The sun was shinning as the peloton lined up for the start in Antwerp.
Riders roll to the start in Antwerp
The days hostilities were initiated on the Muur van Geraardsbergen by non-other than Tom Boonen
Antoine Duchesne on the Muur.
2016 Paris-Roubaix winner Matthew Hayman on the Paterberg
Bryan Coquard and Tom Boonen on the Kwaremont
Peter Sagan was not in the front group instead opting to bide his time to make his move.
Matteo Trentin, Tom Boonen and Arnaud Demare on the Paterberg for the first time
Greg Van Avermaet was the man in form and like Sagan missed the move that went on the Muur.
Sagan on the Paterberg
Daniel Oss grits his teeth on the Paterberg
Philippe Gilbert maintained his lead the last time up the Kwaremont with only a motor bike for company
Peter Sagan on the Kwaremont.
Van Avermaet managed to pick himself up from the cobbles and finish second. Terpstra ended the day in third.
Philippe Gilbert (QuickStep Floors) won the 101st edition of De Ronde van Vlaaderen in impressive fashion soloing away on the Oude Kwaremont from an escape group with 55-km to race. Behind the racing was frantic. The lead group containing Gilbert had formed on the ascent of the Muur van Geraardsbergen.
Behind the racing was frantic. Pre-race favourites Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Oliver Naesen (Ag2r-La Mondial) were absent. With 17-km to go the three escaped on the final ascent of the Kwaremont but Sagan lost control of his bike while hugging the barriers in the gutter of the cobbled helligen only to topple over and take Van Avermaet and Naesen out. This bizarre crash will surely be remembered just as well as Gilbert impressive ride.
Earlier in the race Tom Boonen (QuickStep Floors) was taken out of contention at the foot of his favourite climb, the Taainenberg, because of a mechanical forcing him to dismount. It was the moment Sagan, Naesen and Van Avermaet used to escape the chase. The Taainenberg will never be raced the same without ‘Tomeke’ smashing on the pedals at the front putting the peloton in the red like has so often been his habit over his lengthy career.
Other pre-race favourites Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac) and Luke Rowe (Sky) suffered equally unkind ends to their hopes hitting the pavement from the front group.
Van Avermaet was able to pick himself up from the pavement following the crash and ride to second mounting a chase with Niki Terpstra (QuickStep Floors) and Dylan Van Baarle (Cannondale-Drapac) who finished third and fourth respectively.
Gilbert’s win was his fourth monument victory and his first at Flanders a race he has finished third at twice.