Once again the Tour of Flanders lived up to the pre-race hype, being a nonstop drama filled race. From the gun the pace was on and the pressure in the peloton showed through numerous crashes throughout the day. Our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders, Mark Renshaw, Nic Dougall and Matt Brammeier all saw their races come to an abrupt end due to crashes.
Brammeier's race ended after he gave his bike to Edvald Boasson Hagen, who had broken his in crash out on the small roads of Oudenaarde. With still 130km to go, the peloton only consisted of about 80 riders as the others were trying to pick get back into contention after picking themselves up off the tarmac. Our African Team were left with just Boasson Hagen, Tyler Farrar and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg remaining when we reached the business end of the race.
With 75km to go, the race situation had 7 riders up the road by 1'45" with all the favourites in the peloton, Boasson Hagen, Farrar and Janse van Rensburg included. A natural selection took place as the race went over the Oude-Kwaremont first and then the Paterberg for the penultimate time. Boasson Hagen had our South African strongman for company after the Paterberg and there were now just 50 riders left in the race. When the race went over the Koppenberg a small crash forced Janse van Rensburg to get off his bike and run while Boasson Hagen was left chasing the favourites from a smaller group.
Sagan went on the offensive with Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Vanmarcke just as Boasson Hagen got back to the favourites group. The trio caught and passed the break as Cancellara then tried to organise a chase from the favourites group, just before the race started the Oude-Kwaremont and Paterberg for the final time. Sagan showed incredible strength to drop Kwiatkowski on the Oude-Kwaremont and then Vanmarcke on the Paterberg. Cancellara got across to Vanmarcke at the top of Paterberg and the duo tried chase down the world champ over the final 14km but Sagan would not be caught, and took a magnificent victory.
Boasson Hagen came home with the 3rd select group of the day, in 23rd position and just over a minute down on Sagan. Janse van Rensburg finished with the peloton and Farrar also crossed the line after an extremely difficult edition of the Ronde van Vlaanderen.