Results Tour of Flanders 2014
1. Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
2. Greg van Avermaet (Belgium)
3. Sep Vanmarcke (Belgium)
4. Stijn Vandenbergh (Belgium)
5. Alexander Kristoff (Norway)
6. Niki Terpstra (The Netherlands)
7. Tom Boonen (Belgium)
8. Geraint Thomas (gbr)
9 Bjorn Leukemans (Belgium)
10. Sebastian Langeveld (The Netherlands)
Tour of Flanders: The race
What a race we had in Flanders. There certainly won’t be any complaints about the new route after a breathtaking last 40 kilometres where the balance of power shifted on numerous occasions.
The day started with a nervy peloton and numerous crashes, with Johan Vansummeren a notable retiree early on and Stijn Devolder hitting the deck twice but carrying on.
11 men formed a strong break today with big names such as Taylor Phinney in the escape.
The full break consisted of Stig Broeckx (Lotto Belisol), Davide Appolonio (AG2R), Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge), Raymond Kreder (Garmin-Sharp),Wesley Kreder (Wanty Group), Alexander Kuchynski (Katusha), Andrea Palini (Lampre Merida), Taylor Phinney (BMC), James Vanlandschoot (Wanty Group), Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Romain Zingle (Cofidis)
Phinney, Impey and Broeckx were strongest and weren’t caught until the Koppenberg when Boonen upped the pace in the peloton.
Boonen’s pressing created a group consisting of all the main favourites and it was from this group that Greg Van Avermaet attacked with about 32 kilometres left to race. The massive figure of Stijn Vandenbergh was in his wheel as Omega Pharma-Quickstep engaged the other hopefuls in tactical warfare.
Vandenbergh refused to work but Van Avermaet ploughed on anyway, in a move similar to that of Jurgen Roelandts in 2013 that ended with a third place finish.
Such was the gamesmanship in the main group that they allowed a larger gorup to join them before they raced the Oude Kwaremont for the last time. This included dangermen Kristoff and Paoloini as well as offering Sagan some teammates. It was a bizarre thing for OPQS to let happen given they had 4 men already up front with Stybar, Terpstra, Boonen and then Vandenbergh further up the road. It appeared the numbers only served to confuse the Belgian team rather than empower them.
Kristoff, showing his classics potential again, churned away on the front up the Oude Kwaremont and Boonen was visibly struggling. With that, Cancellara made his move and only Sep Vanmarcke could hold his wheel. They powered away and went in search of the rampaging Van Avermaet.
It wasn’t until after the Paterberg that they eventually caught the Belgian and set up a group of 4 riding into Oudenaarde; Cancellara, Vanmarcke, Van Avermaet and Vandenbergh.
The incredible Kristoff came swinging again and got within a few seconds of the 4 but ran out of gas and sat up to wait for Nikki Terpstra in what would be a battle for 5th.
In the front group, Van Avermaet and Vandenbergh somehow got clear again, setting up a poker game between Cancellara and Vanmarcke. It took some time but Vanmarcke eventually reacted to catch back on.
With 300 metres to go, the 4 were at a standstill, each afraid to lead out the sprint. This played favourably for the Swiss, a sprint starting from 0 should usually be won by the most powerful rider, not necessarily the fastest.
Cancellara opened, Van Avermaet briefly took the lead but ran out of steam before the line and Spartacus celbrated his 3rd, and hardest earned, Flanders victory. Van Avermaet was 2nd with Vanmarcke 3rd,
Vanmarcke is still awaiting the big win to confirm his arrival as a classics superpower, whilst Van Avermaet must be wondering what he has to do to claim the top step on a Monument podium. Vandenbergh is a powerhouse, but as expected, did not possess a competitive sprint to win from a group like this.
For Cancellara, he proved his reign as King is far from over….
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