Bettiol takes shock Tour of Flanders victory as Bastianelli wins women’s race

Italian riders Alberto Bettiol (left) and Marta Bastianelli (right) hold up their trophies after winning the men's and women's Tour of Flanders

Alberto Bettiol and Marta Bastianelli ensured Italian riders won both the men’s and women’s Tour of Flanders on Sunday

Italy’s Alberto Bettiol pulled off a shock solo win in the men’s Tour of Flanders in Belgium to claim his first ever professional victory.

The Education First rider, 25, attacked with 18km of the 267km one-day cobbled classic to go and held off a chasing group of the pre-race favourites.

It was the second Italian victory of the day after Marta Bastianelli won the women’s race in a sprint finish.

“My first victory, I just don’t believe it,” said Bettiol.

After kicking clear on the penultimate climb of the Oude Kwaremont, Bettiol held his advantage over the Paterberg and rode solo to the line as the chasers marked each other behind.

Denmark’s Kasper Asgreen, who had been in an earlier breakaway, attacked late on to take second, 14 seconds back on Bettiol, while former winner Alexander Kristoff of Norway won the sprint for third.

“I was feeling really good, my team said, ‘If you can, just go,’ so I closed my eyes and I just went,” added Bettiol.

“I looked round at the top and I had a really good gap so the team told me to just keep pushing – the last 14km was the longest of my life.”

It is Bettiol’s first individual victory since turning professional in 2014, having only won a team time trial stage at last year’s Tirreno-Adriatico previously.

The Tour of Flanders is the second ‘monument’- the five most prestigious one-day races – in the cycling calendar, after Milan-San Remo, which was won by France’s Julian Alaphilippe last month.

Paris-Roubaix will take place on 14 April, with Liege-Bastogne-Liege on 28 April, before Il Lombardia, the last monument of the season, on 12 October.


Marta Bastianelli currently leads the women’s World Tour rankings

In the women’s race, former world champion Bastianelli attacked with 13km remaining of the 159km route and was joined by Annemiek van Vleuten, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Katarzyna Niewiadoma.

Niewiadoma was dropped on the final climb of the Paterberg, with the leading trio maintaining a small advantage into the home straight.

Two-time world time trial champion Van Vleuten led out the sprint, but European champion Bastianell kicked round her to claim her third victory of the season, with Ludwig third.

“I’m really happy about this incredible result, it was a very hard race but I pulled it off,” said Bastianelli, 31.

“I’ve won some big races but this is a very, very important one for me.”

Men’s Tour of Flanders result

1. Alberto Bettiol (Ita/EF Education-First) 6hrs 18mins 49secs

2. Kasper Asgreen (Den/Deceuninck – Quick-Step) +14secs

3. Alexander Kristoff (Nor/Team UAE Emirates) +17secs

4. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned/Corendon-Circus) Same time

5. Nils Politt (Ger/Katusha-Alpecin)

6. Michael Mathews (Aus/Sunweb)

7. Olivier Naesen (Bel/AG2R La Mondiale)

8. Alejandro Valverde (Spa/Movistar)

9. Tiesj Benoot (Bel/Lotto-Soudal)

10. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/CCC)

Women’s Tour of Flanders result

1. Marta Bastianelli (Ita/Virtu Cycling) 4hrs 16mins 50secs,

2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned/Mitchelton-Scott) Same time

3. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den/Bigla Pro Cycling)

4. Sofia Bertizzolo (Ita/Virtu Cycling) +7secs

5. Ellen van Dijk (Ned/Trek-Segafredo Women) Same time

6. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol/Canyon-SRAM)

7. Chantal Blaak (Ned/Boels Dolmans) +10secs

8. Lisa Brennauer (Ger/WNT-Rotor Pro Cycling) +55secs

9. Lucinda Brand (Ned/Sunweb Women) Same time

10. Amy Pieters (Ned/Boels Dolmans)

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