Norway’s Kristoff claims Tour of Flanders crown


The 27-year-old Alexander Kristoff is the first Norwegian to win the Tour of Flanders, finishing ahead of local cyclists including Greg Van Avermaet and Tiesj Benoot

“It’s a great feeling”

Alexander Kristoff became the first Norwegian to win the Tour of Flanders bike race, outpowering and outsmarting his rivals on Sunday in a chaotic edition of the cobbled one-day classic.

Kristoff held off Dutchman Niki Terpstra of Etixx-Quick Step in a two-man sprint finish after a brutal 264 kilometres. Lokeren’s Greg Van Avermaet of BMC, who came second last year, took third place, seven seconds behind Kristoff. Tiesj Benoot, the 21-year-old Ghent University economics student, came fifth, while his Lotto Soudal teammate Juergen Roelandts was eighth.

“I raced here a lot as a young rider; I watched this race for a long time before I got the chance to participate,” said Kristoff, 27, who was enjoying his third straight top-five finish in Flanders. “The dream was just to participate, not to win it. Now I’ve also won it’s a great feeling. I can’t describe it.”

There were casualties during the race: A team service car clipped Trek’s Jesse Sergent, leaving the New Zealander with a broken collarbone. Another service car crashed into the FDJ team car, which sent Frenchman Sebastien Chavanel flying on to his back, though he was unhurt. And Britain’s Sir Bradley Wiggins, the 2012 Tour de France winner, crashed in the middle of the peloton; he returned after switching bikes.
Photo: L-R, Niki Terpstra, Alexander Kristoff and  Greg Van Avermaet
© Reuters/Francois Lenoir

Flemish cycling

Flemish cyclists have played a dominant role in the history of European bicycle racing. With the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders), the region also has a classic cycle race.
Flandriens - The legendary pioneers of the Flemish cycling tradition are called “Flandriens”. They include Roger De Vlaeminck, Eddy Planckaert, Johan Museeuw and Walter Godefroot.
Eddy Merckx - Having won 525 races in his career, Brusselaar Eddy Merckx, nicknamed “the Cannibal”, is considered one of the greatest cyclists of all time.
Trophy - The annual Flandrien Trophy honours the best Belgian cyclist of the past season. Professional cyclists choose and vote for the nominees.

number of times Merckx won the Tour de France

1 913

first Tour of Flanders

1 969

Merckx becomes first Belgian to win the Tour de France in 30 years