Girmay writes cycling history in Wevelgem
Biniam Girmay has won the 84th edition of Gent-Wevelgem. The Eritrean sprinted in Wevelgem to his first victory in a Flemish classic. He finished ahead of Laporte and Van Gestel.
After the 84th edition of Gent Wevelgem was flagged off at 10.50am at the Menepoort in Ypres, the peloton immediately headed into Flanders Fields at a fast pace. It went fast in the first kilometres of the race and thus we had to wait a while for the early breakaway. Eventually 7 riders managed to get away from the peloton: Wallays (Cofidis), Konychev (Team BikeExchange - Jayco), Arndt (Team DSM), Jacobs (Movistar Team), Robeet (Bingoal Pauwels Sauces WB), De Vylder (Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise) and Saugstad (Uno-X Pro Cycling Team). They managed to cycle an advantage of about 6 minutes together.
In De Moeren, the wind did not cause a shift this year. But the pace did quicken in the run-up to the first passage on Scherpenberg. Sanremo winner Mohoric's men took the initiative and launched an attack on the Scherpenberg.
The race broke open and after a crash at the back of the peloton, two groups were formed in pursuit of the leaders. Just before the first climb of Scherpenberg, a few riders were able to return from the back. At the first passage through Heuvelland and thus over the Kemmelberg, Belgian champion Van Aert also showed his nervosity. He was the first to round the first passage on the Belvedere side of the Kemmelberg.
Right after the first climb of the Kemmelberg, Greg Van Avermaet pulled everything to the side. A tight group was formed with Campenaerts (Lotto Soudal), Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), Asgreen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl), Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Démare (Groupama - FDJ), Van Baarle (INEOS Grenadiers) and Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) in pursuit of the breakaway. At the first Plugstreets - Hill 62 it was again Van Avermaet who gave the other guys a hard time. With 65 km to go, the story of the escapees, of which Jacobs was the only one left, was over.
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In the peloton, TotalEnergies and Jumbo Visma, whose leader Van Aert is in the second group, join forces. The difference is barely 20 seconds. At a little less than 60 km from the finish everything could start over.
The pace increased again at the second climb of the Kemmelberg. Asgreen, Van Aert, Pedersen, ... nothing but big names at the front. After the Kemmelberg Van Aert's team mate Laporte took the lead. He was accompanied by Campenaerts and Turgis (TotalEnergies), but couldn’t really get away. It was raining attacks in the run-up to the second climb of the Scherpenberg: Kragh Andersen (Team DSM), Benoot (Jumbo-Visma), Turgis... They all tried, but nobody could get away. It was waiting for the Ossuaire side of the Kemmelberg.
Then the moment of Belgian champion Van Aert had come. With a strong acceleration he sprinted away from everyone’s wheel uphill and continued. The Dane Asgreen could close the gap, together with Laporte, Kragh Andersen, Mohoric and Pedersen. Van Baarle and Benoot were also in the breakaway. At the front it didn’t work well enough and so we finally got a regrouping right before entering Ypres. Shortly after, a front group of 4 is formed: Laporte, Stuyven (Trek Segafredo), Van Gestel (TotalEnergies) and Girmay. In the chasing group Groupama - FDJ was chasing for leader Démare.
The race was yet to become more exciting. At 3 km from the finish the difference was merely 20 seconds. Were we heading to a sprint with 4 or with a big group? It was the latter and it was Girmay who started the sprint. The 21-year old Eritrean sprinted to victory in Gent-Wevelgem. He wins ahead of Laporte and Van Gestel and thus writes a piece of cycling history.