Tour of Flanders: Philippe Gilbert wins prestigious title for first time

Philippe Gilbert

Gilbert won by 28 seconds from fellow Belgium rider Van Avermaet

Belgium’s Philippe Gilbert produced a sensational solo ride to win the Tour of Flanders for the first time.

Gilbert, 34, broke clear of the field with around 54km remaining of the 260km one-day race in his homeland.

The Quick-Step Floors rider won by 28 seconds from compatriot Greg van Avermaet (BMC Racing).

World champion Peter Sagan was leading the chase but his hopes of defending his title ended when he crashed on the Oude Kwaremont cobbled climb.

Gilbert had attacked on the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont and Slovakian Sagan chose the third and final climb of the punishing hill to close the 55-second gap opened up by the Belgian.

However, he appeared to clip a roadside barrier and brought down Van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale).

Van Avermaet was quickly back up and pedalling but Sagan had to wait for a replacement bike.

Gilbert, the 2012 world champion, won in six hours 23 minutes 45 seconds. His Dutch team-mate Niki Terpstra was third.

Britain’s Luke Rowe had been in contention for much of the race but his challenge was effectively ended after he was brought down when Sep Vanmarcke crashed with 53km remaining.

Dimension Data rider Scott Thwaites was first Briton home in 16th, 53 seconds behind winner. Rowe crossed the line in the final group to finish, 11 minutes 31 seconds back.

The race is the second of the five one-day ‘monuments’. Team Sky rider Michal Kwiatkowski won the first of the season at the Milan-San Remo.

The Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege take place on 9 and 23 April respectively, while the Giro di Lombardia on 30 September completes the set.

In the women’s race, American Coryn Rivera of Team Sunweb won a sprint for the line.

Great Britain’s Lizzie Deignan, the defending champion, finished 17th, while Hannah Barnes was 19th.

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