Peter Sagan outsprints Philippe Gilbert to take the Brabantse Pijl
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Peter Sagan outsprints Philippe Gilbert to take the Brabantse Pijl

by Ben Atkins at 11:48 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Brabantse Pijl
 
Slovakian champion wins a close two-up battle as they escape on the final climb

peter saganPeter Sagan (Cannondale) won the 2013 edition of the Brabantse Pijl - la Flèche Brabaçonne - in the central Belgian of Overijse, as he outsprinted World champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) in a two-up dash for the line. The two riders had been part of an eleven-man breakaway group that had come together in the closing stages of the 200km race, with Sagan being forced to chase down a late attack from Gilbert’s teammate Greg Van Avermaet on the final climb.

Only Gilbert was able to follow the Slovakian champion, although Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM) managed to fight his way up to them as they arrived at the final corner. Gilbert was the first to open up his sprint, but Sagan managed to edge his wheel in front as they hit the finish line.

"With some duos in the leading group it wasn’t easy in the finale," said Sagan afterwards. "When [Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Nikolas] Maes and Van Avermaet had escaped, I had no choice but to close the gap himself.

“I’m very satisfied that I was then still strong enough to beat Gilbert in the sprint.

“I have to go into that sprint also very carefully,” Sagan explained. “I knew that there was a headwind in the final straight, and that is why I let Gilbert go first. I was right in his wheel and came around him at the right time."

The race’s main breakaway was formed in the first 50km, as Maes, Kenny Dehaes (Lotto-Belisol), Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis), Ben Hermans (RadioShack-Leopard), Youcef Reguigui (MTN-Qhubeka) and Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare) escaped.

The six-man group was allowed to quickly open a four and a half minute lead, but was steadily pulled back in the middle part of the race. As they arrived at the hilly 23.4km local circuit - which was to be completed three times - riders began to drop away from the break, until only Maes and Dehaes remained.

Two-time Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Stijn Devolder (RadioShack-Leopard) then managed to bridge across to the two remaining leaders, with Leukemans soon joining him with Paul Voss (NetApp-Endura) and David Malacarne (Europcar).

With 19km to go though, an acceleration from Van Avermaet pulled Glebert and Sagan clear of the peloton, and they were joined by Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano) and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). The five riders managed to close the gap to the six leaders to make a group of eleven, which held off the peloton until the final kilometres.

Maes escaped with Van Avermaet with two kilometres to go, forcing Sagan to chase them down, but the Slovakian champion pulled his way across on the final climb of the Schavei, inside the final kilometre. Sagan then accelerated, and only Gilbert was able to hold on to his wheel, with Leukemans making it across as they arrived at the top.

Gilbert launched his sprint almost immediately, but Sagan stuck closely to his wheel and just managed to get his wheel in front of the World champion’s as they hit the line. Having made such an effort to make it across to the two leaders, Leukemans had no response, but held on to take third place.

Result
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
2. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
3. Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM
4. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
5. Simon Geschke (Ger) Argos-Shimano
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
7. Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar
8. Stijn Devolder (Bel) RadioShack-Leopard
9. Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura
10. Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Lotto-Belisol

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