25/03/12 - 10:20
Road race - Men
Gent - Wevelgem • Stage1

Road race - Men

Follow the Gent - Wevelgem live with Eurosport. The Gent - Wevelgem race starts at 10:20 on 25 March 2012. Find Gent - Wevelgem results, calendar, standings and table. Get all the info on the teams to watch.
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Thanks for joining me and see you next Sunday for the Tour of Flanders.


Breschel, Freire, Boasson-Hagen, Bennati, Marcato, Chainel, Pozzato and Visconti completes the top 10.


What a week for Boonen who wins his second World Tour race in the space of three days after claiming E3 Harelbeke on Friday.


A third victory in the race for the Belgian who gets up in the closing metres to edge out Peter Sagan.




Under the Flamme Rouge and around 30 will contest a bunch sprint. Boonen, Freire, Sagan, Boasson Hagen or Goss?


OPQS pulling on the front for Boonen.


Peter Sagan, Matt Goss and Edvald Boasson Hagen are other prominent sprinters in the lead group. The Norwegian's Team Sky team-mate Christian Knees has just had an escape bid foiled.


The Omega Pharma-Quick Step duo of Gert Steegmans and Gerald Ciolek are prevalent near the front as they look to support Tom Boonen.


Katusha setting the pace on the front in support of Oscar Freire.


GreenEdge and RadioShack both have riders in the lead group of around 30, Daniele Bennati has just punctured so only Fabian Cancellara for BMC. It is all over for Cavendish with the gap now over a minute.


Britain's Lizzie Armitstead has won the inaugural women's event.


The brave bid of Lund and Izaguirre comes to an end. But things look doomed for Cavendish with the two pelotons seperated by 40 seconds and just one Team Sky team-mate on the front.


Andre Greipel and John Degenkolb are also in the Cav group which remains 25 seconds behind the front chase group. Anders Lund and Jon Izaguirre still lead by 45 seconds. Surely they can't stay away, can they?


Tom Boonen is in the lead group but Mark Cavendish is not. He in a group of around 35 riders which is 25 seconds back.


The Cancellara group has been caught by the peloton.


So the race situation as they begin the flat run-in to the finish. Anders Lund and Jon Izaguirre, part of that early escape, lead by a minute from a seven-man group that features Fabien Cancellara and Peter Sagan. A peloton of around 30 riders is a further 15 seconds back.


Greg Van Avermaet has a dig on the 11th and final hellingen, the Monteberg. Then Fabian Cancellara has a burst to try and shed the sprinters and he is followed by Peter Sagan as they pick up the remnants of the original escape group.


Over the Kemmelberg and it is Matti Breschel who has made a bold bid to escape. The peloton is strung out but this one is likely to regroup and it is likely that a large group will contest a bunch sprint finish. Just the Monteberg left to climb.


Surely one of the Classics riders will try to make a decisive break as they hit the foot of the Kemmel for the second time. Look out for the likes of Cancellara, Gilbert, Ballan, Van Avermaet, Steegmans, O'Grady, Sagan, Vansummeren, Pozzato and Voeckler to attack.


Anders Lund and Jon Izaguirre have gone off the front of the escape group and a slight lull in the pace in the peloton sees them lead by 2:55 as they summit the Baneberg for the second time.


Pozzato leads the main bunch up the Kemmelberg but some of the stragglers are rejoining the peloton as they head towards hellingen number eight, the Schomminkelstraat. BMC now setting the pace as Krivtsov has been dropped from the front group whose advantage is down to two minutes.


Gilbert tests his legs with a burst of acceleration as GreenEdge drive the peloton towards the Kemmelberg where we will see the first selection of the race. It has been used in this race since 1955 when it was wholly unpaved. Now it is a mix of tarmac and cobbles but it remains a rough climb where riders tend to pick the dirt path to the side of the cobbles. Three minutes is the advantage of the eight escapees.


The Vidaigneberg is the fifth slope of the afternoon and Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) picks a bad time to have a puncture.


Garmin-Barracuda are following GreenEdge at the head of the peloton as the lead is cut under four minutes.


We mentioned Gilbert's health earlier and he was another rider who initially was not in the front group. He is back in the main bunch now as the pace has dropped with 4:30 the gap as the leaders hit the final French climb, Le Vert Mont.


34 seconds is the gap between the two pelotons. Belarus sprinter Yauheni Hutarovich (FDJ) is among those in the back group.


GreenEdge still hammering along at the front and cutting the lead of the escapees to five minutes in the process.


GreenEdge setting the pace on the front of the peloton, the main bunch has been split into three but there looks likely to be some regroupment.


A split in the peloton on the second ascent of the Casselberg. Cavendish's Team Sky squad and Matt Goss' GreenEdge team at the head of proceedings.


Vladimir Isaychev briefly lost contact with his fellow escapees but has now returned to the lead group. Their lead is down to six minutes.


The leaders hit the Cassel with an advantage of 7:20. These French climbs are paved and on proper roads so whilst short and steep, they are not savage.


So we are closing in on the first of the 11 climbs, the first four are tackled on French soil. Mont Cassel is climbed twice, once on each side before the Catsberg and Le Vert Mont.


Talking of Twitter, you can follow me at @Lee_Eurosport


Talking of Brits, this is Mark Cavendish's first race since Milan-San Remo eight days ago when he was dropped on the La Manie climb with 100km to go. On Friday, the world champion tweeted that he had done a reconnaissance ride of the final 100km. "It’s mightily more difficult than the past! Should be a great race," he posted on the social networking site.


We will not see David Millar or Sébastien Hinault in action for a while. The AG2R-La Mondiale rider fracturing his scaphoid bone in his left wrist at E3 in a crash that saw Scotland's Millar from Garmin-Barracuda break his collarbone.


Vladimir Isaychev, Koen Barbé, Stijn Neirynck, Kevin Van Melsen, Anders Lund, Jon Izaguirre, Thomas Bertolini, Yuri Krivtsov and Julien Fouchard have begun to see their advantage cut. It is down to 8:35 as the leaders approach the French border.


On British Eurosport and also on the Eurosport Player NOW is the concluding stanza of the Volta a Catalunya. The final stage should be no procession into the Sarria district of the Catalan capital, with an undulating route potentially being a launching pad for some last-ditch attacks by those within reach of Michael Albasini's overall lead.


His team-mate Philippe Gilbert also did not finish Friday's race and has been plagued by a tooth infection. BMC doctor Giovanni Ruffini said: "It's drawn on his reserves and prevented him from eating well, which has resulted in a sudden weight loss. This may explain his lack of energy." The Belgian champion said at E3-Harelbeke he was already in difficulty at La Houppe, the second of the race's 13 climbs. "I suddenly felt empty and had no more energy," Gilbert said.


But Thor Hushovd – who did not finish E3-Harelbeke after missing Milan-San Remo due to sickness - is on the mend. "Thor is improving each day," BMC Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said. "Even though this race could suit him well, we won't put all the pressure on him."


One man not on the start list today was Alessandro Petacchi, the Lampre-ISD sprinter has been struggling with a flu since Milan-San Remo and also missed E3 on Friday.


On Eurosport 2 right now and also on the Eurosport Player, you can watch stage three of the Critérium International. A tough concluding stage features four climbs inside the first 80km and a final 14km ascent of the Col de l'Ospedale to the finish.


Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is defending champion and can join Robert Van Eenaeme (1936, 1937, 1945), Rik Van Looy (1956, 1957, 1962), Eddy Merckx (1967, 1970, 1973) and Cipollini as the only three-time winners of the race. No-one has triumphed on four occasions.


The last rider to win two consecutive editions of Gent-Wevelgem was Mario Cipollini in 1992 and 1993. The Italian also won in 2002.


Often the race has seen crosswinds cause havoc in the peloton with riders blasted by sand blown off the beach but it is a calm afternoon and the lead of the breakaway is now 9:20.


The nine escapees are enjoying themselves in the spring sunshine, extending their lead to 8:30.


The Baneberg (61km and 44km to go) and the infamous Kemmelberg (53km and 36km) are climbed twice. The cobbled Kemmelberg often causes the selection because of its' 23% gradient and the dangerous descent off the top which has seen many crashes down the years. Then all is left is the final ascent of the Monteberg before the run-in to the finish.


A small lap around Cassel sees the climb crested twice, with 97km and 91km remaining, before three climbs - the Catsberg (74km), Le Vert Mont (68km) and Vidaignberg (62km) - act as a precursor to the pivotal ascents of the race.


Although known as the sprinters classic a tightly-knit cluster of climbs within a short space of time has the potential to cause splits in the bunch. The first of the 11 'hellingen' comes with 98km to go but the last, the Monteberg, is 32km from the finish and gives ample chance for regrouping.


So what about the route. Despite its name, the race hasn't started in Ghent since 2004 and the riders actually rolled out of the market square of nearby Deinze this morning. The riders are currently heading westward towards the coast near Ostend after which they go south near the French border.


Yuri Krivtsov and Julien Fouchard have joined the leaders. So we have nine escapees out in front and it looks like they will be there for some time as they already have a five-minute advantage over the peloton.


Other riders to keep an eye on include Fabian Cancellara, Peter Sagan, Filippo Pozzato, Matti Breschel, Sebastian Langeveld, Daniel Oss and Stijn Devolder who all showed form in E3.


Three former winners are in action for the BMC team. Marcus Burghardt (2007), George Hincapie (2001) and Thor Hushovd (2006) are joined by Alessandro Ballan, Philippe Gilbert, Taylor Phinney, Michael Schär and Greg Van Avermaet in a powerhouse line-up.


Team Sky are triple handed with past winners Edvald Boasson Hagen (2009) and Bernhard Eisel (2010) while Mark Cavendish will look to his palmares after a disappointing Milan-San Remo. Remember he did win Kuurne–Brussels–Kuurne this year.


Gent–Wevelgem is often called the sprinters' classic due to its flat finishing terrain and past winner Oscar Freire (2008), 2011 Milan-San Remo victor Matthew Goss plus the likes of Andre Greipel, John Degenkolb, Lars Boom and Tyler Farrar will hope for another bunch sprint finish.


Belgium have won 47 of the 73 editions of this race and Tom Boonen starts as favourite after his victory in E3 Harelbeke on Friday. The Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider won this race in 2004 and again last year.


An early seven man break has formed featuring Vladimir Isaychev, Koen Barbé, Stijn Neirynck, Kevin Van Melsen, Anders Lund, Jon Izaguirre and Thomas Bertolini.


194 riders have just rolled out of the start in a sunny Harelbeke to take on the 235km route. All 18 ProTour teams are in attendance plus wildcards Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's, Cofidis, Farnese Vini - Selle Italia, Landbouwkrediet, Project 1t4i, Team Europcar, Topsport Vlaanderen.


Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the Belgian classic Gent Wevelgem which has World Tour status. We are covering all eight one-day World Tour races this spring which began with Milan-San Remo and runs all the way through to Liege-Bastogne-Liege on April 22.