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Classic Race Report: Ex-World champion, Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo) out-sprinted an elite group at the end of Gent-Wevelgem. Florian Sénéchal (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) was second and Matteo Trentin (CCC) finished in third. Top favourites, Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), were watching each other and missed the final move. Action packed Flemish racing at its best.
Mads Pedersen won Gent-Wevelgem. After a hotly contested edition, the strong Dane from Trek-Segafredo was the best in a sprint with Florian Senechal, Matteo Trentin and Alberto Bettiol
Piper at the start of 2020 Gent-Wevelgem under the Menin Gate in Ieper
2020 Gent-Wevelgem is a different race in many respects. The Flemish classic will forever remain a tribute to the fallen of the First World War. But for the riders, Gent-Wevelgem is an important race, especially now that Paris-Roubaix has been canceled.
After 17 years, the start was not in Deinze, but in Ieper/Ypres further south. After some skirmishes, seven riders managed to form the leading group of the day. They were: Mark Cavendish (Bahrain-McClaren, Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mondiale), Alexander Konysjev (Mitchelton-Scott), Leonardo Basso (INEOS-Grenadiers), Julien Morice (B&B Hotel-Vital Concept), Kenny Molly (Bingoal-Wallonie Bruxelles) and Gilles De Wilde (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise).
The peloton leave the Menin Gate
Gent-Wevelgem has always been synonymous with bad weather in recent years. The move from the end of March to the beginning of October made no difference. The heavy rain started early on, which meant a lot of riders were back to their team cars to pick up rain jackets. 45.7 kilometres were covered in the first hour. Last year the leading group raced over 51 kilometres in the opening hour. Things were slow in the peloton, as top favourites Van der Poel and Van Aert saved their legs.
The peloton passed many war graves
With 103 kilometres to go, Van der Poel had a flat tire. At the front; Johan Jacobs (Movistar) crossed from the peloton to the leading group. It looked like he wouldn’t make it, but he managed to connect on the Vidaigneberg. In the run-up to the first of three climbs of the Kemmelberg, the peloton started chasing the front group. From their maximum lead of more than 7 minutes, they still had about three.
Mark Cavendish not looking too happy
Under the leadership of INEOS-Grenadiers, a first selection was made on the Kemmelberg. A large group managed to split with Trentin in the lead. In the absence of Greg Van Avermaet, he did not have to take his CCC teammate into account. Although the gravel roads once again provided fantastic images, they did not play a decisive role in the race. Both Van Aert and Van der Poel showed their form with impressive attacks. It was a very active Trentin who managed to make a gap with Pedersen, Sep Vanmarcke, Gianni Vermeersch, Mike Teunissen, Luke Rowe and Stefan Küng. They managed to take a lead of more than 1 minute in the run-up to the second climb of the Kemmelberg.
Back to work for Tim Declercq
Van Aert again let his legs speak on the Kemmelberg for the second time. The leader of Jumbo-Visma put in a strong effort with Van der Poel on his wheel. In the foothills they were joined by Kasper Asgreen, John Degenkolb, Dylan Teuns and Bettiol. A real elite group that continued to chase the front riders. With 45 kilometres to go, everything was still playable. The difference between the nine front runners and the pursuers was only half minute. From the background Lampaert made the connection with the pursuers. At Deceuninck-Quick-Step they seemed to have drawn the Asgreen card by now. Lampaert almost immediately took the lead and thanks to a firm effort on the Baneberg, a large part of the gap was made up.
A hard day in Flanders
With a small lead, Trentin, Küng, Teunissen, Vanmarcke and the other escapees, started the last time up the Kemmelberg, on the steep side of the hill. But the front group were like a mouse to a cat. With the prey in sight, it was again Van Aert with a firm effort. The Belgian rode to the front in one go, again with an equally strong Van der Poel on the wheel. Just before the summit, a new selection was formed.
The early break of the day
That frame won’t repair
A new leading group of fifteen riders headed for Wevelgem. Vermeersch, the only remaining teammate of Van der Poel, was dropped from the leading group. He looked back, touched the rear wheel of the rider in front and crashed.
The roads were mostly wet, but there was still some dust
Trentin and Degenkolb
One of the strongest riders of the day was without a doubt Küng. The Swiss rider tried a solo with 31 kilometres to go, but had to give up 5 kilometres later as he could not hold off the chase.
There are windmills in Belgium too
In the large leading group everyone was waiting for a new attack. Deceuninck – Quick-Step had three riders, Van Aert still had Teunissen and Lotto Soudal was also in front with two men, Degenkolb and Florian Vermeersch.
The two top men: Wout van Aert and Mathieu Van Der Poel
The good working relationship at the front made it impossible for any chasers to return to the front. With 5.5 kilometres to go, the first shot in the final was from Bettiol. The attack attempt by the Italian from EF Pro Cycling marked the beginning of a string of other attacks.
Wout van Aert
Jumbo-Visma were looking after Wout van Aert
A new attack from Küng, 3.7 kilometres from the finish, was an interesting one. Van Aert jumped with Senechal and Bettiol n his wheel. They made a gap because Van der Poel did not want to take over. Thanks to the help of Trentin and eventually an effort from the Dutch champion, the gap was closed.
Mathieu van der Poel
Then it was Trentin’s turn, with Senechal and Bettiol on his wheel. The trio had a slight lead. Behind, Van Aert let it go after a short jump, and the three raced away.
The winning group
Van der Poel tried a solo
Under the red flag of the last kilometre, Van der Poel and Van Aert just looked at each other, the three ahead would be competing for the victory. A very strong Pedersen was able to close the gap with his last strength and eventually sprint for the victory.
Pedersen watched the others lose
A well worked for win for Mads Pedersen
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1. Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
2. Florian Sénéchal (Fra) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
3. Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC
4. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Pro Cycling
5. Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
6. John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
7. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
8. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
9. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
10. Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-McLaren,