Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) won the race after making a decisive move on the final ascent of the Kemmelberg climb. He then led the pace-setting in the final 30km, eventually forming a two-man break with fellow Belgian Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott).
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In the final sprint to the line, Van Avermaet just pipped his companion to take the win, and his third 2017 cobbled classics victory after previously claiming Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and E3 Harelbeke.
Van Avermaet’s Strava file shows that he completed the race distance of 249.7 kilometres at an average speed of 43.8kmh (27.2mph).
Although the second half of the route is peppered with hills, there aren’t any huge descents on which to build up speed, yet Van Avermaet still managed to achieve a maximum speed of 88.6kmh (54.7mph).
Van Avermaet managed to claim a few KoMs along the way – including the main Kemmelberg segment, which he now shares with Frenchman Arnaud Démare (FDJ). The pair tackled the cobbled 1.5km, average 6 per cent gradient climb at 24.8kmh (15.4mph).
Interestingly, the Strava times for the final segments of the race – ‘sprint Gent-Wevelgem’ and ‘Sprint Wevelgem’ – show that no rider in the 2017 race was near the top 10 fastest times. That probably had something to do with the win being contested from an escape rather than a full-on bunch sprint.
The three new gravel road ‘plugstreet’ sectors are also on Strava as segments, with Van Avermaet claiming second spot behind Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) in the first sector of 1.9km. Scott Thwaites (Dimension Data) and Ryan Mullen (Cannondale-Drapac)/Mark McNally (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) hold the KoM titles for the other two.
No power or heart rate information has been uploaded with the basic GPS info from Van Avermaet’s SRM PC8 head unit, so we can’t see his wattage output. Nevertheless, we can get an insight into what it takes to win a prestigious classic.