John Degenkolb of Giant-Shimano today won the 76th edition of Gent-Wevelgem, outsprinting Arnaud Démare of FDJ.fr, with last year’s winner Peter Sagan of Cannondale third at the end of a crash-strewn race. Team Sky suffered more than most, with Ian Stannard and Chris Sutton hospitalised – but there was better news for them from Italy as Peter Kennaugh won the Settimana Internazionale Coppi & Bartali and Dario Cataldo finishing runner up after winning today’s time trial.
Peter Sagan, winner of Gent-Wevelgem last year, came into the race in cracking form after Friday’s triumph at E3 Harelbeke, but it was Degenkolb who prevailed to seal the biggest one-day victory of his career - just a week after a puncture prevented him from contesting the finale of Milan-Sanremo.
Today's race was punctuated by crashes throughout, one coming 9km from the finish as the main group sought to reel in a trio of escapees, Stijn Devolder, Andrey Amador and Silvan Dillier, who would be caught with a little more than a kilometre left of the 233km classic.
That crash took out two big-name sprinters who would have expected to have contested the finish – Lotto-Belisol’s André Greipel, and Tyler Farrar of Garmin-Sharp, as well as Sky’s Geraint Thomas, third at E3 Harelbeke.
His team mates Chris Sutton and Ian Stannard had to be taken to hospital after separate crashes – the latter seeing the former British champion come off the road and end up in a ditch. There is no update on their condition yet.
Settimana Internazionale Coppi & Bartali
Team Sky today completed its dominance of the race, which started on Stage 1 on Thursday when Ben Swift won the road leg of the split stage, the team following that up with victory in the team time trial.
Friday saw Kennaugh move into the race lead as he took Stage 2 in what was the Olympic team pursuit champion’s first pro win on the road.
Only Elia Viviani of Cannondale – along with Sky and Lampre-Merida the only UCI WorldTour teams competing – was able to break Sky’s dominance, winning the sprint at the conclusion of yesterday’s Stage 3.
Cataldo’s performance today saw him move up to second overall, and sports director Dan Frost told the Team Sky website: “It was a perfect end to a perfect week for us,” said Sports Director Dan Frost. “It’s like being in dreamland. To win four out of five stages is not a common thing to do but the team was super strong this race.
“Now having Dario win the trial and to move up to make it a 1-2 overall is also a really nice result. We won the points jersey with Swifty, the team classification and it was really nice to see Pete take the overall.
“It was such great work from everyone. Obviously it will be difficult to follow this up in the next few races but it is a really good experience for everyone and it is great for morale going forwards.”
Volta a Catalunya
In Spain, local hero Joaquin Rodriguez of Katusha won the 94th edition of the Volta a Catalunya in his native city, Barcelona, with Alberto Contador of Tinkof-Saxo unable to close the four-second gap at the start of today’s seventh and final stage. BMC Racing’s Tejay van Garderen was third.
Today’s 121km stage included eight laps of a closing circuit on Montjuic, site of the Olympic Games in 1992, and was taken by Astana’s Liuewe Westra, who attacked from the break and rode solo to win by 1 minute 22 seconds.
This weekend saw Corsica host the Critérium International for the fifth year running – the last edition, for the time being, that will be held on the island that hosted last summer’s Grand Départ of the Tour de France.
The overall went to AG2R-La Mondiale’s Jean-Christophe Peraud, who finished second to IAM Cycling’s Mathias Frank on the Col d’Ospedale in today’s Stage 3, but had begun it 1 second ahead of the Swiss rider, enough to top the GC.
FDJ.fr’s Nacer Bouhanni took the sprint to win Stage 1, with Tom Dumoulin of Giant Shimano winning the Stage 2 individual time trial.
GreenEdge’s Emma Johansson won today’s second round of the UCI Women Road World Cup, the Trofeo Binda at Cittiglio, close to Lake Maggiore – a race the Swedish rider has been runner-up in on three previous occasions.
British champion Lizzie Armitstead of Boels-Dolmans, who won the opening round a fortnight ago, the Ronde van Drenthe, was second and retains the series lead. Last year’s winner, local rider Elisa Longo Borghini, was the best placed Italian, finishing sixth.
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