Fabian Cancellara joins the elite group of riders who have won the Tour of Flanders on three occasions.
Road race - Men
Ronde van Vlaanderen - 6 April 2014
Ronde van Vlaanderen – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 18:30 on 6 April 2014. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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The final sprint went the logical way with Cancellara pipping Van Avermaet and Vanmarcke completing the podium for third ahead of Vandenberg.
Van Avermaet tries to rein in Cancellara but it's the Swiss who takes a famous third win!
Van Avermaet on the front with Vanmarcke in his wheel. This is like a track race... and then Cancellara goes!
But the attack runs out of steam, and it's back together...
Under the banner and they're weaving all over the place... Vandenberg is the first to attack!
Cat and mouse now as the pace slows. They have 25 seconds over the chasers so it's one of these four to win.
Just as they get back together, Van Avermart attacks. Then Cancellara has a dig! No can do.
Vanmarcke takes up the slack in the pursuit of the two leaders.
Big dig by Vandenberg, who has been the sandbagger of the group. Van Avermaet goes with him, and the other two have been distanced momentarily.
Fabian Cancellara pops an energy gel. It's one Swiss man verses three Belgians. The odds look to be in favour of the host nation - but this is Spartacus we're talking about.
Boonen is in a quartet with Thomas and Leukemans and one other, bit it is in vain. They are 45 seconds down. The leaders have 33 over Kristoff and Terpstra.
Kristoff has been joined by Niki Terpstra of Omega Pharma. Thomas must be further back. This is a very long and flat lead into the finish. They will struggle to cancel out those 25 seconds.
Kristoff is struggling to make any in-roads. He's 20 seconds down now.
It's Alexander Kristoff of Katusha who rides solo in pursuit, with Thomas a bit further back. Together they may have a chance, but individually it may be hard.
Van Avermaet has been caught so we have four men in the lead now.
Cancellara swings his arms in anger to provoke a reaction from Vandenberg and Vanmarcke, who are being rather passive in the chase. Back with the chasing group, both Sagan and Boasson Hagan look well and tryly spend on the back of the pack. In fact, Geraint Thomas is riding in pursuit of the Cancellara group!
Vandenberg is caught by Cancellara and Vanmarcke. They trail Van Avermaet by 10 seconds over the top. But the Sagan chasing group is not much further back so don't discount a mini bunch sprint today...
Van Avermaet drops Vandenberg, while Vanmarcke is piling the pressure on Cancellara.
PATERBERG: LAST CLIMB: Just 400m at 12% with a max of 20%.
Just 12 seconds in it as Cancellara leads the chase ahead of the Paterberg.
Sagan is leading the chase in a five-man group that also includes Boasson Hagen. Van Avermaet and Vandenberg have 15 seconds on Cancellara and Vanmarcke. The Sagan group is 12 seconds back.
Here is the Cancellara push! Only Vanmarcke can match the Swiss for pace and they pass Leukemans and ride clear.
We're onto the third and final climb of the Oude-Kwaremont. It's the penultimate climb of the race and still it's Van Avermaet doing all the work. Back with the pack, it's Boasson Hagen in Sagan's wheel, who is in Cancellara's wheel. Wiggins is there too, now that it's come back together.
Luca Paolini catches the chasing group of favourites and then passes in one fell-swoop. The mini peloton has joined the Boonen-Sagan-Cancellara group and it's all back together. They trail the two leaders by a minute, mind, with Leukemans still 25 seconds back.
The two leaders have 25 seconds over Leukemans and 48 seconds over the main chasing group. It's growing. Meanwhile, the peloton is creeping back, with Paolini the first to rejoin.
Sebastien Minard now attacks, with Devenyns in pursuit. This sparks a reaction from the others. Degenkolb de-cleated but recovered ok. It's all quite nervous now.
Leukemans is now riding solo in pursuit of the two leaders. Some nice work from the Wanty rider on this wide, smooth road. But we still have two more cobbled climbs on the horizon...
Vanmarcke is doing his best to throw a cat amongst the pigeons. Terpstra and Leukemans has opened up a small gap, but it has been neutralised. The leading duo have 25 seconds now, but it's all Van Avermaet because Vandenberg knows he has three men in the chasing group.
The gap is 20 seconds for Van Avermaet and Vandenberg.
Sagan's upping of the tempo pulls back Leukemans and Minard on the climb. Now it's Cancellara on the front with Boonen, Vanmarcke and Sagan. Degenkolb and Boasson Hagan are hanging in on the back.
Minard and Leukemans jump clear in pursuit of Van Avermaet and Vandenberg. Tinkoff-Saxo's Nikki Sorensen has joined the main group, but is them promptly dropped on the Kruisberg as Sagan drops the hammer with Vanmarcke on the front.
Van Avermaet pings off the front with one of the Omega riders in pursuit. It's Vandenberg. No reaction from the others on this sweeping downhill through a residential area.
The leaders are: Cancellara, Sagan, Boonen, Stybar, Terpstra, Vandenberg, Boasson Hagen, Devenyns, Van Avermaet, Degenkolb, Leukemans and Vanmarcke. They have 27 seconds ahead of the chasing group.
Boasson Hagen is the only Sky rider left in this main group - Thomas seems to have been shed. Sagan is very isolated.
Sebastien Minard of Ag2R is in this main group too, as is Bjorn Leukemans of Wanty.
Off comes the arm warmers for Boasson Hagen. He and Devenyns will be caught soon.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) is doing all the work on the front of this race with Dries Devenyns (Giant) in his wheel. They have 14 seconds over a small chasing group that includes Cancellara, Boonen, Vandenberg, Terpstra, Van Keirsbulck, Sagan, Van Avermaet, Degenkolb, Thomas and Vanmarcke.
Van Avermaet has caught Vandenberg, who seems to be in two minds as to whether he should ride on or wait for his team-mate Boonen. Just behind them, the likes of Boonen, Cancellara and Sagan.
Boasson Hagen leads the three men onto the Taaienberg (530m at 6.6%). It's BMC's Greg van Avermaet who leads the chase.
We have three men out in front: Vandenberg, Boasson Hagen and Devenyns of Giant.
Impey, the last man standing from the break, is finally caught on the Steenbeekdries. Over the top it's OPQS on the front with Stijn Vandenberg driving the pace.
Peter Sagan is isolated, with Oscar Gatto, his team-mate, trying to chase back on. Sky have both Thomas and Boasson Hagen.
The lead group is down to about 20 riders, with a second pack of a similar size in pursuit.
The OPQS combo of Boonen and Terpstra looks very solid.
The sun is now shining as Devolder continues his near-solo ride in pursuit of the main men. He's around a minute down though so it will be a big ask.
Boonen, Sagan, Cancellara and Degenkolb are all near the front, with Thomas just a bit back, with Boasson Hagen and Vanmarcke. All the big guns are there as the three remaining escapees are swept up.
Impey leads ahead of Phinney and Broeckx. They only have about 20 seconds now - not even. The dry conditions means it's not as hard as usual - but better them than me.
We're onto the Koppenberg (600m at 11.6% with a max gradient of 22%).
Order restored: Omega Pharma-Quick Step have six men back on the front of the ain pack, which is now about 30-strong. Koppenberg coming up - described by Boonen this week as 'a terrifying climb'.
Just forty seconds for Phinney, Impey and Broeckx. Back in the pack, and John Degenkolb of Giant-Shimano is having a stormer alongside Sky's Geraint Thomas.
We're onto the Paterberg (260m at 12.9%). Incredibly, Stijn Devolder has got back on his bike and is still riding.
BIG CRASH: Some Tinkoff-Saxo men come down after a fast right-hander, then Stijn Devolder ploughs into the back of the chaos at speed. Once again, terrible luck for the Belgian national champion, who is holding his arm in pain. Surely the end of the race for Devolder.
That chasing group have been joined by riders from Belkin and Cannondale, but they are just a handful of metres up the road from the pack. The leading trio of Phinney, Impey and Broeckx have 47 seconds to play with.
Jens Keukeleire of GreenEdge has attacked from the peloton on the Oude-Kwaremont. The Australian team have been very active today. He catches Trentin and they chase down Zingle, van Landschoot, Eisel and Kuchynski.
Eisel, Quintiazo and Trentin are catching the remnants of that break, but in turn are about to be caught by the peloton.
Zingle and Kreder have been dropped from the leading group on the second ascent of the Oude-Kwaremont. Kuchynski is struggling, so we have just Phinney, Impey and Broeckx on the front.
Giant-Shimano and Sky come to the front, with Geraint Thomas right there. The Welshman has a graze on his chin following an earlier crash.
The peloton makes the most of a wide stretch of road to spread out. The pace is very high as the lead comes down to 1'27.
Here come Astana and Tinkoff - what was black and white on the front is now yellow and baby blue.
Cannondale, BMC, Tinkoff, Europcar and Trek all apparent on the front of the race. Omega Pharma-Quick Step had bodies galore earlier in the race, but they've taken their foot off the gas.
All the commotion means that the six leaders see their advantage creep up to 2'05. The three chasers - Eisel, Quinziato and Trentin - are still chasing potatoes in between.
Yet another crash - this time MTN-Qhubeka and Wanty riders go down.
Cannondale and Tinkoff have come to the front to help lead the chase as the riders approach the Oude-Kwaremond for the second time.
ANOTHER CRASH: Four riders hit the deck at steep. That may have involved a telegraph pole and we have bodies and bikes in a ditch. FDJ, Katusha, Lotto and NetApp all involved there. Russian national champion Vladimir Isaychev looks to have been the worst affected.
The six leaders have 1'10 over the chasing trio and 2'00 over the pack.
ATTACK: Manuel Quinziato (BMC) and Matteo Trentin (OPQS) jump clear on the Kanarieberg. Sky's Bernard Eisel manages to bridge the gap.
The six leaders have just under two minutes onto the Kanarieberg.
Gaudin put in his attack in the feedzone. The rangy Frenchman joined Ag2R-La Mondiale from Europcar in the winter after his fifth place in Paris-Roubaix last year.
ATTACK: Damien Gaudin of Ag2R-La Mondiale has opened up a small gap of the front of the peloton.
Meanwhile, Ellen van Dijk (Boels-Dolmans) has just won the Women's Tour of Flanders with a strong solo ride. Her British team-mate Lizzie Armistead takes second place.
We're onto the short Keperij climb. Back in the pack, Edvald Boasson Hagen and Christian Knees of Team Sky have come to the front alongside the three blue figures from FDJ. Their man for today is Arnaud Demare.
The leaders see their advantage slashed to 2'25". They're combining well. The six riders are: Taylor Phinney (BMC), Romain Zingle (Cofidis), Daryl Impey (GreenEdge), Stig Broeckx (Lotto), Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Katusha) and James van Landschoot (Wanty).
Mitchell Docker of GreenEdge broke out of the pack on the Valkenberg. His move has sparked a reaction from the pack with numerous riders trying to get across.
Peter Sagan is off the back after a comfort break. Cancellara is even further back after picking up that new helmet and answering his own call of nature. There must be a truce of sorts for the favourites because neither rider seems very concerned about their positions.
The leaders are onto the Valkenberg, a short 540m climb at 8.1km. The gap is still just above three minutes for the break, with Jelle Walleys now off the back. In fact, we have just six men out in front now. Their names coming up.
We haven't seen much of Fabian Cancellara, the defending champion, for a while. He's just requested a new helmet from his Trek team car.
Now Cannondale, Belkin, Sky and Ag2R-La Mondiale edge forward alongside Omega Pharma. The nine-man break still have 3'05 over the pack.
The pace has slowed in the pack with FDJ and OPQS on the front. Belkin and Cannondale are well back, while Trek have had to regroup after losing Devolder momentarily to that crash.
The leaders are onto the Leberg, the first climb since the Molenberg. It's just under 1km at 4.2%.
Incredibly, OPQS still have around seven riders on the front - they have today control of this race. But we still have a long way to go.
Still it's Taylor Phinney driving the pace on the latest cobbled ramp. The American looks in supreme form today. Very impressive riding. The break has 3'12 on the pack, which is still agitated after that succession of spills.
CRASH: Sky's Gabriel Rasch is battered and bruised on the ride of the road after a tumble. It's all happening today.
Yet another crash for Lotto: this time it's Tony Gallopin, who hits some road furniture. He's on his way, but with Roelandts already down and out, that's yet another blow for the Belgian outfit.
The second peloton, which includes Stijn Devolder, is about 30 seconds back. Devolder is isolated because the rest of the Trek team - bar Popovych, who will surely retire from the race - are with Cancellara. Terrible luck for Trek, whose plans have been thrown into turmoil.
Things have quietened down after that chaotic period. The peloton has regrouped but only about 60-strong for now. The escapees have 3'35 over the pack, with Phinney and Broeckx relaying on the front.
CRASH: Yaroslav Popovych hits the deck hard after getting his handlebars caught on the red jacket of a fan in the gutter. Spectators have come to his aid.
Thanks to their placement on the front of the pack, Omega Pharma-Quick Step avoided the crash chaos there and have their men in the clear. The pack has been whittled down to about 50 riders after that incident.
Stijn Devolder, the Belgian national champion, was involved in that crash. Terrible luck for the two-time champion from Trek, who is receiving some treatment from the team car as he fights back on.
CRASH: There's a huge pile up on a left-hand bend in the peloton with numerous riders hitting the deck and others forced into the road-side ditch. Coming after a descent, that was chaos, with riders ploughing into the back of the carnage thanks to the blind bend.
Sebastian Langerveld swaps bikes with Garmin team-mate Steel Von Hoff. The Dutchman is Garmin's last card now Vansummeren is out. Langerveld is being paced back by David Millar. The leaders now have 3'35 over the pack, with Palini and Raymond Kreder struggling.
That little dig by Boonen has sparked a lot of movement in the pack. A Belkin rider swings to the front, while Devolder and Spartacus are all smiles in his wake.
ATTACK: Tom Bonen of OPQS edges clear on the short Molenberg climb. He eases up once over the top and off the cobbles - but that was a sign that he's in good condition.
After a cold and wet start, it's now up to 18 degrees and the sun is coming out. The riders will have to make sure they drink enough and eat enough. The pack is onto the Molenberg...
After the long Kerkgate cobbled section the pace in the peloton has upped considerably. Unfortunately, Jurgen Roelandts, third last year, had to withdraw following that crash. The lead is now 3'50 for the break.
MECHANICAL FOR SAGAN: The Slovak pulls onto the pavement to replace his front wheel and is now riding back through the peloton from the back. Moments earlier there was a crash for Lampre Merida's Elia Favilli.
The latest on that crash involving Johan Vansummeren and the elderly female spectator is that both are in hospital undergoing treatment. The lady is alive but in critical condition. Let's hope we have some good news later today.
CRASH: Jurgen Roelandts looks in considerable pain as he lies prostrate on a cobbled driveway beside the road. The Lotto Belisol rider was a decent outside bet for today.
Daryl Impey, who last summer because the first South African to wear the Tour's yellow jersey, sets the pace for the leaders as they pass through a cobbled residential area. The road is slightly uphill, but this is not a categorised climb.
Belvin and Cannondale, in their eye-catching green jerseys, are playing things cool, riding en masse about 20 riders back as Trek and OPQS continue to set the pace.
The Wolvenberg (645m at 7.9%) is now being tackled by the leaders. No cobbles here, but these tests will all have their cumulative affect.
The peloton is onto the Eikenberg (1.2km at 5.9%). Thor Hushovd is on the back. The Norwegian national champion picked up a puncture a moment ago.
The Omega Pharma rider leading the peloton around a bend has to bunnyhop over a piece of road furniture that he didn't expect to see. Niki Terpstra, perhaps. He looks behind to check that no one else has been affected. That was a near miss.
Taylor Phinney leads the break onto the Eikenberg, the third of 17 climbs. The stones here are very jagged. The American looks very accomplished. The gap is 4'25.
First sighting of a bearded Brad Wiggins taking a sip of water on the front of the peloton. It will be interesting to see how much of a role the Sky rider plays today in his Flanders debut.
It's a Trek/OPQS party on the front of the pack, working for the big favourites Boonen and Cancellara. If Boonen wins today, he'll make history in being the only rider with four Ronde victories to his name. If Cancellara win, he'll become the sixth man to have won the race on three occasions.
The Kortekeer is not cobbled, bit it does feature a section steeper than 20%. Nice addition to the race. Impey rejoins just ahead of the summit.
The nine leaders (who have Impey in pursuit) approach the Kortekeer with 4'40 over the pack.
Punctures aplenty now: a third of the day for Johnny Hoogerland, the Dutch champion who now rides for Androni.
The next climb is the Kortekeer, which is short and sharp (800m at 6.9%). The leaders have five minutes over the peloton, but Daryl Impey has picked up a puncture and will need a rear wheel change.
The peloton is bunched up at the front after the first climb, with a long, weaving tail fighting to get back on. Quite a bit of damage was done in the end after that first of three ascents of the Oude-Kwaremont.
Salvatore Puccio of Sky has a problem with his chain and stops beside the VIP enclosure on the Kwaremont to deal with it. Bad luck for the Italian youngster.
The fans are out in their droves on the Oude-Kwaremont as the peloton stretches out. But the pace isn't too fast for this first of 17 climbs.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step are on the front of the peloton, with the huge unit of Guillaume Van Keirsbulck setting the pace. Frenchman Johan Le Bon (FDJ) is struggling on the back. He was one of the many riders who hit the deck earlier in the day.
The leaders are onto the Oude-Kwaremont! Their arms are jangling with the grooves of the cobbles. It's the two Wanty riders - Van Landschoot and Wesley Kreder - who are setting the pace on the front, until Phinney and Kuchyncki take over the reins.
The escapees are onto the narrow country lane ahead of the first climb. Davide Appollonio is no longer with these men - the Ag2R rider must have sat up after that earlier puncture.
Tom Boonen describes the Oude-Kwaremont - the Old Quarter Climb - as an "animal". It's the longest climb of the race at 2.2% and peaks out at 11%, with an average of 4.2%. The first quarter is asphalt and then the remainder is cobbled.
Zedenek Stybar has slowed to change his bike for Omega Pharma.
Luca Paolini had a mechanical but he's back in the peloton thanks to some solid work by his Katusha team-mates.
We're onto the first helligen, or climb. It's not a cobbled one - just a slight mound out of town. Sky, Trek and Cannondale are near the front too.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step are on the front of the peloton as the riders pass through the finish town of Oudenaarde for the first time. The gap is six minutes.
The first cobbled climb will be the Oude-Kwaremont, which features three times in this year's race. That's coming up in 15km.
News coming in that Geraint Thomas was one of the riders who went down in that earlier crash. Sky's Welsh wonder is constantly in the wars - he seems to crash pretty much in every big race. He's got a cut to the face, apparently.
The gap is up to six minutes for the leading 11 riders now. The race is now LIVE on British Eurosport and Eurosport Player.
Taylor Phinney is in the break but BMC's eggs are all firmly in Greg van Avermaet's basket today. The American will hope to put in some solid training hours ahead of Pairs-Roubaix next week while acting as a springboard for his Belgian team-mate later on in the race.
The gap is over five minutes now for the 11 leaders. Appollonio punctured but is back with the escapees.
Belkin's Sep Vanmarcke, who was second in Paris-Roubaix last year, was one of the riders to crash earlier today - but the Dutchman is still in the race. No such luck for Garmin-Sharp's Johan Vansummeren, the 2011 Roubaix champion, who has withdrawn from the race after what has proved to be a very chaotic start. The latest rumour is that a fan caused that crash by crossing the road at an inopportune moment.
A reminder of the 11-man break that is riding with four minutes over the peloton: Stig Broeckx (Lotto Belisol), Davide Appolonio (Ag2R), Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge), Raymond Kreder (Garmin-Sharp),Wesley Kreder (Wanty Group), Alexander Kuchynski (Katusha), Andrea Palini (Lampre Merida), Taylor Phinney (BMC), James Vanlandschoot (Wanty Group), Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Romain Zingle (Cofidis).
IAM Cycling will hope that French veteran Sylvain Chavanel has luck and the legs to make an impact today. The Swiss team have just lost Martin Elmiger following a heavy fall.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step have a wealth of talent on standby should Tom Boonen not have the legs today. Zdenek Stybar is always a threat, while Guillauma van Keirsbulck will be on cloud nine following his Depanne overall victory and Niki Terpstra is in solid form. Stijn Vandenbergh, too, is a talent - although his huge frame is better suited to the flat cobbles of Roubaix.
The leaders now have four minutes over the peloton with 200km remaining. Other favourites today? There's a lot of talk about two-time winner Stijn Devolder of Trek Factory Racing. If things don't work out for Fabian Cancellara, perhaps his team-mate will be on call to prosper. Devolder won in 2008 and 2009 and has been in solid form this season.
British fans will be intrigued to see Bradley Wiggins' name on the start list today. Sir Wiggo is the only Grand Tour champion to take part in today's race as he looks to get in some cobble practice ahead of next week's Paris-Roubaix. The Sky rider was called up to the squad following Ian Stannard's injury last week.
The gap is up to two minutes for the leaders. A crash in the peloton has resulted in numerous riders falling into a road-side ditch - including men from Belkin, Movistar and IAM.
The two Dutchmen Wesley Kreder (Wanty) and Raymond Kreder (Garmin) are not brothers but cousins. BMC's Phinney is an interesting presence in this group - the American is a real powerhouse and definitely has the engine to win a cobbled classic. Lieuwe Westra of Astana is in good form at the moment after winning the final stage in the Volta a Catalunya in rain-soaked Barcelona last week.
It's not Luca Paolini in the break, but his compatriot and near name-sake Andrea Palini of Lampre-Merida. Also there: Wallays, Broeckx, Zingle, Vanlandschoot, Phinney, Impey, W Kreder, R Kreder, Koetsjinski and Appollonio.
BREAK: Around 10 riders have managed to extricate themselves from the peloton, including American Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Italian Luca Paolini (Katusha). Full details coming right up.
Another big favourite today is the in-form Slovakian Peter Sagan. The Cannondale rider finished second behind Cancellara last year and won the opening stage last week in the Three Days of Depanne race. Could today see Sagan's first ever win in a Monument?
Some more news filtering through about that crash involving Durbridge: apparently the GreenEdge rider hit the deck quite hard and is on his way to hospital by ambulance. A terrible way for the Aussie to start/end his first ever Tour of Flanders.
The 199-strong peloton is still rolling along as one. No break has yet to form.
WITHDRAW: Australian youngster Luke Durbridge has pulled out of the race after a crash. Bad luck for the Orica-GreenEdge man.
Last year, Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara won the Tour of Flanders for the second time after his maiden win in 2010. On both occasions he went on to win Paris-Roubaix one week later. Belgium's Tom Boonen has also achieved that famous double on two occasions (2005 and 2012). Boonen also won Flanders in 2006 to join the illustrious list of five riders who have won Flanders three times. Both Boonen and Cancellara are among the favorites for victory today.
They're off! The 200 riders - 25 teams of eight - roll out of Bruges to get this show on the road.
On the agenda in today's 259km race from Brugge to Oudenaarde are 17 of those famous cobbled climbs, including the legendary Koppenberg, Taaienberg, Oude-Kwaremont and Paterberg climb. First up, the riders have just over 100km of largely flat racing through the Belgian countryside - then those leg-stretching, lung-busting climbs will start to hit them like a series of sucker punches.
There were grey clouds and slight drizzle at the start in Bruges so be prepared for a scrappy race - just how we like it.
Welcome to live coverage of the second Monument of the season, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, or, to me and you, the Tour of Flanders.