Gilbert goes solo to win Tour of Flanders

Philippe Gilbert on Sunday turned the Tour of Flanders into a one-man race. After escaping from the pack a full 55 kilometres ahead of the finish he raced to victory in Oudenaarde as none of the 197 other riders was able to close in on him.

The 34-year-old Belgian crossed the finish in this the 101st edition of the spring classic a half a minute ahead of challenger Greg Van Avermaet. The Belgian Olympic champion Van Avermaet won the sprint for second place ahead of Dutch riders Niki Terpstra and Dylan van Baarle.

90 km ahead of the finish, on the Geraardsbergen Wall, Tom Boonen and Gilbert escaped together with a lead group of 15 riders. Favourites Van Avermaet and Sagan had missed their date with history. The group including Boonen and Gilbert overtook the first lead group that had escaped in the opening stages of the race with 67th km to go edging one minute ahead of the pack.

55km ahead of the finish, during the ascent of the Oude Kwaremont col, Belgian champion Gilbert took the lead alone. With 37km to go Boonen suffered bad luck. Sagan, Van Avermaet, Oliver Naesen led a counterattack, but with 17 km to go, on the Patersberg, Sagan, Van Avermaet and Naesen crashed on the cobbles. Gilbert was able to reach the finish unchallenged.