03/04/16 - 10:30 AM
Road race - Men
Ronde van Vlaanderen • Stage1

Road race - Men

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Peter Sagan: "No one wants to work with me so it's always better to drop everybody I think. I feel very good. I'm very happy. Today was super hard from the start to finish. Always full gas. I had some problems after one kilometre and had to change both wheels. Then there were a lot of crashes so it was very hard. I want to dedicate this win to the two guys who died last week - it's very sad. Also to my teammate Maciej Bodnar, who crashed badly in training and missed this race." Classy words from the new Tour of Flanders champion.


So, that's two world champions winning the 100th edition of the Tour of Flanders today. Amazing scenes in Belgium.


Defending champion Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) wins the sprint for fourth place about a minute down.


Sep Vanmarcke trickles across for third place - an impressive ride after his early crash today.


Fabian Cancellara waves to the crowd as he takes second place in his final Tour of Flanders.


Victory for Peter Sagan! The world champion has won the 100th edition of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen!


He's approaching the flamme rouge now and the victory is his...


Cancellara hasn't given up but it won't be a Flanders win in his final year as a pro - that fourth Ronde triumph will remain the elusive target for the generations to come.


The gap has grown to 24 seconds - unless he gets a flat tyre or crashes, Sagan should win this. His first Monument in 18 attempts.


Just five to go now in this utterly absorbing finale. We could see the second world champion winning today - or we could see Cancellara taking his fourth Ronde victory. But the gap is 18 seconds now and so the former looks more likely...


This is touch and go: it's down to 14 seconds now for Sagan, with the others 35 back.


It's a time trial all the way to the finish. Cancellara and Vanmarcke can see Sagan ahead, but thre's still 17 seconds for them to claw back. Meanwhile, a 10-man chasing group is another 20 seconds back.


What a spectacle. Cancellara needs this to become the most feted Flanders rider in history. Sagan needs it to win his first ever monument. Vanmarcke needs it for Belgium, without a win here for four years...


With Lizzie Armitstead winning for the ladies, we could see both world champions triumphing in Oudenaarde today. Sagan now has 20 seconds on his two chasers!


Lone leader Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) has 11 seconds on Cancellara and Vanmarcke. It's a huge ask, but he can do it.


Terpstra and Erviti followed shortly after ahead of the Stybar-Thomas chase group.


Sagan stays seated as he rips up the climb. Vanmarcke is dancing on the pedals and is being caught by Cancellara.


The leaders are onto the Paterberg - the last climb of the day. Behind, Claeys has been dropped and Erviti is struggling.


Amazing that Claeys and Erviti have managed to hold on to Terpstra's wheel. With Cancellara leading the chase, they're 12 seconds down on the leading duo of Sagan and Vanmarcke. The next group is 30 seconds back, with the likes of Thomas and Stybar.


It's Vandenbergh with Terpstra - Boonen has cracked. They have the impressive Erviti and Claeys with them - and they're reaching Spartacus. Wow. Vandenbergh has disappeared though...


Sagan takes a bidon going over the top as Vanmarcke comes through for a pull on the flat. Cancellara has four in pursuit, with a second group further back - but the rest have disappeared.


Sagan sets the tempo with Vanmarcke, with Cancellara soloing in pursuit - but Boonen and Terpstra are in pursuit, with Thomas a bit further back. Vintage stuff.


There's Fabian Cancellara! He's passed them all! Just Sagan and Vanmarcke ahead now - this is incredible!


Greipel is the first to pop - and the pack are just behind! It's going to come back together!


Here we go - the Oude Kwaremont. It was a gamble for Sagan to go so early with Kwiatkowski, but this climb will tell whether or not it was worth it. He leads the way in his rainbow stripes...


Kwiatkowski, Sagan and Vanmarcke on the front ahead of the penultimate cobbled climb, with Van Baarle right there. Alexander Kristoff is in the chasing group, it's worth adding. He's had a quiet race but could yet win through stealth.


The gap is down to just 28 seconds with the Oude Kwaremont looming for the third and final time.


Etixx alsop have four riders in this chasing group: Boonen, Terpstra, Trentin and Stybar. With Vandenberg up ahead, they're controlling this nicely - provided it comes back together that is.


It's still a precarious lead of 38 seconds over the main chasing pack, so the winner won't necessarily come from this group. Astana have gour riders in the chasing pack, while Cancellara has Devolder, it seems leading the chase. Thomas is there for Sky, but with a teammate ahead, he's doing nothing.


They're about to make the connection: Vanmarcke leads Kwiatkowski and Sagan as they catch the five leaders.


Just five out ahead now: Greipel, Claeys, Erviti, Vandenbergh and Van Baarle. That terrible trio of Sagan, Kwiatkowski and Vanmarcke are 25 seconds behind, with the chasing Cancellara pack at one minute. They're on the Hotondeberg asphalt climb after the Kruisberg.


We have the Kruisberg now - the leaders are about to hit it imminently. They still have one minute to play with...


Now Stybar soloes clear in pursuit of Sagan, Vanmarcke and Kwiatkowski, with a cluster behind. We're in the town of Ronse.


And they're joined by Vanmarcke - this could be the winning move, three riders of this calibre together.


Now Michal Kwiatkowski rides clear with Peter Sagan on his wheel. Fascinating stuff. This could be the move.


Boonen is in this group, it's worth adding. De Vreese, Keukeleire, Stybar and Gatto too. No sign of defending champion Kristoff yet, but there's another group about to join them.


Stannard has caught Van Hoecke and Politt, but that Sagan group is just behind.


So many different groups on the road - it's hard to get on top of this. Cancellara appears to be back with Devolder in a fourth chasing group with Sagan, Thomas, Kwiatkowski and Boom. Vanmarcke too.


Vanmarcke and Trentin are in a chasing group ahead of the big favourites on the Taaienberg. Devolder is there too. Very hard to see what's happening because there are so many groups on the road.


The chasing pack crosses the railway line - luckily no train today. There was a flurry of activity as Lars Boom had a dig. Now there's Lotto rider - perhaps Roelandt's - riding in pursuit of Stannard, who's caught Gruzdev. The leaders are onto the Taaienberg - also known as the Boonenberg.


Meanwhile, Ian Stannard has used his position and momentum over the Koppenberg to attack. He's riding on his own in pursuit.


The eight leaders are onto the Steenbeekdries cobble section. Vandenbergh and Van Baarle joined the Greipel group, which includes Politt, Claeys, Erviti, Gruzdev and Van Hoecke.


A main pack of around 40 has formed on the wide asphalt surface ahead of the next cobbled section. It's fairly nervous and hectic out there.


Lars Boom and Geraint Thomas were both there too. But they lay of the land will be clearer in a bit once the post-Koppenberg groups form.


Sagan, Cancellara and Boasson Hagen all went over the top close together. Vanmarcke, after all his problems, was just ahead of them.


It's blown apart on the Koppenberg - those at the back are running with their bikes on their shoulders. The race will have a whole different complexion for this final hour.


Greipel has a small gap on the Koppenberg, with Claeys in pursuit. Further back, Vandenbergh leads Van Baarle up the 22% part of the climb. There's another chasing group, led by Ian Stannard it seems, ahead of the pack.


It's six leaders now - Houle has been dropped. Actually, it's five because Greipel has attacked ahead of the Koppenberg.


The seven leaders see their gap slashed to 57 seconds. The main pack is only about 60-strong now.


The Cannondale rider is not Langeveld - it's Dylan van Baarle, on the offensive again.


The Cannondale rider is Seb Langeveld. He and Vandenbergh have 10 seconds over the pack, which is led over the Paterberg by Ian Stannard of Team Sky. This time it was attrition - but the next ascent it will be pivotal.


Greipel leads on the Paterberg before Gruzdev comes through. This climb peaks at 20% and is a real leg-stinger.


There's a flurry of activity behind from the pack but the big guns keep their powder dry. Sagan is right there, primed. The leaders are now onto the Paterberg for the first time today.


Claeys back with the leaders as they rejoin the road ahead of the Paterberg. Back on the Kwaremont, Vandenberg and his Cannondale companion have about 10 seconds.


Vandenbergh opens a small gap with a Cannondale rider in tow. No reaction so far...


Boasson Hagen is near the front of the pack on the Kwaremont. Amador, of Movistar, too, and Kwiatkowski. No big attacks so far - it's attrition for now - until VANDENBERG GOES!


The leaders are on the narrow climb of the Oude Kwaremont. Claeys, with his Wanty shirt still unzipped, sets the tempo. They have 1:57 over the pack as Claeys rides clear.


Now Sky on the front with Katusha as the Kwaremont looms. Scary viewing from above - the pace was so high, especially with the fans, road furniture and tight bends.


Politt back with the others now. Meanwhile, with the main pack we have Topsport and Direct Energie who have come to the front alongside Etixx and Tinkoff. The pace is very, very high and they're jostling like crazy for positions.


Lofty German Nils Politt (Katusha) bounds clear of the leading group of seven on the long downhill drag before the road bottlenecks ahead of the Oude Kwaremont. He has about 10 metres over his fellow escapees.


We're on the fast, flat, wide road that takes the riders to the foot of the Oude Kwaremont, which they will attack for the first time in tandem with the Paterberg. It's all going to kick off very soon...


Back to the men's race and the lead of the seven-man break has ballooned to 2:40 ahead of the business end of this race.

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Yes, it's victory for Britain's Lizzie Armitstead, who adds the Tour of Flanders to her earlier victories this season in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche and Trofeo Alfredo Binda.

- -

In the women's race it's going to be a two-way sprint between Lizzie Armistead and Emma Johansson. The chasers are behind, but they should hold them off...


First sight of Michal Kwiatkowski with his rainbow bands around his Sky sleeves. The Pole is near the front on the Kanarieberg - as is the indefatigable Tony Martin of Etixx-QuickStep.


We're at the second feed zone ahead of the Kanarieberg climb. Cancellara is right there with his Trek teammates after a testing race so far - he was dropped earlier.


Another Belgian is out of the race - local rider Dries Devenyns of IAM, who must have come down in that big crash earlier. His teammate Martin Elmiger is out too.


Terrible luck for Greg Van Avermaet if true: that would be his classics season over...


Five becomes seven as Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana) and Dimitri Claeys (Wanty) manage to bridge the gap. They have 1:40 over the pack.


Mechanical for Lars Boom (Astana) who needs a boke change. Many people's dark horse, is the Dutchman. His teammate Lieuwe Westra, who won last week's Three Days of De Panne, was leading the pack over an early climb before struggling off the back.


Yes, the leaders have come back together on the Kaperij climb. Greipel and Politt come to the front. Erviti and Van Hoecke having a breather, while Houle looks to be holding on by the skin of his teeth. They have 1:33.


Sky have come to the front of the pack now. The pack trails the leading duo - Van Hoecke and Erviti - by 1:25 seconds. Greipel and Politt have caught Houle and are about to join the leaders. Claeys and Gruzdev are a minute or so back in pursuit.


Those attacks came to nothing and we now have an Astana rider and a Wanty rider off the front of the pack - Gruzdev and Claeys - in pursuit of the other escapees.

- -

Meanwhile, the women's race is about to hit its climax with the double ascent of the Kwaremont and Paterberg ahead of the finale...


Right, there's some spice in the pack. After a period off the gas, Tinkoff, Orica-GreenEdge and Direct Energie dance on the pedals. Then there's a counter over the top of the climb and three riders go clear - from Tinkoff, Etixx and Trek. The two leaders are 1:30 ahead, with the other duos stuck between.


Houle was dropped on the Berendries climb so it's just Van Hoecke and Erviti out ahead. They have 35 seconds over the Trek-led peloton, with those other riders stuck in between. They're onto the Valkenberg now.


Nils Politt (Katusha) has joined Greipel off the front of the pack. Ahead of them rides Van Hoecke, Erviti and Houle. Meanwhlle Sjoerd Van Ginneken (Roompot-Oranje Peloton) and Belgian national champion Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise) have edged ahead of the pack as well.


The leaders have fragmented. Just Erviti and Van Hoecke are leading now, with the others further back and then numerous other riders trying their luck ahead of the bunched peloton, which is taking a breather after a fairly hefty hour.


One rider who has kept himself out of sight and - seemingly - trouble so far is Peter Sagan, the world champion, who's sporting a rather tasty helmet today...


And now moving pictures of that BMC crash...


Tony Martin back on the front, with Heinrich Haussler right there. The Australian finished runner-up in Flanders in 2009. They're now onto the Leberg. And Andre Greipel attacks for Lotto-Soudal!


BMC update...


Here's a still of the BMC crash that ended Van Avermaet's chances.


The leaders are onto the Leberg climb. Their gap is up to 1:20 now after all the regrouping and dramatics behind.


Terrible for BMC there - the crash occured in the bike lane on a wide strip of road. One went down and knocked four others over - and that's the end of Van Avermaet's race.


BIG CRASH: Four BMC riders are down. Greg van Avermaet is down and out. He's in floods of tears - his race is over. Manuel Quinziato is down too, Michal Schar too.


Van Baarle has dropped back, leaving Devriendt out ahead. That second peloton has managed to rejoin the pack, but there's no sign of Cancellara for now. He must be there. His Trek team-mate Stuyven needs a bike change. And Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) has changed bikes again... the Belgian has been in the wars today.


Two riders have managed to edge clear of the pack: Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale) and Tom Devriendt (Wanty-Group Gobert). They have the leaders in their sight on this long, straight bit of road.


It looks like Cancellara is in the second peloton: the chase is being led by Trek-Segafredo but they're 45 seconds down on the first peloton, who trail the leaders by 45 seconds.


Martin peels off the front and lets through two riders - one Sky and one Lotto-Soudal. They have opened a small gap on this cobbled sector.


The five leaders have just 1:10 now thanks to the fast pace of the pack behind. Martin leads four Sky riders onto the Paddlestraat cobbled sector. A second peloton trails by about 20 seconds.


It looks like a mechanic was hit by a car during that big crash earlier that took down Benoot and a cluster of riders... Not nice viewing.


Yes, the main pack has split after the Molenberg with around 30 riders currently 10 odd seconds ahead of the others. Tony Martin is driving the pace, looking very much at home.


Sky, Lotto-Soudal and Etixx are really dominating things at the moment, wrecking havoc behind as they drive a ferocious pace. There will be many DNFs today.


We're onto the Molenberg climb with Tony Martin of Etixx leading the way with a Sky rider on his back wheel. The leaders now have less than 2 minutes. The peloton is really strung out now - even more so after this climb.


Jasper Stuyven, a key teammate of Fabian Cancellara, has rejoined the peloton after being tailed off with a mechanical issue.


Confirmation of the withdrawal of youngster Teisj Benoot, who has been taken to hospital after that crash. He's on his feet so it's probably just a precaution.


The peloton is really strung out at the moment - the pace is really quite phenomenal, Etixx causing carnage. The leaders' gap comes down to 2:45.


Etixx-QuickStep are drilling the pace on the front of the pack. They have so many cards to play today: Boonen, Stybar, Terpstra, Trentin, Vandenbergh, Martin...


News coming in that one of the fallers in that big crash was Tiesj Benoot, who finished fifth last year in his debut Flanders. A big blow for Lotto-Soudal there.


The leaders are onto the Kerkgate urban cobbled sector. They have 3:55 over the pack. They're down to five men - Lukas Postlberger of Bora-Argon 18 appears to have disappeared from the break.


Lone chaser Kenny Dehaes (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) has been caught just as the pack hits another cobbled sector. Etixx, Lotto, Sky and Direct Energie on the front of the pack.


BIG CRASH: Two dozen riders spin off the road on a bend at the end of an urban cobbled sector. Loads of riders staying down and there's a huge tangle of bikes. Utter carnage. May have been caused by a dropped drink bottle...


Confirmation that Frenchman Arnaud Demare (FDJ) has abandoned the race. The Milan-Sanremo winner went down hard in that earlier crash. Let's hope he'll be back in time for Paris-Roubaix next week.


Sky and Tinkoff have come to the front of the pack, which trails the leaders by 4:25. Sky have many riders who could star today, including Welsh duo Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe, England's Ian Stannard and former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski. Tinkoff's eggs are all in the basket of the current world champion, Peter Sagan.


The leaders are onto the Eikenberg cobbled climb. Meanwhile, some troubles for Dimension Data: Edvald Boasson Hagen, the Norwegian national champion, is changing his bike, while Mark Renshaw, who may have come to grief in that Demare crash, looks to be calling it a day.


Vanmarcke is drafting back behind a LottoNL-Jumbo team car - shades of Demare in Milan-Sanremo there (allegedly). Another Belgian, Nico Waeytens (Giant-Alpecin), has managed to hitch a ride.


Here's that crash that brought down Demare, among others, a bit earlier.


I should add that it's a sunny day in Flanders - not a cloud in the sky and a warm sun beating down. No leg or arm warmers on display - it really is a spring classic.


Mechanical for Sep Vanmarcke! The LottoNL-Jumbo rider is one of the favorites but he appears to have a problem with his handlebars. He's lost a lot of time. Eventually a new bike comes from the team car, but the roads are so narrow that it takes a long time for the support to come. Replays show that he crashed at slow speed near the back of the peloton after the pace slowed ahead of a tight bend.


Demare's race may be over - he's still not back up and running following that spill, which happened near the front of the peloton.


The leaders are onto the Kortekeer climb. It's not cobbled but the fans are out in their droves. They have 2:50 over Dehaes and 4:00 over the pack.


Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) had a mechanical after the Kwaremont but he's back with the pack now. The Pole beat Peter Sagan in a two-way sprint for E3 Harelbeke last Friday, putting himself in the shop window for today.


CRASH: A dozen riders down after a touch of wheels on a wider part of the road. One of the fallers is MIlan-Sanremo winner Arnaud Demare.


Great to see Dehaes chasing down the break - he is one of the former teammates of the late Antoine Demoitie, who was so tragically killed over the Easter weekend after a crash and collision with a motorbike during Gent-Wevelgem.


We're onto the first of 18 climbs - the Oude Kwaremont. The race passes this 2.2km cobbled 'hellingen' three times - the second two times in tandem with the steeper Paterberg.


Right, I'm back after that Facebook chat and preview. Sorry about the quality of the recording for that - we've had some issues with wifi in the office. We'll sort it out before Roubaix! Ok, so the current race situation after the first 100km: those six riders are being pursued by Kenny Dehaes (Wanty-Groupe Gobert). The Belgian is riding chasse patate between the leaders and the peloton: 2'25 behind the former and 1'35 ahead of the latter.


Just to keep you in the loop, after 85km of racing, we have a break of six riders out ahead of the peloton. They are: Lukas Postlberger (Bora-Argon 18), Imanol Erviti (Movistar), Gijs Van Hoecke (Topsport Vlaanderen Baloise), Hugo Houle (Ag2R-La Mondiale), Wesley Kreder (Roompot-Oranje Peloton) and Federico Zurlo (Lampre-Merida). They have a slender lead of just 45 seconds after a fairly frantic start to the race. More coming up after that Facebook webchat...


Before we get started, I'm going to be doing a Facebook live chat about today's race. Getting started in a few minutes so please do join the fun...


The hundredth edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen showcases a final head-to-head that has characterised the race for the past decade: Tom Boonen versus Fabian Cancellara. Here's a full race preview for you to get your teeth stuck into before we roll out the live coverage...


Hello and welcome to live coverage of the second monument of the season - the 100th edition of the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, or Tour of Flanders.