Trek’s Fabian Cancellara has won his second successive Tour of Flanders after playing a final stretch waiting game in a four man group which saw less than 300m to go before the Swiss powerhouse made his move and drove Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Sep Vanmarcke (Team Belkin) into second and third place respectively. Explaining his strategy Cancellara said, ‘I tried to ask Dirk [Demol – Trek Sports Director] through the radio how many seconds we had because the last thing I wanted was the others coming back. That would have been the end of the world. For the spectators at home I am sure it was an exciting track final. It was man against man and I just kept pushing to the end…’
But the closing few moments were far from the only exiting ones of the 259km race which saw a number of significant crashes, not least for Cancellara’s team mates; Stijn Devolder and Gregory Rast both went down at the 112km point (Devolder crashing later for a second time before the penultimate ascent of the Paterberg) with Yaroslav Popovych hitting the road a few kilometres further on. Popovych, whose crash resulted in hospitalisation, commented: ‘The only thing I knew is that I hit a lady in red with my handlebar. There is nothing broken, I am lucky… I may have a torn tendon in the hip. I could not walk at first and I was thinking the worst. I am very sad not to be able to finish the race, and especially to help at the end.’
Trek Factory Racing were not the only team to suffer the indignity of crashing at Flanders – Team Sky had their own share of misfortune with both Gabriel Rasch and Geraint Thomas tumbling. Thomas, who had also fallen at Cobbled Classic Gent-Wevelgem, managed to fight on despite a badly bruised back to finish in eighth place just 37seconds adrift of Cancellara.
Bradley Wiggins, a Flanders replacement for Ian Stannard who broke a vertebra after crashing at last weekend’s Gent-Wevelgem, rolled in at +1:43 for 32nd place.