Alberto Bettiol of EF Education First has won the Tour of Flanders.  Bettiol became the first Italian since 2007 to win the first cobbled monument of the season, and the first since 2012 to feature on the podium; winning ahead of Kasper Asgreen of Deceuninck-Quick Step and Alexander Kristoff of UAE Team Emirates.

270.1km of racing from Antwerp to Oudenaarde formed this year’s Ronde van Vlaanderen.  The first of the cobbles came after 88km while the first of 17 bergs came after 119km with the Oude Kwaremont to be tackled three times in all.  New Zealanders Tom Scully of EF Education First and Jack Bauer of Mitchelton-SCOTT, along with New Zealand’s favourite Aussie in Robert Stannard of Mitchelton-SCOTT all lined up for the race.

Quickly a breakaway group of four riders went clear with Astana’s Hugo Houle, Roompot-Charles’ Jesper Asselman, Damien Touzé of Cofidis and Kenneth van Rooy of Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise.  The quartet rapidly built a lead that went up and over the 2 minute margin after 34km and kept climbing all the way out to 8 minutes.  Deceuninck-Quick Step naturally established themselves at the front of the peloton, where they would conduct the early chase effort from courtesy of Tim Declercq alongside Pascal Eenkhoorn of Jumbo-Visma.

Over the first cobbled sectors the break’s lead dropped to 6 minutes with 179km to go.  There were a couple of early crashes that disrupted the race, but most crucially it was the knock taken by Niki Terpstra of Direct Energie that was most alarming.  The Direct Energie defending champion was take out of the race before the first climb of the day in a small group crash towards the back of the peloton.

A tale of mixed fortunes between Matteo Trentin and Alexander Kristoff, the latter finishing third, photo Sirotti

On the run in to the first climb of the day, Oude Kwaremont, the break’s lead sat at 5.34mins and the teams behind were swarming.  Deceuninck-Quick Step had Lotto Soudal, CCC Team, AG2R La Mondiale were all in among the melee at the head of the peloton as they desperately grappled for position.  Up ahead Houle gapped his companions to take the accolades for being first to the top of the climb while behind Deceuninck-Quick Step led the way patiently over the climb.

The gap continued to steadily drop but then creep back out to 6mins as the break remained together with Team Sky taking over at the head of the race.  Bu Deceuninck-Quick Step looked a little more urgent on the front of the peloton and they quickly brought the race back to less than 4 minutes before the next attacks from the peloton began to go clear with 114km to go.  A chase group was forming with Mitchelton-SCOTT, CCC Team, Deceuninck-Quick Step, BORA-Hansgrohe, Team Sky and UAE Team Emirates all among those represented.  It injected a new level of intensity into the race and more was to come.

With 100km to go the gap to the breakaway was down to below 2 minutes and it continued to plummet as the speed continued to climb onto the climb of the Muur.  An attack from Astana’s Magnus Cort on up the cobbled climb began to draw the creme to the fore of the peloton and sliced all but just over a minute out of the break’s lead with 96km remaining.  Ahead of the bunch a small group featuring Lukas Postlberger of BORA-Hansgrohe, Nelson Oliveira of Movistar, Yves Lampaert of Deceuninck-Quick Step and Matti Breschel of EF Education First broke clear and bridged to within 14 seconds with 82km remaining.  They were joined by Danny van Poppel of Jumbo-Visma as a series of mini-skirmishes came and went and the break were caught with 79km to go.

Matiej Mohoric of Bahrain-Merida launched a move with 75km to go and he reached the Kanarieberg with the lead, ahead of the still quite large peloton that was led by Luke Rowe of Team Sky, Tim Wellens of Lotto Soudal and Alejandro Valverde of Movistar.  With 67km to go Mohoric was brought back by Philippe Gilbert and Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Jack Bauer, with the Kiwi having kept himself well in contention at the head of affairs at crucial moments to this point.  He remained toward the front of the bunch as a flurry of attacks continued to come and go and CCC Team took over the pace setting at the head of the race ready for the next climb of the Kwaremont.

Bettiol launches his big attack, photo Sirotti

With 60km to go Mathieu van Der Poel suffered a nasty crash as he slowed due to a mechanical.  He was able to remount and continue on, while ahead Tom Scully of EF Education First took over on the front of the race, perfectly positioned for the next time up Oude Kwaremont.  Stijn Vandenbergh of AG2R La Mondiale attacked at the foot of the climb and was joined by EF Education First’s Sep Vanmarcke; who headed into the race as a definite underdog given his lack of form to this race.  Scully stayed at the front of the peloton as the climb bit, while behind him Mathieu Van Der Poel was on the charge through the peloton.  Onto the Koppenberg Vanmarcke and Vandenbergh were joined by Kasper Asgreen of Deceuninck-Quick Step and the trio enjoyed a lead of 20 seconds ahead of a peloton that was quickly being re-caught by Van Der Poel.

Mathieu Van Der Poel battled through a nasty crash to surge back into contention and take 4th place, photo Sirotti

With 39km to go and on the climb of the Taaienberg the Dutch national champion was back in the peloton again as another attack went up the road.  Jack Bauer was still in the group with the contenders, but the riders were well and truly strung out as Wout van Aert attacked in the company of Alejandro Valverde, Greg van Avermaet, Bob Jungels, Mathieu Van Der Poel and more.  The attack didn’t last but it did see Stijn Vandenbergh get reeled back in, leaving only Vanmarcke and Asgreen ahead with a 23 second lead.

Team Sky’s Dylan van Baarle bridged across to the leaders and with 28km to go their lead sat at 25 seconds.  The intensity finally proved too much for Sep Vanmarcke who dropped back to support his teammate Alberto Bettiol who was on the ascension in a small group containing Van Avermaet and Jungels.  The dynamic nature of the race meant that riders were constantly ebbing and flowing off the front of the gradually fragmenting lead group.  With 20km to go Van Baarle and Asgreen had 18 seconds in hand and were on their way to the final climbs of the Kwaremont and Paterberg before the run in to the finish.

On the climb of the Kwaremont Alberto Bettiol made an enormous attack and bridged across to the leaders as Peter Sagan showed the signs of fatigue and led the group ahead of him gain some daylight.  Bettiol made light work of the gap ahead of him and quickly found himself out in front as Greg Van Avermaet pulled the chasers along.  Bettiol had timed his move to perfection and quickly opened up a 15 second lead with 15km to go.  He hit the final climb of the Paterberg and although he remained in full view of Greg Van Avermaet on the front of the chasers, there was nothing he or anyone else could do to bring back the Italian.  

Alberto Bettiol was an unexpected victor of the 2019 Tour of Flanders, photo Sirotti

Back in the group Van Der Poel attacked and cracked the chase group.  Sagan was on the limit, Jungels was dropped, Kristoff was digging deep while everyone else looked to be hanging on for dear life.  From here it was a downhill-flat time trial to the line.  But he had an elite group behind him that had all the potential to catch him if only they could cooperate.  With 10km to go though the gap was stretching as Peter Sagan moved towards the front and so too Lampaert and Kristoff as Tiesj Benoot of Lotto Soudal tried and failed to break clear.

With 7km to go the gap was out to over 24 seconds and with 5km to go the lead had gone down to 20 seconds and the fight was on for the finish.  Sagan moved to the front and pressed on at the front of the group but the gap wasn’t coming down quickly enough and it even went back out as Asgreen launched another attack and got a gap ahead of Wout Van Aert who found himself at the front of the chasers.

Under 1km to go Bettiol had only the long straight to the line to go before he could be crowned champion.  The chasers were well within sight but the Italian had done enough to take the first win for Italy in 12 years.  After 6 hours a 19 minutes in the saddle he crossed the line elated and victorious as Asgreen held on for second place and Alexander Kristoff completed the podium.  Mathieu Van Der Poel, after his topsy turvy day finished fourth with Nils Politt of Katusha-Alpecin rounding out the top five.

Tom Scully was the first of the Kiwis across the line, finishing 50th at 6.09mins after helping Bettiol to victory.  Scully finished alongside Daniel Oss and Stijn Devolder.  Jack Bauer crossed the line in 75th place in a group containing Ian Stannard, Lukas Postlberger and Edward Theuns.  Teammate Matteo Trentin finished 21st.

Results:

RankLast NameFirst NameCountryTeamResult
1BETTIOLAlbertoITA       EF EDUCATION FIRST06:18:49
2ASGREENKasperDEN       DECEUNINCK  –  QUICK – STEP 00:00:14
3KRISTOFFAlexanderNOR       UAE TEAM EMIRATES00:00:17
4VAN DER POELMathieuNED       CORENDON – CIRCUS00:00:17
5POLITTNilsGER       TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN00:00:17
6MATTHEWSMichaelAUS       TEAM SUNWEB00:00:17
7NAESENOliverBEL       AG2R LA MONDIALE00:00:17
8VALVERDEAlejandroESP       MOVISTAR TEAM00:00:17
9BENOOTTiesjBEL       LOTTO SOUDAL00:00:17
10VAN AVERMAETGregBEL       CCC TEAM00:00:17
11SAGANPeterSVK       BORA – HANSGROHE00:00:17
12KEUKELEIREJensBEL       LOTTO SOUDAL00:00:17
13VAN GESTELDriesBEL       SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE00:00:17
14VAN AERTWoutBEL       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA00:00:17
15LANGEVELDSebastianNED       EF EDUCATION FIRST00:00:17
16JUNGELSBobLUX       DECEUNINCK  –  QUICK – STEP 00:00:17
17LAMPAERTYvesBEL       DECEUNINCK  –  QUICK – STEP 00:00:17
18VAN BAARLEDylanNED       TEAM SKY00:00:24
19STUYVENJasperBEL       TREK – SEGAFREDO00:01:19
20VANDENBERGHStijnBEL       AG2R LA MONDIALE00:01:58
21TRENTINMatteoITA       MITCHELTON – SCOTT00:01:58
22SÜTTERLINJashaGER       MOVISTAR TEAM00:01:58
23GAUDINDamienFRA       DIRECT ENERGIE00:02:15
24GARCIA CORTINAIvanESP       BAHRAIN – MERIDA00:02:18
25VANMARCKESepBEL       EF EDUCATION FIRST00:02:20
26PETITAdrienFRA       DIRECT ENERGIE00:02:20
27ROWELukeGBR       TEAM SKY00:02:20
28DEMAREArnaudFRA       GROUPAMA – FDJ00:02:20
29DEGENKOLBJohnGER       TREK – SEGAFREDO00:02:20
30COLBRELLISonnyITA       BAHRAIN – MERIDA00:02:20
31TEUNISSENMikeNED       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA00:02:20
32HAGENEdvald BoassonNOR       TEAM DIMENSION DATA00:02:20
33HAUSSLERHeinrichAUS       BAHRAIN – MERIDA00:02:20
34WELLENSTimBEL       LOTTO SOUDAL00:02:20
35DEBUSSCHEREJensBEL       TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN00:02:20
36ŠTYBARZdeněkCZE       DECEUNINCK  –  QUICK – STEP 00:02:20
37DE GENDTAimeBEL       WANTY – GOBERT CYCLING TEAM00:02:20
38BYSTRØMSven ErikNOR       UAE TEAM EMIRATES00:02:20
39VLIEGENLoïcBEL       WANTY – GOBERT CYCLING TEAM00:02:20
40CALMEJANELilianFRA       DIRECT ENERGIE00:02:20
41MOHORICMatejSLO       BAHRAIN – MERIDA00:02:20
42MOSCONGianniITA       TEAM SKY00:02:20
43ERVITIImanolESP       MOVISTAR TEAM00:02:20
44KÜNGStefanSUI       GROUPAMA – FDJ00:02:20
45OLIVEIRANelsonPOR       MOVISTAR TEAM00:02:20
46WEENINGPieterNED       ROOMPOT – CHARLES00:02:20
47KORENKristijanSLO       BAHRAIN – MERIDA00:02:20
48KNEESChristianGER       TEAM SKY00:05:47
49OSSDanielITA       BORA – HANSGROHE00:06:09
50SCULLYTomNZL       EF EDUCATION FIRST00:06:09
51DEVOLDERStijnBEL       CORENDON – CIRCUS00:06:09
52VERMOTEJulienBEL       TEAM DIMENSION DATA00:06:13
53HALLERMarcoAUT       TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN00:06:17
54DILLIERSilvanSUI       AG2R LA MONDIALE00:06:17
55JANSE VAN RENSBURGReinardtRSA       TEAM DIMENSION DATA00:06:17
56VAN POPPELBoyNED       ROOMPOT – CHARLES00:06:17
57THEUNSEdwardBEL       TREK – SEGAFREDO00:06:17
58PASQUALONAndreaITA       WANTY – GOBERT CYCLING TEAM00:06:17
59VAN DER HOORNTacoNED       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA00:06:17
60ALLEGAERTPietBEL       SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE00:06:17
61VAN HOOYDONCKNathanBEL       CCC TEAM00:06:17
62EENKHOORNPascalNED       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA00:06:17
63SIEBERGMarcelGER       BAHRAIN – MERIDA00:06:17
64LE GACOlivierFRA       GROUPAMA – FDJ00:06:17
65BACKAERTFrederikBEL       WANTY – GOBERT CYCLING TEAM00:06:17
66SCHÄRMichaelSUI       CCC TEAM00:06:17
67SPRENGERSThomasBEL       SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE00:06:17
68ROELANDTSJurgenBEL       MOVISTAR TEAM00:06:17
69VERMEERSCHGianniBEL       CORENDON – CIRCUS00:06:17
70DE BACKERBertBEL       VITAL CONCEPT – B&B HOTELS00:06:17
71WISNIOWSKILukaszPOL       CCC TEAM00:06:17
72DE VREESELaurensBEL       ASTANA PRO TEAM00:06:17
73VAN KEIRSBULCKGuillaumeBEL       CCC TEAM00:06:17
74PÖSTLBERGERLukasAUT       BORA – HANSGROHE00:06:17
75BAUERJackNZL       MITCHELTON – SCOTT00:06:17
76STANNARDIanGBR       TEAM SKY00:06:17
77MEURISSEXandroBEL       WANTY – GOBERT CYCLING TEAM00:06:17
78GAVIRIA RENDONFernandoCOL       UAE TEAM EMIRATES00:06:17
79KUZNETSOVViacheslavRUS       TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN00:08:32
80BRESCHELMattiDEN       EF EDUCATION FIRST00:08:46
81TURGISJimmyFRA       VITAL CONCEPT – B&B HOTELS00:08:46
82HOLLENSTEINRetoSUI       TEAM KATUSHA ALPECIN00:08:46
83DOULLOwainGBR       TEAM SKY00:08:46
84BURGHARDTMarcusGER       BORA – HANSGROHE00:08:46
85HOULEHugoCAN       ASTANA PRO TEAM00:08:46
86GODONDorianFRA       AG2R LA MONDIALE00:08:46
87TRATNIKJanSLO       BAHRAIN – MERIDA00:08:46
88VAN GENECHTENJonasBEL       VITAL CONCEPT – B&B HOTELS00:08:46
89PICHOTAlexandreFRA       DIRECT ENERGIE00:08:46
90CASTRILLO ZAPATERJaimeESP       MOVISTAR TEAM00:08:46
91VERGAERDEOttoBEL       CORENDON – CIRCUS00:08:46
92LEMOINECyrilFRA       COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS00:08:46
93LEYSENSenneBEL       ROOMPOT – CHARLES00:08:46
94FOMINYKHDaniilKAZ       ASTANA PRO TEAM00:08:46
95MEZGECLukaSLO       MITCHELTON – SCOTT00:08:46
96JUUL JENSENChristopherDEN       MITCHELTON – SCOTT00:08:46
97TURGISAnthonyFRA       DIRECT ENERGIE00:08:46
98GANNAFilippoITA       TEAM SKY00:08:46
99JANSENAmund GrøndahlNOR       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA00:08:46
100DUCHESNEAntoineCAN       GROUPAMA – FDJ00:08:46
101DE KORTKoenNED       TREK – SEGAFREDO00:08:46
102ANDERSENMichael ValgrenDEN       TEAM DIMENSION DATA00:08:46
103WYNANTSMaartenBEL       TEAM JUMBO – VISMA00:08:46
104MARCATOMarcoITA       UAE TEAM EMIRATES00:08:46
105KEISSEIljoBEL       DECEUNINCK  –  QUICK – STEP 00:10:14
106TOUZEDamienFRA       COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS00:10:14
107CURVERSRoyNED       TEAM SUNWEB00:10:14
108NIELSENMagnus CortDEN       ASTANA PRO TEAM00:10:14
109DECLERCQBenjaminBEL       SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE00:10:14
110STEELSStijnBEL       ROOMPOT – CHARLES00:10:14
111VAN LERBERGHEBertBEL       COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS00:10:14
112PEDERSENCasper PhillipDEN       TEAM SUNWEB00:10:14
113DECLERCQTimBEL       DECEUNINCK  –  QUICK – STEP 00:10:14
114SINKELDAMRamonNED       GROUPAMA – FDJ00:10:14
115SAGANJurajSVK       BORA – HANSGROHE00:10:14
116WARLOPJordiBEL       SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE00:10:14
117EISELBernhardAUT       TEAM DIMENSION DATA00:10:14
118PLANCKAERTEdwardBEL       SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE00:10:14
119VAN HOECKEGijsBEL       CCC TEAM00:10:14
120KIRSCHAlexLUX       TREK – SEGAFREDO00:10:14
121LAENGENVegard StakeNOR       UAE TEAM EMIRATES00:10:14
122DENZNicoGER       AG2R LA MONDIALE00:10:14
123MAS BONETLuis GuillermoESP       MOVISTAR TEAM00:10:14
124BODNARMaciejPOL       BORA – HANSGROHE00:10:14
125BAK YTTINGLarsDEN       TEAM DIMENSION DATA00:10:49

VANBILSENKennethBEL       COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITSDNF

FRISONFrederikBEL       LOTTO SOUDALDNF

MAESNikolasBEL       LOTTO SOUDALDNF

HANSENLasse NormanDEN       CORENDON – CIRCUSDNF

VAN GOETHEMBrianNED       LOTTO SOUDALDNF

NAESENLawrenceBEL       LOTTO SOUDALDNF

WAEYTENSZicoBEL       COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITSDNF

JANSRoyBEL       CORENDON – CIRCUSDNF

DE BONDTDriesBEL       CORENDON – CIRCUSDNF

BOOMLarsNED       ROOMPOT – CHARLESDNF

GILBERTPhilippeBEL       DECEUNINCK  –  QUICK – STEP DNF

VAN GINNEKENSjoerdNED       ROOMPOT – CHARLESDNF

VAN ROOYKennethBEL       SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISEDNF

BOECKMANSKrisBEL       VITAL CONCEPT – B&B HOTELSDNF

GARELAdrienFRA       VITAL CONCEPT – B&B HOTELSDNF

MORICEJulienFRA       VITAL CONCEPT – B&B HOTELSDNF

LECROQJérémyFRA       VITAL CONCEPT – B&B HOTELSDNF

LIGTHARTPimNED       DIRECT ENERGIEDNF

DEVRIENDTTomBEL       WANTY – GOBERT CYCLING TEAMDNF

DE WINTERLudwigBEL       WANTY – GOBERT CYCLING TEAMDNF

ASSELMANJesperNED       ROOMPOT – CHARLESDNF

PHINNEYTaylorUSA       EF EDUCATION FIRSTDNF

KONOVALOVASIgnatasLTU       GROUPAMA – FDJDNF

TERPSTRANikiNED       DIRECT ENERGIEDNF

BIZHIGITOVZhandosKAZ       ASTANA PRO TEAMDNF

GIDICHYevgeniyKAZ       ASTANA PRO TEAMDNF

VAN POPPELDannyNED       TEAM JUMBO – VISMADNF

BALLERINIDavideITA       ASTANA PRO TEAMDNF

STANNARDRobertAUS       MITCHELTON – SCOTTDNF

AFFINIEdoardoITA       MITCHELTON – SCOTTDNF

BIERMANSJentheBEL       TEAM KATUSHA ALPECINDNF

ZABELRickGER       TEAM KATUSHA ALPECINDNF

HEPBURNMichaelAUS       MITCHELTON – SCOTTDNF

BOLCeesNED       TEAM SUNWEBDNF

FORTINFilippoITA       COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITSDNF

KRAGH ANDERSENAsbjørnDEN       TEAM SUNWEBDNF

LAPORTEChristopheFRA       COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITSDNF

MODOLOSachaITA       EF EDUCATION FIRSTDNF

KRAGH ANDERSENSørenDEN       TEAM SUNWEBDNF

GRADEKKamilPOL       CCC TEAMDNF

PEDERSENMadsDEN       TREK – SEGAFREDODNF

REIJNENKielUSA       TREK – SEGAFREDODNF

PHILIPSENJasperBEL       UAE TEAM EMIRATESDNF

GEDIMINASBagdonasLTU       AG2R LA MONDIALEDNF

DUVALJulienFRA       AG2R LA MONDIALEDNF

GUARNIERIJacopoITA       GROUPAMA – FDJDNF

TROIAOlivieroITA       UAE TEAM EMIRATESDNF

THOMSONJay RobertRSA       TEAM DIMENSION DATADNF

SCHILLINGERAndreasGER       BORA – HANSGROHEDNF

ARNDTNikiasGER       TEAM SUNWEBDNF

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