Belgian cycling legend Philippe Gilbert has added another monument to his collection, winning the 2017 Tour of Flanders in sensational style.
Crossing the line almost half a minute in front of second-placed Greg Van Avermaet of team BMC, Gilbert’s Quick Step Floors teammate Niki Terpstra finished third.
Two-time World Champion Peter Sagan was looking strong throughout the historic race, but his high hopes of victory came crashing down as he fell on the cobbled Oude Kwaremont climb.
Best placed Aussie was 25yo Luke Durbridge who finished a solid 12th – Durbridge’s recent run of fine form continuing after his stage win at De Panne.
Speaking after the race Phillippe Gilbert, the 2012 World Champion, said after teammate Tom Boonen initiated a move on the Muur, the team went “full gas” on the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont.
The Boonen Factor
“Tom did a big pull just ahead of the hill, on the asphalt,” he said.
“I took over as the road began to rise and soon noticed I had a small gap; from that moment on, I never looked back again. Many people thought I was crazy to attack 55km out, myself included, but I didn’t go that hard, because I was aware the final 15 kilometres were very tough. I kept some energy which I knew would prove very useful for that last part of the race.”
“When I approached the final kilometre, I looked behind and saw the chasers were still a long way back and thought of a nice way of celebrating my success. That’s why I raised my bike over my head, because it was an important part of my victory.”
34yo Gilbert is now realising the possibility of winning all five of cycling’s monuments. Without a doubt he’ll be one to watch at next weekend’s Paris-Roubaix.