An impressive ride from Julien Vermote saw him finish just outside the top-10 but among the lead group at Gent-Wevelgem, a race won by Peter Sagan.
Our Belgian rider, who earlier in the week spoke of how much he was looking forward to Flemish Week and has performed strongly in one-day racing this year, played a prominent role in the latter stages of the race, using his local know-how to good effect.
Earlier on in the day, a 6-man breakaway had an advantage at one point of nearly nine minutes but that was slowly chipped away by the peloton until the first ascent of the Kemmelberg, which saw racing begin in earnest.
The three sections of the Plugstreets saw a number of teams jostling for position with Vermote clearly focused on his own race strategy. Edvald Boasson Hagen unfortunately punctured here which all but put paid to his hopes.
The second climb of the Baneberg saw Vermote make his move along with a handful of other riders (Jelle Wellays, Vyacheslav Kuznetsov and Alex Kirsch) and a strong ride up the Kemmelberg followed.
The race though came back together with just over 20km to go which saw most of the pre-race favourites start to position themselves for the finish.
Greg van Avermaet looked to use his strength and psring a surprise, making a surge in the closing kilometres but wasn’t able to maintain it, Sagan winning the sprint for his third win at this race with Elia Viviani second and Arnaud Demare third.
Our Classics team’s next outing is Dwars door Vlanderen on 28 March followed by the Tour of Flanders on 1 April.
Julien Vermote – Rider
I would firstly like to thank the guys who did a good job today and kept me in front, I’m really happy to see them growing in these races and that’s a good sign for the team.
I saw my chance on our second climb of the Baneberg, which was a good moment to anticipate because you never know what happens on the final climb of the Kemmelberg. Three riders had gone and I went across and it went quite well. Then the final time on the Kemmel went okay too, I rode at a steady pace as it was better to stay with a few guys otherwise it was still a headwind to Ypres, but then the main group came back to us just before Ypres. At that point the speed was really high going back to Wevelgem and we had a cross-wind so it was hard to do something in the final kilometres. At the end everyone was quite tired and it was to feature in the sprint because I’d already used energy before.
I’m happy as I proved again that I could make it to the final and get confidence for the next races also, I’m now looking forward to Wednesday, it was again a good experience. It was a pity that Eddy had a puncture at a bad moment on the Plugstreets and strongly came back to the group, so the team is getting better and looking forward to upcoming races.