Peter Sagan wins De Brabantse Pijl after outsprinting world champion Philippe Gilbert
By Matt Westby. Last Updated: 10/04/13 5:54pm
Peter Sagan took his tally of wins for the season to eight
Peter Sagan delivered another unstoppable show of strength to claim his eighth victory of the season at the one-day classic De Brabantse Pijl in Belgium.
The 23-year-old Slovak single-handedly reeled in a late breakaway from BMC's Greg van Avermaet and then easily defeated the Belgian's team-mate, world champion Philippe Gilbert, in a sprint to the line.
The trio had earlier formed part of an elite, five-man group that broke free of the peloton inside the last 18km and opened up a gap that they were able to hold to the finish.
Van Avermaet had hoped to sap Sagan's strength and leave him vulnerable to a counter from Gilbert by attacking 2km out. However, having effortlessly snuffed that move out on the day's final climb, Sagan still had enough energy left in store to ride around Gilbert on the final straight and win by half a bike's length.
The result raises the possibility of Sagan going on to dominate the Ardennes Classics - Amstel Gold on Sunday, La Fleche Wallonne on April 17 and Liege-Bastogne-Liege on April 21 - but the Cannondale rider was quick to rule out repeating Gilbert's unprecedented quadruple from 2011 by declaring Liege-Bastogne-Liege as "too hard".
His victory, meanwhile, also set up a reunion with podium girl Maja Leye, whose bottom he pinched after finishing second at the Tour of Flanders 10 days earlier, prompting worldwide controversy and a subsequent online video apology.
Sagan presented Ms Leye with a bouquet of flowers before the race and this time allowed his podium appearance to pass by without incident.
De Brabantse Pijl, which is the traditional final warm-up for the Ardennes Classics, was this year raced over 199.9km, taking in 25 climbs and a selection cobbled sections.
Earlier in the day, Britain's Simon Yates finished third in La Côte Picarde in northern France, which forms part of the under-23 Nations Cup.
The 20-year-old, who won gold in the men's points race at the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk in February, attacked on a climb late in the 172km race but, despite opening up a sizeable gap, he was unable to hang on to the finish.
That set up a five-man sprint, which was won by Australian prodigy Caleb Ewan ahead of Belgium's Sean de Bie in second.
Watch highlights of De Brabantse Pijl on Sky Sports 3 from 11.30pm on Wednesday
1 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, 4:45.05
2 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC, same time
3 Bjorn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM, +4secs
4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, +9
5 Simon Geschke (Ger) Argos-Shimano, st
6 Greg van Avermaet (Bel) BMC, +11
7 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Europcar, +17
8 Stijn Devolder (Bel) RadioShack-Leopard, +19
9 Paul Voss (Ger) NetApp-Endura, +22
10 Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, +25