Wout van Aert won the 83rd edition of Gent-Wevelgem, finishing off an impressive 180 km-attack with a select group of riders. After a brutal race of almost 250 km, van Aert was the fastest to win the sprint ahead of Nizzolo and Trentin.
Echelons caused the peloton to split early in the race. Van Aert made it into a 20-rider group with 180 kilometers still to go. With a little over 150km left the group with van Aert had caught the initial breakaway - thanks to teammate Van Hooydonck - and the front group created a considerable gap over the peloton.
On the second ascent of the Kemmelberg, the group was reduced to 9 riders to eventually contest the race in a 7-rider sprint. Van Aert bested quality sprinters like Nizzolo, Trentin and Matthews to win his first classic of the season.
Wout van Aert:
“We continuously kept focusing on the wind and the echelons. You know that’s almost always the case in this classic. The race soon broke open and I was in the right echelon with Nathan (Van Hooydonk). We worked well together and kept control of the race. The confidence in the final sprint was there, of course.”
“I had been encouraging Nathan all along to survive the last time on the Kemmelberg. He did. That was incredibly strong of him. I knew I was going to need him afterwards. In the last kilometre he took the lead. A top notch performance. Hats off to him.”