Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) recorded his fifth win of the 2015 season at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, beating Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Elia Viviani (Team Sky) in a bunch sprint, despite a late attack from Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) 5km from the finish.
Cav opened his account for the year with stage seven at the Tour de San Luis and took two stage wins at the Dubai Tour on his way to taking the overall and points classifications, before winning the Classica de Almeria in mid-February.
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But his performance in the Belgian semi-Classic on March 1 was his most impressive of the season to date, showcasing his fantastic sprinting ability and tactical nous to outsprint the in-form Kristoff after a strong ride that saw him in the lead group, along with defending champion Tom Boonen (Etixx-QuickStep), Ian Standard (Team Sky) – who had won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad the previous day – and Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) across the climbs of the second half of the race.
Etixx-QuickStep had been embarrassed the day before, when Stannard somehow outmanoeuvred three of their riders in the final kilometres, but the Manx Missile managed to restore some pride for the Belgian outfit to get their Classics season back on track.