Mads Pedersen wins Gent-Wevelgem!

He jumped just at the right time to reach the leading trio of Trentin, Bettiol and Senechal. He launched his sprint at 200m and had more than enough gas to take the win.

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Senechal got second with Trentin in third.

Of the nine leaders, it was the two superstar names that took eighth and ninth places. They simply marked one another out of the game.

Flamme rouge!

Now finally Van Aert starts trying to chase, but is it too late?

Trentin, Bettiol and Senechal go up the left!

They make a little gap and Van Aert refuses to chase them!

Pedersen hops out of group 2 and he is right across the gap.

3km to go – They're sandbagging van der Poel

In the second group, everyone looks to the Dutchman to lead the chasing. He's going to do it as well!

Nine back together.

5km to go – Bettiol goes again

The Italian doesn't back his sprint against the likes of van der Poel or Van Aert so he launches a long-ranger.

Van Aert attacks over the top and he gets the sort of gap Bettiol was hoping for.

Trentin makes a heroic effort to close the gap and it's Kung this time who takes advantage of the opportunity to counter.

10km to go – Quiet again

The leaders have 26 seconds on the six they just dropped. One of these nine will win the bike race.

Bettiol breaks it up

The Italian Tour of Flanders winner puts in a big dig and that separates some of the wheat from the chaff. There are now nine men in the lead.

Lampaert, Bettiol, Kung, van der Poel, Van Aert, Degenkolb, Pedersen, Senechal, Trentin.

15km to go – It's gone quiet

It's a flat run-in as we've said, and that means there's very little in the way of opportunities to blow the race apart without expending an enormous amount of energy. As a result, the vim and vigour has gone out of the race a bit.

It's also starting to rain really quite hard.

25km to go – King Kung caught

The Swiss is back in the group of favourites now, which swells to a total of 15 riders. I think you could genuinely say that any one of those 15 could be the winner of this race today.

The numerical advantage rests with Deceuninck QuickStep who have three riders in the bunch. Jumbo Visma has two riders, and so do EF Pro Cycling & Lotto Soudal.

33km to go – King Kung

The Groupama TT specialist Stefan Kung has got himself a wee gap at the front of the race after attacking at the top of the Kemmelberg. He has a pretty flat run-in from here to the line and 7 seconds of advantage.

The starry chasing group includes van der Poel, Teuns, Pedersen, Vanmarcke, Bettiol, Degenkolb, Asgreen, Lamapaert, Senechal, F. Vermeersch, Van Aert, Teunissen and Rowe.

Massive!

As the two groups hit the cobbles of the Kemmelberg, van der Poel and Van Aert just surged across the gap. A tremendous show of strength, the pair absolutely obliterated that climb!

Let's see how the groups reform after that.

Here's the decisive sequence from earlier on that blew the peloton to smithereens.

‘Death ridge’ and vicious crosswinds combine at Gent-Wevelgem

Gent Wobblegem

Today is not the first time a rider has wound up in a ditch at Gent-Wevelgem. Geraint Thomas was the unfortunate one in 2015, and he went on to do OK.

Felix Lowe and Graham Willgoss put together a brilliant Re:Cycle episode on just this very subject.

40km to go – They're coming together

The Rowe group and Van Aert / van der Poel groups are going to be together pretty soon, you would think. The chasers have Rowe & co. firmly in their sights. You'd imagine the winner of this race will come from the 17 riders in the two bunches.

45km to go – Rowe group has 19 seconds

The van der Poel / Van Aert group is chasing hard and taking chunks out of that gap.

Second time over the Kemmelberg causes more chaos

And this time we went over the 'hard' side. It's caused an immediate split in the second group on the road. Now there are six riders together, including van der Poel and Van Aert. They are chasing hard to catch back up to the Rowe group, who still have a gap of half a minute.

Asgreen, Senechal, Lampaert, Bettiol, Degenkolb and Dylan Teuns are there too in Group 2.

55km to go – Rowe group with almost a minute

There are a total of nine of them up there. Interestingly, Van Aert's teammate Teunissen is helping with the work, rather than sitting on and hoping his leader can catch back on.

You'll remember Teunissen has a decent sprint, after taking a Tour de France stage win last year.

Here's Ackermann's race coming to an untimely end on the first passage of the Kemmelberg.

‘I think that will be race over for him’ – Ackermann in trouble at Gent-Wevelgem

60km to go – Race over?

As the leading group takes a sharp left-hander, the gap to 'Peloton 2' is going out. It's 35 seconds now and that could become unbridgable.

Luke Rowe has now attacked the lead group, taking with him about ten riders including Sep Vanmarcke, Stefan Kung, Trentin and Mike Teunisen. Crucially, neither van der Poel or Van Aert are there.

Lead group back together

Maybe 35 riders total are now together in the lead of this bike race.

Van der Poel, Matteo Trentin, Van Aert, Frederik Frison, Sonny Colbrelli, Kristoff are all there.

70km to go – And here it is

Van der Poel puts in a huge acceleration to break the lead group apart. He's caught Van Aert out with that move and there's now a gap between their two groups. We knew it was coming, we just didn't know when.

Amidst all the mayhem, the breakaway has vanished.

Carnage

It's pure chaos out there. Everytime we cut away from a replay of one crash, there's another one happening live.

We've seen Israel StartUp Nation riders sliding out. Ryan Mullen of Trek Segafredo in a ditch. We've heard that Luke Rowe is down in a crash.

Oss, Doull blown off the road

Vicious crosswinds on a particularly exposed part of road and we've seen two or three riders blown off the road and into the ditch.

Signs that Oliver Naesen also has hit the deck at some point.

75km to go – 40 riders in contention

After the Kemmelberg there was a split in the peloton, and that has led to about 40 riders ahead of a bigger group behind. Most of the star names are in the further ahead of the two groups, but at this moment they don't really seem committed to drilling home their advantage.

The break is still away, with one minute of advantage.

85km to go – Kwiatkowski smashes the Kemmelberg

The Pole who is notionally the leader of Ineos today is leading the peloton up the Kemmelberg for the first time. This is aggressive stuff from a long way out.

You love to see it.

Caption competition!

Meanwhile, in Leogang

It's proving quite a muddy day at the mountain bike Worlds.

Never really seen the appeal of MTB, I must say...

Always love it when Alex Gougeard makes it into the break

So much so, I wrote a play about him.

Van der Poel punctures

Good to get these things out of the way early. Very astute of the young man.

100km to go – Johan Jacobs on the attack

The Movistar rider has sprung like a salmon out of the peloton and is making his way across the gap to the breakaway.

105km to go – Peloton wakes up

After a sluggish start in which the peloton allowed a gap of over seven minutes to open up, they have now put the hammer down and have immediately chopped that to two minutes.

Clearly, with the 'bergs' that will decide who wins or loses today looming (or at the very least, gently rising on the horizon), the peloton feel it's time to get serious.

Race dynamics

A lot of very fast guys here today. Tour de France green jersey, Sam Bennett. Caleb Ewan, who also bagged a brace of stages at La Grande Boucle. Then there's Pascal Ackermann of Bora Hansgrohe, 2019 World Champ Mads Pedersen, current Gent-Wevelgem champ Alexander Kristoff and then you have the CX-turned-roadmonsters.

Yes, that's right, they're both here... WVA and MVDP. This race is a tantalising first look at the two hottest properties in one-day racing, Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, going head to head since the season restarted. They're expected to do battle at Tour of Flanders next week, but both will still be going full gas to claim the win today.

Neither of them have the pure top speed to beat a guy like Ewan or Bennett in full flight, so expect to see them try and make the race hard early doors. There are three ascents of the Kemmelberg today on which to do that.

Belgian Brunch

Believe it or not, while most of the world has been swanning about making shakshuka and eggs Benny in true Sunday morning fashion, the peloton has already been racing for two hours over in Flanders.

They averaged the second hour at 42 kph, which is even faster than I can eat smashed avo on sourdough.

The break has 6'43" on the peloton.

Good morning and welcome to Flanders!

You join us on virgin ground as grizzled Classics veteran *checks notes*... Mark Cavendish, leads the early breakaway.

The brave souls clinging onto his wheel are: Alexis Gougeard (AG2R La Mondiale), Alexander Konychev (Mitchelton-Scott), Leonardo Basso (Ineos Grenadiers), Julien Morice (B&B Hotels), Kenny Molly (Bingoal) and Gilles De Wilde (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise)

Also, Kenny Molly leaps straight to the top of my mental league table of favourite pro cyclist names.

Which riders are challenging for Gent-Wevelgem?

The sprinters classic lives up to its billing with a host of top speed merchants set to take to the start line but there is one notable absentee: three-time winner Peter Sagan is showing off his wares at the Giro.

However, the prestigious classic has a stacked field with Kristoff joined by Mathieu van der Poel, Sam Bennett, Mads Pedersen, Caleb Ewan, and Wout van Aert, along of course with Mark Cavendish.

How to watch Gent-Wevelgem men's race – TV & live streaming

The 82nd running of the prestigious Belgian classic is live on eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app. Uninterrupted coverage of the race starts on the Eurosport Player from 12:30.

You can watch the race for £6.99 on Eurosport Player (monthly subscription), while an annual pass is £39.99. We will also have rolling coverage online on the Eurosport.co.uk website and our social channels.

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