Fabian Cancellara wins pulsating - but brutal - Tour of Flanders

Trek Factory Racing rider takes record-equalling third victory in Belgian Monument

by Simon_MacMichael   April 6, 2014  

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Fabian Cancellara of Trek Factory Racing has won a pulsating - but brutal - 98th edition of the Tour of Flanders, taking a record-equalling third victory in the Belgian Monument. Greg Van Avaeremet of BMC Racing was second, with Sep Vanmarcke of Belkin third. Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Stijn Vandenbergh, the other member of the quartet that that contested the finish, came fourth.

Cancellara, who grabbed a well-earned beer shortly after his victory - this is Belgium after all - said: “I tried to ask Dirk [Demol, team directeur sportif] through the radio how many seconds we had because the last thing I wanted was the others coming back.

“That would have been the end of the world. For the spectators at home I am sure it was an exciting track final. It was man against man and I just kept pushing to the end. I did it for the team, and for my wife because I promised to bring the flowers home.

"I feel sorry for the Belgians," he went on. "I was against three Belgians at the end….but now I am happy and it’s time to go rock the bus and have a nice evening.”

A little later, Cancellara tweeted a 'selfie' that showed him and his team mates doing just that.

The group of four had formed with a little more than 10km to ride after Cancellara, followed by Vanmarcke, had attacked on the Oude Kwaremont to go after earlier escapees Van Avermaet and Vandenbergh.

With the group coming together following the last climb of the day, the Paterberg, inside the final 4km came a series of attacks, first by Vandenbergh, then Van Avermaet, and finally Cancellara. Coming under the flamme rouge for the final kilometre, however, the quartet were still together.

Vanderbergh was again first to launch himself, but couldn't get away, the pace slowing until Cancelllara attacked inside the final 200 metres. This time, the move was decisive as the Swiss rider retained the title he had won 12 months ago.

Van Avermaet of and Vandenbergh, who had earlier got away from a select front group, hit the final climb of the race with a slender advantage over Cancellara and Vanmarcke.

The leading pair had hit the previous climb, the third ascent of the Oude Kwaremont, with an advantage of a minute, but that was cut by two thirds by the time they hit the top after Cancellara launched his attack.

Only Vanmarcke was able to stay with the Swiss rider as the two other big-race favourites, Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Tom Boonen, and Cannondale's Peter Sagan, were finally distanced on the last of the 17 climbs.

Cancellara and Vanmarcke joined Vandenbergh on coming over the top, then reeled in Van Avermaet with 11km of the 259km race remaining.

Behind, Milan-San Remo winner Alexander Kristoff of Katusha was on his own leading a desperate chase to try and get across to the quartet in front, Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Niki Terpstra joining him with 9km left.

Apeaking of his attack, Cancellara said: “Since I was alone I knew I had to make the selection up the Kwaremont.

"On the Paterberg I could not go more, I was dead, and then I had to make a gamble to stay with Vandenbergh, Vanmarcke and Van Avermaet. I wanted to finish alone, but today it was better to wait for the sprint.

"Winning solo was the goal – I wanted to lift the bike over the line – but I was not afraid to sprint at the end, since then it is each man for himself; I still don’t know how I did it, I just did it.

“The race was quite intense, quite hard," he went on. "We lost a lot of riders to crashes straightaway. To manage a race like this was amazing. Everyone did his little piece - Jesse [Sergent], Markel [Irazar], Hayden [Roulston], all the team – you need these little pieces to be at the top of the pyramid.

“It was so tough, I almost got dropped two times when they attacked," he added. "I don’t know, everything went well in the end. It’s just amazing. Last year I won in an amazing way here, but to repeat, this is even bigger – I have no words. There is no Monday, we said with the team before the race.”

Boonen, seeking what would have been a record fourth win in the race, had seemed to have an advantage as the race headed into its final 30km.

With his team mate Vandenbergh ahead on the road with Van Avermaet, the Belgian former world champion had another two team mates - Terpstra and Zdenek Stybar - for company in a select group of 11 chasers, while Sagan and Cancellara were isolated.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step failed to exploit their numerical superiority, however, and coming into the last 20km, they were joined by a large chasing group ahead of that one-two punch of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg where Cancellara launched the attack that would determine who would be the four riders to fight it out for the win.

The Swiss rider now heads to next weekend's Paris-Roubaix with a chance of being the first man to do the double of that race and the Tour of Flanders in three separate seasons. Should he win in France, he will also join Boonen and Roger De Vlaeminck as the only four-time winners of the Queen of the Classics.

His victory this afternoon continues a remarkable sequence of results in Monuments for Cancellara, with 11 podium places in the last 11 of those races he finished, the only blemish being the 2012 edition of the Tour of Flanders where he crashed out with a broken collarbone).

Those races, with his position in brackers, are Tour of Flanders 2010 (1st), Paris-Roubaix 2010 (1st), Milan-San Remo 2011 (2nd) Tour of Flanders 2011 (3rd), Paris-Roubaix 2011 (2nd), Milan-San Remo 2012 (2nd), Milan-San Remo 2013 (3rd), Tour of Flanders 2013 (1st), Paris-Roubaix 2013 (1st), Milan-San Remo 2014 (2nd), Tour of Flanders 2014 (1st).

Today's race was punctuated by crashes throughout, some of them causing riders to abandon, many looking nasty but none worse than the incident in which Garmin-Sharp's Johan Vansummeren collided with speed with a 65-year-old woman who was standing on a traffic island with other spectators.

Both were taken to hospital. Vansummeren was released later in the afternoon, but the woman is reported to be in an induced coma and undergoing brain surgery

31 user comments

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An excellent race roday, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Roll on PR

posted by GREGJONES [111 posts]
6th April 2014 - 17:46

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What an epic race! Had it on in the back ground at work couldn't keep my eyes off the tv!

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posted by swiftsquirrell [24 posts]
6th April 2014 - 17:57

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Stijn Devolder took a total pounding today. Hope he finished.

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing..."

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posted by Cooks [481 posts]
6th April 2014 - 18:25

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allez neg wrote:
Why the hell was the old woman on the traffic island in the first place? The crash is on YouTube and doesn't look good.

I've just watched the video, she's quite within her rights to watch the race from there, no problems with that, what I want to know is how Van Summeren ended up ploughing straight into her.

Here is the video I watched.

http://youtu.be/E8tBa4Uc5OA

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posted by Gkam84 [8696 posts]
6th April 2014 - 18:30

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Cooks wrote:
Stijn Devolder took a total pounding today. Hope he finished.

86th out of 102 finshers

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posted by Gkam84 [8696 posts]
6th April 2014 - 18:31

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Great racing aside, I hope that the spectator pulls through, the crash looked bad. Properly properly bad.

Begs the question however, why on earth would you stand there? Also why was there no marshal with the standard issue yellow flag to warn the riders away from the road furniture?

Asolare

posted by Goldfever4 [165 posts]
6th April 2014 - 18:33

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yeah, really odd there's no flag marshal there

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7253 posts]
6th April 2014 - 18:36

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Dave Atkinson wrote:
yeah, really odd there's no flag marshal there

Theory on TV I was listening to is there is just so much road furniture it's impossible to marshal it all.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7926 posts]
6th April 2014 - 18:41

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From what I can work out, there was a marshal before the roundabout on the same sort of island. Over there, you have islands leading into most large roundabouts do you?

So it would make sense to me, you are going to come off to another island, although in the heat of a bike race, its easy to forget.

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posted by Gkam84 [8696 posts]
6th April 2014 - 18:49

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friend of mine hit a bollard today at low speed. Its easily done and only takes a small lapse in concentration.

Shit place to stand IMHO. Hope she pulls through.

posted by Nzlucas [88 posts]
6th April 2014 - 18:53

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I think the issue they have is there is so much road furniture like that over the whole course, you just cant flag marshall every single one of them. Even in the feed zone they were dodging around some plastic road bollards which seemed quite a crazy setup and I thought another rider hit one of those floating style bus stops, one or two seemed to be distracted by telegraph poles and those were on the side of the road. But hope the spectator pulls through, as it sounds a really bad injury.

posted by Awavey [10 posts]
6th April 2014 - 18:56

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Gkam84 wrote:
allez neg wrote:
Why the hell was the old woman on the traffic island in the first place? The crash is on YouTube and doesn't look good.

I've just watched the video, she's quite within her rights to watch the race from there, no problems with that, what I want to know is how Van Summeren ended up ploughing straight into her.

Here is the video I watched.

http://youtu.be/E8tBa4Uc5OA

Really? So in the middle of the road with bikes coming towards you on both sides at speed and with no armco or recticel barriers separating them from you is an ok place for the public to watch from?

Ho hum.

posted by allez neg [4 posts]
6th April 2014 - 19:11

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She's not putting anyone in danger, she's in a safer place than those nutters running in from the side of the road and she's not putting any riders in danger, that is the most important part to me.

She's also most likely saved Van Summeren body for some very big injuries.

Certainly a million times safer than this dude from G-W

G-W.jpg
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posted by Gkam84 [8696 posts]
6th April 2014 - 19:29

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Just read on twitter.

"she is in a coma and has the undergo brain surgery"

http://www.nieuwsblad.be/sportwereld/cnt/dmf20140406_01056813

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posted by Gkam84 [8696 posts]
6th April 2014 - 19:42

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Gkam84 wrote:
Just read on twitter.

"she is in a coma and has the undergo brain surgery"

Good way of finding out who reads the race reports, it's been in there since it was published a few minutes after the race finished Wink

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7926 posts]
6th April 2014 - 20:17

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Hmmmm, I didn't see that. Are you sure you didn't just sneak it in under my nose. I only read it the once, so if you edited it, even 5 minutes after you published, I would have missed it Nerd

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posted by Gkam84 [8696 posts]
6th April 2014 - 20:41

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Gkam84 wrote:
Hmmmm, I didn't see that. Are you sure you didn't just sneak it in under my nose. I only read it the once, so if you edited it, even 5 minutes after you published, I would have missed it Nerd

Nope, it was in the original.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7926 posts]
6th April 2014 - 20:54

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Unfortunate and serious accidents aside, what a fabulous and compelling race this year. For me though, one of the stand-out moments was the speed at which Cancellara necked that beer at the end - marvellous.

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posted by fukawitribe [296 posts]
6th April 2014 - 21:06

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Gkam84 wrote:
Just read on twitter.

"she is in a coma and has the undergo brain surgery"

http://www.nieuwsblad.be/sportwereld/cnt/dmf20140406_01056813

That's tragic and has taken the shine off of an awesome race. It wasn't a particularly smart place to stand and watch but for an inexperienced spectator it probably seemed quite safe. You could ask about the marshalling but it was pretty hectic out there and they couldn't cover every spot. Best to her.

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [141 posts]
6th April 2014 - 23:55

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Sad news about the old lady - the video nasty on YouTube is scary evidence of the speed at which the impact happened although not sure how Van Summeren ploughed into the traffic island that every other rider managed to miss. Not the most sensible place to stand although she probably assumed the riders would safely miss her. Watching road racing is like watching rallying sometimes. Not without its risks.

As for Cancellara - when is time going to catch up with him? Total machine. We are lucky to be witnesses. Let's see what happens at Roubaix but would love to see him focus on a proper crack at the hour record after that. If anyone can do it, Spartacus can!

posted by Yennings [205 posts]
7th April 2014 - 6:54

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Hope the woman injured in incident with Van Summeren recovers speedily.

Can anyone explain David Harman's obsession with Boassen Hagen? Or in fact Sky's willingness to pay BH a (presumably pretty sizeable) salary? The guy has a marginally better than average palmares (in terms of retired cyclists, akin to Hincapie, Flecha) but he hasn't looked a threat for a big win for some years now. I reckon David Harman makes more frequent mention of "Eddy Boss" (I was a bit sick in my mouth) than any other non-podium finisher.

posted by surly_by_name [137 posts]
7th April 2014 - 8:59

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Do you mean Carlton Kirby? He mentions BH a lot because he's a crap commentator.

posted by pjay [224 posts]
7th April 2014 - 9:09

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Commentator was Carlton Kirby, not Dave Harmon
sorry pjay, you beat me to it!

posted by banjokat [20 posts]
7th April 2014 - 9:27

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I was at the 500m mark yesterday at Oudenaarde, that finish after all those miles was incredible. Spartacus the Legend!

posted by southseabythesea [65 posts]
7th April 2014 - 9:30

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Pirate feed of Eurosport didn't work so I reluctantly tuned to SkySport without sound so I didn't have to put up with the two Phil's. As it turned out it was Magnus Bäckstedt and Rob Hayles, who were very good. Seems they will be doing a lot more live coverage this year (next is Amstel Gold).

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posted by Tovarishch [44 posts]
7th April 2014 - 11:13

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I meant Sherwen and Liggett Worried

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posted by Tovarishch [44 posts]
7th April 2014 - 11:14

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The other half was watching the ES feed and they cut out the last 2km/lost the feed apparently!

Anyway this aside.... I would like Fabian's babies now please. <3

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
7th April 2014 - 12:45

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Tovarishch wrote:
Pirate feed of Eurosport didn't work so I reluctantly tuned to SkySport without sound so I didn't have to put up with the two Phil's. As it turned out it was Magnus Bäckstedt and Rob Hayles

It's Rob Hatch, not Hayles! People on this forum are as bad at identifying commentators as Carlton Kirby is at identifying riders.

posted by pjay [224 posts]
7th April 2014 - 20:38

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The biggest question no has asked is how did Prius managed to sneak their beer into Belgium? Wink

posted by Ducci [54 posts]
8th April 2014 - 8:52

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Someone mentioned Sijn Devolder earlier. He did finish. He was in good spirits at the team dinner, as was Popo. Both were walking rather gingerly, though. Unfortunately, both have also pulled out of Scheldeprijs because of their injuries.

http://www.trekfactoryracing.com/news/devolder-and-popovych-miss-schelde...

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrekUK
And Twitter @trekbikesuk

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posted by TrekBikesUK [95 posts]
8th April 2014 - 16:58

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