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Belgian cyclist Stijn Devolder wins Tour of Flanders after solo effort

Belgian cyclist Stijn Devolder wins Tour of Flanders after solo effort

Belgium rider Stijn Devolder has won the Tour of Flanders classic with a long solo effort.
Fellow Belgian Nick Nuyens was 15 seconds behind, beating Spain's Juan Antonio Flecha in a sprint for second place. The two had failed to chase down Devolder over the last 15 kilometers (10 miles) and barely stayed ahead of the chasing group.
Devolder, the Belgian champion who rides for Quick-Step Innergetic, covered 264 kilometers (164 miles) in 6 hours 24 minutes 2 seconds. The race through northern Belgium on Sunday was hit by sleet, driving rain and strong winds.
The teammate of favorite Tom Boonen broke away from the leading pack with 25 kilometers (15 miles) to go on an uphill stretch. On the penultimate of 17 climbs, the Wall of Geraardsbergen, he still held an edge of 17 seconds. With his qualities as time trial rider, and with double-winner Boonen slowing down the chase, Devolder kept going.
When Flecha broke away to get Devolder, it was too late. The Spaniard came to within nine seconds but didn't have the raw power to close the gap. Nuyens joined Flecha with 2 kilometers (1 mile) and beat him for second place.
"My legs felt great and it felt like a time trial up to the finish line," said Devolder. "It was riding straight into the wind. Never in my life have suffered so much."
Behind Flecha, the 2007 champion Alessandro Ballan of Italy took fourth place, beating U.S. veteran George Hincapie and another Italian Filippo Pozzato.
Triple world champion Oscar Freire threw open the race with 50 kilometers (32 miles) to go, when he broke away from a small pack with most of the pre-race favorites. When he was caught again, the pack was whittled down to a few dozen and the race turned into a race of attrition.
It was the third victory this season for Devolder, who also won the time trial and overall title in the Tour of Algarve.
The race was the second major classic of the season. Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara won the Milan-San Remo classic two weeks ago. The race, went along the winding, cobblestoned roads of northern Belgium with 17 short, steep climbs. The third major classic is next Sunday on the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix.


Updated : 2021-10-21 22:54 GMT+08:00