Eritreans beat Laporte and Van Gestel
Biniam Girmay (Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert) has won the 84th edition of Gent-Wevelgem. | Photo: Cor Vos
27/03/2022 | (rsn) – Biniam Girmay (Intermarché – Wanty – Gobert) has won the 84th edition of Gent-Wevelgem and celebrated the greatest success of his career so far. The 21-year-old Eritrean won over 249 kilometers from Ypres to Ghent in the sprint of a four-man breakaway group just ahead of Frenchman Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma), who had already finished second at the E3 Classic on Friday.
The Belgians Dries Van Gestel (TotalEnergies) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek – Segafredo) followed in third and fourth place, fifth was the Dane Sören Kragh Andersen (DSM / +0: 08), who finished just before the first field. .
“The victory is really incredible. I did not expect it. We first changed my schedule last Friday. I have already had some pretty good results, but winning a race like this is really incredible,” Girmay commented on his second victory of the season and first in the WorldTour. “I feel really strong right now. I had some good guys around me so I did not expect so much. But when I (on the home stretch, i.e. editor) was in last place, I had a lot of confidence, especially in the last 250 meters, “said second place in the U23 WC 2021, which with its historic victory will say goodbye to a planned break in racing.
Last year’s winner Van Aert is twelfth
On the other hand, the biggest tasks of the spring still await the narrowly beaten Laporte. The jumbo newcomer, who missed a big opportunity in Wevelgem, is still needed as Van Aert’s noble helper at Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. “Girmay rode very well. I had to take him. The only mistake I could have made was that I had to take up the sprint. Eventually I had more speed. Now of course I’m disappointed,” said Laporte, who just barely missed the biggest success of his career so far.
In the sprint of the hunting group around the defending champion Wout Van Aert (Jumbo – Visma), the Belgian Tim Merlier (Alpecin – Fenix) secured the sixth place ahead of the Dane Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), the Spaniard Ivan Garcia Cortina (Movistar). ), Milan-Sanremo winner Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) and Frenchman Arnaud Démare (Groupama – FDJ).
Last year’s winner Van Aert, who was unable to break away with an attack during the last crossing of Kemmelberg, finished in twelfth place, the best German professional was Jonas Koch (Bora – hansgrohe) in 22nd place.
This is how the race went:
Tom Van Asbroeck (Israel – Premier Tech) and Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) had to cancel their participation at short notice, so 174 professionals took up the Flemish classic. Right from the start, the battle for the day’s group broke out, stretching for almost 30 kilometers before seven riders could break away.
Jelle Wallays (Cofidis), Alexander Konychev (BikeExchange – Jayco), Nikias Arndt (DSM), Ludovic Robeet (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), Lindsay De Vlyder (Sport Vlaanderen – Baloise), Johan Jacobs (Movistar) and Lars Saugstadt (Uno- X) under a cloudy sky and with temperatures just below double digits, they built up a lead of about six minutes before the pace picked up speed in the field on its way to the first bedding of the day.
At Scherpenberg, where the hilly phase of the race began approximately 97 kilometers before the finish, the escapees were now only two minutes ahead of the field in sunshine, where shortly before there had been a mass crash, in which several drivers fell. the ground went, including Sep Vanmarcke (Israel – Premier Tech) and Florian Senechal (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl). Almost all the pros who were left found the connection again, also because the field had slowed down in the meantime.
Van Aert is in the lead early
Already at Baneberg, 92 kilometers before the finish on the second of the nine berths, the top favorite Van Aert was in the front row. At the first of three crossings of the cobbled Kemmelberg, the leading group had a lead of just one minute. Here the field fell apart, also as a result of further falls, before it went to the three times over nature roads, the so-called cul-de-sacs. Triple Gent-Wevelgem winner Peter Sagan (TotalEnergies) was also among the remaining.
After several initial attacks from the favorites, including one by Mohoric, the distance to the leading group from which Saugstadt and Robeet had fallen was not only reduced. Surprisingly, Van Aert also lost touch with the closest pursuers around the Milan-Sanremo winner and Kasper Asgreen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl).
On Hill 63, the first of three Plugstreets, the strong Jacobs tore a hole for his companions while the hunting group was already in sight. The field with Van Aert, on the other hand, was about 50 seconds behind the leaders. After leaving Christmas Truce, the second Plugstreet 70 kilometers from the finish, the group around Mohoric, Asgreen and Greg Van Avermaet (AG2R Citroën) had captured all the breakaways except Jacobs. Four kilometers later, the Movistar driver also disappeared into the now 25-man leading group, whose lead over the field at the end of Plugstreets was about 30 seconds.
Van Aert’s attack on Kemmelberg expired
As the pace at the front was subsequently reduced somewhat, the field led by the TotalEnergies connection was re-established before the second passage of Monteberg. Shortly afterwards, a group of about 15 around Van Aert broke away at Kemmelberg, from which Victor Campenaerts, Van Aert’s noble helper Christophe Laporte and Sanremo’s second place Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies) drove away.
Asgreen, however, initially led the second group back to the front before the remaining field had caught up again with 46 kilometers to go. Three kilometers later and shortly before the second crossing over Baneberg, Turgis tested his competitors. On the penultimate climb of the day, his compatriot Olivier Le Gac (Groupama – FDJ) went on the offensive, but this was countered by Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo). – Visma).
On the third and final traverse of the 800-meter-long Kemmelberg with an average gradient of nine percent, Van Aert accelerated, while Laporte remained in the hunting group, catching up with his captain again with 32 kilometers to go. Pedersen, Mohoric, Asgreen, Dylan Van Baarle (Ineos Grenadiers), Kragh Andersen and Benoot, a third jumbo pro, were there.
Laporte is activated as Jumbo’s plan B
With 27 kilometers to go, a 20-man hunting group caught up with the eight leaders. After an unsuccessful speed increase by Van Aert, Laporte climbed the last 24 kilometers and started a group that also included Stuyven, Girmay and Dries Van Gestel (TotalEnergies). By driving through the starting point Ypres, the quartet’s lead over the group around Van Aert was already about 25 seconds. Van Avermaet and Norwegian Rasmus Tiller (Uno-X) were still in the middle, but they set foot 18 kilometers from goal.
In the last 17 kilometers, various teams in the field, which also included promising sprinters such as Démare, Merlier and Jasper Philipsen (both Alpecin – Fenix), but also Cottbuser Max Kanter (Movistar), tried to bring back the late escape group. Nevertheless, the four leaders not only held their position, but were even able to extend their lead to about 40 seconds.
Girmay surprises Laporte
In the last ten kilometers, Groupama – FDJ and Movistar shared most of the speed work in the field, which only got significantly closer to the escapees in the last five kilometers. Movistar sent the tireless Jacobs and then newcomers Edges to the top, and Alpecin also took charge, reducing the distance to less than 20 seconds with two kilometers left in headwinds.
Kragh Andersen ran out of the field at high speed but could not keep up. Although the leading group was only 18 seconds ahead on the final kilometer, the quartet already stalked each other here before Girmay opened the sprint from the last position of the leading quartet about 250 meters before the end and just ahead of Laporte, whose reaction increased. a bit came late, saved to goal.