Kristoff wins 2019 Gent - Wevelgem

Kristoff wins 2019 Gent - Wevelgem

Alexander Kristoff (UAE Emirates) took the win at Gent - Wevelgem on Sunday, sprinting to victory from a small peloton, having earlier been on the attack in a race dominated by the wind.

John Degenkolb (Trek-Segafredo) finished a bike-length back in second place, while Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) continued his effervescent spring form by taking third.

Kristoff, who won the Tour of Flanders solo in 2015, launched his sprint early after riding the Jumbo-Visma train in the final kilometre. Jumping to the wheel of Adrien Petit (Direct Énergie), he hit the wind with 250 metres to go and had no equal in the race to the line.

It was a sprint finish that had looked far from inevitable for much of the day, with the peloton shattering in the crosswinds during the first hour. A large group including Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) got away after 50km of furious racing, eventually whittling down until the escapees were brought back with 20km to race.

The flat run-in was commanded by the sprinters' teams, including the well-represented Deceuninck-QuickStep, who were keen to keep it together until Wevelgem. Attacks flew in the final 15km, but it was impossible to escape the inevitability of a bunch sprint.

After a group of four attackers were finally caught in the final kilometre, it was Jumbo-Visma who led out the sprint. Kristoff appeared from behind the wheels to launch himself from long to take his second win of the season.

"Fernando [Gaviria] did a great race and was in the front all day, but he told me in the last 10km that he didn't feel good," Kristoff said after the finish. "So he said, 'OK, go for the sprint yourself', because normally I would lead him out.

"I found a good wheel and at the end I was the strongest in the sprint. It's a huge victory for me and it kind of saved my spring. I can see my shape is coming good for Flanders. This is slightly easier than Flanders, but to get this victory - it's one of the biggest victories in my career."

The wind, and of course, the climbs, had a big effect on the race, with Kristoff mentioning how his team's tactics were adjusted as a result.

"I was in the second group and we had Fernando in front," he said. "It was good racing by him to stay in front so we could take it easier in the back I knew Kemmelberg would be crucial, so I tried to attack and anticipate it before. I managed to come in the front over Kemmelberg, and I knew I was safe, being in the first group.

"But of course I was tired. It was a hard day from the start, but I saw everybody was really on the limit, so I knew I always have a good sprint when everybody is tired."

Top 10

  1. Alexander Kristoff

  2. John Degenkolb

  3. Oliver Naesen

  4. Mathieu Van De Poel

  5. Danny Van Poppel

  6. Adrian Petit

  7. Matteo Trentin

  8. Rudiger Selig

  9. Matej Mohoric

  10. Jens Debusschere

Credits/Resources: D Ostanek / B Decaluwe / cyclingnews / Getty