Strong winds, cool temperatures and rain were the main sights at todays Gent-Wevelgem that saw a strong MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung line-up. The team was well positioned and stayed in contention until a big crash in the peloton disrupted the team’s plans.
After a few early attempts a group of six managed to go clear. They quickly built up a lead of 8.30 minutes. In the peloton several teams organized the chase, with MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s rider trying to keep good positions.
With the wind averaging 40 km/h the peloton stayed alert. Nevertheless, numerous crashes occured and when a strong gust forced some riders into the ditch of the Moeren part of the race MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s riders were also involved. Especially Edvald Boasson Hagen went down hard and had to abandon the race.
After that it was on Gerald Ciolek who rode a strong race. Despite a puncture he managed to stay in the main peloton. But when the race reached its second half, other teams made use of the crosswinds and forced a split.
The closing stages of the race saw a lot of attacking. Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Soudal) rode off solo. He was chased down with around 17 kilometers to go. His move was followed by several other attacks, but it was not until Luca Paolini (Katusha) put his cards on the table. In the end he finished 11 seconds ahead of Niki Terpstra (Etixx-QuickStep) and Geraint Thomas (Sky). Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s best placed finisher was Gerald who after a tough day on Belgian roads came home with the main peloton in 25th position.
Jean-Pierre Heynderickx – Sports Director
The weather made for a very hectic race today. There was a lot of attacking in the beginning and we stayed in good position until we reached Moeren. There the winds took out a few riders, including Edvald. He fell hard on his shoulder and needs to undergo further checks. Let’s hope he’s okay. After that Gerald kept us in contention and was our best placed finisher. It was a tough race and we now have to look forward to the next races.