Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) has won the 2013 Ronde Van Vlaanderen.
The Swiss launched a devastating attack on the final ascent of Oude Kwaremont before shedding his only rival, Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling), on the Paterberg.
‘Spartacus’ time trialed for the final 13km, pulling out a lead of 1.26 by the time he crossed the finish line in Oudenaarde to win the 97th edition of arguably the most prestigious of the cobbled Classics.
Sagan was second, while Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol) finished third.
Cancellara said: “At the end, we came to the Oude Kwaremont and everyone expected that I would go.
“I tried to do the first selection beacuse I had a nice feeling today that on the cobbles I could go. On the cobbles, I don’t know, I have a special love.
“On the Paterberg, I saw many Swiss flags but at the end, I did what I had to do: bring this Ronde Van Vlaanderen home.”
Sagan continually flicked his elbow at Roelandts, urging the Belgian to take his turn in their pursuit of Cancellara, but by then, the damage had been done.
The Slovak champion, author of his own devastating performance a week previously at Gent-Wevelgem, had no answer for Spartacus today.
Sagan clung on during Cancellara’s first major assualt on the Oude Kwaremeont, but was forced from the saddle while the Swiss remained seated.
He looked weakened during the short run to the final ascent of the Paterberg, and when Cancellara attacked again, the writing was on the wall.
Defending champion, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), crashed after 20km and retired from the race, with injuries to his left knee and elbow. He is a major doubt for Paris-Roubaix in a week’s time.
Tour of Flanders 2013 – result
1) Fabian Cancellara (SUI) – RadioShack-Leopard – 6.05.58
2) Peter Sagan (SVK) – Cannondale Pro Cycling +1.26
3) Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) – Lotto Belisol +1.28
4) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha +1.38
5) Matthieu Ladagnous (FRA) – FDJ
6) Heinrich Haussler (AUS) – IAM Cycling
7) Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing
8) Sébastien Turgot (FRA) – Europcar
9) John Degenkolb (GER) – Argos-Shimano
10) Sebastian Langeveld (NED) – Orica-GreenEdge