Bettiol stuns favorites with solo escape to take Flanders

Italian takes first professional victory at one of the biggest races in the season, with EF-Education First teammates proving pivotal to success.

Alberto Bettiol (EF-Education First) launched himself on the final ascent of the Oude-Kwaremont to take his first professional win, and one of the biggest in his team’s history at the Tour of Flanders, Sunday. After a strong showing through the early classics, the Italian soloed to victory, holding off a group that included so many fast-men that none were willing to drag each other toward a potential sprint finale.

After a long time in the break, Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was able to sprint from the chase group to take second, with Alexander Kristoff (UAE-Team Emirates) taking third.

“I don’t know how I did it,” said Bettiol. “I felt really good on the Kwaremont and Andreas (Klier) from the car said: ‘If you can, just go.’ I closed my eyes and went….. From now on you (people) should look out more for the pink in the front.”

As is typical of the Tour of Flanders, the action only truly commenced with 60km to go, as the race approached the Oude-Kwaremont for the second time. The peloton was all largely together, except for 2018 champion Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie), who crashed early in the race and was taken away to hospital. He was later confirmed to be OK, but will not be racing at Paris-Roubaix next weekend. Having double punctured and crashed heavily on a descent with 70km to go, pre-race favorite Mathieu van der Poel (Corend0n-Circus) was chasing furiously to catch on to the main peloton.

A group of dangermen went away on the Kwaremont, made up of Stijn Vandenbergh (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Sep Vanmarcke (EF-Education First), and Asgreen. Shortly afterward, Dylan van Baarle (Team Sky) bridged to form a quartet at the front of the race.

Vanderburgh was the first to crack and fall back from the breakaway as the race hit the Taaienberg, at which point the pace was sky high, and the peloton was rapidly shelling riders out of the back, as the constant fight for position going into the bergs and fierce effort over the cobbles bit.

With 30km to go, van der Poel had made it back into the peloton and recovered after his huge effort, and promptly started animating the group, attacking on the Kruisberg, drawing out reactions from Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Greg van Avermaet (CCC-Team).

The final double-header of the Kwaremont and Paterberg climbs approached, and Vanmarcke looked to have cracked, falling back out of the break into the group of chasers, which now numbered only 20-25 riders. However, with teammates Bettiol and Sebastian Langeveld both in the bunch, this later appeared to be a clever tactical move.

EF-Education First set Bettiol loose on the final climb of the Kwaremont, by which point all the breakaway men had been caught. As has been common all season, van Avermaet was one of the first to respond in leading a chase, yet with Langeveld disrupting the rhythm, and the sheer ferocity of Bettiol’s acceleration, the Italian was 10 seconds in the lead by the summit of the berg.

Bettiol grew his lead over the final climb of the Paterberg, and found himself with around a 20-second lead with just the final flat run into Oudenaarde to contend with.

“On the Paterberg I don’t think I lost a lot and then it was the longest 14km of my life,” the winner remarked.

The chase group included an array of fast-men who could win from a sprint, notably Michael Matthews (Sunweb), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Kristoff, van Avermaet, and Valverde.

After initial testing moves by Sagan and Van Avermaet, the chase group neutralized itself, none willing to commit to the chase. Langeveld continued to sit near the front of the group, constantly disrupting any momentum they did gain. Meanwhile, up the road, despite the visual signs of fatigue in his form, Bettiol was starting to grow his lead, and the chasers wasted their chance at bringing him back.

“I knew Sebastian (Langeveld) was there protecting me,” said Bettiol. “Sep (Vanmarcke) did an amazing job too; a champion like him worked for us all day.”

The 25-year-old crossed the line 14 seconds ahead of second-place Asgreen, who attacked from the chasers in the final half-kilometer. Having been in the break for so long, the young Dane took a well-deserved podium, with Kristoff easily winning the sprint for third. Van der Poel took a well-deserved fourth place after crashing so heavily, chasing back, and then repeatedly attacking in the dying stages of the race.

Ronde van Vlaanderen - Tour des Flandres Results

1BETTIOL AlbertoEF Education First6:18:49
2ASGREEN KasperDeceuninck - Quick Step0:14
3KRISTOFF AlexanderUAE-Team Emirates0:17
4VAN DER POEL MathieuCorendon - Circus0:17
5POLITT NilsTeam Katusha Alpecin0:17
6MATTHEWS MichaelTeam Sunweb0:17
7NAESEN OliverAG2R La Mondiale0:17
8VALVERDE AlejandroMovistar Team0:17
9BENOOT TiesjLotto Soudal0:17
11SAGAN PeterBORA - hansgrohe0:17
12KEUKELEIRE JensLotto Soudal0:17
13VAN GESTEL DriesSport Vlaanderen - Baloise0:17
14VAN AERT WoutTeam Jumbo-Visma0:17
15LANGEVELD SebastianEF Education First0:17
16JUNGELS BobDeceuninck - Quick Step0:17
17LAMPAERT YvesDeceuninck - Quick Step0:17
18VAN BAARLE DylanTeam Sky0:24
19STUYVEN JasperTrek - Segafredo1:19
20VANDENBERGH StijnAG2R La Mondiale1:58
21TRENTIN MatteoMitchelton-Scott1:58
22SÜTTERLIN JashaMovistar Team1:58
23GAUDIN DamienDirect Energie2:15
24GARCÍA CORTINA IvánBahrain Merida2:18
25VANMARCKE SepEF Education First2:20
26PETIT AdrienDirect Energie2:20
27ROWE LukeTeam Sky2:20
28DÉMARE ArnaudGroupama - FDJ2:20
29DEGENKOLB JohnTrek - Segafredo2:20
30COLBRELLI SonnyBahrain Merida2:20
31TEUNISSEN MikeTeam Jumbo-Visma2:20
32BOASSON HAGEN EdvaldTeam Dimension Data2:20
33HAUSSLER HeinrichBahrain Merida2:20
34WELLENS TimLotto Soudal2:20
35DEBUSSCHERE JensTeam Katusha Alpecin2:20
36ŠTYBAR ZdeněkDeceuninck - Quick Step2:20
37DE GENDT AiméWanty - Gobert Cycling Team2:20
38BYSTRØM Sven ErikUAE-Team Emirates2:20
39VLIEGEN LoïcWanty - Gobert Cycling Team2:20
40CALMEJANE LilianDirect Energie2:20
41MOHORIČ MatejBahrain Merida2:20
42MOSCON GianniTeam Sky2:20
43ERVITI ImanolMovistar Team2:20
44KÜNG StefanGroupama - FDJ2:20
45OLIVEIRA NelsonMovistar Team2:20
46WEENING PieterRoompot - Charles2:20
47KOREN KristijanBahrain Merida2:20
48KNEES ChristianTeam Sky5:47
49OSS DanielBORA - hansgrohe6:09
50SCULLY TomEF Education First6:09
51DEVOLDER StijnCorendon - Circus6:09
52VERMOTE JulienTeam Dimension Data6:13
53HALLER MarcoTeam Katusha Alpecin6:17
54DILLIER SilvanAG2R La Mondiale6:17
55JANSE VAN RENSBURG ReinardtTeam Dimension Data6:17
56VAN POPPEL BoyRoompot - Charles6:17
57THEUNS EdwardTrek - Segafredo6:17
58PASQUALON AndreaWanty - Gobert Cycling Team6:17
59VAN DER HOORN TacoTeam Jumbo-Visma6:17
60ALLEGAERT PietSport Vlaanderen - Baloise6:17
61VAN HOOYDONCK NathanCCC Team6:17
62EENKHOORN PascalTeam Jumbo-Visma6:17
63SIEBERG MarcelBahrain Merida6:17
64LE GAC OlivierGroupama - FDJ6:17
65BACKAERT FrederikWanty - Gobert Cycling Team6:17
66SCHÄR MichaelCCC Team6:17
67SPRENGERS ThomasSport Vlaanderen - Baloise6:17
68ROELANDTS JürgenMovistar Team6:17
69VERMEERSCH GianniCorendon - Circus6:17
70DE BACKER BertVital Concept - B&B Hotels6:17
71WIŚNIOWSKI ŁukaszCCC Team6:17
72DE VREESE LaurensAstana Pro Team6:17
73VAN KEIRSBULCK GuillaumeCCC Team6:17
74PÖSTLBERGER LukasBORA - hansgrohe6:17
75BAUER JackMitchelton-Scott6:17
76STANNARD IanTeam Sky6:17
77MEURISSE XandroWanty - Gobert Cycling Team6:17
78GAVIRIA FernandoUAE-Team Emirates6:17
79KUZNETSOV ViacheslavTeam Katusha Alpecin8:32
80BRESCHEL MattiEF Education First8:46
81TURGIS JimmyVital Concept - B&B Hotels8:46
82HOLLENSTEIN RetoTeam Katusha Alpecin8:46
83DOULL OwainTeam Sky8:46
84BURGHARDT MarcusBORA - hansgrohe8:46
85HOULE HugoAstana Pro Team8:46
86GODON DorianAG2R La Mondiale8:46
87TRATNIK JanBahrain Merida8:46
88VAN GENECHTEN JonasVital Concept - B&B Hotels8:46
89PICHOT AlexandreDirect Energie8:46
90CASTRILLO JaimeMovistar Team8:46
91VERGAERDE OttoCorendon - Circus8:46
92LEMOINE CyrilCofidis, Solutions Crédits8:46
93LEYSEN SenneRoompot - Charles8:46
94FOMINYKH DaniilAstana Pro Team8:46
95MEZGEC LukaMitchelton-Scott8:46
96JUUL-JENSEN ChristopherMitchelton-Scott8:46
97TURGIS AnthonyDirect Energie8:46
98GANNA FilippoTeam Sky8:46
99JANSEN Amund GrøndahlTeam Jumbo-Visma8:46
100DUCHESNE AntoineGroupama - FDJ8:46
101DE KORT KoenTrek - Segafredo8:46
102VALGREN MichaelTeam Dimension Data8:46
103WYNANTS MaartenTeam Jumbo-Visma8:46
104MARCATO MarcoUAE-Team Emirates8:46
105KEISSE IljoDeceuninck - Quick Step10:14
106TOUZÉ DamienCofidis, Solutions Crédits10:14
107CURVERS RoyTeam Sunweb10:14
108CORT MagnusAstana Pro Team10:14
109DECLERCQ BenjaminSport Vlaanderen - Baloise10:14
110STEELS StijnRoompot - Charles10:14
111VAN LERBERGHE BertCofidis, Solutions Crédits10:14
112PEDERSEN CasperTeam Sunweb10:14
113DECLERCQ TimDeceuninck - Quick Step10:14
114SINKELDAM RamonGroupama - FDJ10:14
115SAGAN JurajBORA - hansgrohe10:14
116WARLOP JordiSport Vlaanderen - Baloise10:14
117EISEL BernhardTeam Dimension Data10:14
118PLANCKAERT EdwardSport Vlaanderen - Baloise10:14
119VAN HOECKE GijsCCC Team10:14
120KIRSCH AlexTrek - Segafredo10:14
121LAENGEN Vegard StakeUAE-Team Emirates10:14
122DENZ NicoAG2R La Mondiale10:14
123MAS LluísMovistar Team10:14
124BODNAR MaciejBORA - hansgrohe10:14
125BAK Lars YttingTeam Dimension Data10:49

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.