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Gent-Wevelgem: Wout van Aert strongest in seven-man sprint

Van Aert wins after attritional day of crosswinds and cobbles, with Giacomo Nizzolo and Matteo Trentin also on the podium.

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Wout van Aert was strongest in a seven-man sprint to win an attritional Gent-Wevelgem.

Van Aert won from a stellar selection that had ridden clear in the front echelon when the race split in crosswinds in the opening hours of the day.

After working well together through the race, the group of seven went into the final kilometer all together, with van Aert benefiting from having teammate Nathan van Hooydonk with him.

Van Hooydonk led out the final kick for the line, with Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) the first to respond, only for van Aert to hit the front a few seconds later with a huge muscling sprint. Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Ass0s) moved onto the charging Belgian’s wheel but couldn’t make it past the Jumbo-Visma ace after nearly 250-kilometers of racing. Nizzolo claimed second, while Matteo Trentin (UAE Emirates) took third.

“This victory means a lot to me,” van Aert said. “I have already won many great races, but in the Flemish races I have often just missed it. I was waiting for this.”

“It was only a group of about 20 guys [since the race split in 180km remaining]. It’s a big group but you still have to do a lot of turns. The whole day in the crosswinds, it never stopped. This was a massive effort but definitely worth it.”

Crosswind carnage

The race split at 170km to go as the course moved toward the exposed plains near the North Sea. Strong winds ripped across the race and a front group of around 25 riders went clear in a front echelon. The lead selection included the final riders that went on to contest the closing stretch into Wevelgem, including van Aert and teammate van Hooydonk, Michael Matthews (BikeExchange), Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), Nizzolo, Trentin and Küng.

A chase group formed behind, which included Ag2r-Citroën pair Oliver Naesen and Greg van Avermaet. However, Deceuninck-Quick-Step duo Zdenek Stybar and Yves Lampaert were also in the pursuit and disrupted the chase where possible for teammate Bennett, who was in the front bunch.

Kemmelberg the kingmaker, Bennett blows

The second ascent of the extra-steep Kemmelberg saw the race shattering all over the road, with the lead group splitting in half as the main chase group began losing riders.

The lead group stayed together on the final ascent of the notorious berg to leave a nine-man showdown on the 35km stretch home to Wevelgem while the group of chasers remained stuck around one minute back.

Bennett was the first to be dropped out of the move as Jumbo-Visma sent van Hooydonk on a brief attack neutralized by Küng. The Irish sprinter had looked to be struggling since the final ascent of the Kemmelberg and the acceleration in the group was enough to see him crack.


The entire Bora-Hansgrohe and Trek-Segafredo teams did not start the race Sunday morning. The German squad unable to take part due to a COVID positive in the bubble earlier this week, while Trek-Segafredo – team of defending champ Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven – had to withdraw due to COVID positives found in the squad Friday night.

More information: COVID sees Bora-Hansgrohe and Trek-Segafredo withdraw from Gent Wevelgem

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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