Gent Wevelgem: Wheelie Great Win for Sagan


Peter Sagan got his classic win with a solo ride to the finish before a big wheelie to celebrate a stylish victory

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Photos: Thomas van Bracht


Snow on the ground, a shortened course and cross winds all played a part in the 2013 Gent Wevelgem which saw the classics rider go out to play on the Belgian bergs. It was that bad that organisers sent salt trucks out in front of the race to clear any ice and snow.

After a very attacking race, Cannondale’s Peter Sagan was part of the final selection of ten riders, definitely the biggest threat for the win. At the 3k mark, he attacked the group, deciding to not wait to use his deadly sprint in the dash to the line. Others tried to chase but Sagan stayed clear, taking the win by 23 seconds to the chasing group giving the Tour de France star plenty of time to pop a wheelie and cruise across the finish line.

Joining Sagan on the podium were Borut Bozic (Astana) and Greg Van Avermaet of BMC. “This time I didn’t want to wait” Sagan explained, “because they were all watching. I had to find another solution”.


“I am extremely happy that I managed to win a  classic after the races Milan-San Remo and E3 Harelbeke. It’s a great feeling. In the front group,  nobody wanted to pull so I said, I’ll try it four kilometres to finish. It turned out great, I attacked and I came to the finish line by myself”.

“Of course, I wanted to do some sort of celebration because the viewers deserve some winning gesture, so I amused them doing a wheelie! However, I must say thank you to the whole team which helped me a lot. I also have  great joy from being first  in the UCI rankings so it is an excellent day”.

“Today I felt fine throughout the day and am now looking forward to other Belgian classics.”


After the ceremonial start in Deinze, the riders, for a second weekend in succession, transferred by bus to the new start in Gistel. The route was 45km shorter and the race didn’t waste time to get going and in the freezing cold and wind, the race blew apart early on. An elite front split of 25 formed and featured the likes of Boonen and Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing), Lars Boom (Blanco Cycling), Sagan, Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).

Video of the last few k

Mathew Hayman, Chris Sutton and Eisel were there to represent Team Sky on a day which saw the team intent to cover each move. Spotting the danger of the missed opportunity, Fabian Cancellara in the third group led the chase group behind and soon there was a regrouping of a very much slimmed down peloton heading into the final 100km.

The race up to this point was all over the place with attack after attack before a move of Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM), Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ) and Assan Bazayev (Astana) went away ahead of the Catsberg. The trio lasted until 52km to go where they were joined by select group which served as the launchpad for the decisive move of the race.

A break of 13 riders quickly went clear with a lead of over two-and-a-half minutes and from the group, Sagan stormed to victory after two second places in recent weeks.


Sagan Too Strong – Borut Bozic (2nd)
“Nobody could go with Sagan, he was too strong said Bozic who won the sprint for second. “All year he is always the strongest in the race but I knew I could sprint for the podium after Sagan, and when we turned into the wind for the finish, I waited and waited and waited until the right moment. I am very happy with my sprint today. I have made some mistakes this season, but today I did everything right,” Bozic said.

“With the weather we had a strange start, and very fast attacks said Astana DS Stefan Zanini. “In the first ten minutes we thought the race was over. In fact the first hour of racing on Sunday was very fast, covering more than 50 kilometers and isolating most of the peloton in several small groups across the windy Belgian countryside”.


Bozic said he found that the cold weather numbed his hands and face, and made talking and eating difficult. “People kept asking me questions after the race, but I couldn’t answer them because my face was frozen like Frankenstein. But after five years of doing this race, and finally getting to the podium, I finally can say that I really like Gent Wevelgem,” Bozic added.

Greg Van Avermaet ,Third 

Greg Van Avermaet sprinted to a third-place finish Sunday for the BMC Racing Team at Gent-Wevelgem, matching his career-best finish in a spring cobblestone classic.Van Avermaet was out-sprinted by runner-up Borut Bozic (Astana Pro Team) 23 seconds after Sagan crossed the line.

“When Sagan went, I tried to follow him but it wasn’t possible,” Van Avermaet said. “I think Sagan is a bit stronger than the rest of us for the moment. But I don’t think I did a bad sprint, it gives me confidence. My condition was already good in Milan-San Remo and E3. After today, it is nice for me and the team to see I’m good. I needed (this result) today for my head.”

Earlier on during a cold, windy day,  BMC put seven of its eight riders in a front group of about 50 in one of the first decisive splits. BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Fabio Baldato said the show of strength was a welcome change from E3 Prijs Vlaanderen-Harelbeke on Friday when only Daniel Oss made the front group, on the way to finishing third.

“It was very satisfying to see so many of our guys in the front working together so well,” he said. “The plan was to protect Thor Hushovd because we were thinking we could arrive with 30 or 40 riders for a massive sprint and we also wanted to try to make the race aggressive.”

Hushovd, who was next-best for the BMC Racing Team in 17th place, said he was feeling good but missing “a little bit” on the hardest moments. “I hope things will change a little bit for this upcoming weekend (Tour of Flanders) and at least for Roubaix,” he said.

Not Fabian’s Day
After winning E3 on Friday, Fabian Cancellara was again on the start line today but dropped out in the feedzone. Cancellara explained “Straight away the race split in three groups and I was in the third. We worked our way up to the second group and I was there with Popo. We then worked our way to the first group but I had my bad day today.”

“I suffered from the cold – I even had cold feet today. I feel a little bit drained from Friday too. But I’m really, really happy that Popo could stay up there and bring home a top ten result. Now it’s time to rest and hope that the weather will be different next week,” he concluded, referring to next Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.

Yaroslav Popovych “It was a difficult day. Right from the start we were working so hard against the wind and cold, cold temperatures. We missed the first group at the start of the race, so there we were pulling and pulling. But once we jumped into the first group, I realized I was suffering and didn’t feel so good. I was suffering so much but I came back some on the descent.”

Originally working for teammate Fabian Cancellara, once the Swiss champion dropped out, Popo was left to race for himself. “In the last 10k, I hoped to do something but at 3km when Sagan went away there was nothing we could do. Some of us tried but we couldn’t. But I’m happy. Earlier in the stage, I wasn’t even sure I would make it to the finish. This is the first time in the two or three years I’ve been coming here that I’ve made the top ten,” concluded the Ukrainian rider.

Tom Boonen crashes out
“Everybody was looking for good position for the Kemmelberg,” Boonen said about the moments before the crash. “I was waiting in the group for the right and last moment to go to the front so I didn’t spend so much energy. At the moment I thought ‘OK, this is the time to go’, another rider passed me from the right, so I had to wait for a few seconds.”

“In those few seconds the curb went from zero to 10 centimeters. The rider in front of me didn’t see it and he wanted to go. So, I had to react and didn’t have enough room to jump on it. I touched it with my front wheel and went down pretty hard. I touched first with my knee and then with the rest of my body. My knee is swollen, it hurts, but we’ll see how it reacts tomorrow. Now is important to keep calm now and don’t try to run before we can walk.”

“We started straight away very hard,” Boonen said of the race. “I was the first guy to put the speed up high and make it very hard. It split into five groups straight away. It was a tough day for everyone. Actually, at the moment of the crash we had the race perfectly under control. We wanted to have someone in the break after the Kemmelberg for sure. We tried to be there with one or two guys and then we could make a decision what to do. Unfortunately, luck was not on our side today.”

Mark Cavendish
“It was a very cold day, a very fast day,” Cavendish said. “I felt good today but we were a little bit unlucky when we lost Tom in a key moment of the race. With Tom in the race, we could have done something good after the Kemmelberg. Anyway, we had Stijn in the front, he had a great race once again. But Sagan is a machine. He deserved to win today.”

1. SAGAN Peter Cannondale Pro Cycling Team 04:29:10
2. BOZIC Borut Astana Pro Team 00:23
3. VAN AVERMAET Greg BMC Racing Team @ st
4. HAUSSLER Heinrich IAM Cycling @ st
5. FLECHA Juan Antonio Vacansoleil – DCM @ st
6. LADAGNOUS Matthieu Equipe Cycliste FDJ @ st
7. EISEL Bernhard Sky Procycling @ st
8. VANDENBERGH Stijn Omega Pharma – Quick-Step 00:24
9. POPOVYCH Yaroslav RadioShack – Leopard @ st
10. AMADOR BAKKAZAKOVA Andrey Movistar Team @ st

11. GREIPEL Andre Lotto Belisol Team 00:40
17. HUSHOVD Thor BMC Racing Team @ st
18. CAVENDISH Mark Omega Pharma – Quick-Step @ st
20. BOASSON HAGEN Edvald Sky Procycling @ st
23. BOOM Lars Blanco Pro Cycling Team @ st
41. PHINNEY Taylor BMC Racing Team 00:44
42. GILBERT Philippe BMC Racing Team @ st
43. STANNARD Ian Sky Procycling @ st
56. ROWE Luke Sky Procycling 01:04
58. BLYTHE Adam BMC Racing Team 01:47



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