Oudenaarde - Alexander
Kristoff became the first ever Norwegian to win the prestigious Tour of
Flanders on Sunday as he beat Dutchman Niki Terpstra in a sprint
Belgian Greg Van Avermaet took third ahead of Peter Sagan of Slovakia in fourth.
it was a breakaway led by last year's Paris-Roubaix winner Terpstra
30km from home that made the difference with only 2014 Milan-San Remo
winner Kristoff able to follow, winning his second 'Monument' race.
raced here a lot as a young rider, I watched this race a long time
before I got the chance to participate," said Kristoff, 27.
"The dream was just to participate, not to win it. Now I have also won it's a great feeling. I can't describe it.
"It was my main goal for this part of the season and to achieve it is a great feeling."
It was that break on the Kruisberg climb, the third last of 19 on a brutal day that covered 264km, that made the decisive split.
knew that Kristoff was the better sprinter by far, although both had
shown great form in the last month with the Norwegian finishing second
to John Degenkolb in the defence of his Milan-San Remo title before
winning Three Days of De Panne last week, having triumphed in three of
the four stages.
Terpstra had also been in good form having
finished second at Gent-Wevelgem a week ago but although he forced
Kristoff into leading for much of the last 10km and leading out the
sprint, when he finally made his attack, there was no contest.
Pre-race favourite Geraint Thomas was unable to shine, hamstrung by close marking and rolled over the line outside the top 10.
the first 220km were tepid, bordering on dull, from a racing point of
view, it was still pretty hot on the road for certain riders.
Zealand's Jesse Sergent was knocked down by a Shimano service car while
yet another vehicle from the same company caused a car crash that
resulted in Frenchman Sylvain Chavanel, twice previously second in the
this race, knocked off his bike.
The next obstacle around 60km
from home was an inflatable arch over the road that had started to
deflate and collapse -- a loan spectator seemed to be helping hold it up
as the riders passed underneath with barley an inch of clear air to
The fight really started to kick into gear with the passage
of the tough Koppenberg climb -- with one section boasting a 22 percent
gradient -- 45km from the finish, with Thomas showing his strength at
that moment as he briefly opened a gap on some of his main rivals.
Avermaet was next to have a dig on the following climb before Jurgen
Relandts accelerated on a flat section as splits formed amongst the
leaders, gradually reducing the group of possible winners.
the big losers was Sep Vanmarcke who faced a forlorn chase to regain
contact on the Kruisberg climb while Olympic time-trial champion Bradley
Wiggins had long been in difficulty and languishing near the back.
The Kruisberg was where Terpstra attacked and took Kristoff with him, quickly opening up a gap of 30sec with 20km left.
attacked on the final of three ascensions of the Kwaremont -- the
penultimate climb -- and only Zdenek Stybar initially could hold his
They couldn't make it stick, though, and it was Van
Avermaet followed by Sagan who got a gap on the chasers on the final
climb, the Paterberg.
But although they never gave up their chase,
the front two had the strength to prevent them from bridging, leaving
Kristoff to demonstrate his power in the sprint finish.Results after the Tour of Flanders on Sunday, over 264km between Bruges and Audenarde:
1. Alexander Kristoff (NOR/KAT) 6hr 26min 38sec (average: 41 km/h), 2. Niki Terpstra (NED/ETI) same time, 3. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) at 07sec, 4. Peter Sagan (SVK/TIN) 17, 5. Tiesj Benoot (BEL/LOT) 35, 6. Lars Boom (NED/AST) 35, 7. John Degenkolb (GER/GIA) 48, 8. Juergen Roelandts (BEL/LOT) 48, 9. Zdenek Stybar (CZE/ETI) 48, 10. Martin Elmiger (SUI/IAM) 48