John Degenkolb claimed the biggest one-day win of his career by sprinting to victory at Gent-Wevelgem in Belgium.
The Giant-Shimano rider beat Arnaud Demare into second-place and defending champion Peter Sagan into third to collect his fifth win of the season.
The 233km Classic ended in a bunch finish after a late three-man breakaway containing Stijn Devolder, Andrey Amador and Silvan Dillier had been caught 1.2km from the line.
The race was strewn with crashes and Britain’s Ian Stannard was involved in one of the worst of them. The Team Sky rider had to be taken to hospital after leaving the road and falling down a roadside ditch with 69km remaining.
Fellow Briton and team-mate Geraint Thomas also crashed late in the race, but was able to remount his bike and eventually finished 112th.
Flurry of attacks
This year’s route contained nine climbs, including dual ascents of the Baneberg, Kemmelberg and Monteberg as the riders were taken on two circuits of a loop just west of Wevelgem.
An initial five-man breakaway moved clear early in the day but the pace in the peloton remained high and the main bunch repeatedly split apart and came back together over the first barrage of climbs.
A second breakaway group was allowed to set off in pursuit of the leaders, but with attacks from the peloton becoming prevalent on the second loop, all of the escapees were reeled back in.
That opened the door for a new breakaway, and Devolder (Trek Factory Racing), Amador (Movistar) and Dillier (BMC) duly made their move heading into the final 20km.
However, the run-in to the finish line was flat and the trio were consequently unable to hold off the mustering sprint trains in the peloton.
1 John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Shimano, 5:34:37
2 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ, same time
3 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, st
4 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) Belkin, st
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma – Quick-Step, st
6 Tom van Asbroeck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise, st
7 Alexey Tsatevich (Rus) Katusha, st
8 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Ag2r-La Mondiale, st
9 Thor Hushivd (Nor) BMC, st
10 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol, st