The Moment The Race Was Won: Gent-Wevelgem

Peter Sagan attacks up the Kemmelberg. He went on to win the sprint but his attack was the definitive moment as only a two other riders could follow him up, over and down the landmark climb. This was the moment the race was won.

There’s a storm warning coming and the wind was getting up from the start making for a nervous peloton. The day’s breakaway was given more time then usual with 11 minutes at one point but then caught earlier than usual. Among the non-starters were Alexander Kristoff of Katusha and Ian Stannard of Team Sky forcing their squads to hatch last minute alternative plans.

Gent Wevelgem waaiers

The nervousness took its toll. Fernando Gaviria was caught out by crashes but carried on while Jens Debusschere crashed into a ditch and Nacer Bouhanni bailed too. A nasty collision with a motorbike took out Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s Antoine Demoitié and at the time of typing reports say he’s in intensive care.

With 70km to go the peloton was reduced into what could fit across the road. Five riders got away in Daniel Oss (BMC Racing), Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal), Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek-Segafredo) and Matteo Trentin (Etixx-Quickstep). It was unlikely to be the race-winning move but it forced the others to chase with Dimension Data and Lotto-Jumbo the most visible on the front and for once Etixx-Quickstep hadn’t missed the move so they got to rest all their other riders. The quintet worked well together but the chase behind slowly reeled them in and with just over 50km to go they were hauled back.

At this point Katusha’s Viatcheslav Kuznetsov took a flyer. It was one of those moves everyone else seemed happy to let go, no rider especially the unheralded Russian was going to stay out there alone to Wevelgem. But as we’ll see it was a good move.

As Kuznetsov forged ahead the race took on the air of a slow procession towards a sprint. Gaviria was still in the bunch with plenty of EQS team mates while Arnaud Démare, Bryan Coquard and Jürgen Roelandts were there too. But not everyone could wait for the sprint and an impatient Team Sky accelerated and then Sep Vanmarcke attacked over the Baneberg.

The rode onto the Kemmelberg and this time it was Peter Sagan who attacked with Fabian Cancellara and Sep Vanmarcke following him. Zdeněk Štybar, Luke Rowe and Greg Van Avermaet were close by, a second or two away, but on the descent this second trio couldn’t close the gap to the first.

Once again Etixx-Quickstep had missed the move and were forced to lead the chase with occasional pulls from Lotto-Soudal and even Démare was visible taking a tow on the front. Etixx-Quickstep chased with Boonen reduced to the role of a domestique, grimacing as he pulled on the front: the very symbol of his team’s struggles right now. But the gap was growing and Sagan, Cancellara and Vanmarcke swept up Kuznetsov who, in the words of Blondin, resembled a passenger in the first class wagon with a second class ticket.

Gent Wevelgem breakaway

As they raced towards Wevelgem the gap was 40 seconds for the lead four bit nobody was playing cat and mouse in the lead group until the flamme rouge, it was here that they began to look around and Cancellara’s elbow was jerking like it wanted chicken tonight. He was also wobbling his legs and it turned out he was cramping up. Sagan could wait for the sprint of course but Cancellara and Vanmarcke have won sprints from groups before on raw power. Kuznetsov? He’s part of Kristoff’s lead out train and knew what to do too, plus he’d been sitting on the back of the group at times too. The Russian launched the sprint and Sagan followed him, passed and kept going to take his first win of 2016 and become only the second world champion to win Gent-Wevelgem since the imperious Rik Van Looy. It’s Sagan’s second win and his fourth time on the podium here. As he stood on the podium a downpour washed over the beaten riders crossing the line nearby and out in the fields beyond a rainbow appeared.

Peter Sagan Wevelgem

The Verdict: the race split up early and this eliminated a lot of riders. It brought a cagey phase in the race were many seemed afraid to attack given the crosswinds, open roads and with an hour to go the race looked as if it was heading for a sprint finish. But Peter Sagan had other plans and attacked on the Kemmelberg. Sep Vanmarcke had been very active too and they were joined by Cancellara. This set up a thrilling pursuit as the lead four were often insight of the chasing bunch behind led by a committed Etixx-Quickstep and this meant suspense all the way to Wevelgem and once the chase had given up thoughts turned to who would win the race, was Sagan finally going to get that win? The result wasn’t obvious until the final 10 metres.

Behind Démare won the sprint for fifth place ahead of Gaviria. Once again Etixx-Quickstep missed the move, this time Zdeněk Štybar was close but could not make it across and condemned the whole team to chase, a task which they could not do despite the presence of Stijn Vandenbergh, Tom Boonen and Niki Terpstra, normally huge engines who can match a breakaway. Kuznetsov though merited his place up there given he’d attacked alone and had been solo in the wind for the best part of 25km before the trio reached him.

74 thoughts on “The Moment The Race Was Won: Gent-Wevelgem”

  1. While perhaps not as spectacular as last year, this was nonetheless a great race.

    Can’t wait for De Ronde to see Sagan and Cancellara for one more clash.

  2. They let Kuznetsov sit on too much – clearly, he wasn’t as tired as he made out if he could outsprint Cancellara.
    He also needs to learn to ride to the line: could well have come 2nd if he hadn’t sat up a bit right at the last.

    • The first part of that isn’t a criticism of Kuz: he rode a clever race – particularly attacking when he did, thus getting himself up ahead so that he could join any breakaway by ‘big’ riders.

          • “Tactically inept” enough to put himself in it to win it half a dozen times this year.

            Either he’s so much stronger than the rest of the field combined, and finds himself in a position to ride away out of pure dumb luck + legs, or he’s actually quite adept at reading and responding to the race.

          • He is one of the strongest riders – and is usually in a break with other strong riders.
            Thus, he doesn’t have to be stronger than the entire field combined.

          • I dont think Sagan is tacticly inept – no other rider on the pro tour brings himself in contention for a win as often as Sagan does or gets as many top 10 placeings.
            If he was tacticly inapt he wouldn’t get all all those 2nd or 3rd places (and even fewer wins)

    • It’s arguable that Cancellara failed to outsprint VanMarcke and Kusnetsov because Sagan was a bit cheeky and squeezed him against the barrier. Have another look at the overhead shot of that sprint. The gap from 2nd to 3rd, as well. I don’t think Kusnetsov’s going to forget his bike throw in future…

  3. I was only able to tune in for the last 2km of the race but a well deserved win for the World Champion. Great race recap as ever!

  4. Thanks again as always! Was Cancellara upset in the last km ’cause he has been closed by other three riders or somthing like that?

  5. The “chicken tonight” reference had me laughing hard. Patrick Lefevere isn’t going to be a happy shopper. Pleased for Sagan. And can the tired “curse of the rainbow jersey” be put to bed (at least until January 2017).

    • +1

      At least Lefevere had the grace to blame his own team this time, usually he blames every other team or the race organisers, or the weather or anything else. Perhaps if Boonen had started pulling straight away things might have been different – he was a protected passenger until about the last 10km when he belatedly started taking turns on the front.

  6. Worthy and deserving winner – at last.
    Exciting final 30 km.
    Too many Moto’s causing havoc again – why is this situation allowed to continue, seemingly unchecked ?
    Boonen appears a shadow of his former self.
    Another good result for Demare following the MSR controversy.

    Thanks Inrng for the usual excellent post race round up and photos.

  7. Ettix just don’t seem to have that extra power to bring it home at the moment. Terpstra in particular has worked hard but he, Stybar and Trentin have just come up short and perhaps favourite son Boonen has been carried a bit. They have been faced with some powerful breakaways in both E3 and Ghent-W. Yet although up against two world champions in E3, they did of course outnumber them – and only Boonen could put some time into the chase at the end. That’s what happens when you let Kwiatowski leave your employ. The breakaway in Gent-W was about as strong as it could get with the Lotto, Trek and Tinkoff star riders (though more of a breakthrough for Kuznetsov as the fourth member of the quartet) and yes, once Stybar could not bridge it was all over for Gaviria. I think it will yet come right for Ettix in this Classics season though and that they won’t keep missing the breaks. I thought Trek executed well, but Cancellara will never get a Gent-W now: I think he was pretty gassed at the end. From the Ligurian coast to Flanders fields Sagan has entertained this past week –always an animator.

  8. What EQS are missing is Boonen in top form. Without him, they have too many Indians and not enough chiefs.
    Previously, either he would win or his presence in the group would mean his team mates could attack – and others wouldn’t want to chase them down just to bring Boonen with them.
    Going up bergs, none of the others have ever shown that they can match the likes of Cancellara, et al.

    • I think it’s the opposite…too many chiefs and not enough Indians. It took EQS too long to get organized and start working to pull in the break, probably because they had no less than 5 potential classics winners trying to figure out who to work for.

      • Agree on the too many chiefs bit. The problem is none of their guys seem to be able to match it in the decisive moments.

          • Isn’t it both? Etixx have enough riders who see themselves as potential winners that they can never have a clear protected rider to pull for, yet at the crunch points none of them can match Sagan, Cancellara etc at the moment?

          • It was always Boonen. Without a strong Boonen, they have no leader.
            The others won races, but that was often because when they attacked Boonen was in the group behind. Thus, no-one in that group wanted to chase them down, because that would mean using their energy and only bringing back Boonen with themselves.

          • I can’t agree, J Evans. Besides other kinds of troubles, essentially form-related, and not Boonen-specific, which I suspect to be the real reason for Etixx’s present woes (it’s to be seen if they’re tuning towards the two days that count or something just went wrong from that POV), the tactical problem they’re having is a certain degree of uncertainty about who must work – and when – and who must be spared to land some final hit.
            When races are decided by two-or-three-men attacks it’s perfectly normal that your captain(s) might not be able to match that level: it’s not about not having “enough chiefs”, because in that case we could simply say the same for 90% of the teams or so.
            However, if you’ve got a strong collective, you can win even if you end up landing the victory with one of your riders who isn’t exactly at the same level as the couple or so of best guys on the day. What is more, in a race like Gand-Wevelgem, there isn’t one obvious skill which makes you “stronger than the rest”: it’s not just about performing well on the bergs, with 35 more or less flat kms from the last berg to the line!
            Obviously, having the best man of the day helps to win a race, but we’ve got plenty of races which weren’t won by the Big Chief, i.e., the strongest rider.
            It would be a whole different story if your riders were very far back in terms of form and/or quality when compared to, say, 10-15 (or more) other riders from different teams, and, as a consequence, weren’t just able to be a factor in the key moment of the race because they’re heavy-load workers without finishing skills for the last 50 kms or so. That would be a case of too many Indians, whereas Etixx has got several proven Classics-winners (and I’m not speaking of Boonen, I’m speaking of the last couple of years – it’s even more clear if you look at 2nd places, too: and Boonen hasn’t been being a sprinting bugaboo anymore in the last seasons, sometimes he wasn’t even racing).
            In the case of Etixx, they’re up there in number when the big group is reduced to twenty units or less, which is fine in terms of *having got the power*. Stybar was probably the fourth or fifth strongest man in the race. Trentin was number seven or thereabouts over the last Kemmelberg.
            For some reason, from – 30 kms to – 20 kms or so, Lefevere decided to burn out completely Stybar and Trentin (maybe he thought that, having already done some effort, they were going to be less fresh for the finale in any case; I suspect there was sort of a punitive aspect “against” Stybar, too), while waiting before asking the likes of Terpstra, Boonen and Vanderbergh to really empty themselves out, too. There was sort of a lack of general coordination within the team effort, too. You can see that on several occasions.
            What was happening? I don’t know. Maybe some guys were already thinking about saving energies for the Ronde? Didn’t they trust that much Gaviria, weren’t thay that motivated to ride to the death for him (perhaps not on a conscious level), being him so young and new to the team? Are there different sub-groups within the team which work better together?
            I’ve got really no hint, what I’m sure of is that their problem isn’t lack of quality.

          • I was replying to “Hence, too many Indians”, even if something of what I wrote also answers to the comment about Boonen and his role for Lefevere’s team during the last few seasons.

          • In the past, Boonen would have gone with Cancellara/Vanmarcke/Sagan. None of the other EQS riders are capable of doing so.
            As a team, they do seem unable to deal with this new reality in terms of tactics: with so many strong riders, you would expect their chase down to have been more effective.

          • @gabriele

            “Lefevere…punitive aspect ‘against’ Stybar…”

            Because Stybar missed the breaks on Friday and Sunday? Perhaps, but it was not due to lack of effort or awareness, strictly legs– especially Sunday. If Lefevere is mean like that, Stybar can have a clear conscience about helping Sagan next Sunday (should a need arise).

            Etixx did a good job of reeling in the break (for Stannard…) on Friday, but I was surprised they did not do more for Gaviria at G-W. They made the point that sitting on their wheel will not always pay off, but that looked like a good opportunity they passed on.

            But really: “Bugaboo?”

          • Your comments concerning Ettix are enigmatic, Gabriele.
            Why is Lefévère out to punish Stybar, in your view?
            If you discerned Stybar and Trentin being burnt out by Lefévère at 30-20km and then reckon the other three may have been asked to really empty themselves, how then can you entertain the conjecture that some may have been saving themselves for the Ronde? Does this imply the breaking of orders and rebellion in the ranks? I think it quite likely they may not trust Gaviria yet, though they don’t seem to have been nursing him a lot, but I do think Boonen is being carried too much. To that extent he is the imbalance in the optimum coordination of team effort. One thing is for sure: they are all top riders.

          • I agree with comments that imply EQS is merely in a weird situation. They have between 4-6 (Boonen, Stybar, Terpstra, Trentin, Stijn, Gaviria, etc.) of the top riders in the Classis peloton, which is proven by these riders consistently being in the final elite selection at these races.

            But, the issue is how to employ a race strategy for these riders? There are way too many possibilities and it ends up being more confused than anything and nothing gets decided until the winners have attacked and are up the road.

            Either way, when the leading duo/trio is getting close to the line with a hard charging group behind it is turning into really entertaining racing!

          • Although is clear that they dont have anyone to match Sagan/Cancellara (athough Stybar is close), is still unclear to me why they are so much worse than before.
            They did it right to send Vandenberg ahead of the last climb, but have you seen the video? Cancellara and Sagan passed him so easily!
            Stybar was with them all the way to the top, take a look on the last turn before the descent. Stybar actually lost the split in the downhill!
            Terpstra is also a shadow of last year.
            Not sure if they changed their prep for the classics, but their performance is much worse than previous years.
            Sure there is no chief, but the indians are way slower than last year.

  9. THAT was a thoroughly entertaining race even though I had to watch via a pirate feed and can’t understand a word they say on SPORZA. It would be a great primer on echelons and team tactics, almost never a dull moment and a worthy winner. The guys he beat all congratulated Sagan after they crossed the line. Sadly, my feed cut off before the awards ceremony but I can’t really complain as it was an excellent pirate feed I found searching YouTube – good resolution, hardly ever froze up and never had to be reloaded. Combined with a 75 km ride in the sun here in Sicily and a wonderful Easter dinner, it was one of those days that are hard to top. Bring on La Ronde!!!

    • C’mon Larry. “Can’t understand a word”…fact is it’s you R so close you you can lick it but you’re still all like wtf cuz u like the italians

  10. Spot on from Sagan. Takes a lot of flak, sometimes deservedly as he makes the odd tactical mistake, but often it’s luck, legs or other circumstances that stop him from winning. Today he attacked at a perfect time and did his share of work to get a decent gap, without overdoing it. That gave him time and space to do a bit of bluffing (looking for gels as if he was out of fuel, making faces on his pull etc) then waiting for others to make the move. I think he was probably the strongest on the day, which certainly helps!

    • Coming into the season, I had been expecting that we’d all get one last installment of the Fabian and Tom Show. Instead, we’ve been treated to the Fabian and Peter Show. I am OK with this. Race after race, Peter has been in the decisive move (Omloop, E3, G-W, Strade Bianche) and has added meaningfully to the excitement of the race. I almost wonder if he figures that, having no real team to support him, his best chance is to just be super aggressive and see what happens. And Spartacus has done what he does best, looking to make his last season a memorable one.

      Should this continue through the remainder of the classics season, I think 2016 may be recalled in the future as a sort of Changing of the Guard.

  11. Sagan and Cancellara are big champs and they could trade RvV and Roubaix with one win each. The first Monument for the former and the last one for the latter. Would be symbolic as the rainbow for today’s winner.

  12. “A nasty collision with a motorbike took out Wanty-Groupe Gobert’s Antoine Demoitié and at the time of typing reports say he’s in intensive care.”

    It has just been reported Demoitié died.

    I did not see the incident. I’m feeling angry. I think about His family 1st. Last season there were issues with motorcycles… now this. I feel out of line…

    • Oh, no. The issue that deserved collective action last year was snow. It was very bad, that white thing. Much worse than motorbikes running riders over.

  13. Very very sad that Demoitie died after the motorbike crashed in to him.

    My prayers go out to him and his family and team.

    The organizers and the UCI need to accept responsibility.

    Perhaps it needs to be the riders union that really pushes for the change, like they did with weather ? At this point it needs to be clear that the motorcycle rules need to be variable…. you just can’t have them speeding down a narrow road when the riders are all over the place. It would seem to be me that many of the accidents have happened in circumstances that were not wide roads – with everyone cruising along at 40Km… but rather during times that they weaving around.

    Inrng you had a piece last year –

    • It seems that there are more motos than in the past and that the rules need to be reconsidered. Frequently the cars and motos following the riders are so close that, in the event of the rider falling, the car or moto will not be able to stop in time. To assume that riders will not fall or crash is unreasonable. The vehicules need to be able to stop in the distance available and the distance should be fixed by this requirement.

      On a less critical point motos are frequently influencing the race by riding too close to a following rider. In every race helicopter shots show for example a breakaway rider preceded by a TV moto several metres ahead and the same for the bunch. An advantage is clearly being given and often sought – look for the riders tracking the motos. Maybe the UIC need to measure, for certain conditions, the distance at which help from a bulky camera moto becomes minimal and insist on it.

      • “It seems that there are more motos than in the past”
        And I would like to see actual facts which either prove this gut feeling or correct it. I assume it’s more like with crimes. Most people say today are more crimes than in the good old past. Numbers tell exact opposite, people just hear more about crime in media.
        Everyone here wants more and more tv and media coverage of cycling and complaints when there are only heli shots of a race or not every group of a splitted field is covered. So this means more motos. Same people complain about too much motos if a moto is involved in a crash. Or we want commisaires to be everywhere to catch cheating, or at least cameras to show evidence.

  14. Just dreadful about Demoite. We foreigners wanted to encourage the enjoyment of the season in Belgium, but this makes it really tough.

    • I have the feeling that this was going to be the year that cycling (or at least Inrng) embraced “zero tolerance” for violating safety standards (“rules,” if you will) at train crossings. That would be a point of emphasis leading up to Roubaix, you’d think. So hopefully that message “goes without saying” now. As to the moto problem, I just hope we can be realistic and not waste time on the regular bullshit “debates” because this issue is very close to the heart. We love the close coverage of the racing, but we insist that the risks be handled responsibly.

  15. Did not see what happened with Demoitie, so can’t say whether it was the fault of the moto, but everyone–the UCI, race organizers, riders’ union, broadcasters, moto drivers–need to come together and change protocols to place rider safety priority above all else. Such tragedy is unacceptable, especially when things were getting out of hand with the moto-induced accidents over the last recent years. Once again, the world of cycling was too slow to act. Condolences to Demoitie and his family and friends.

  16. Great ride by Sagan, proving his doubters wrong!

    Really gutted to hear about Demoitie, and I feel terrible for his family and friends and fans. The country of Belgium definitely didn’t need this… they are all dealing with way too much after the terrorist attacks.

    I don’t know the specifics of the moto’s involvement, but this is the last in a string of really bad moto incidents. Needless to say the moto’s area taking way too many risks… and now someone else has paid the ultimate price. There has to be strict guidelines, such as moto’s have to be x-metres behind the peloton, can only pass the peloton in strictly controlled areas, etc. No more laissez-faire attitude, the rider’s union has to treat this very seriously.

    • I was chief among Sagan’s doubters after E3 but he played that one to perfection. He looked determined to see that one home.

      Terrible news re Demoitie

  17. Terrible news about Demoitie.

    There has been a string of issues with motos, and unfortunately it normally takes tragedy for action to be taken.

    Don’t know the specifics of the crash it sounds like he went down with other riders in a crash and motor was following and ran over him.

    From that perspective it may be just a tragic accident with little time for moto to avoid hitting him but questions need to be asked especially if it was following too closely.

    I often wonder about the convoy watching races as a driver/rider I think you need additional skills from normal road users due to the congested nature, being aware of riders and roadside fans as more likely to have unusual hazards.

    • There should be ZERO doubt about whether additional skills are needed! The big question is what are they and how can they be tested? If I was designing a protocol it would require someone with both (depending on moto or car) racing experience in a two or four wheeled vehicle combined with experience as a bicycle racer at some level. You need nerves of steel and the ability to avoid distractions whether they come from inside or outside. But how many who have this combination would be willing to provide this service at the prevailing rate of pay? This means the pool of possible service providers is pretty small, making compromises necessary. Since so few qualified operators can be found, the number of vehicles in the race caravan needs to be reduced as it’s obvious some of their operators don’t meet even the minimum qualification to ensure rider safety. I’d start with photo motos – just by design these are dangerous with the photogs needing to be raced ahead to set up their shots and then chase and pass the peloton to set up the next one. Perhaps some sort of lottery for each race to fill a limited # of seats with SEVERE penalties for any photogs cheating by using unauthorized vehicles? VIP motos should simply be banned while the VIP cars should be reduced to a minimum. The rest of the vehicles are presumed to be essential to control the course, etc. but must be operated by those with the highest of skills – maybe the product of some sort of instructional course once they meet some basic qualification?

  18. What sad news, Demoitié was 25 and recently married.

    I’d appreciate it if people could hold back from posting speculation on what happened and what should be done. There’s an official police investigation and this will report first, rather than online comments.

  19. Horrible news. It’ll be very interesting to read details on this tragedy. No matter how this happened I hope it’s the wake-up call many of us have been demanding about motor vehicle protocol in the race caravan. R.I.P Demoitie.

  20. Tragic news. Very sad to hear of the death of Antoine Demoitié.
    Let’s hope that this is the moment that turns the tide re Moto safety at races.

  21. Sagan was clearly the strongest up the Kemmelberg. He is on great form. He also played the sprint with more savvy. I was speculating with a buddy whether Sep VM or Canc would take a flyer with a KM or more to go or would they wait for the line and disrespect Sagan’s recently over-rated sprint. I was surprised nobody took a flyer. I guess when you are cooked it is hard to rationalize a longer effort. Perhaps you get second-guessed less losing a four up sprint than failing visibly when a flyer fails. Best week of racing of the year – 3 one day races, Catalunya, Criterium International….

    • “Best week of racing of the year – 3 one day races, Catalunya, Criterium International….”

      Best week of racing so far. But the week with Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix ain’t too shabby either 😉

      April 3 – Tour of Flanders, Belgium
      April 4 to April 9 – Vuelta Ciclista a Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country), Spain
      April 10 – Paris-Roubaix, France

  22. Man, Is it just me? Spartacus can just about phone in a performance, and at his age.

    Sad day for all us Freds when he hangs up his wheels!

    • Indeed, Spartacus is having a great year to date.

      For anyone who hasn’t yet seen it, Eurosport is doing a season-long documentary following Fabian through his final season in (or rather, off the front of) the pro peloton. First episode is linked below; second episode was to be filmed at the E3 so should be out shortly I’d think:

  23. Ready to take a naivety hit, but when you have so many strong riders in a largish chasing group, why didn’t at least some of them take a few turns at the front when it became clear the ETQ 4 were failing to bring back the front 4?
    Especially with Boonen seemingly on decent but not really winning form?

  24. Not naive at all, just a good question that has many answers. I’d say the first answer is that they stuck to their strategy and it did not work out, but it definitely could have. Then I’d say that maybe EQS themselves were saving something for the finale. If they were really doing everything they could (short of using Gaviria) and still could not make the catch, then it’s chapeau to the trio who held them all off (and envy for their Russian passenger)– anyone in that bunch would rather see that break succeed than than bust their ass so someone else in the bunch could get lucky. What was really needed was a good finisher (good enough to take on Gaviria) with a teammate to do some work– and even then Gaviria would very likely get the better leadout in the end. The discussion above with gabriele was partly about why the chase failed and there seems to be no consensus. This race (and EQS’s predicament this season in general) made me wonder whether the psychological aversion to “getting taken advantage of” might tend to result in less than optimal decisions in situations like this. OTOH thinking about ways to prevent getting “done unto” is surely a valuable way of weighing your options in cycling.

  25. I’d add, there is no question that you do sometimes see clear cases of “negative racing,” or passivity from riders/teams that mistakenly decline to venture enough effort, even when Sean Kelly’s calculation says they should. Furthermore some fans will say this happens very frequently, others not so much. Point is sometimes it’s a tough call.

    • I think there is some answer to be found in the sheer attrition of this race where two thirds of the start list did not finish. Ettix were the only team in which all their starting line-up finished the race. The whole of Cannondale packed it in. All of the other teams were somewhere in between with their DNFs. Thus, apart from Ettix, there was not enough support amongst the other teams for any remaining sprinters in the bunch and this resulted in a lack of pulling power or motivation to chase. The start list for this race was not crammed with names of top endurance-sprinters anyway –no Kristoff; Degenkolb; Cavendish, etc. And in the event there was not enough quality in those sprinters left in the race at the last to challenge Ettix anyway: Greipel and Bouhanni had gone home already. All these factors conspired to leave the burden on Ettix and such of those conditions in the race which had forced so many others out of it no doubt had their effect at the margins on Ettix, too, taking enough of the edge of them to mean they missed out. As a team effort I think Trek handled things the best on the day, but lacking Kristoff, Katusha did well to improvise with Kuznetsov.

  26. Thanks for the responses. And it obviously should have been the EQS5, not 4 as I erroneously wrote. Just to continue with some doomed logic. Take EBH. Maybe he just didn’t have the legs, but if not, why doesn’t he at least take a few digs to help the EQS lads bring Sagan’s group back. Sure he might just be aiding and abetting a win for Gavaria, but at least that way, if it helps create the mini-bunch sprint, he has a chance too.
    But I see that maybe he didn’t have the legs, the will, or was instructed by DD chiefs to keep his powder dry for Flanders. Only he knows I guess. Maybe I’ll Tweet him & ask, perhaps not opening with: ‘dude why did you ride so lamely in the bunch at GW?’
    That would be silly…

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