Fabian Cancellara started the 98th Tour of Flanders as favourite – and the rider nicknamed Spartacus duly delivered to secure a record-equaling victory and become only the seventh rider to win the race on three occassions.
The Trek Factory Racing rider made his move on the Oude Kwaremont, just as he did in 12 months ago, and, with only Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin Pro Cycling) able to follow, bridged across to the lead duo of Belgians Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
While Cancellara may have powered to a solo victory in 2013, the Swiss rider used his tactical nous to win a cat-and-mouse sprint to triumph this time out and once again take centre stage on the podium in Oudenaarde at the end of a 259km race which underlined its reputation as one of the toughest and most prestigious in cycling.
Cancellara will now turn his attention to next Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, where the 33-year-old will go in pursuit of a fourth victory in the Hell of the North and a third Flanders-Roubaix double, having previously won both in the same year in 2010 and 2013.
But first, let’s savour another Tour of Flanders for Cancellara. Here’s how the race unfolded through the lens of Stefano Sirotti.