Peter Sagan wins a bike race

It shouldn’t really be headline news. I mean he is the world champion.

The Slovak quickly put Friday’s disappointment aside by winning Gent-Wevelgem, the Belgian one-day race that doesn’t visit Gent. The Belgians really aren’t slaves to logic when it comes to naming their races. Perhaps it’s all that 12% beer.

Sagan won a crappy slow sprint out of a group of four knackered riders, but the hard work had already been done. Of the three with him, Fabian Cancellara and Sep Vanmarcke had been the only ones able to follow when he’d attacked over the cobbled Kemmelberg climb 20-odd kilometres from the finish. They hoovered up breakaway rider Viatcheslav “Who” Kuznetsov en route to the finish and he actually ended up edging out Cancellara to take third.

So with Greg Van Avermaet a changed man and now Sagan breaking his duck, who’s the peloton’s current bridesmaid? Step forward none other than Alberto Contador.

The Spaniard may have won two Tours, two Giros and three Vueltas, but this year he’s familiarising himself with the lower steps of the podium. After coming third in the Tour of the Algarve and second in Paris-Nice, he’s now come second again at the week-long Tour of Catalunya – like Paris-Nice, a top level WorldTour (no space) race.

Nairo Quintana won, beating what was certainly the strongest stage racing field of the year so far. Dan Martin was third, Richie Porte fourth, while Chris Froome was eighth. We’re still some way from the riders being in peak form, so don’t read too much into the result – not least because Quintana only actually won by seven seconds.

Geraint Thomas was briefly in the top ten but then had a crappy day and pulled out. He said he was a bit tired and is going to have a bit of a rest before his next big race, which is…

The Tour of Flanders

A contender for best race of the year. It’s next Sunday.

You don’t get the long drawn-out drama of a Grand Tour, but you do get a viciously fought battle over steep cobbles in crappy weather with thousands of pissed-up Belgians bellowing their hot frites breath into the riders’ faces. The video of Fabian Cancellara attacking Tom Boonen in 2010 is still one of the best examples of how brutal this race is.

There’s a women’s version as well. Lizzie Armitstead will be livid because she didn’t win today. I fully expect her to correct this next week.

Update

Horrendous tonal shift here, but it’s been reported that Belgian rider Antoine Demoitié has died in hospital after Gent-Wevelgem. Details are a bit sketchy, but it sounds like he crashed with other competitors before being run over by a following race motorbike.