Gent-Wevelgem – John Degenkolb fastest to top step


Giant Shimano’s John Degenkolb was fastest in the bunch kick to decide the winner of the Belgian Classic Gent Wevelgem

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 Gent-Wevelgem – John Degenkolb fastest to top step

John Degenkolb has made up for his disappointment at Milan-Sanremo last weekend with an emphatic victory at Gent-Wevelgem in Belgium. The race came down to a bunch sprint and John timed his effort to perfection, coming off the wheel to come past Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and launch cross the line to take one of the biggest victories of his young career so far.


Gent-Wevelgem is a Classic that favors a bunch sprint finish, even more so when the weather is dry, warm and the winds calm like today. A five-rider breakaway -Sebastian Lander (BMC Racing), Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo), Jaco Venter (MTN-Qhubeka), Frederik Veuchelen (Wanty-Groupe Goubert) and Marcel Aregger (IAM Cycling)- forged ahead from the start, but with 233 kilometers and 16 hellingen ahead it was only a matter of time before the escapees were caught.

With the peloton all together and still numbering 80 riders, the key move came with 25 kilometers remaining. Stijn Devolder joined Silvan Dillier (BMC) and Andrey Amador (Movistar) and the trio quickly pulled ahead.

With 10 kilometers to go it was going to be close: the Devolder group still had 36 seconds and each rider was taking equal pulls. However, behind the peloton chased furiously with numerous sprinters still in contention. Even a crash that took out both Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) did not disrupt the frenzied chase and the three leaders were caught just outside the last kilometre banner.

A bunch kick ensued with Degenkolb winning and saying afterwards “This race is one of the really big classics and I am so happy to add Gent-Wevelgem to my palmares. The race worked out perfectly for us today. The guys were really strong and Dries did a great job chasing towards the end – he is really strong at the moment.”

“Koen de Kort positioned me perfectly in the final, driving me onto Sagan’s wheel and I had the right position and could come through at the right time so it was a fantastic sprint. I am a very happy man.”

“My shape is good and this is a good sign for the next big races. Last weekend at Milan-Sanremo was probably one of the most disappointing moments of my career, and today everything went 100% better than last week so I can forget about that disappointment now.”

No Smiley for Sagan
Said to have a smiley for the finish on his race details on the bike, it wasn’t to be for Peter Sagan and second was the best he could do againstthe speed of Degenkolb. “This third place satisfies me”. he says “I had a good sprint though perhaps I left it too soon. I finished the race safely without getting involved in any crash” said Sagan.

“The reuslt of sprint finishes are always those less obvious especially when there are so many good riders in the group and the legs have 230 km in them. I’m still happy for the podium and the good feelings I had. That today was a good chance to win but I’m not sorry. It ‘ been a good day.”

“Next week will be very important to prepare the Ronde Van Vlaanderen. The results obtained at Harelbeke and today at Gent -Wevelgem show that the condition is good. I am confident that I can make a good run.”

Tom Boonen still searching for the classics form
“I still had some pain in my hand,” Boonen explained. “In the beginning, it was still sensitive. On the cobbles, it still hurts, but on the normal roads it was acceptable. It was not something I was worrying about. I have some time left to recover from this.”

“As for the race, I was good today. The race was really fast. You can see if it’s fast like that, the splits are maybe appearing later in the race. Everyone is already tired. It wasn’t really windy today, so it changed the tactics a lot.”

“The first time on the Kemmelberg we were in the front. I told Styby straight away I was going to aim for the sprint, not try to bomb the race on the climbs. It’s too far to get to the final. So I concentrated on the sprint from the last time on the Kemmelberg.”

“Then everything went the way I was hoping it would, the team brought me to the final, but in the sprint we messed it up in the last 400 meters. But OK, my condition was good. So maybe it hurts even more. If you start sprinting and blow right away you say OK, but if you start sprinting from 15th position and finish 5th, it’s maybe a missed chance.”

“It’s painful to lose a race like that. But, that happens and now we look ahead. Now it is recovery, concentration, and training, to tune things up for next Sunday,” Boonen said.

Sky’s Classic Challenge falls by the roadside
A incident-filled race saw Ian Stannard and Chris Sutton go down, while Geraint Thomas was taken out of contention late on in another pile-up heading into Wevelgem.

Edvald Boasson Hagen led the Sky team home in 23rd after being forced to chase back on a number of times during the tough 233-kilometre Spring Classic.

A rider who has been at the forefront of the classics this week is Stijn Devolder. He was in that late move that almost denied the sprinters and said afterwards “There was no real shifting on the hills. After the climbs, everything pretty much came back together, so there was a big group with a lot of fresh guys still,” Devolder explained

“When [Silvan] Dillier went, it was intuitive for me to go too. There were no more climbs left so no more strategy for us either. It’s too bad that behind the others collaborated well. Dirk [Demol] and Luc [Meersman] from the car kept telling me, ‘believe in it, believe in it, it’s possible’. I believed in it, and I gave it my all, but in the end we were caught with just over 1k to go.”

“My form is good, and I already showed that in Harelbeke when I had to bridge to front group after the crash,” continued Devolder. “Today I tried and just missed it; maybe with a little more luck it would have worked.”

“I believed we had it until 2k to go. Then when Greipel crashed we thought this could be a key moment – that it could disrupt the chase behind – but not really. We had excellent collaboration between the three of us. Now I am going to ride some more kilometers – my dad is waiting with the derny.”


Gent-Wevelgem: John Degenkolb fastest to top step
1 DEGENKOLB John Team Giant-Shimano 05:34:37
2 DéMARE Arnaud
3 SAGAN Peter Cannondale
4 VANMARCKE Sep Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
5 BOONEN Tom Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
6 VAN ASBROECK Tom Topsport Vlaanderen – Baloise
7 TSATEVICH Alexey Team Katusha
8 HUTAROVICH Yauheni AG2R La Mondiale
9 HUSHOVD Thor BMC Racing Team
10 ROELANDTS Jurgen Lotto Belisol
11 KRISTOFF Alexander Team Katusha
12 BENNETT Sam Team NetApp – Endura
13 COQUARD Bryan Team Europcar
14 MONDORY Lloyd AG2R La Mondiale
15 TRENTIN Matteo Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
16 LEMOINE Cyril Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
17 CIOLEK Gerald MTN – Qhubeka
18 BENNATI Daniele Tinkoff-Saxo
19 VAN POPPEL Boy Trek Factory Racing
20 STYBAR Zdenek Omega Pharma – Quick-Step

22 PHINNEY Taylor BMC Racing Team
23 BOASSON HAGEN Edvald Team Sky
38 CANCELLARA Fabian Trek Factory Racing
61 DEVOLDER Stijn Trek Factory Racing @ 0.27 secs
62 HOOGERLAND Johnny Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela
63 BAUER Jack Garmin Sharp
71 KEISSE Iljo Omega Pharma – Quick-Step
72 BRESCHEL Matti Tinkoff-Saxo
83 DEMPSTER Zakkari Team NetApp – Endura 03:27
89 SERGENT Jesse Trek Factory Racing
108 BOOM Lars Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
112 THOMAS Geraint Team Sky
131 FARRAR Tyler Garmin Sharp
137 YATES Simon Orica GreenEDGE @ 13.04



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