April 07, 2019
Tour of Flanders 2019 – Antwerp – Oudenaarde : 270,1 km
The Tour of Flanders – or the Ronde van Vlaanderen in the local lingo – can best be described as a cobbled carnival of cycling.
April 07, 2019
Tour of Flanders 2019 – Antwerp – Oudenaarde : 270,1 km
The Tour of Flanders – or the Ronde van Vlaanderen in the local lingo – can best be described as a cobbled carnival of cycling. For Belgians with a passion for all things pedal-powered, the one-day spring Classic is without doubt the highlight of their season. A Belgian rider has won the race on 69 occasions, and it’s at Flanders where they prove that the nation still consistently produces the best hard men in the sport.
Alberto Bettiol took a well-deserved solo victory and the first win of his career at the Tour of Flanders, going on the attack on the final climb of the Oude Kwaremont, with 17km and then holding off all the big-name chasers.
The EF Education First rider dug deep on the flat final 14km to the finish alone as his rivals hesitated and chased each other, allowing the 25-year-old Tuscan to finish alone.
Dane Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep) stayed clear after launching a late chase to finish 14 second down on Bettiol, with Alexander Kristoff winning the sprint for third place at 17 seconds.
As predicted, the Tour of Flanders was a high-speed tactical race that saw a number of attacks and entertaining racing. 2018 winner Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie) crashed out early, while Deceuninck-QuickStep was unable to boss the race as they had done early in the spring. Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) was strong. He crashed at speed after a puncture but fought his way back and managed to finish fourth.
Incredibly it was Bettiol’s first professional victory but it should be remembered he finished third on the uphill finish at Tirreno-Adriatico to Pomerance, was second in the final time trial and then attacked on the Poggio at MIlan-San Remo. He was also fourth at last week’s E3 BinckBank Classic.
He had revealed to Cyclingnews how he had rediscovered his mojo after returning to EF Education after a season at BMC. He praised his teammates as he struggled to believed he had won the Tour of Flanders.
“I still can’t believe it,” Bettiol said. “I still don’t believe what I did. My first win… I don’t believe it…”
“I don’t know how I did it. I felt really good on the Kwaremont and Andreas (Klier) from the car said: ‘If you can, just go.’ I closed my eyes and went. I looked down at the top and had a really good gap. They said ‘keep pushing, keep pushing.’ On the Paterberg I don’t think I lost a lot and then it was the longest 14km of my life.
“I knew Sebastian (Langeveld) was there protecting me. Seb (Vanmarke) did an amazing job too; a champion like him worked for us all day. It was just crazy. All the guys, Matti (Breschel), Sacha (Modolo), Tom (Scully), Taylor (Phinney), everybody. I think EF was in the front all day.
“We showed we can win the Ronde van Vlaanderen. From now on you (people) should look out more for the pink in the front.”
How it unfolded
Massive crowds welcomed the 175 riders at the start line in sunny Antwerp early on Sunday, with riders and fans ready to enjoy the sunny, windless day of racing.
The long breakaway move kicked off shortly after leaving the Antwerp province, featuring Hugo Houle (Astana), Damien Touzé (Cofidis) and Kenneth van Rooy (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise). Jesper Asselman (Roompot-Charles) soon bridge up solo thus creating a four-man lead group.
After passing through Sint-Niklaas the four leaders started riding away as the peloton took a mass natural break; a closed railway crossing added another minute to their lead. When passing through Berlare, 2019 official village of the Ronde, the gap climbed to over eight minutes and that was the sign for Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and Pascal Eenkhoorn (Jumbo-Visma) to start working in the peloton.
The Oude Kwaremont was the first of 17 climbs at 150km from the finish but shortly before the first of three times over the legendary climb, a low-speed crash took out defending champion Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie). He was later diagnosed with concussion.
As the riders tackled eight climbs in 50km, the gap to the break came down rapidly to one minute when arriving at the famous Muur in Geraardsbergen. The peloton split into two parts at the Muur, sparking the first moment of panic in the peloton. The high speed meant it was a battle to get back on to the front peloton.
At 92km from the finish, the four leaders were caught back by a star-studded group. In no time, the main peloton was trailing that first group by a minute. Lotto-Soudal, AG2R La Mondiale and Katusha-Alpecin worked to bring the gap back down while Belgian champion Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Matti Breschel (EF Education First), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Nelson Oliveira (Movistar) briefly rode away in front. No one team, including Deceuninck-QuickStep could control the racing.
Despite several attacks, the CCC Team-led peloton remained together until Berchem, approaching the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont. Things were about to get a lot more intense. It was here that pre-race favourite Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus) tried to hop over a traffic island, punctured and then went over the handlebars as he tried to signal he need a new wheel. He held his shoulder and lost a lot of time but refused to throw in the towel.
Belgian riders Stijn Vandenbergh (AG2R La Mondiale) and Sep Vanmarcke (EF Education First) rode away from the peloton at the foot of the the 2200 metres long cobbled Oude Kwaremont. By the time they reached the top of the nearby Paterberg, they were joined by Deceuninck-QuickStep’s impressive 24-year-old Kasper Asgreen. At 50km from the finish, the three leaders had a lead of 15 seconds on the peloton and 45 seconds on a group with Van der Poel. Vanmarcke had played down his chances after a nasty crash in the E3 BinckBank Classic but played a vital role for EF Education First.
On the Koppenberg, Dylan van Baarle (Team Sky) rode away from the peloton while Van der Poel bridged back up to the tail-end of the stretched out peloton just in time. Van Baarle joined the leaders just before the cobbles of the Mariaborrestraat and the following Steenbeekdries climb. Double Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Stijn Devolder (Corendon-Circus) led Van der Poel and the rest of the peloton to the Taaienberg. The race was on a knife edge as the likes of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) waited on the wheels.
Surprisingly Deceuninck-QuickStep lacked numbers and Philippe Gilbert was distanced. Zdenek Stybar was suffering and only Bob Jungels and Asgreen looked strong.
At 30km from the finish, the three remaining leaders rode towards the long Kruisberg – Hotond climb with a bonus of half a minute on a disorganised peloton, where Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) was forced to make a bike switch.
The Kruisberg is 2.5km and sparked a real selection. Van Baarle upped forcing Vanmarcke and Asgreen to go deep to catch him. Behind Stybar cracked and was distanced as Jungels upped the pace. He set a painful pace but some how Van der Poel was back up front. So too were Sagan, Valverde, van Avermaet and Kristoff.
Vanmarcke was swept up on the lower slopes of the Oude Kwaremont as the chasers closed in on Van Baarle. Sagan showed his nose near the front but was riding a more cautious race, perhaps unsure of his form.
There were 17km to race as the Kwaremont gradient eased and Bettiol used it as a launch pad. He spun his legs on the tough cobbled surface and suddenly opened a gap on the rest. He fearlessly lined them out, even making Sagan suffer, soon blasting past van Baarle.
Jens Keukeleire (Lotto Soudal) lead the chase and van Avermaet was generous too but Bettiol got away.
He went all in on the fast main road, tucked in an aero position as he rode towards the Paterberg, the final climb. There were just 15 quality riders in the chase group but none committed to the chase, giving Bettiol a 30-second gift. Langeveld also didsome superb blocking for his teammate.
Bettiol suffered on the Paterberg but did not crack. It was his rivals who were on their limit. On the 14km to Oudenaarde, he switched to time trial mode but the chase behind was unorganised, with solo attacks disrupting affairs and boosting Bettiol’s chances.
He kept his lead to 20 seconds and in the final five kilometres the others began to think about the podium spots, racing each other, rather than chasing Bettiol – his solo strength was better than their rivalry.
Sagan made one last effort to inspire the chase but the others failed to join him. Bettiol turned into the long finishing straight and began to realise he was about to win the Tour of Flanders. He surged up the barriers but had his celebrations ready. It was his first-ever road race win but celebrated in style, the same style he had shown with his solo attack and solo drive to the finish.
1 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First 6:18:49
2 Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:14
3 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:17
4 Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Corendon-Circus
5 Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
6 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
7 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
8 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
9 Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team
11 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
12 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
13 Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
14 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
15 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First
16 Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck-QuickStep
17 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
18 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Team Sky 0:00:24
19 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:19
20 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:58
21 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
22 Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team
23 Damien Gaudin (Fra) Direct Energie 0:02:15
24 Ivan Garcia (Spa) Bahrain-Merida 0:02:18
25 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) EF Education First 0:02:20
26 Adrien Petit (Fra) Direct Energie
27 Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
28 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
29 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
30 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
31 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
32 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
33 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida
34 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal
35 Jens Debusschere (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
36 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep
37 Aime De Gendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
38 Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
39 Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
40 Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie
41 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
42 Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky
43 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Movistar Team
44 Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
45 Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team
46 Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot-Charles
47 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
48 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Sky 0:05:47
49 Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:06:09
50 Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education First
51 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Corendon-Circus
52 Julien Vermote (Bel) Dimension Data 0:06:13
53 Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin 0:06:17
54 Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale
55 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
56 Boy van Poppel (Ned) Roompot-Charles
57 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
58 Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Wanty-Gobert
59 Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
60 Piet Allegaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
61 Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC Team
62 Pascal Eenkhoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
63 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
64 Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
65 Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
66 Michael Schär (Swi) CCC Team
67 Thomas Sprengers (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
68 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar Team
69 Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Corendon-Circus
70 Bert De Backer (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel
71 Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC Team
72 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
73 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team
74 Lukas Pöstlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
75 Jack Bauer (NZl) Mitchelton-Scott
76 Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky
77 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
78 Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
79 Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin 0:08:32
80 Matti Breschel (Den) EF Education First 0:08:46
81 Jimmy Turgis (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel
82 Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-Alpecin
83 Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky
84 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
85 Hugo Houle (Can) Astana Pro Team
86 Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
87 Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
88 Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel
89 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Direct Energie
90 Jaime Castrillo (Spa) Movistar Team
91 Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Corendon-Circus
92 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
93 Senne Leysen (Bel) Roompot-Charles
94 Daniil Fominykh (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
95 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
96 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott
97 Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie
98 Filippo Ganna (Ita) Team Sky
99 Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma
100 Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-FDJ
101 Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo
102 Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Dimension Data
103 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
104 Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
105 Iljo Keisse (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:10:14
106 Damien Touze (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
107 Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb
108 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana Pro Team
109 Benjamin Declercq (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
110 Stijn Steels (Bel) Roompot-Charles
111 Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
112 Casper Pedersen (Den) Team Sunweb
113 Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
114 Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ
115 Juraj Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
116 Jordi Warlop (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
117 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension Data
118 Edward Planckaert (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
119 Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team
120 Alex Kirsch (Lux) Trek-Segafredo
121 Vegard Stake Laengen (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
122 Nico Denz (Ger) AG2R La Mondiale
123 Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
124 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
125 Lars Bak (Den) Dimension Data 0:10:49
DNF Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNF Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Lasse Norman Hansen (Den) Corendon-Circus
DNF Brian van Goethem (Ned) Lotto Soudal
DNF Lawrence Naesen (Bel) Lotto Soudal
DNF Zico Waeytens (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNF Roy Jans (Bel) Corendon-Circus
DNF Dries De Bondt (Bel) Corendon-Circus
DNF Lars Boom (Ned) Roompot-Charles
DNF Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
DNF Sjoerd van Ginneken (Ned) Roompot-Charles
DNF Kenneth Van Rooy (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
DNF Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel
DNF Adrien Garel (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel
DNF Julien Morice (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel
DNF Jérémy Lecroq (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotel
DNF Pim Ligthart (Ned) Direct Energie
DNF Tom Devriendt (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
DNF Ludwig De Winter (Bel) Wanty-Gobert
DNF Jesper Asselman (Ned) Roompot-Charles
DNF Taylor Phinney (USA) EF Education First
DNF Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie
DNF Zhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNF Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
DNF Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
DNF Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNF Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNF Edoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
DNF Jenthe Biermans (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
DNF Rick Zabel (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
DNF Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
DNF Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb
DNF Filippo Fortin (Ita) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNF Asbjørn Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
DNF Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
DNF Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First
DNF Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
DNF Kamil Gradek (Pol) CCC Team
DNF Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Kiel Reijnen (USA) Trek-Segafredo
DNF Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Bagdonas Gediminas (Ltu) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNF Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ
DNF Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
DNF Jay Thomson (RSA) Dimension Data
DNF Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNF Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb