Pedersen Beats MvdP in Two-Man Sprint and Wiebes Clinches Victory in Photo Finish at Ghent-Wevelgem

86th gent wevelgem in flanders fields 2024 men's elite
2024 Ghent-Wevelgem | Results & HighlightsTim de Waele - Getty Images

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This morning, Ghent-Wevelgem saw gray skies, but that didn’t stop fans from lining the roads for this Flemish classic. It was the kickoff to what’s considered ‘Holy Week’ for fans of cobbled cycling classics.

86th gent wevelgem in flanders fields 2024 men's elite
Tim de Waele - Getty Images

In the men’s race, Mads Pederson of Lidl-Trek stunned with an epic finishing sprint ahead of reigning World Champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck). Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe) placed third.

“On one hand, I had to believe in my sprint because we couldn’t start to attack each other, then the bunch would pick us up,” said Pedersen after the finish. “So, I had to believe the sprint was good enough to beat Mathieu. And with the shape he showed lately, it was hard to believe.”

“I had to try the sprint and nothing else. It was a gamble. I took the front because Deceuninck would be happy if the bunch came back with Philipesen as well. So I had to keep the speed high and hope I still had the legs for a good sprint,” he added.

13rd gent wevelgem in flanders fields 2024 women's elite
Luc Claessen - Getty Images

In the women’s race, it was Lorena Wiebes of SD Worx-Protime who took the win with a bike throw against Elisa Balsamo (Lidl-Trek). Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) finished in third place. Wiebes was led out by her teammate and World Champion Lotte Kopecky in an intense sprint that had to be called by the finish-line photo.

“I am really happy to finally win it,” said Balsamo after the race. “It took a few years. The team did an amazing job, we made the race hard. In the end, it was a bunch sprint anyway, but I was happy with the legs and really happy with the leadout from Lotte also.”

Men’s Ghent-Wevelgem Race Report

The men raced over 250 km of Flemish fields, flats, climbs, cobbles, and small villages full of fans. Of course, as predicted, the wind in the flat fields played a massive factor in the race.

In the early stages of the men’s race, a breakaway group formed, gaining a substantial lead of nearly five minutes by the 60-kilometer mark. Meanwhile, minor crashes in the peloton led to riders like Jan Tratnik (Visma-Lease a Bike) abandoning the race. As the peloton responded to the breakaway, echelons formed due to the windy conditions, with top riders like Van der Poel and Pederson among those in the first chasing echelon.

Approaching Monteberg, the race briefly regrouped before Van der Poel surged ahead on the Kemmelberg climb. Pederson and Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek) stayed close behind, with Milan attempting a solo breakaway with 81 km remaining. Despite several riders, including Laurence Pithie (Groupama-FDJ), joining the chase, Milan maintained a lead until being caught by Pederson, Pithie, and Van der Poel at the 63-kilometer mark.

The advantage decreased as the peloton organized to bridge the gap to the lead group, with Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers) leading the charge. Milan’s teammate Pithie launched an attack, momentarily dropping Milan. However, Van der Poel countered the move, keeping the pace high. Milan rejoined the lead group but lost his advantage on the cobbles, allowing Van der Poel, Pithie, and Pederson to maintain their lead.

Matteo Trentin (Tudor Pro) attacked the peloton out of the cobbles, closing on the lead group of four as their advantage dropped to 20 seconds. He was quickly caught as Swift continued to push the peloton’s pace, the group hovering between 20 and 25 seconds behind the three leaders with 43 km and two key climbs left in the race. Ben Turner (Ineos Grenadiers) and Hugo Page (Intermarché-Wanty) took a turn attacking the peloton as the lead group improved their advantage to 45 seconds on the peloton and only 30 seconds to Page and Turner.

Hitting the final cobbles at 34 km to go, Pederson attacked, Van der Poel countered, and Pithie fell behind, clearly fighting to keep the bike upright on the cobbles as Van der Poel and Pederson powered their way to the top, more than a minute ahead of the peloton. Behind them, Pithie was in no man’s land; Turner and Page were joined by Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies), and the peloton hitting the cobbles en masse behind.

The last 20 kilometers

With 20 km left in the race, Pithie was caught by Turner, Page, and Turgis. The peloton was mere seconds from closing on the trio, while Van der Poel and Pederson stuck together 1:11 ahead.

With a minute gap to the peloton in the final five miles, it was clear that the finale would come down to a sprint between Van der Poel and Pederson. Behind them, the peloton charged, swallowing up Pithie, Turner, Page, and Turgis and charging towards Wevelgem.

86th gent wevelgem in flanders fields 2024 men's elite
Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and race winner Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) pass through the Kemmelberg (Belvedère) cobblestones sector while fans cheer during the 86th Gent-Wevelgem 2024.Tim de Waele - Getty Images

As Pederson and Van der Poel hit two kilometers to go, Pederson led on the flat towards the finish, but Van der Poel came forward to take a pull as the peloton closed to 30 seconds on the duo. One kilometer to go, the current and former World Champion stormed through Wevelgem, setting up to sprint.

Pederson looked back at Van der Poel, who refused to take his turn. At 300 meters to go, Pederson launched his sprint, and Van der Poel fought to come around, but couldn’t make the move. In the final second, Van der Poel pulled the plug, and Pederson took a stunning second career win at Ghent-Wevelgem.

Women’s Ghent-Wevelgem Race Report

As the men hit around 100 kilometers of racing to go, the women’s race began in Ypres, with 171 km of racing before coming through the finish in Wevelgem around two hours after the men. It made for hectic race watching, as live coverage of the women’s race started about 30 minutes before the men’s race concluded. Still, watching the women’s race was well worth the confusion of competing screens, though information about the earlier parts of the race was harder to come by than the men’s. Thankfully, teams like Canyon SRAM provided as much live commentary as possible.

At 77 km to go, the peloton caught a lead group of six riders just minutes before the live coverage began. (Shoutout to Peter van der Veen for doing the lord’s work of live-tweeting what he could about the women’s race.)

Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx-Protime) came into the race saying that she was here to win, and she made that emphatically clear with her attack on the Baneberg climb.

With 50 km to go, a seven-rider breakaway that included Kopecky, Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx-Protime), Silvia Persico (UAE Team ADQ), Elisa Balsamo (Lidl-Trek), Elisa Longo-Borghini (Lidl-Trek), Puck Pieterse (Fenix Deceuninck), and Pfeiffer Georgi (dsm-firmenich PostNL) had an 18-second advantage. Behind them, two main chase groups formed.

13rd gent wevelgem in flanders fields 2024 women's elite
Julie De Wilde (Fenix-Deceuninck), Christine Majerus (SD Worx-Protime), Christina Schweinberger (Fenix-Deceuninck), Charlotte Kool and Franziska Koch (Dsm-Firmenich Postnl) during the 13rd Gent-Wevelgem 2024.Luc Claessen - Getty Images

The lead group was caught at 40 km to go, and Christine Majerus (SD Worx-Protime) moved to the front to control the pace with Kopecky right behind. EF Education-Cannondale’s Letizia Borghesi was the next to make a move, attempting a solo attack with 37 km to go. Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon//SRAM) was the next to attack, followed by Kopecky as her teammates Marlen Reusser and Wiebes also moved to the front.

Kopecky, Wiebes, and Georgi created a slight separation before hitting a tight, twisty descent. Pieterse, Sylvie Swinkels (Roland), Shirin Van Anrooij (Lidl-Trek), Reusser, and Longo-Borghini were able to chase back onto the group and quickly formed a group similar to the earlier breakaway with 30 km to go. Swinkels accelerated, attacking out of the lead group, but Reusser handily shut it down. The group was reabsorbed into the whittled-down peloton with 26 km of racing left.

Movistar’s Emma Norsgaard was the next to launch a solo attack, creating a 10-second gap on the peloton, but it was clear that she’d be hard-pressed to hold it for 20 kilometers. It was quickly shut down, and Balsamo moved to the front to control the pace for Lidl-Trek, including her teammate Ellen Van Dijk, who also moved towards the front.

With eight kilometers to go, things began to heat up as teams tried to attack to avoid the large sprint, but the peloton wasn’t letting any attacks go—especially not the Lidl-Trek team.

The last kilometers

Norsgaard launched another attempt with four kilometers to go, only to be shut down by Van Anrooij, though she continued to push the pace for nearly a kilometer on the front. Last year’s winner, Reusser, nearly went off course and was forced to navigate around spectators on the sidewalk. FDJ-Suez’s Grace Brown launched a strong attack at 2.3 kilometers as the peloton strung out, trying to catch her.

Brown grew her gap impressively in half a kilometer as the peloton seemed to struggle to work together to shut down Brown’s solo effort. But with one kilometer, they closed on Brown as the teams began their leadout trains. Wiebes and Kopecky lined up, Movistar and Lidl-Trek assembled, and with 300 meters to go, Kopecky launched her leadout for Wiebes, who Balsamo followed.

As they hit the finish line en masse, it was too close to call whether Wiebes or Balsamo had taken it. The race had to go to a photo finish as teams tensely waited to see who won. With Wiebes was declared the winner, followed by Balsamo.

Men’s Ghent-Wevelgem Top 10 Results

  1. Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) 4:36'00"

  2. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) S.T.

  3. Jordi Meeus (Bora-Hansgrohe) +16"

  4. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) "

  5. Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek) "

  6. Olav Kooij (Visma-Lease a Bike) "

  7. Biniam Girmay (Intermarche-Wanty) "

  8. Tim Merlier (Soudal-QuickStep) "

  9. Dylan Groenewegen (Jayco-AlUla) "

  10. Matteo Trentin (Tudor) "

Women’s Ghent-Wevelgem Top 10 Results

  1. Lorena Wiebes (SD Worx-Protime) 04:16:19

  2. Elisa Balsamo (Lidl-Trek) "

  3. Chiara Consonni (UAE Team ADQ) "

  4. Charlotte Kool (dsm-firmenich PostNL) "

  5. Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Uno-X Mobility) "

  6. Arlenis Sierra Canadilla (Movistar) "

  7. Puck Pieterse (Fenix-Deceuninck) "

  8. Thalita de Jong (Lotto Dstny Ladies) "

  9. Christina Schweinberger (Fenix-Deceuninck) "

  10. Maggie Coles-Lyster (Roland) "

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