March 28, 2021
Gent-Wevelgem 2021 – Ypres – Wevelgem : 247 km
Gent-Wevelgem will return to its familiar late March slot this year and, like it has done for the majority of its 87-year history,
March 28, 2021
Gent-Wevelgem 2021 – Ypres – Wevelgem : 247 km
Gent-Wevelgem will return to its familiar late March slot this year and, like it has done for the majority of its 87-year history, mark the start of the one-week countdown to the biggest Belgian Classic of the season, the Tour of Flanders. The race has everything a proper Belgian Classic should have, from leg-breaking cobbled climbs to pan-flat highways ravaged by vicious crosswinds. This hotchpotch of obstacles make it one of the most unpredictable races on the calendar and a Classic that absolutely anyone could win. For years, Gent-Wevelgem was renowned for being a ‘Sprinters Classic’ and one of the only Flandrian one-day races that a sprinter could realistically win. This is largely due to the fact that its winners list – particularly since the turn of the millennium – is chock-full of fastmen, like Mario Cipollini, Óscar Freire, Peter Sagan and Alexander Kristoff. A winners list only tells half the story however. In reality, this race favours all kinds of riders, from the sprinters to the fast-finishing all-rounders, and even the plucky opportunists!
Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) claimed his first classic of the season at Gent-Wevelgem from a seven-man sprint.
The Belgian was the quickest in a small group that was nevertheless made up of quality sprinters, with Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Assos) taking second and Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) third.
The seven riders had all been part of a group of around 20 riders that broke clear in windy conditions during the first half of the race.
After working well together, that group was reduced to nine on the second ascent of the Kemmelberg, featuring Van Aert, Nizzolo, Trentin, Michael Matthews (BikeExchange), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert) and Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma).
The dangerous sprint of Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was taken out of contention during the flat run-in to the finish, when he appeared to be struck by a bout of illness.
With Van Poppel also dropped, that left the seven remaining riders to contest the sprint at the finish, which, despite the calibre of sprinter in the group, was comfortably won by Van Aert by a bike-length.
Van Aert was pleased to make this early split, but expressed at the finish how much work was required to keep them from being caught.
“It was a sprint at high speed, we had a tailwind all the way back from the Kemmelberg and we were able to launch early enough. Everything went perfect and nobody came past.
“As it was only a group of about 20 guys, we still had to do a lot of turns. It was a whole day in the crosswinds, they never stopped actually. It was a massive effort, but definitely worth it.”
Although the likes of Deceuninck-QuickStep and AG2R Citroën made efforts to get back into contention throughout the day, their star riders like Zdenek Štybar, Yves Lampaert, Greg Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen all never recovered after missing out on the initial split.
How it unfolded
The 83rd Gent-Wevelgem got under way without Trek-Segafredo and Bora-Hansgrohe, both of which had to pull out due to Covid-19 positives.
The 247km race began formulaically enough, with Stefan Bisseger, Jonas Rutsch (both EF Education Nippo), Yevgeniy Federov (Astana-Premier Tech), and Laurenz Rex (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB) forming the first break of the day.
However, things burst into life when a strong cross-tail wind ripped the race to pieces, and 21 riders went clear from the rest of the peloton.
The group included Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty Gobert), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious), Jack Bauer (BikeExchange), Luka Mezgec (BikeExchange), Michael Matthews (BikeExchange), Robert Stannard (BikeExchange), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Luis Mas (Movistar), Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka Assos), Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Michal Golas (Ineos), Timothy Dupont (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles), Jeremy Lecroq (B&B Hotels p/b KTM) and Cyril Lemoine (B&B Hotels).
They closed the seven-minute gap to the four earlier escapees, to form a new lead group of 25 riders.
The beginning of the climbs halfway into the race offered a springboard for riders in the second group to bridge up to the first, and on the Baneberg, Zdenek Stybar, Davide Ballerini (both Deceuninck-QuickStep), Luke Durbridge (BikeExchange) and Oscar Riesebeek (Alpecin-Fenix) attempted to do so.
After the first ascent of the Kemmelberg, Stybar, Durbridge and Riesebeek were joined by Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Søren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM), Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix) and Oliver Naesen (AG2R Citroën), to form a new chasing group of seven riders.
These seven were caught by about a dozen more riders 76km from the finish, including Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën), and continued to get bigger as more riders such as John Degenkolb (Lotto Soudal) and Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) caught back on.
Despite its bigger size, these chasers began to lose ground on the leaders, with the deficit up to over one minute by the start of the Plugstreets.
The work from teams like AG2R Citroën, Qhubeka Assos and Groupama-FDJ shed many of the weaker riders from the chasing group on the approach to the second ascent of the Kemmelberg, but they were still unable to make any inroads to the lead group, which was working together cohesively.
On the Kemmelberg, the pace set by Van Aert reduced the lead group to just nine riders: Bennett, Matthews, Trentin, Colbrelli, Küng, Nizzolo, Van Poppel and Van Hooydonck. They pressed on, and by the time they returned to the Kemmelberg for the third and final ascent 36km from the finish, had a lead of one minute over the nearest chasing group.
Trentin set the pace on the Kemmelberg this time, but the nine-man group remained intact.
Bennett did especially well to keep up with these classics specialists on such a difficult climb, but the effort clearly took a lot out of him, and he was even caught on camera vomiting shortly after cresting it.
As they continued to work together, and the gap remained steady at around one minute, it became increasingly likely that the chasers behind were not going to catch them.
The first attack among the leaders came from Van Hooydonck with 16km to go. His acceleration had the effect of dropping Van Poppel and, crucial, Bennett, who was still struggling from whatever had ailed him earlier.
With so many strong sprinters among the remaining seven riders, there were no more attacks until 2km, when Küng made a move.
Küng was unable to get a gap, however, and had to resort instead to leading out the sprint. Van Aert passed him on the right-hand side 150 metres from the line, and no-one else could get near the Belgian as he sprinted to victory.
1 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 5:45:11
2 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos 0
3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0
4 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious 0
5 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange 0
6 Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
7 Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 0:00:03
8 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers 0:00:52
9 Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:00:54
10 Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix 0:01:25
11 Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
12 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
13 Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
14 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
15 Jack Bauer (NZl) Team BikeExchange
16 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team 0:01:27
17 Owain Doull (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers 0:01:52
18 Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:56
19 Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie 0:01:57
20 Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
21 Michal Golas (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers 0:02:00
22 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
23 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
24 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
25 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:02:04
26 Maximilian Walscheid (Ger) Team Qhubeka Assos 0:02:22
27 John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
28 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
29 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious
30 Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
31 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
32 Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeExchange
33 Dimitri Claeys (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos
34 Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
35 Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM 0:03:19
36 Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:04:18
37 Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
38 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
39 Ryan Gibbons (RSA) UAE Team Emirates
40 Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
41 Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange
42 Timothy Dupont (Bel) Bingoal WB
43 Jonas Rickaert (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
44 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
45 Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
46 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
47 Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
48 Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
49 Brent Van Moer (Bel) Lotto Soudal
50 Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo
51 Michael Mørkøv (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep
52 Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
53 Bryan Coquard (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
54 Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic 0:04:34
55 Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:04:40
56 Jonas Rutsch (Ger) EF Education-Nippo 0:08:36
57 Jens Debusschere (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
58 Adrien Petit (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:11:24
59 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Total Direct Energie
60 Milan Menten (Bel) Bingoal WB
61 Artyom Zakharov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
62 Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis
63 Thimo Willems (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
64 Juri Hollmann (Ger) Movistar Team
65 Boy van Poppel (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
66 Andreas Stokbro NIELSEN
67 Rick Zabel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
68 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
69 Johan Jacobs (Swi) Movistar Team
70 Cedric Beullens (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
71 Emil Vinjebo (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos
72 Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
73 Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
74 Leonardo Basso (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers
75 Silvan Dillier (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix
76 Kenny Molly (Bel) Bingoal WB
77 Bert De Backer (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
78 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
79 Jos van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
80 Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
81 Nils Eekhoff (Ned) Team DSM
82 Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic
83 Stijn Steels (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
84 Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
85 Jonas Castrique (Bel) Bingoal WB
86 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Cofidis
87 Benjamin Perry (Can) Astana-Premier Tech
88 Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team
89 Andrey Amador (CRc) Ineos Grenadiers
90 Robbe Ghys (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise 0:11:30
DNF Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Israel Start-up Nation
DNF Mads Würtz Schmidt (Den) Israel Start-up Nation
DNF André Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-up Nation
DNF Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Total Direct Energie
DNF Florian Vermeersch (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNF Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNF Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNF Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis
DNF Damien Gaudin (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNF Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux
DNF Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
DNF Edoardo Affini (Ita) Jumbo-Visma
DNF Damien Touze (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNF Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie
DNF Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
DNF Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team
DNF Christophe Noppe (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNF Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Alexis Renard (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation
DNF Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Bram Welten (Ned) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNF Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team
DNF Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education-Nippo
DNF Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Team DSM
DNF Cees Bol (Ned) Team DSM
DNF Marco Haller (Aut) Bahrain Victorious
DNF Michael Gogl (Aut) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNF Piet Allegaert (Bel) Cofidis
DNF Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
DNF Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Ivo Oliveira (Por) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo
DNF Jens Keukeleire (Bel) EF Education-Nippo
DNF Casper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM
DNF Daniel Arroyave Cañas (Col) EF Education-Nippo
DNF Julien Morice (Fra) B&B Hotels p/b KTM
DNF Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Cameron Wurf (Aus) Ineos Grenadiers
DNF Arne Marit (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Fabio Van Den Bossche (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Lindsay De Vylder (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Scott Thwaites (GBr) Alpecin-Fenix
DNF Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNF Laurenz Rex (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNF Ludovic Robeet (Bel) Bingoal WB
DNF Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) EF Education-Nippo
DNF Jelle Wallays (Bel) Cofidis
DNF Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
DNF Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech
DNF Hugo Houle (Can) Astana-Premier Tech
DNF André Carvalho (Por) Cofidis
DNF Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Qhubeka Assos
DNF Niklas Märkl (Ger) Team DSM
DNF Jonathan Milan (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
DNF Alex Edmondson (Aus) Team BikeExchange
DNF Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNF Nico Denz (Ger) Team DSM
DNF Sebastian Mora Vedri (Spa) Movistar Team
DNF Amaury Capiot (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNF Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic
DNF Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious
DNF Gabriel Cullaigh (GBr) Movistar Team
DNF Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team BikeExchange
DNF Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain Victorious
DNF Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange
DNS Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
DNS Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
DNS Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
DNS Michael Schwarzmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNS Quinn Simmons (USA) Trek-Segafredo
DNS Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
DNS Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo
DNS Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
DNS Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNS Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNS Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNS Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNS Nils Politt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNS Mikkel Bjerg (Den) UAE Team Emirates
DNS Rüdiger Selig (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe