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The 116th edition of the ‘Hell of the North’ was held on Sunday and it was a true spectacle. QuickStep Floors had been dominant throughout the cobbled classics and, to many onlookers, the race was theirs to lose. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) was among the top favourites, but without a strong team and with Quickstep having so many cards to play, the deck was stacked against Sagan.
But in his typical style Sagan took the race by the horns, making a brilliantly gutsy move with 54 kilometres to go, catching the remnants of the daylong breakaway, and then out-sprinting Sylvan Dillier (Ag2r La Mondiale) to win the second Monument of his career.
Sagan has provided us with so many memorable moments in recent years that it’s tough to say if this was better than the rest. But the ride of the day arguably goes to to Dillier, the 27-year-old Swiss, who had been in the breakaway for most of the day, worked with Sagan until the end, and then hung on for second. This is a rider to follow, folks.
“Peter Sagan was an angel and a devil in the same person,” Dillier said after the race. “Without you I wouldn’t have made it up there into the velodrome, but it’s so hard to beat you in the sprint! Very happy with my little cobblestone for second place.”
The photos below tell the story of the day. They come to you courtesy of our talented photographers Kristof Ramon and Jered & Ashley Gruber.