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by Matt de Neef
April 3, 2017
In today’s edition of the CT Daily News Digest: Philippe Gilbert wins the Tour of Flanders with thrilling 55km solo move; Coryn Rivera becomes first American to win the Tour of Flanders; Rare victory for Rory Sutherland at Vuelta Ciclista a La Rioja; Simon Yates victorious at GP Miguel Indurain; Sagan and Vanmarcke crash out of Flanders; Double mechanical ruins Boonen’s Flandrian fairytale; Gilbert outlines dream of winning all five Monuments; Mixed reception to Muur’s Flanders return; Vinokourov and Kolobnev to face court in May over Liege corruption allegation; Fallen endurance racer Mike Hall honoured in tribute rides.
Belgian national champion Philippe Gilbert lived out a dream scenario for any Belgian cyclist at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, crossing the finish line of the most important race in Belgium, alone, in the tricolor of black, yellow, and red. On a day marked by crashes and slow bike changes for several pre-race favorites, Gilbert could do no wrong, riding clear of a strong group on the second of three ascents of the Oude Kwaremont with 55km to go.
The return of the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen, or Kappelmuur, after five years of exclusion, proved pivotal; what would prove to be the winning group went clear there with over 90km remaining. Gilbert’s teammate, three-time Flanders winner Tom Boonen, initiated the split on the Kappelmuur, and those who missed out included Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).
The Kwaremont would be the setting for further drama, on the third and final ascent with 19km to go, when Sagan tangled with a course barrier, taking down Oliver Naesen (AG2r La Mondiale) and Van Avermaet. Though Van Avermaet was able to quickly remount, and ultimately won the sprint for second place, Sagan and Naesen had major mechanicals and would not play a factor in the finale.
At the line, Gilbert had enough time to dismount and raise his bike over his head, adding a Ronde title to a career that includes a world title and wins at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Il Lombardia, Amstel Gold Race, Omloop Het Volk, Fleche Wallonne, and more.
“It all started on the Muur, I was riding on Tom’s wheel and it went on from there,” Gilbert said. “After the Muur, we had three riders in the group and we decided to push on from there. We had a good gap, a group of about 15 riders. Then we went to the Kwaremont and we decided to go full on. I looked behind and I was alone and I just went on from there.”
Follow the link to read more at CyclingTips.