Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First) caught the favorites off guard to win the Tour of Flanders as he took his maiden professional victory on Sunday.
The Italian rider attacked on the penultimate cobbled hill of the 270-km race and never looked back as a reduced chasing pack were left fighting over second place.
Kasper Asgreen finished second for the Deceuninck-Quick-Step team, whose best hope, favorite Zdenek Stybar, cracked with 27 kms left. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) took third place.
After showing good form in the E3 BinckBank earlier this month, Bettiol, 25, became the first Italian to win the ‘Ronde’ since Alessandro Ballan in 2007.
“I still can’t believe it,” Bettiol said. “I still don’t believe what I did. My first win. I don’t believe it.”
“I don’t know how I did it. I felt really good on the Kwaremont and Andreas (Klier) from the car said: ‘If you can, just go.’ I closed my eyes and went. I looked down at the top and had a really good gap. They said ‘keep pushing, keep pushing.’ On the Paterberg I don’t think I lost a lot and then it was the longest 14km of my life.
Defending champion Niki Terpstra abandoned the race when he crashed 157 kms from the line. The Dutchman suffered concussion and lost consciousness before being taken to hospital.
His Team Direct Energie doctor said Terpstra was ‘fine’ but added that he would not be able to race in next Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, a race he won in 2014.
Tour of Flanders 2019 results:
|1||Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First)|
|2||Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|3||Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates)|
|4||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Corendon-Circus)|
|5||Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin)|
|6||Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb)|
|7||Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale)|
|8||Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)|
|9||Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal)|
|10||Greg Van Avermaet (CCC)|
|11||Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)|
|12||Jens Keukeleire (Lotto Soudal)|
|13||Dries Van Gestel (Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise)|
|14||Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)|
|15||Sebastian Langeveld (EF Education First)|
|16||Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|17||Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)|
|18||Dylan van Baarle (Team Sky)|
|19||Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)|
|20||Stijn Vandenbergh (AG2R La Mondiale)|