Gent Wevelgem – 3rd for Thomas


In an epic Gent Wevelgem that will go down in history, Geraint Thomas recovered from being blown off his bike to get third.

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Gent Wevelgem – 3rd for Thomas

Experience and a toughness from many a year racing in the pro ranks, paid off in spades on Sunday as Team Katusha’s Luca Paolini solo’d to victory in the Flanders Classic, Gent – Wevelgem.

Seizing the opportunity to attack with 6 km to go, Paolini created a gap that he carried to the finish line, marking the 15th professional win of his career. Pointing to his head and his Team Katusha logo on the jersey as he crossed the finish line, it was a fantastic ride for the exuberant Italian rider.

“I am really happy today! I did not expect this because we came here to help Alex (Kristoff), who proved to be in good shape”.

“But in one moment, he said he didn’t feel so strong today and told me to try for myself. It was a very hard day with all the bad weather. I crashed two times and I had to change the bike twice, but I still had the power to stay in front”.


“In the final, I knew I had to avoid the sprint, because I am not too fast in the sprint. I knew I had to attack. With 6 km to go, I tried to attack with 50% of my power to watch the reaction from the others. Nobody answered so I went for 100%”.

“I had luck on my side and I won. Maybe this is the best victory in my career. I want to thank my family, my wife and children for their support and patience, and I want to thank my team, where I feel like we’re family”.

“The team provided us with a very good training program in the winter and I was able to get into great shape. I am super happy today”

Geraint Thomas battled back from a crash to take a gutsy third
The Welshman was once again a tower of strength as he worked his way to the front of the race amid terrible conditions in Flanders.

Video: Wind shoves Thomas off the road

After shutting down a relentless stream of attacks, the 28-year-old could only watch as Luca Paolini clipped off on the run into Wevelgem to take the victory. Thomas followed Niki Terpstra (Etixx – Quick-Step) home to round out the podium and continue his momentum following Friday’s victory at E3 Harelbeke.

The talking point for many a year to come was with 58 kilometres remaining, Geraint Thomas went down after the wind pushed him off the road and onto the grass verge in the wind.

Undeterred, he fought his way back into the select front group which had formed, carved out through echelons and attacks during a brutal opening 100km. Often a race for the sprinters, the peloton was decimated before the race even hit the first of nine bergs.

The group, joined by eventual winner Paolini (Katusha), were forced to chase down the lone attack of Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) after the Belgian built up a gap of over two minutes off the Monteberg.


The catch was made on the road out of Ypres but with fatigue setting in, a tactical battle ensued between the group of seven riders.

Thomas showed he was arguably the strongest rider in the race by riding across the gap to a move from Terpstra and Paolini with 12.2km remaining, but with 6km to go Paolini used all his experience to make his final attack stick.

After the race a tired Thomas talked about a difficult day on the bike and an attacking finale. “Today was just on all day – stress and full gas,” he admitted. “I’m happy to be on the podium again. Obviously it would have been nice to go for the win but it’s hard when you’re coming into the final and everyone’s attacking. You can’t really go with everything and some people don’t want to pull as much”.

“There wasn’t really any collaboration in the group. It was hard to get everyone going. People were looking at me a bit after my win on Friday. That’s what it felt like. When Paolini went, it was a good move for him but we all looked at each other. Fortunately me and Niki got away at the end.”

Thomas was also happy to come away from his crash without any serious injuries, adding: “The grass was softer that the tarmac! It was unbelievable. The gusts were incredible. It was hard enough just trying to stay on the bike. Fortunately it was all okay in the end”.

“I’ll rest up now. Have a good massage, eat well, stay in bed and put my feet up until Sunday.”


Second for Niki Terpstra
“I had some bad luck I had to work through at this race,” Terpstra said. “When we reached the Casselberg, and I had a flat on top. But at that moment there was 10 groups due to the wind. There were no cars behind us, so I took a wheel of someone standing there with a spare and I chased”.

“Then we started catching group-by-group and we worked together so we could come back to the first and we did it. Then ​in a key moment moment when a select group formed in the front with Vandenbergh, Thomas, and others, I hesitated a bit and I lost the momentum to be together with them”.

“At a certain moment when the gap was almost a minute, I ​decided to go and it is not even just a time trial to make it to the group. It is really full gas, maximum effort, until you can catch them. Otherwise you won’t make it”.

“I was able to catch them, even though it cost me a lot. I tried my best to recover at that point. Then I had another flat tire in another key moment. But OK, even with these things in my legs already, I have to say Paolini deserved the victory today”.

“He was already going so fast when he attacked and there was a tailwind. We would have had to do almost 65 kilometers per hour to catch him. It was really hard. He simply did the right attack in a good moment. So all I could do in the end was my best for a second place, and I have to say I am happy with my sprint”.


“I made the best of my situation I think. I felt strong and now I know what I can do if I am there in the final. Considering everything, including the conditions which were crazy and riders blowing off the road, I am happy I stayed on the bike and was there to decide this hectic race”.

“We also showed again that we have a strong team who can be there in the actions. The first step after this race is to recover, then fine tune the condition before De Ronde. My condition is there and we will see what I can do going forward.”

Meanwhile, Mark Cavendish crashed twice, the second time in a big crash involving teammates Lukasz Wisniowski and Martin Velits. Velits and Wisniowski withdrew from the race, with a confirmed fractured right collarbone for Velits.


Cavendish was able to chase back and made it with a front echelon when the race was split into small groups in brutal crosswinds. But someone (Geraint Thomas) made contact with the front wheel of Cavendish, damaging it and causing him to stop with a mechanical. At that moment, between two crashes and already using energy to chase back two times, it was too late to return to the group and he also withdrew from the race.

Solo attack from Jurgen Roelandts
100 kilometres from the finish, Maarten Tjallingii thought it was his time to attack and after the first ascent of the Kemmelberg, Lotto Soudal’s Jürgen Roelandts accompanied him. The Lotto Soudal rider soon went solo.

He still had 75 kilometres to cover. The chase group consisted of five riders: teammate Debusschere, Oss, Thomas, Vanmarcke and Vandenbergh. Later Paolini and Terpstra would join them. For a long time Roelandts had a stable advantage on the chasers of two minutes.

But 18 kilometres from the end, his solo adventure came to an end. Jürgen Roelandts said of the move “The weather didn’t scare me off today, it was as forecaste. Although, I have to say, I can’t remember it was ever so bad in a race”.

“We had to be very attentive because of the echelons. I felt really good today and after the first ascent of the Kemmelberg I closed the gap on Tjallingii. Not much later I rode alone in front. I had hoped more riders would follow me”.


“For a while I thought about holding back, but eventually I continued. I wanted to make something of this race. If I had one other man with me, this could have worked. Now it was one against four and then one against six.”

“I hoped to benefit from the tailwind in the last part of the race, but in Ypres I got tired. Until 25 kilometres from the finish, I still believed in it. Not much later, I had no energy left, although I had eaten and taken sufficient fluids. It was a long time ago since I had done such an effort”.

“If I had pulled this off it would have been a crazy performance. Now I’ll focus on my recuperation for the Tour of Flanders.”

10th for Peter Sagan
“It was an extremely tough and dangerous race” said the Tinkoff Saxo rider. “After 70km, we had forceful wind gusts and at the same time we were going full gas, which created echelons and made the race really tough”.

“I have now had two demanding races, E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem, and I have spent a lot of energy. So I need to recover from today and I’ll be looking forward to Ronde van Vlaanderen.”


1. Luca Paolini, Team Katusha 6:20:55
2. Niki Terpstra, Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:11
3. Geraint Thomas, Team Sky
4. Stijn Vandenbergh, Etixx – Quick-Step 0:00:18
5. Jens Debusschere, Lotto Soudal 0:00:26
6. Sep Vanmarcke, Team LottoNL-Jumbo 0:00:40
7. Jurgen Roelandts , Lotto Soudal 0:01:51
8. Daniel Oss, BMC Racing Team 0:04:15
9. Alexander Kristoff, Team Katusha 0:06:54
10. Peter Sagan, Tinkoff-Saxo

17. Scott Thwaites, Bora-Argon 18
36. Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team
38. Zdenek Stybar, Etixx – Quick-Step

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