Peter Sagan blows away the competition to take the win, doing away with any curse from rainbow bands.
World champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) won the 2016 Tour of Flanders in Belgium on Sunday, claiming his first career win in one of cycling’s great monuments.
Sagan attacked escape companion Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) on the final ascent of the Paterberg to go solo. The 26-year-old Slovakian then had to time trial his way to the finish after the Paterberg to keep the chasing duo of Vanmarcke and Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) at bay.
Sagan finished with around 20 seconds in hand over Cancellara, with Vanmarcke in third. Luke Rowe (Sky) finished in fifth place, boding well for next Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, with fellow Welshman Geraint Thomas (Sky) in 12th.
The first half of the race was punctuated by several mass crashes in the peloton that claimed several of the pre-race favourites. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Arnaud Démare (FDJ) and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) were all forced to withdraw with injuries.
Greg Van Avermaet and other favourites crash out of Tour of Flanders
Starting under sunny skies in Bruges, the first hour of racing was very fast-paced and no escape group was allowed to form. Finally, six riders did break the elastic and break free: Lukas Postlberger (Bora-Argon18), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise), Hugo Houle (Ag2r), Wesley Kreder (Roompot-Oranje Peloton) and Federico Zurlo (Lampre-Merida).
The six built up a lead of around four minutes over the peloton but gradually started to fracture as the race made its way over the series of 18 categorised climbs and a further seven cobbled sectors.
Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal), Nils Politt (Katusha), Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana), Dimitri Claeys (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) rode across to join Houle, Van Hoecke and Erviti as the race unfolded. And as Houle was dropped, Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Etixx-QuickStep) made the junction with 40km to go.
By the time the lead group hit the Koppenberg, the race started to split into pieces. Sagan, Vanmarcke and Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky) took off from the main group in what would turn out to be the race-winning move.
Story courtesy of Cycling Weekly.