DILLIER, BMC RACING, at 3:30
  • 50. Eugert ZHUPA, WILIER-TRIESTINAIER-TRIESTINA, at 3:30
  • 51. Jasper STUYVEN, TREK-SEGAFREDO, at 3:30
  • 52. Tom VAN ASBROECK, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC, at 3:30
  • 53. Andrea PASQUALON, WANTY-GROUPE GOBERT, at 3:30
  • 54. Huub DUYN, VERANDAS WILLEMS-CRELAN, at 3:30
  • 55. Marcus BURGHARDT, BORA-HANSGROHE, at 3:30
  • 56. Arnaud DEMARE, FDJ, at 3:30
  • 57. Edward THEUNS, TREK-SEGAFREDO, at 3:30
  • 58. Bram TANKINK, LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 3:30
  • 59. Reinardt JANSE VAN RENSBURG, DIMENSION DATA, at 3:30
  • 60. Reto HOLLENSTEIN, KATUSHA-ALPECIN, at 3:30
  • 61. Daniel OSS, BMC RACING, at 3:30
  • 62. Gaetan BILLE, VERANDAS WILLEMS-CRELAN, at 3:35
  • 63. Alex TURRIN, WILIER-TRIESTINAIER-TRIESTINA, at 3:35
  • 64. Ian STANNARD, TEAM SKY, at 3:36
  • 65. Bryan COQUARD, DIRECT ENERGIE, at 3:36
  • 66. Maciej BODNAR, BORA-HANSGROHE, at 3:36
  • 67. Zdenek ŠTYBAR, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 3:36
  • 68. Ivan GARCIA CORTINA, BAHRAIN-MERIDA, at 4:15
  • 69. Sam BEWLEY, ORICA-SCOTT, at 4:32
  • 70. Olivier LE GAC, FDJ, at 6:59
  • 71. Mark MCNALLY, WANTY-GROUPE GOBERT, at 6:59
  • 72. Sebastian LANGEVELD, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC, at 6:59
  • 73. Michael MORKOV, KATUSHA-ALPECIN, at 6:59
  • 74. Søren Kragh ANDERSEN, SUNWEB, at 8:02
  • 75. Koen DE KORT, TREK-SEGAFREDO, at 8:02
  • 76. Pieter VANSPEYBROUCK, WANTY-GROUPE GOBERT, at 8:02
  • 77. Federico ZURLO, UAE TEAM EMIRATES, at 8:35
  • 78. Ramon SINKELDAM, SUNWEB, at 8:35
  • 79. Laurens DE VREESE, ASTANA, at 8:35
  • 80. Christoph PFINGSTEN, BORA-HANSGROHE, at 8:35
  • 81. Mike TEUNISSEN, SUNWEB, at 8:35
  • 82. Ryan MULLEN, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC, at 8:35
  • 83. Iljo KEISSE, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 8:35
  • 84. Dries VAN GESTEL, SPORT VLAANDEREN-BALOISE, at 8:35
  • 85. Antoine DUCHESNE, DIRECT ENERGIE, at 8:35
  • 86. ANDREY GRIVKO, ASTANA, at 8:35
  • 87. Imanol ERVITI, MOVISTAR, at 8:35
  • 88. Dion SMITH, WANTY-GROUPE GOBERT, at 8:35
  • 89. Jasha SÜTTERLIN, MOVISTAR, at 8:35
  • 90. Roy CURVERS, SUNWEB, at 8:35
  • 91. Mathew HAYMAN, ORICA-SCOTT, at 8:35
  • 92. Mitch DOCKER, ORICA-SCOTT, at 8:35
  • 93. Wesley KREDER, WANTY-GROUPE GOBERT, at 8:35
  • 94. Jonas RICKAERT, SPORT VLAANDEREN-BALOISE, at 8:35
  • 95. Julien MORICE, DIRECT ENERGIE, at 8:35
  • 96. Mickael DELAGE, FDJ, at 8:35
  • 97. Lars BOOM, LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 8:35
  • 98. Dimitri CLAEYS, COFIDIS-SOLUTIONS CREDITS, at 8:35
  • 99. Jean-Pierre DRUCKER, BMC RACING, at 8:35
  • 100. Stijn STEELS, SPORT VLAANDEREN-BALOISE, at 8:35
  • 101. Dries DE BONDT, VERANDAS WILLEMS-CRELAN, at 8:35
  • 102. Christian KNEES, TEAM SKY, at 11:31
  • 103. Hugo HOULE, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 11:31
  • 104. Bernhard EISEL, DIMENSION DATA, at 11:31
  • 105. Twan CASTELIJNS, LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 11:31
  • 106. Lukasz WISNIOWSKI, TEAM SKY, at 11:31
  • 107. Kiel REIJNEN, TREK-SEGAFREDO, at 11:31
  • 108. Owain DOULL, TEAM SKY, at 11:31
  • 109. Stijn DEVOLDER, VERANDAS WILLEMS-CRELAN, at 11:31
  • 110. Tom SCULLY, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC, at 11:31
  • 111. Rudy BARBIER, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 11:31
  • 112. Juraj SAGAN, BORA-HANSGROHE, at 11:31
  • 113. Rafael ANDRIATO, WILIER-TRIESTINAIER-TRIESTINA, at 11:31
  • 114. Bert VAN LERBERGHE, SPORT VLAANDEREN-BALOISE, at 11:31
  • 115. Gijs VAN HOECKE, LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 11:31
  • 116. Amund Grondahl JANSEN, LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 11:31
  • 117. Yohann GENE, DIRECT ENERGIE, at 11:31
  • 118. Alexandre PICHOT, DIRECT ENERGIE, at 11:31
  • 119. Gregory RAST, TREK-SEGAFREDO, at 11:31
  • 120. Luke ROWE, TEAM SKY, at 11:31
  • 121. Tyler FARRAR, DIMENSION DATA, at 11:31
  • DNF Jonathan DIEBBEN, TEAM SKY
  • DNF Liam BERTAZZO, WILIER-TRIESTINAIER-TRIESTINA
  • DNF Nick DOUGALL, DIMENSION DATA
  • DNF Jurgen ROELANDTS, LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Stef VAN ZUMMEREN, VERANDAS WILLEMS-CRELAN
  • DNF Michael GOOLAERTS, VERANDAS WILLEMS-CRELAN
  • DNF Jay Robert THOMSON, DIMENSION DATA
  • DNF Coen VERMELTFOORT, ROOMPOT-NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
  • DNF Carlos Alberto BETANCUR GOMEZ, MOVISTAR
  • DNF Jorge ARCAS PEÑA, MOVISTAR
  • DNF Héctor CARRETERO, MOVISTAR
  • DNF Brian VAN GOETHEM, ROOMPOT-NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
  • DNF Luka MEZGEC, ORICA-SCOTT
  • DNF Nuno MATOS, MOVISTAR
  • DNF Alex DOWSETT, MOVISTAR
  • DNF Youcef REGUIGUI, DIMENSION DATA
  • DNF Nico DENZ, AG2R LA MONDIALE
  • DNF Tony MARTIN, KATUSHA-ALPECIN
  • DNF Hugo Hofstetter, COFIDIS-SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF Christophe LAPORTE, COFIDIS-SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF Rick ZABEL, KATUSHA-ALPECIN
  • DNF Marco HALLER, KATUSHA-ALPECIN
  • DNF Jens DEBUSSCHERE, LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Alexis GOUGEARD, AG2R LA MONDIALE
  • DNF Cyril LEMOINE, COFIDIS-SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF Lukas PÖSTLBERGER, BORA-HANSGROHE
  • DNF Oscar GATTO, ASTANA
  • DNF Nikolas MAES, LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Dmitriy GRUZDEV, ASTANA
  • DNF Zhandos BIZHIGITOV, ASTANA
  • DNF Gediminas BAGDONAS, AG2R LA MONDIALE
  • DNF Giuseppe FONZI, WILIER-TRIESTINAIER-TRIESTINA
  • DNF Otto VERGAERDE, VERANDAS WILLEMS-CRELAN
  • DNF Matteo DRAPERI, WILIER-TRIESTINAIER-TRIESTINA
  • DNF Salvatore PUCCIO, TEAM SKY
  • DNF Michaël VAN STAEYEN, COFIDIS-SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF Borut BOZIC, BAHRAIN-MERIDA
  • DNF Loic CHETOUT, COFIDIS-SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF Marko KUMP, UAE TEAM EMIRATES
  • DNF Ion Ander INSAUSTI IRASTORZA, BAHRAIN-MERIDA
  • DNF Phil BAUHAUS, SUNWEB
  • DNF Taylor PHINNEY, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC
  • DNF Bert DE BACKER, SUNWEB
  • DNF Kenneth VAN ROOY, SPORT VLAANDEREN-BALOISE
  • DNF Sep VANMARCKE, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC
  • DNF Zico WAEYTENS, SUNWEB
  • DNF Kenneth VANBILSEN, COFIDIS-SOLUTIONS CREDITS
  • DNF Andrea GUARDINI, UAE TEAM EMIRATES
  • DNF Marc SARREAU, FDJ
  • DNF Vegard Stake LAENGEN, UAE TEAM EMIRATES
  • DNF Berden DE VRIES, ROOMPOT-NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
  • DNF Jesper ASSELMAN, ROOMPOT-NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
  • DNF Oliviero TROIA, UAE TEAM EMIRATES
  • DNF Francisco Jose VENTOSO ALBERDI, BMC RACING
  • DNF Manuel QUINZIATO, BMC RACING
  • DNF Martin ELMIGER, BMC RACING
  • DNF Sander CORDEEL, VERANDAS WILLEMS-CRELAN
  • DNF Simone CONSONNI, UAE TEAM EMIRATES
  • DNF Marcel SIEBERG, LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF NICCOLO’ BONIFAZIO, BAHRAIN-MERIDA
  • DNF Romain CARDIS, DIRECT ENERGIE
  • DNF Elmar REINDERS, ROOMPOT-NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
  • DNF Chun Kai FENG, BAHRAIN-MERIDA
  • DNF Meiyin WANG, BAHRAIN-MERIDA
  • DNF Andreas SCHILLINGER, BORA-HANSGROHE
  • DNF Andre LOOIJ, ROOMPOT-NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
  • DNF Edward PLANCKAERT, SPORT VLAANDEREN-BALOISE
  • DNF Jos VAN EMDEN, LOTTONL-JUMBO
  • DNF Tiesj BENOOT, LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Steven LAMMERTINK, LOTTONL-JUMBO
  • DNF Maarten WYNANTS, LOTTONL-JUMBO
  • DNF Jasper DE BUYST, LOTTO SOUDAL
  • DNF Jacopo GUARNIERI
  • DNF Johan LE BON, FDJ
  • DNF Ignatas KONOVALOVAS, FDJ
  • DNF Taco VAN DER HOORN, ROOMPOT-NEDERLANDSE LOTERIJ
  • DNF Rüdiger SELIG, BORA-HANSGROHE
  • DNS Jens KEUKELEIRE, ORICA-SCOTT

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