Cannondale rider foils breakaway companions
Peter Sagan (Cannondale)
soloed to the win in the 2013 Gent-Wevelgem, launching a winning attack
from a breakaway inside the final four kilometres. The runner-up in
Milan-San Remo and E3 Harelbeke finished clear of Borut Bozic (Astana)
and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) with the sprinters left competing for the
minor places in a race shortened by the snowy conditions.
Sagan, recently criticised for his race winning celebrations by
Fabian Cancellara - who pulled out at the feedzone - had plenty of
time to celebrate at the line, treating the crowd to a series of
Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling), who initiated the winning move on the second ascent of the Baneberg, had to settle for fourth.
At the team presentation in Deinze, Haussler had been vocal about his
thoughts on the race, stating that the cold conditions could be a step
too far and that the riders' safety could be compromised if the weather
worsened. However with 6,000 VIPs at the race, the race organisers were
always going to play every last card in an attempt to see the race
start. The first 50 kilometres were cut, the first of the ascent of the Casselberg annulled and the race was on.
Haussler’s attack on the road as opposed to on the start line was one
of the defining moments of the race as he sped towards a three-man move
of Assan Bazayev (Astana), Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil) and
Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ).
Before he could make contact he was joined by Sagan, former winner
Bernhard Eisel (Sky), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), Andrey Amador (Movistar),
Borut Bozic (Astana), Maciej Bodnar (Cannondale), Yaroslov Popovich
(Radioshack), Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), and Jens
Debusschere (Lotto-Belisol). Before long the break had an advantage of
It sparked Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-QuickStep team into life but
having lost Tom Boonen to a crash and with Vandenbergh up the road,
reinforcements were sorely needed. Sky and BMC who had Eisel and Van
Avermaet in the lead group were hesitant to chase but Blanco and Lotto
obliged to cooperate inside the final 30 kilometres for Mark Renshaw and
Andre Greipel respectively.
However the gap still held with Flecha and Bodnar providing steely back up for Bozic and Sagan.
Into the final 10km, the lead finally began to topple and with 7km to
go the gap was a mere 48 seconds. The sprinters looked to have the race
in their hands, especially with a stern wind aiding their chase.
Up ahead, Flecha surged to the front to try and inject some impetus
but all that appeared to come with him were tired legs, frozen fingers
and demoralised hearts.
Inside the 5 kilometre marker it was Haussler’s turn to give it one
last assault but with the lead at 38 seconds the race was still heading
towards a bunch sprint.
Vandenbergh launched an attack with 4 kilometres to go, in his first
effort since joining the escape but he was quickly closed down.
Cue Sagan, who followed Flecha onto Vandenbergh’s back wheel before dipping his shoulders and accelerating away for his win.
A cold day and a shortened race
The cold weather in Belgium caused a lot of stir about whether or not
the 75th edition of Gent-Wevelgem should go through or not. The evening
before the race the organizers decided to get the race underway in
Gistel instead of Deinze, covering the first 50 of the 238 kilometres
long race by bus.
The cold northeast wind quickly resulted in the formation of several
echelons. In front many favourites were present in a first group of 25
riders, including defending winner Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish, André
Greipel and Peter Sagan. As Fabian Cancellara wasn’t present in this
group his team did most of the work in the second echelon when battling
the strong winds in the flatlands of De Moeren.
After entering France for about fifty kilometres of racing the first
groups were heading for a junction. When taking on the Mont des Cats (or
Casselberg) a second time the group with Cancellara finally reached the
front of the race. On the following wide open roads the group split
again though most of the favourites remained in front this time. The
pace in front dropped slightly and that was the sign for Juan Antonio
Flecha to attack.
The Spaniard was joined by Matthieu Ladagnous and Assan Bazayev. The
trio quickly collected a maximal gap of two minutes on the peloton. That
was until that peloton hit the Baneberg where Philippe Gilbert tested
his legs. Shortly after that the race passed through the feed zone at
70km from the finish, and Tour of Flanders favourite Fabian Cancellara
and many other riders abandoned the race there. A few moments later Tom
Boonen hit the deck in the peloton when he hit a curb at high speed in
the drop towards the town of Kemmel.
The Belgian champion needed a lot of time to get back on his bike. On
the Kemmelberg Edvald Boasson Hagen increased the pace, swiftly marked
by Peter Sagan and about thirty others. In the background Boonen quit
the race after riding up the cobbled climb. Meanwhile the first chase
group was trailing the three leaders by only forty seconds.
When turning back on wider roads to tackle the Baneberg, Kemmelberg
and Monteberg for the last time, Heinrich Haussler set up a new move.
The German Australian was joined by Sagan, former winner Bernhard Eisel
(Sky), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and others. When powering up the Baneberg
the peloton was back on their heels but after the climb the break was
gone, together with Andrey Amador (Movistar), Borut Bozic (Astana),
Maciej Bodnar (Cannondale), Jaroslov Popovich (Radioshack) and Jens
The ten quickly caught up with the three earlier leaders, creating a
leader’s group of thirteen riders. On the Kemmelberg Bazayev couldn’t
keep up and dropped back into the peloton which trailed by 1:20. Mark
Cavendish instructed Zdenek Stybar to keep the pace high. But Omega
Pharma-QuickStep lacked the numbers to reduce the gap and received
little support from other teams.
That was until Debusschere punctured out of the lead group and
Lotto-Belisol moved to the front of the peloton. When riding through
Ieper and the Menin Gate – an impressive passage with 30km to go - the
eleven remaining leaders had just under 1:30 on the peloton. The efforts
in the peloton were not enough to bring down the gap to the lead group
because ten kilometres later it was still the same.
Source and for Full Results: Cycling News