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Video: When Peter Sagan's hopes of retaining Tour of Flanders title ended

Bora-Hansgrohe rider crashed on climb of Oude Kwaremont as he tried to chase down Philippe Gilbert

Here's the moment world champion Peter Sagan's defence of the Tour of Flanders title he won 12 months ago ended.

The Bora-Hansgrohe man, riding on the side of the road to avoid the worst of the cobbles, was pushing hard on the cobbled climb of the Oude Kwaremont to chase down eventual winner Philippe Gilbert of Quick Step Racing, when he seemed to crash against one of the barriers on the climb.

> Philippe Gilbert wins a dramatic 101st Tour of Flanders

Immediate thoughts were that an advertising banner, a flag, or even a specator's jumper or jacket draped over it may have  got caught in Sagan's bike, but TV footage is inconclusive.

After watching frame by frame footage of the crash, though, the owner of a Twitter account dedicated to Sagan said they believed that a fan's jacket had indeed got caught on the Slovak rider's handelbars.

Overhead footage, though, shows the jacket getting caught in the rear wheel of the bike of AG2R-La Mondiale rider Oliver Naesen.

After the race, Sagan said: "The Tour of Flanders lived up to its reputation. It was a complicated race, but I felt I was in good form and in a position that would have allowed me to reach Gilbert in the final stretch.

"Unfortunately, my crash at the Oude Kwaremont meant it was all over and that was a pity because the team did a tremendous job to help me and keep me safe. I don’t know how I crashed but these things are a part of cycling.”

Video: Boonen given Viking Thunderclap send-off ahead of final Tour of Flanders

The crash also brought down Greg van Avermaet of BMC Racing, the in-form rider of this year's Classics season.

Afterwards, he said: "It's disappointing for me because I was going for the win but it didn't happen.

"But that's how racing is, you have high expectations and you try to achieve them. I did my best and I came second so it is like it is. It was just a little bit of bad luck but there are still more races to come."
 "I think Peter Sagan was close to the barrier or the people and maybe he hit somebody on the side of the road and I was just behind so I couldn't avoid the crash. That was the moment when maybe we could have still done something with Peter and Olivier Naesen.

"We could have worked together but then you stop, you crash, and you lose another 30 seconds and then the race is over. If you see how close we still came at the finish I think the race was not over until that point."
 
"Gilbert was really strong and he went early. We were a bit behind and it was hard to work together with some guys and then I had to wait until I could get away and try and close the gap. Then it was still one minute so it was a bit too far. But maybe if the crash hadn't have happened it would have been a different story. Chapeau to Philippe."

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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