Greg Van Avermaet wins virtual Tour of Flanders from his living room
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    Greg Van Avermaet wins virtual Tour of Flanders from his living room

    © Belga

    Greg Van Avermaet won the virtual Tour of Flanders on Sunday, leading a field of 13 professional riders connected from their homes.

    The cyclist beat Oliver Naesen into second place while Ireland’s Nicholas Roche placed third.

    The 14th edition of the Tour, popularly known as “De Ronde”, was to have been held on Sunday but had to be cancelled because of the novel Coronavirus.

    The Flemish TV station Sporza and the organisers of the Flanders Classic race came together to organise the virtual event, with participants competing on connected home trainer bikes.

    The 13 participants were titleholder Albert Bettiol (EF), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC), Oliver Naesen (AG2R), Tim Wellens and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto), Wout van Aert and Mike Teunissen (Jumbo), Michael Matthews and Nicolas Roche (Sunweb), Jasper Stuyven (Trek – Segafredo) and Deceuninck-Quick Step‘s Remco Evenepoel, Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar.

    The 13 riders did the final 32 kilometres of the real-life 267-km route, including virtual mountain slopes. Most pedalled from their sitting rooms while others chose a different place in their homes, like Oliver Naesen and Thomas De Gendt, or their garden, like Remco Evenepoel.

    Greg Van Avermaet broke away about 10 kilometres from the finishing line and remained in the lead from then on.

    The Olympic champion had never won De Ronde before, finishing second in 2014 and 2017.

    Oliver Naesen beat Nicolas Roche at the sprint to clinch second place 20 seconds behind Van Avermaet. Thomas De Gendt took fourth place (+50 secs.) while Jasper Stuyven (+1:33 min.) was fifth.

    Michael Matthews was forced to pull out due to a technical problem.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times