Greg Van Avermaet wins virtual Tour of Flanders 2020

The Belgian took an emphatic victory as he finished alone in the lockdown version of the Monument

Greg Van Avermaet took an emphatic win in the virtual Tour of Flanders, distancing his rivals with 12km remaining to take a solo victory.

Oliver Naesen (Ag2r La Mondiale) finished second behind the CCC rider with Nicolas Roche (Sunweb) in third, taking the last step on the podium.

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Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) finished fourth after he was distanced in the final few kilometres, with Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and reigning champion Alberto Bettiol (EF Pro Cycling) the first two members of the six-man break to be dropped.

The final 32km of the real Tour of Flanders route were raced on the Bkool indoor training platform and featured the iconic climbs of the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg.

How it happened

Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) led from the off with Greg Van Avermaet also present at the front.

Last year’s winner of the real race, Alberto Bettiol, found himself off the back of the group at the start before getting himself back in.

After a few kilometres a group of six riders started going off the front and had established their move with 10km race, featuring Oliver Naesen, Thomas De Gendt, Bettiol, Remco Evenepoel, Van Avermaet and Nicolas Roche.

Michael Matthews (Sunweb) led the chase behind, trailing by 13 seconds, while Naesen and De Gendt took the initiative up front, with Naesen putting out 500w with 18km to go.

Bettiol was soon distanced as Evenepoel remained in his saddle up the Oude Kwaremont while De Gendt and Roche danced on their pedals.

Evenepoel then came to the fore alongside De Gendt, opening up a gap of three seconds as the younger Belgian really put the hammer down, only to be reeled back in by Van Avermaet after another kilometre had passed.

Michael Matthews’ avatar then came to a stop as the Australian stopped pedalling within the confines of his house. When the camera cut to the Sunweb rider getting off his bike you could hear one of his children noisily entering the room, not quite the same as a sour-faced rider getting into the back of a team car after climbing off.

Michael Matthews

With 13km to go, Stuyven was the nearest chaser, finding himself 17 seconds behind the leading group of five, who looked set to contest the victory.

Evenepoel was the next to be distanced on the Paterberg as Van Avermaet opened up a two-second gap on Naesen, De Gendt and Roche.

Van Avermaet’s gap was up to five seconds with 11km to go, then eight at 10km as he pushed out 48km/h, equating to 500w with a cadence of 97.

The race was on. De Gendt removed his cap, Naesen hunched over his bike and Roche opened up his jersey as the sun poured in through the window of his Monaco living room.

Evenepoel now found himself 43 seconds back in fifth place as Van Avermaet stabilised at 450w, the chase group eight seconds back with 5km to go.

Van Avermaet was proving to be unstoppable, opening up an 18-second gap with 3km remaining. Naesen attacked Roche and De Gendt 500m later, with De Gendt now dropped.

Naesen went again with just over 1km to go but couldn’t make any ground up on Van Avermaet, who sailed across the line in first place. Naesen secured second place, however, pipping Roche to the line as De Gendt finished fourth.

Virtual Tour of Flanders 2020

1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC, in 43-17
2. Oliver Naesen (Bel) Ag2r La Mondiale, at 20 seconds
3. Nicolas Roche (Irl) Sunweb, at 21s
4. Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 50s
5. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-33
6. Remco Evenepoel (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 1-42
7. Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 2-08
8. Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, at 2-21
9. Mike Teunissen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 2-38
10. Zdeněk Štybar (Cze) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 3-29
11. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 3-29
12. Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Pro Cycling, at 3-39
DNF – Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb