Live Coverage of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne - Elite Men

Hello and welcome to live coverage frome the 2015 edition of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2015.

Live commentary by Daniel Benson

  1. 17:11:53 CET

    Thanks for joining us today. You can find our report, results and photos from today's race, right here.

  2. 16:52:27 CET

    Results#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult 1Mark Cavendish (GBr) Etixx - Quick-Step   2Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha   3Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky   4Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Team LottoNL-Jumbo   5Daniele Colli (Ita) Nippo - Vini Fantini   6Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) BMC Racing Team   7Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal   8Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka   9Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Roompot   10Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) IAM Cycling  
  3. 16:41:51 CET

    Kristoff hit the front from around 200m to go but Cavendish swooped onto his wheel and then came around the Norwegian to take his second win in this race.

  4. 16:41:04 CET

    An incredible sprint from the Etixx rider who comes around Kristoff to take the win.

  5. 16:40:19 CET

    And Cavendish takes the win.

  6. 16:39:48 CET

    Lotto are leading this home.

  7. 16:39:29 CET

    It's all over for Gilbert with 1km  to go.

  8. 16:39:11 CET

    Lotto Soudal lead the chase with 1km to go.

  9. 16:38:58 CET

    Now it's 7 seconds.

  10. 16:38:50 CET

    1.5km to go and Gilbert is stil clear by 11 seconds.

  11. 16:38:29 CET

    Lotto are there too and Gilbert has 11 seconds with 1.6km to go.

  12. 16:38:14 CET

    A headwind for Gilbert but he's keeping the lead at ten seconds with 1.9km to go. Etixx and Cofidis lead the bunch.

  13. 16:37:42 CET

    Gilbert is holding the gap at 10 seconds with 2.5km to go. He looks back but then turns that huge gear some more. Team Sky are leading the chase, with Etixx now near the front.

  14. 16:36:44 CET

    Or is it because the gap is now at 10 seconds.

  15. 16:36:28 CET

    He has six seconds on the bunch with 3.2km to go. It's not going to be enough.

  16. 16:35:44 CET

    The former world champion has around 75m on the peloton.

  17. 16:35:13 CET

    A big from the BMC rider as he creates an instant gap.

  18. 16:34:50 CET

    And Gilbert has attacked with 4.5km go to.

  19. 16:34:36 CET

    Nordhaug leads the race with all his team behind him. Stannard is there, Puccio, Knees, Rowe, Eisel and Viviani.

  20. 16:33:50 CET

    Etixx are waiting and waiting before they move right to the front, as Sky now set the pace.

  21. 16:32:49 CET

    Wanty and Jumbo are trying to get involved but Katusha respond and move to the front once more.

  22. 16:32:09 CET

    Now Sky and Etixx get moving and Katusha need to respond as we hit the final 7km of action.

  23. 16:29:54 CET

    And Kristoff's men continue to raise the pace, really putting pressure on the riders and teams behind them.

  24. 16:27:18 CET

    It's still all Katusha on the front with Kristoff still with at least four men to help him.

  25. 16:26:43 CET

    Knees looks to bring the Sky train up to the front of the bunch with just over 10km to go. Trentin has cramp it seems and he's losing contact with the main field.That could be a factor for Cavendish's leadout.

  26. 13km remaining from 196.3km

    16:24:36 CET

    Just 13km to go now as more and more sprint trains move to the front. Trentin drops back and has a quick chat with the Etixx DS as Cavendish, Viviani and Kristoff prepare to lock horns. Just behind them is Bouhanni. Can Cofidis iron out their sprint train problems from earlier in the year?

  27. 16:21:11 CET

    And it's Katusha who lead the peloton over the line for the start of the last lap.

  28. 16:16:24 CET

    The Russian squad are still on the front of the bunch and doing all the work. Ettix are just behind with the LottoNL Jumbo squad also moving up with just under 20km to go.

  29. 16:12:56 CET

    Katusha have all the confidence after their rides in Qatar, where Kristoff won three stages and pushed for the overall. On the other side of the road Team Sky are starting to organise themselves as well, with Viviani set to be their sprinter.

  30. 26km remaining from 196.3km

    16:09:41 CET

    Almost into the final 25km of the race and the pace is steady as Kristoff's men continue to control events at the front of the peloton.

  31. 16:07:25 CET

    Onto the first of two-laps of this finishing circuit and it's Katusha who set the pace at the moment. Etixx are just a little further back with Cavendish there.

  32. 16:02:00 CET

    Europcar and Cofidis eventually move up as they look to protect their sprinters in Coquard and Bouhanni.

  33. 15:59:34 CET

    There's a slight lull on the front of the peloton, no team really wants to take control at this stage, with two 16km loops remaining in the race.

  34. 34km remaining from 196.3km

    15:56:00 CET

    Only Boeckmans is left out there as the rest of the race re-groups.

  35. 15:54:48 CET

    Counter attacks from the front group as the peloton come into sight. It's Boeckmans clear but he only has a few seconds.

  36. 15:53:36 CET

    There's a change in direction, so a change in wind but the gap is under 10 seconds.

  37. 36km remaining from 196.3km

    15:52:45 CET

    The gap is down to around 20 seconds as MTN pick up the pace once more.

  38. 15:48:16 CET

    Gilbert comes up and takes a turn for the lead group as Boonen takes a drink near the back of the group. It's starting to come back together.

  39. 15:47:13 CET

    IAM Cycling and Cofidis have also joined the chase.

  40. 15:46:51 CET

    It's coming down with Wanty joining the chase as Farrar takes a huge turn on the front. 46 seconds with 39km to go.

  41. 15:45:02 CET

    The chase are still plugging away, the gap at 58 seconds.

  42. 15:44:44 CET

    Cavendish takes a drink on as he keeps towards the back of the group as Boonen and Stybar swap turns.

  43. 15:43:28 CET

    Team Sky, despite having two riders in the first group are also chasing the leaders down.

  44. 15:39:13 CET

    There are a few passengers in the lead group though as we see Kristoff take a turn on the front. Maes is at the back for Etixx having gone back to a car. There's another Etixx rider near the front and he's asking for more help in the pace setting duties.

  45. 46km remaining from 196.3km

    15:37:59 CET

    MTN are back on the front for the chase but the gap is still at 1'04.

  46. 15:33:49 CET

    MTN seem to have lost heart as BMC - with to riders - help Etixx with the pace setting at the front of the first group.

  47. 15:32:53 CET

    Vansummeren is now leading he chase for the peloton.

  48. 15:32:10 CET

    And onto the final climb of the day and it's Stannard who hits the front at full gas. He's matched by Boonen who takes control, with the gap to the MTN chase at 56 seconds.

  49. 15:30:50 CET

    Etixx have the numbers but they're expecting a number of teams to help them with the work. Only Stybar is on the front for the Belgian team.

  50. 15:29:53 CET

    Riders are being dropped from the lead group but MTN are taking time, the gap at 51 seconds.

  51. 15:28:54 CET

    Vanmarcke takes a turn on the front, breaking up the monopoly of control from Etixx. There are cross-winds now so everyone needs to work, Kirstoff comes through and Viviani is there for Team Sky.

  52. 15:25:34 CET

    20 riders in the Boonen/Cavendish group including Thwaites, Kristoff, and Wynants. They have 1'02 on the MTN chase.

  53. 15:23:36 CET

    MTN have missed the split and they're leading the chase.

  54. 15:22:36 CET

    Sam Bennett is in the move as well. There's another Sky rider present.

  55. 15:21:41 CET

    Trentin is on the front, Stannard on his wheel and Sybar there too.

  56. 15:20:59 CET

    There's a Katusha rider in the lead group too but no confirmation if that's Kristoff or not.

  57. 15:20:28 CET

    Sep Vanmarcke drifts to the back of the bunch and calls for his team car as we see Cavendish ride through the wheels of the main group. He's at the back so he needs to move up. Near the front of the group it's Etixx who sweep up the early break.

  58. 15:18:45 CET

    The riders swing right, off the cobbles and now there's a chance for Etixx to look at the situation and decide on their tactics.

  59. 15:18:07 CET

    Gilbert is in the Boonen group but he's struggling.

  60. 15:17:15 CET

    Onto a section of cobbles and Etixx put the group onto the pathway. Cavendish has made this split but there's no sign of Viviani yet. Sky do have riders in the mix though.

  61. 15:15:31 CET

    The remnants of the break, it's down to four riders, have just 28 seconds with 62km remaining.

  62. 15:14:57 CET

    Vanmarcke has one teammate but Etixx have the strongest contingent. Will they use that advantage today?

  63. 15:14:25 CET

    Cavendish has made the split as well, the Boonen/Vanmarcke group at around 25 riders.

  64. 15:12:37 CET

    Vanmarcke keeps pushing though and riders are struggling to make contact, coming over in ones and twos. Stannard is there.

  65. 15:11:42 CET

    Team Sky are leading the chase but it looks like Boonen, Vanmarcke, Stybar and one other rider have a small gap. It's been shut down by Team Sky but there are several more splits in the field.

  66. 15:10:34 CET

    It's Boonen who set the pace but Vanmarcke comes over the top and has attacked. He looks so strong at the moment as he takes two riders with him. Make that three, Stybar has made the move as well.

  67. 15:08:14 CET

    There's a crash and four riders are on the deck as up ahead the break hit the lower slopes of the Oude Kwaremont with 41 seconds between them and the peloton.

  68. 15:07:28 CET

    Etixx have joined Team Sky on the front and there's a real battle for control and that's becaus we're about to hit the Oude Kwaremont.

  69. 15:06:13 CET

    The bunch has swelled to around 50 riders.

  70. 15:05:33 CET

    The move has been shut down and Team Sky are on the front now with Eisel leading the troops.

  71. 15:04:58 CET

    They sit up for one moment and Boonen goes again, 71km to go. He's trying to make the race as hard as possible in order to distance as many of Cavendish's rivals as possible.

  72. 15:03:43 CET

    The gap to the eight leaders is down to just over a minute as riders try and scramble back to the Boonen/Vanmarcke group.

    And in fact Boonen has moved clear and Vanmarcke has gone with him.

  73. 15:02:27 CET

    It looks live Cavendish is tucked n there too, with a couple of teammates around him.

  74. 15:01:54 CET

    It's Boonen himself who is on the front with Vanmarcke on his wheel. Eisel is there too, and Offredo as the splits become bigger. There are around 30 riders in the Boonen/Vanmarcke group.

  75. 15:00:15 CET

    The bunch come over the climb and it's Etixx who put the hammer down, lining out the bunch and causing several small splits.

  76. 14:57:51 CET

    On the front are Etixx, FDJ, and Team Sky.

  77. 14:57:24 CET

    The bunch is starring to split on the climb though as a number of leaders and their teams start to fight for position.

  78. 14:56:41 CET

    It's in fact Engoulvent in the break, and not Coquard. And Eugert Zhupa is the eighth man in the escape.

  79. 14:55:05 CET

    The leaders are now on the Côte de Trieu but the gap has dropped to 1"54 with 77km to go.

  80. 93km remaining from 196.3km

    14:51:40 CET

    There's a brief counter-attack from within the bunch with two riders jumping clear. The leaders still with three minutes over the bunch.

  81. 14:43:47 CET

    And the peloton have eased off again, allowing the escape to establish that three minute buffer once more.

  82. 14:34:17 CET

    And the bunch have woken up, shaving a quick 40 seconds off the break's advantage.

  83. 14:31:12 CET

    Remaining climbs: La Houppe, Kanarieberg, Kruisberg, Hotond, Côte de Trieu, Oude Kwaremont, Holstraat, and the Nokereberg. We've 105km of racing left an the gap, well it's still at three minutes.

  84. 14:24:04 CET

    Closing in on the second climb of the race and the peloton are still tracking the 8-man break at three minutes.

  85. 14:12:14 CET

    Around 15km until the start of the next climb, La Houppe. Then the climbs come thick and fast before the long and flat run-in to the finish.

  86. 14:06:03 CET

    It's still Etixx and Katusha on the front of the peloton as they hold the break at just over three minutes.

  87. 133km remaining from 196.3km

    13:52:38 CET

    Mattia Pozzo (Nippo - Vini Fantini) Sjoerd van Ginneken (Team Roompot), Bryan Coquard (Europcar), Xandro Meurisse (AN Post), Fredrik Backaert, Dimitri Peyskens (Team 3M), Thomas Vauborzeix (Veranclassic-Ekoï) and one other rider are in the break. They have 3:10 on the peloton with 133km to go.

  88. 13:49:09 CET

    Mattia Pozzo and Sjoerd van Ginneken are the two other riders in the break.

  89. 13:44:32 CET

    This morning Roy Jans (Wanty) was welcomed on the start podium as an outsider when it comes down to a bunch sprint. The 24-year-old appreciated that position which he thanked to a stage win in Bessèges. "I'm well prepared and feel good. This race is one of my major goals during the spring season. If I make a chance or not depends on the circumstances. The race will decide that. The strong wind will make it very nervous and maybe there'll be echelons. I'll have to ride near the front to make the cut if it breaks," Jans said.

  90. 13:38:49 CET

    Katusha respond by placing their own man on the front, Smukulis. Today should provide an insight into the form of both Cavendish and Kristoff as they go head-to-head. Both riders, former winners of Milan San Remo, will be targeting the Italian race later this month.

  91. 13:34:07 CET

    It's Etixx who are currently setting the pace at the front of the bunch with Iljo Keisse doing most of the work.

  92. 13:31:28 CET

    Coquard, is just at the back of the break, not sitting up, and the gap to the bunch is now up to over three minutes with 144km still to cover.

  93. 13:29:36 CET

    • Team Katusha 2015 team jersey

    In donkey-town Kuurne there's always a good chance the race will come down to a bunch sprint. When asking top favourite Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) who he expected to be his most important rival if it came down to a sprint he named Mark Cavendish (Sky).



    "I expect Cav to be quite good. He already won a lot and he hasn't raced yesterday so he'll be fresh. For sure he will be there. I fear him a lot. I haven't raced against him this season but I saw he won a lot," a relaxed Kristoff told Cyclingnews at the start line in Kuurne.

     

    Team-mate Jacopo Guarnieri is supposed to support him in the sprint. "We have Guarnieri who didn't race yesterday. He's fresh and will help me out today. We try to go for the win but there's a lot of other guys. It will be difficult. Who? The way Stannard won against these Quickstep guys was impressive. Maybe Vanmarcke was even stronger. He went up and down while puncturing all the time. If he races like yesterday it will be a hard race."

  94. 13:26:28 CET

    Peyskens, Backaert and Meurisse are also on the attack as we hear that two riders, one of which was Coquard, have sat up.

  95. 13:25:21 CET

    Bryan Coquard (Europcar), Xandro Meurisse (AN Post) and Thomas Vauborzeix (Veranclassic-Ekoi) are among the riders in the break.

  96. 13:14:03 CET

    Meanwhile, the eight riders are still pressing on but they're unable to gain a substantial lead over the peloton at this stage.

  97. 13:12:07 CET

    Without taking into account money, which rider would you take in the team?

    Verbrugghe: Kristoff
    Sergeant: Kristoff
    Lefevere: I already have the best team. Ask me the same question next year.
     

    Who’s going to be the rider of the spring?


    Lefevere:
    Kristoff. Look at his palmarès of the last two years.


    Verbrugghe: You can see him on the photo of the Ronde van Vlaanderen, in the distance behind the riders in the sprint.


    Lefevere: And his start to the season. He won a sprint in Qatar in which he led for 250-300 metres. I don’t know how to fight up against him.


    Verbrugghe: He also won a sprint in Qatar in which he rode in the wind for 500-600 metres.

  98. 13:10:57 CET

    The topic then shifted towards Boonen, who is approaching the final few years of his long career:

     

    Lefevere: Stijn Devolder can say what he wants. Without Boonen he would not have won the Ronde van Vlaanderen twice. Some team leaders can’t stand it when another rider wins. That’s not how Tom is.
     

    If there’s no financial agreement, would Boonen ride for another team?

    Sergeant: I don’t think that Boonen will still swap teams.


    Lefevere: It would feel like a missed opportunity if he ends his career in another team. But the sun’s going up for everybody in the morning... I hope he doesn’t do it for the money, but money is always a factor.

     

  99. 13:09:31 CET

    In yesterday's edition of Het Nieuwsblad, the paper talked to Rik Verbrugghe (IAM), Patrick Lefevre (Etix-Quick Step) and Marc Sergeant (Lotto-Soudal) over lunch. There's no indication over what the trio ordered but they did open up about few topics. Here are a few snippets.

    The opening weekend is important in Belgium, not elsewhere. Do you understand why non-Belgian teams like Astana, Trek, Tinkoff stay away?

    Lefevre: No
    Sergeant: A few years ago they said they didn’t show up with Cancellara because he was their only rider who could score in April and didn’t want to take the risk of a crash during the opening weekend.
    Lefevre: He can crash in Oman too. What do they ride this weekend? Nothing?
    Verbrugghe: Leave Cancellara home but give guys like Steegmans and Stuyven a chance

     

  100. 13:06:40 CET

    Coquard is one of the riders in the break but they only have ten seconds at this stage, so the bunch aren't happy with the current mix of riders on the attack.

  101. 167km remaining from 196.3km

    12:58:35 CET

    Eight riders have slipped from the peloton and are finally on the attack.

  102. 12:53:27 CET

    Nearly 30km into the race, and still no attacks from the field as they bunch together in the cold.

  103. 12:47:37 CET

    • Team LottoNL-Jumbo 2015 team jersey

    Vanmarcke, perhaps the strongest rider in the race yesterday, has told the press at the start that he doesn't expect today to end in a bunch sprint.

  104. 174km remaining from 196.3km

    12:45:19 CET

    Riding into a headwind, still no attacks from the peloton at this stage.

  105. 12:37:07 CET

    There are actually only three former winners of this race still in the peloton - Boonen, Sutton and Cavendish. Traksel who won in 2009 has retired, and the other three winners in the last decade - Steven De Jongh, George Hincapie, and Nick Nuyens - all also hung up their wheels.

  106. 182km remaining from 196.3km

    12:33:02 CET

    Still no serious attacks from the front of the bunch, with the first climb of the day roughly 25km from here.

  107. 12:31:41 CET

    Last year, after missing out on the win Omloop, Etixx took Kuurne apart on the Oude Kwaremont and drove a ten-man break all the way to the line with Boonen picking up the win. They don't quite have the team to do that today, with Terpstra and Vandenbergh resting but wth Cavendish in the mix they're more likely to race around the British rider and his needs. They'll be confident that the former world champion can win the race in a bunch sprint.

    Mark Cavendish (Etixx-Quickstep) wins Clasica Almeria

  108. 189.3km remaining from 196.3km

    12:23:22 CET

    Still inside the opening 10km as the peloton try and warm up but there's no attacks at this stage.

  109. 12:19:18 CET

    Most importantly - in this race - the final climb of the Nokereberg comes a shade over 50km from the finishline. This is a factor that typically sees the sprinters dominate.

  110. 12:14:17 CET

    • Start

    The race flag has officially dropped and we're racing in the 2015 edition of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.

  111. 12:13:01 CET

    From here the race does a small loop on itself and heads towards Kortrijk where a number of teams, including Etixx (just outside to be accurate), BMC and Team Sky base themselves during the entire cobbled campaign. The race then swings east with nine features climbs on the route.

  112. 12:04:16 CET

    And the riders are now heading through the short neutralized zone, having left the start. The flag will drop in just a few minutes.

  113. 12:03:08 CET

    To throw a few outsiders into the ring, we’ve Edvald Boasson Hagen and the rest of the sprint contingent at MTN, Bryan Coquard heads here full of confidence after his track Worlds, Sam Bennett won an impressive stage in Qatar, and Matteo Pelucchi.

     

  114. 11:58:52 CET

    • Cofidis 2015 team jersey

    A sprinter with a bigger point to prove is Nacer Bouhanni, who was off the pace in Qatar until the final stage and is still searching for his first win on Cofidis colours. The Frenchman has built a leadout around himself at this new team but so far they've not really gelled out on the road. That needs to be put right sooner, rather than later.

  115. 11:57:10 CET

    Alexander Kristoff  - who won three stages in Qatar last month - leads the line for Katusha. He's here with his new leadout man Jacopo Guarnieri and the pair will be looking to keep their winning run together after their impressive start to the year. Kristoff wasn't able to feature in yesterday's race so he he'll be looking for a result today.

  116. 11:55:27 CET

    For Lotto-Soudal, no Greipel as he's still recovering from illness but the team do have Jens Debusschere - an outsider for the win here today. The Belgian squad really need a result on home soil, they've only won three races in Belgium since August of last year.

  117. 11:50:35 CET

    Sky, sticking with them for just another minute, come into the race with an impressive record. Chris Sutton and Cavendish (now at Etixx) have both won here and the British team return with a strong line up that includes Wiggins, Rowe, Fenn, Eisel and new rider Viviani, who has already won this season - on the road and track. The Italian is likely to lead the line for the British team today, should the race end in a bunch kick.

    Elia Viviani shows off his new trophy

  118. 11:43:41 CET

    At least, from an Etixx point of view, they don't have to wait long before they can attempt to bounce back. In fact Kuurne starts in just over 15 minutes and most of the riders are already on the start line.

     

    Here's your chance to scan through the start-list.

  119. 11:42:06 CET

    Stannard, of course, wasn't concerned with the post-mortem at the Etixx team bus after he cruised to his second title in the race on two years. The Team Sky leader finished off some excellent early work from his team and is now a major contender for the rest of the spring campaign.

    Ian Stannard (Team Sky) retains his Omloop Het Nieuwsblad crown

  120. 11:36:57 CET

    You can find yesterday's race report, photos right here but perhaps the most telling information in regards to how Etixx lost the race, can be explained by Tom Boonen, in this story.

  121. 11:35:16 CET

    As you might expect the biggest crowds are around the Etixx-QuickStep team bus of Tom Boonen and Mark Cavendish, the latter drafted in after missing yesterday's race. Both Boonen and Cavendish are previous winners of this - in fact Boonen is the defending champion - and there's a fair amount of pressure on the Belgian after yesterday's race.

  122. 11:33:30 CET

    After yesterday's thrilling action from Omloop we're in Kuurne for the second of this weekend's double-header with a race a bit more suited towards the sprinters and there are plenty of them in the pack. The official start is in the next 30 minutes but riders are already gathering at the sign.