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When Philippe Gilbert (QuickStep Floors) attacked on the Oude Kwaremont, 55km from the finish of Sunday’s Tour of Flanders, it looked like a move designed to give teammate Tom Boonen a free ride in the group behind. Few, if any, would have thought the 2012 world champion hold on all the way into Oudenaarde.
It shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise. Gilbert’s been in rare form so far in 2017, ever since he made the switch from BMC to QuickStep Floors; form that’s almost reminiscent of 2011-era Gilbert – the Gilbert that could do seemingly anything; that won 18 races in one year including all three Ardennes Classics.
Gilbert’s win on Sunday was a special one – the Belgian national champion, winning Belgium’s biggest race. By contrast, it didn’t end up being such a great day for Boonen, who fell foul of an ill-timed mechanical issue (or two). Pre-race favourites Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) were also frustrated by how things panned out, the former bringing down the latter, himself and Ag2r-La Mondiale’s Oliver Naesen in what was an avoidable crash. Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac), too, had a day to forget.
It was a reminder that few events speak to the unpredictability of bike racing like the Tour of Flanders. Of course, the same is true of this Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix …
Until then, we hope you enjoy the following selection of images from last weekend’s Tour of Flanders, from Kristof Ramon, Jered & Ashley Gruber, and Cor Vos.