Men Elite history
Frenchman Christophe Laporte was able to celebrate on the Vanackerestraat in Wevelgem. His teammate Wout van Aert accelerated on the second ascent of the Kemmelberg, with more than 50 kilometres to go. Laporte was the only one able to follow the Belgian, after which they rode together towards Wevelgem. In the chasing group, Sep Vanmarcke won the sprint for third place.
There are six of them, the men who managed to win Gent-Wevelgem three times. Only Peter Sagan is currently still cycling in the professional peloton, so if he manages to win again, he will be the sole record holder with four victories.
Robert Van Eenaeme belongs to that select group of riders who won Gent-Wevelgem three times during their careers. Van Eenaeme won the classic twice as an independent and once as a professional rider. His last win did not come until more than a week after the race. A photo published in the newspaper showed that Van Eenaeme was slightly faster than Maurice Van Herzele, who was initially declared the winner.
In 1956, Rik Van Looy won the first major classic of his career with Gent-Wevelgem. The Emperor of Herentals completed his hat trick six years later. Van Looy played an important role in Gent-Wevelgem between 1956 and 1969. The Belgian started the classic thirteen times, finishing in the top 10 no fewer than 8 times.
The Cannibal finished on the podium five times in Gent-Wevelgem, three times at the top. In his first victory, he had the measure of Jan Janssen after an impressive sprint. Three years later, he left his fellow escapees behind three kilometres from the finish and another three years further on he defeated Frans Verbeeck in the sprint with a select group. Merckx finished in the top ten in Gent-Wevelgem no fewer than nine times. No one else has ever done that.
After the disqualification of Abdoujaparov, the Italian Mario Cipollini was declared the winner of Gent-Wevelgem for the first time in 1992. A year later, Super Mario was able to win again and this time after a normal sprint. Ten years after his first victory, Cipollini joined the list of record holders in 2002. No bunch sprint then, but a fight with four other escapees. In his famous zebra outfit, the eccentric Tuscan won ahead of Fred Rodriguez.
Tom Boonen celebrated for the first time on the Vanackerestraat in Wevelgem at the age of just 23. He beat the likes of Magnus Backstedt and Jaan Kirsipuu in a bunch sprint. After that, the most popular Belgian rider of his generation had to wait seven years before he could celebrate again in Gent-Wevelgem. In 2011, he was faster than Daniele Bennati and Tyler Farrar. A year later, Boonen completed his hat trick after a sprint with a small elite group.
That Peter Sagan knows the Gent-Wevelgem podium well is an understatement. The second time he participated, in 2012, the Slovak was runner-up after Tom Boonen beat him in the sprint. A year later, Sagan was the winner. And how! He crossed the line solo with a wheelie after an icy and shortened edition. In 2016, as world champion, he doubled his number of victories in Gent-Wevelgem. Two years later, Sagan was again able to celebrate in his rainbow jersey. He defeated Elia Viviani and Arnaud Démare in the sprint to become co-record holder.