Fabian Cancellara proved today that he belongs among the very best Classics riders of all time.
The Swiss launched an unanswerable attack on the final ascent of the Paterberg, breaking the only man strong enough to resist his attack on the Oude Kwaremont – Peter Sagan.
Sagan, the joint pre-race favourite, was visibly weakened by the effort of surviving Cancellara’s first assault, and when the Swiss resumed his attack on the Paterberg, he soon fell away.
Spare a thought for defending champion, Tom Boonen. His 2013 season could scarcely be more different than last year’s when he swept all before him, including the Ronde.
Another crash today, and further injury, makes him a doubt for Paris-Roubaix in a week’s time, the scene of yet another triumph in 2012.
Once over the crest of the Paterberg for the final time, Cancellara set about time trialing to the finish in Oudenarde
Peter Sagan was the only man strong enough to stay with Spartacus on the Oude Kwaremont but was shelled on the Paterberg
Cancellara had plenty of time to plan a celebration. He declined to wheelie
Jurgen Roelandts lost out to Sagan in the sprint but can be proud of an aggressive race in which he gambled early for victory
Friends reunited: Cancellara’s criticism of Sagan’s victory celebrations are forgotten