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Gent - Wevelgem | Ad-Free

02:51:41

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Top three – van Aert, Nizzolo, Trentin

Colbrelli got fourth, in fact, with Matthews in fifth.
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Van Aert gets it!

The Belgian has way too much speed and once he gets his nose in front, there was no sign of anyone catching him.
He gives van Hooydonck a big slap on the back as thanks for all his support work today.
Nizzolo bagged second place and then possibly Colbrelli in third.

Matthews looking sprightly...

Van Hooydonck leads out the sprint.

Flamme rouge – Kung goes!

And he never gets an inch. Gosh, that hasn't gone how he wanted it to at all.
The Swiss champ simply doesn't have the power.

3km to go – Still very cagey

I think we can say the win is guaranteed for the front seven, whose names are:
Wout van Aert & Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious), Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ)

5km to go – Soon...

The Kung Smash® must surely be imminent.

7km to go – Chasers losing ground

And it's looking better and better for Wout van Aert. The chase group have given up even pretending to cooperate.
The gap now is 1'10", as Antony Turgis comes up to the back wheel of van Poppel. The Frenchman is absolutely booking it, but does he have enough tarmac left?

10km to go – Painful agonies

Lots of gurning painfaces now. With Bennett dropped, Deceuninck all of a sudden have to work in the pursuing group – and it's Lampaert trying to cut down the gap.
Van Poppel and Bennett are making no headway, while Turgis is still somewhere in the middle of groups 1 and 2.
Nizzolo in the front group looks like he isn't quite sure if he has a front wheel puncture or not.

Bennett dropped!

Van Hooydonck puts in a big dig and he's shed van Poppel and the Irishman, Bennett.
Kung is the one forced to chase, and now we are down to seven leaders.
Great teamwork from Jumbo-Visma.

18km to go – Turgis attacks from group 2

The Frenchman is having an incredible season so far, but this may be a bridge too far. He has to get across a gap of 45 seconds if he wants to catch van Aert and company.
Van Hooydonck is leading that front group now, and he is having one heck of a ride today. Talk about a dream teammate. A dreammate.

25km to go – Soon, Stefan, soon...

We have roughly 25km to go now. I say roughly, because we don't really know where the race will go on its way to the finish, because of a late-notice route alteration.
What we do know for sure is that Stefan Kung can't beat the likes of Bennett and van Aert in a sprint, so he will have to attack... soon..

30km to go – Chasers running out of road.

Some of the dropped riders from the front group have been mopped up by the pursuers. That collection of riders is being spearheaded by Greg van Avermaet and the Ineos pairing of Owain Doull and Dyland van Baarle. They are investing heavily into this chase, still, but the gap remains basically where it has been all afternoon at one minute.

Van Hooydonck catches up, Bennett throws up

So we still have the same leading nine as we did ten kilometres ago.
Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Wout van Aert & Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious), Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ)
You would have to say Bennett is the out-and-out fastest – but we've just seen him appearing to retch, while clinging onto the back of the bunch. That's remarkable. He went so deep he literally made himself sick. That can't be a good sign for the finale.

35km to go – Kemmelberg one last time

Once more it's van Aert to the fore as they go up the Kemmelberg, but he doesn't really give it everything – and as a result only one rider is dropped, Nathan Van Hooydonck, van Aert's teammate.
That was a little bit of an anti-climax, I have to say. There weren't even any dragons.

King Küng smashing it

It's Stefan Küng the big Swiss who is leading the front group now and he is looking monstrously strong today.
This is the penultimate climb on the parcours and will be followed by an ascent of 'the hard side' of the Kemmelberg.
To be honest, having just watched them go up the 'easy' side I shudder to think what the tougher side must involve. Dragons? A Gladiators-style travelator?

45km to go – Nine leaders with 31 seconds

Talk about the cream rising to the top, lead groups don't get much starrier than this!
Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Wout van Aert & Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious), Michael Matthews (Team BikeExchange), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates) and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ)
At this point, you would have to say that their biggest barrier to winning the race is themselves. Will they keep working together or will cracks start to appear in the facade?

50km to go – Kemmelberg causes destruction

Both groups, the leaders and the chasers, have now fallen apart. The gaps from front of the race to the likes of Greg van Avermaet have also ballooned out considerably – it's abut two minutes from the head of the race back to Golden Greg and co.
It's just one rider left in the lead group for Bike Exchange, and that's Michael Matthews.

55km to go – Correction

I told you earlier the race was going to be shorter because of an adjustment to the race route after a fire in the finish town, but it now seems that it will actually be about one-and-a-half kilometres longer.
The gap remains one minute, as the leading group – headed by Wout van Aert – tackles the Kemmelberg. Giacomo Nizzolo and Sam Bennett are hanging tough, but this forcing effort has laid waste to the lead group. Looks like Trentin, Colbrelli and Kung have also stayed with Wout van Aert.

Durbridge dropped

The Aussie TT engine has been distanced from group 1. That's one less rider for Bike Exchange and one less rider dedicated to keeping this move away.
The gap is simply not budging at the moment. It's still a minute.

60km to go – Foxes and hounds

It seems to be settling down a bit now, with the small groups of chasing riders now coalescing a little bit into a slightly more cohesive whole.
That being said, the leaders have a hit a crosswind section and they are riding beautifully together in a single echelon formation.
The 'hounds' meanwhile, are really not gelling. There are plenty of riders within it who are sitting on and not offering any turns.

70km to go – a couple of big absences

You might have noticed we haven't mentioned Bora-Hansgrohe or Trek-Segafredo up to now.
That's because neither team took the start today after two separate incidences of close contact with someone with COVID-19.
It's BikeExchange leading the front group at the moment. They have a big numerical advantage right now, and are not keen on letting the chasing groups regain contact. The gap is one minute.

75km to go – Race shortened due to fire

Only in bike racing.
Behind our lead group there are two small fragments of the peloton, with the big names of AG2R Oliver Naesen and Greg van Avermaet, plus plenty more of Sam Bennett's Deceuninck QuickStep teammates. Arnaud Demare is also there lurking.

80km to go – The leaders

And there's plenty of quality in that mix, isn't there!
Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Jasper De Buyst (Lotto Soudal), Danny van Poppel (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert), Wout van Aert & Nathan Van Hooydonck (Jumbo-Visma), Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Victorious), Jack Bauer, Luka Mezgec, Michael Matthews & Robert Stannard (BikeExchange), Imanol Erviti, Luis Mas, Jasha Sütterlin (Movistar), Giacomo Nizzolo (Qhubeka-Assos), Sven Erik Bystrøm, Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Michal Golas (Ineos), Timothy Dupont (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Jeremy Lecroq, Cyril Lemoine (B&B Hotels), Stefan Bissegger, Jonas Rutsch (EF Education-Nippo) and Laurenz Rex (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB)

85km to go – Right into the action

Afternoon all! We join the race with 85km to go, and the blue touch paper has been well and truly lit already. We have groups all over the road at the moment, while the peloton has been chasing a lead group for most of the day so far.
We'll try and get you up to speed as fast as possible, but the key information is that Wout van Aert and Sam Bennett are the big names in that leading group.

'Van Aert the strong favourite'

Wout van Aert must surely come into this race as favourite, backed by a strong Jumbo Visma team and in characteristically omnipotent form. He is fresh – although this is perhaps the wrong word – from the Tirreno-Adriatico, where he rode for GC and came an admirable second to Tadej Pogačar, and last weekend’s Milan-San Remo where he placed third, the fastest in the field sprint behind eventual winner Jasper Stuyven and second-placed Soren Kragh Andersen.

'Absolutely wow!' - See how Stuyven claimed stunning Milan-San Remo win

Speaking of Stuyven, the man they call ‘The Chocolatier from Flanders’ is going to be in action for Trek-Segafredo once again. The American team comes with two likely leaders, in the form of Stuyven and 2019 world champ, Mads Pedersen. They are the form team of the year so far, and confidence will be sky high in the camp – to say nothing of the fact Pedersen is the defending champion.
Arnaud Démare (Groupama FDJ) and Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-QuickStep) are also expected to ride. Both are closer to being ‘pure sprinters’ than rugged classics men, so it will be intriguing to see how they each fare in a field stacked with large Belgian lads who eat cobbles for breakfast. Deceuninck naturally come with multiple options, with Senechal, Ballerini, Stybar and Lampaert all capable of delivering a W.
AG2R bring Oliver Naesen and ‘Golden’ Greg Avermaet, neither of whom have hit their best level yet this year. And speaking of not being at ones best, Peter Sagan – who looked like 2021 was going to be an annus horribilis just a few weeks ago – now appears to be close to the form that saw him win Wevelgem three times between 2013 and 2018. His fourth at Milan-Sanremo is a very encouraging sign for the Bora Hansgrohe man, who is intending to peak for the Ronde in a week’s time.

How to watch the event

Gent-Wevelgem 2021 is live on Eurosport.
You can watch the race unfold on eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app. You can download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now.
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