Degenkolb wins Ghent-Wevelgem classic in sprint
BRUSSELS (AP) — John Degenkolb of Germany edged Frenchman Arnaud Demare by half a wheel in a crash-marred mass sprint to win the Ghent-Wevelgem World Tour classic on Sunday.
Peter Sagan, who had already won the E3 Harelbeke World Tour race on Friday, took third place in the wild sprint finish, with Andre Greipel and several others involved in the crash.
Degenkolb paced his race perfectly and stayed hidden in the pack until it mattered, hitting the front with only 100 meters to go. Demare moved alongside the German but had timed his finish badly by coming just short.
One week after suffering a flat tire in the finale of the Milan-San Remo classic, Degenkolb was not to be denied on Sunday.
“In the sprint, I remained calm and picked the right moment to make my move,” the German said, lauding his Giant-Shimano teammates for shielding him throughout the race and bringing him in prime position to the last 250 meters.
“It was a super race. We controlled it all,” said the 25-year-old Degenkolb, who earned the biggest victory of his career. “I am lucky to have such a team.”
It was the second of three classics in western Belgium, with the Ronde of Flanders coming next Sunday.
The 233-kilometer (145-mile) Ghent-Wevelgem race passed many of the famous battlefields and memorials of World War I, which marks its centennial this summer.
The classic opened up for real with 40 kilometers (25 miles) to go when some of the favorites made their move on the Kemmel, the penultimate of nine hills on the circuit through Flanders in western Belgium.
Fabian Cancellara sought to throw off the sprinters, but failed to shake riders like Peter Sagan, Greipel, Degenkolb and Tom Boonen.
Belgian champion Stein Devolder led a break of a trio for 15 kilometers, but strong teamwork of the top teams reined them in with about a kilometer to go.
Follow Raf Casert on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rcasert