Mads Pedersen conquers the cobbles to win Gent Wevelgem
The 2019 world champion sprinted from an elite group to add the prestigious Belgian classic to his palmares
Pedersen launched his sprint at 200m and it was Sénéchal who took second with Matteo Trentin (CCC Team) in third.
Alberto Bettiol (EF Pro Cycling) created the final race-winning move when he attacked from an elite section of nine riders. Pedersen did not make that move, but responded just in time with a late surge to cross the gap between the van der Poel group and the Bettiol group.
Bettiol, Sénéchal, and Trentin escaped from a nine-man break group that also included Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), John Degenkolb (Lotto-Soudal), Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) with 1.7km to go, with Pedersen then bridging the gap between the two-groups under the flamme rouge.
The leading four then launched their sprint simultaneously, with former world champion Pedersen by far the strongest as Sénéchal trailed in his wake and Bettiol and Trentin fell away. Pedersen was able to glide across the line arms aloft to take a clear victory in Wevelgem.
Race favourites Van Aert and Van der Poel finished eighth and ninth respectively from the break group after effectively marking each other out of the race in the final couple of kilometres.
Mads Pedersen said after this victory "Three guys went from the group and I hoped that Van der Poel and Van Aert would close it. I managed to jump across and I could stay in the last wheel and do my sprint from there. It was the perfect situation for me.
"I think it wasn’t that long [of a sprint] but I like to do a long sprint. It fit me better. It was ok for me.
"It was pretty hard with conditions like this, it’s raining, it’s drying up, it’s raining and drying up so you’re getting cold and warm. I know how to handle it so it’s ok for me. The weather conditions were good for me.
"We will see, first we have a race on Wednesday. We will be happy with the win today."
Van Aert, said to the press "I pushed myself to win the race, but I was not given any freedom. I am disappointed, because I really worked. I would have had a chance in the sprint, too, but I couldn't react to everything. And it was always the same rider who was on my wheel. "
The 82nd running of Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields was re-arranged following the coronavirus pandemic. It had been due to run on March 29. The change of date had no impact on some of the biggest challenges facing the riders: road furniture, wind and rain.
And the elements came to the fore as Daniel Oss (Bora–Hansgrohe) and Owain Doull (Ineos Grenadiers) ended up in a ditch after a combination of wind, rain and an uneven road – termed the ‘death ridge’, brought a UAE rider down with roughly 74km to go.
The mayhem continued moments later with Ryan Mullen (Trek–Segafredo) taking a heavy fall just minutes later.
VIDEO: 2020 Gent-Wevelgem Highlights
2020 Gent-Wevelgem Top 10
1 Mads Pedersen (Den) Trek-Segafredo
2 Florian Senechal (Fra) Deceuninck-Quickstep
3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC Team
4 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Pro Cycling
5 Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ
6 John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal
7 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-Quickstep
8 Wout van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
9 Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix
10 Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain McLaren