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Ronde van Vlaanderen - Road race - Men

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  1. - - Thanks for joining me and remember to come back next Sunday for coverage of Paris-Roubaix.

  2. 15:30 - RESULT: 1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quickstep; 2 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia 0:00:00; 3 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing 0:00:01; 4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing 0:00:38; 5 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:38; 6 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quickstep 0:00:38; 7 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha 0:00:38; 8 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Europcar 0:00:38; 9 Matti Breschel (Den) Rabobank 0:00:38; 10 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma - Quickstep 0:00:38

  3. 0km - One last dig by Ballan just before the Flamme Rouge, he goes again with 350m to go but Boonen comes over the top and just holds off Pozzato. THREE FOR BOONEN!

  4. 1km - Boonen is just following the wheels, he is happy for a sprint and Pozzato looks like he won't mind taking him on.

  5. 2km - They are all looking at each other. Their lead is now over a minute so they can afford to play cat and mouse. And Ballan is the first to attack!

  6. 3km - Boonen is looking for a third Flanders triumph after wins at Harelbeke and Ghent-Wevelgem and "Tommeke" has the full support of the Belgian crowd.

  7. 4km - Pozzato known as "The Shadow" for following wheels, broke his collarbone in February at Qatar, but has returned with top-10 finishes at Dwars door Vlaanderen and Ghent-Wevelgem. He’s never been on the podium at De Ronde but he won Harelbeke in 2009 as well as Milan-San Remo in 2006.

  8. 5km - 2007 Flanders winner Alessandro Ballan carries the burden of potential indictments in a revitalised Italian doping investigation as well as the recent passing of his father-in-law.

  9. 6km - The podium will be contested by Ballan, Pozzato and Boonen. Sagan has been caught by 10 riders and they are 40 seconds back.

  10. 8km - Sagan is out of the saddle but the lead has gone out to 30 seconds.

  11. 10km - Peter Sagan is trying to chase down the lead trio alone but is 20 seconds back.

  12. 12km - At the summit of the 16th and final climb, the Paterberg, Pozzato leads Ballan with Boonen just hanging on to their wheel.

  13. 14km - Luca Paolini is trying to bridge the gap but the leading trio have a nine second lead at the foot of the Paterberg with a further dozen riders seven seconds back.

  14. 16km - Tom Boonen and Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) have joined the Italian.

  15. 18km - Alessandro Ballan goes clear on the third and final climb of the Oude Kwaremont.

  16. 20km - What a job by the Team Sky boys as the group swells to 50 riders. It will all come down to the final climbs of the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg.

  17. 22km - Some cat and mouse amongst the leaders and Bernie Eisel, Christian Knees and Ian Stannard are trying to pull Boasson Hagen back into the peloton. The gap is down to 16 seconds.

  18. 25km - Terpstra has a dig on Helling 14: Hoogberg (2.9 long, 3.5% average, 8% max) which is topped by a defunct white windmill. Jerome has a 16 second lead over the elite 10 with the peloton a further 28 seconds back.

  19. 27km - Jerome has made a renewed attack on the flat run before the Hoogberg and has a small advantage over the 10 chasers.

  20. 30km - Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda), Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing), Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky), Matteo Tosatto (Saxo Bank), Luca Paolini (Katusha), Vincent Jerome (Europcar) and Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana) will contest the victory.

  21. 33km - A massive pile-up on the Paterberg! Johan van Summeren hits the barriers and a number of riders are caught up in the carnage including Greg Van Amaraet and Edvald Boasson Hagen. 10 riders are clear.

  22. 35km - Luca Paolini (Katusha) attacks on the run-in to the Paterberg and is followed by Vincent Jerome (Europcar) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky).

  23. 37km - Sep Vanmarcke sets the pace up the Oude Kwaremont with Alessandro Ballan, Boonen and Filippo Pozzato in his wheel. Sylvain Chavanel and Peter Sagan take over the lead towards the summit. This has really whittled down the main group.

  24. 40km - Team Sky and Farnese Vini are banging out the pace on the front of the peloton with one of the original escapees, David Boucher, remaining a few seconds ahead on the run-in for the second ascent of the Oude Kwaremont.

  25. 42km - CRASH! Sebastian Langeveld veers off the road to avoid some of the street furniture and hits a spectactor. The GreenEdge man will not continue.

  26. 45km - Tom Boonen needs running repairs to his bike at the foot of the Kruisberg as Assan Bazayev and Anthony Geslin attack the large main bunch. They are soon caught by an active Philippe Gilbert and Bjorn Leuekemans with the Vacansoleil-DCM man having a real dig at the front and that burst of speed sees the escapees absorbed.

  27. 50km - Hayman continues to be active and Thomas Voeckler has had a little burst off the front of the main bunch as they head towards Helling 11: Kruisberg (1.8km long, 4.8% average, 9% max). Belgian TV reporting suspected broken hip for Cancellara.

  28. 55km - Ten of the original escape group are hanging out in front but the pace has really gone up in the main group since the feed zone and their advantage is down to 1:10. We will give you more news on Cancellara as we here.

  29. 60km - CANCELLARA CRASHES! The race is over for the Swiss after an incident going through the feed zone. Two of his team-mates are waiting for him but Spartacus is prone on the ground and looks like he will be taken away in an ambulance.

  30. 65km - The Koppenberg is too early in the race to determine the winner but you can lose the race here. Rough cobbles with a maximum gradient of 22%, you need to be at the front of the bunch and that is where the race favourites are. Cancellara is on Gilbert's wheel with Boonen a little further back. But former winner Stijn Devolder lost ground on the Paterberg and crashed on the descent.

  31. 70km - Still a large group as they head over the Paterberg which is only 400m but has an average 12% gradient, reaching a maximum of 20%. It is short, steep and cobbled and Boonen's OPQS team are at the front. Cancellara and Pozzato prominent as well.

  32. 75km - Vandousselaere is the first of the escape riders to crack on the Kwaremont, Schorn and Schillinger also drop off the pace. Their lead is 1:42 as Hayman leads the bunch on the climb.

  33. 80km - Germany's Judith Arndt has just won the women's Tour of Flanders in two-up sprint against Kristin Armstrong (USA). The race is the third in the World Cup for women.

  34. 85km - The Oude Kwaremont is 2.2km long with a 4.2% gradient. It rises early to 11% and then levels out. It starts with asphalt for 600m then 1600m of cobbles.

  35. 90km - The pace is beginning to heat up with the Oude Kwaremont coming up. Van Petegem says: "The run-up to this climb is a race within a race. It's nervous, and elbows and shoulders are the order of the day to secure the best spot at the front. You really need to be a nasty bastard to defend and keep your position. It is not a climb where you just stretch your legs. It's very important to be in the first two rows. If you have to chase from the foot of the Kwaremont, you've lost already."

  36. 95km - So the leaders come into Oudenaarde for the first time with the 3 distinct finishing loops, featuring 10 climbs including the Oude Kwaremont-Paterberg combo on three occasions, yet to come. Anders Lund, Gert Dockx, Manuel Belletti, Peio Bilbao, David Boucher, Vladimir Isajtsjev, Massimo Graziato, Pablo Lastras, Maarten Tjallingii, Tyler Farrar, Sven Vandousselaere, Baptiste Planckaert, Tom Veelers, Daniel Schorn and Andreas Schillinger are in the breakaway with a 3:20 lead.

  37. 100km - The 15-man escape group has seen their lead cut to 3:50 as they hit Helling 6 - Valkenberg which was first seen in this race in 1959 and climbs 53m with a maximum ramp of 15 per cent. Now a change of bikes for Sagan.

  38. 105km - Peter Sagan briefly drops back to his team car for some running repairs before Helling 5 - Berendries which climbs 65m with a maximum gradient of 14 per cent.

  39. 110km - Omega Pharma-Quick Step have dragged back that six-man group.

  40. 115km - Tomas Vaitkus, Kris Boeckmans, Alexandre Pichot, Lars Boom and Aliaksandr Kuschynski are with Hayman in that chase group as they head to the Rekelberg.

  41. 120km - A puncture for Cancellara on the Molenberg and that prompts some action at the front with Sky's Matthew Hayman in a group of six that esacpes. The Swiss has Yaroslav Popovych to help him.

  42. 125km - Now on to the Molenberg. Here are the views of ex-rider Peter Van Petegem: "Everyone wants to sit right at the front at the start of this hill. It's a real battle and then there's one big explosion. Those who don't manage to start the narrow climb smoothly risk getting blocked and having to put their foot down. In my prime, I did this climb three or four times in a row during training. That was the best way to train my legs for the explosion. It's far too early in the race to be decisive."

  43. 130km - So how about some outsiders that we've not mentioned so far. The GreenEdge duo of Sebastian Langeveld and Svein Tuft (GreenEdge) plus Matti Breschel (Rabobank), Oscar Freire (Katusha), Leif Hoste (Accent Jobs-Willems Veranda’s) and John Degenkolb (Project 1t4i) cannot be discounted.

  44. 135km - The peloton deal with the Eikenberg and Matt Goss is fighting to get back in the bunch, we can only assume a mechanical problem.

  45. 140km - 4:30 is the gap as the leaders go over the first of the 16 hellingen, the Taaienberg which climbs 45m with a maximum 18 per cent gradient.

  46. 145km - You can watch the action right now live on British Eurosport or on your PC via the Eurosport Player. Watch on the Eurosport Player

  47. 150km - Flecha took third at Paris-Roubaix in 2010 and will be looking to improve on his 11th place in 2011 after returning to action following a hand injury. "I haven’t been racing for a while but there’s nothing more that I can do than try to be 100 per cent on Sunday. That’s the only thing I expect of myself," he admitted. "I know my legs are good but with my hand, just three weeks ago I was having surgery. I wanted to come back earlier but it wasn’t possible but I’m really happy to be in the race."

  48. 155km - Boasson Hagen admitted that the race will be as tough as ever. "It’s really hard; up and down and the new climbs are going to make changes. The Kwaremont and the Paterberg are the main punch. It’s the same for everyone and we all need to get over the climbs. What matters is who is first at the finish line and it’s going to be interesting on Sunday to see how it goes."

  49. 160km - Team Sky will be led by Edvald Boasson Hagen and Juan Antonio Flecha with team-mate Ian Stannard being Britain's best hope.

  50. 165km - Alessandro Ballan of BMC is another former winner in the frame while his fellow Italian Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) and Slovakia's Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) have been in impressive form in recent weeks.

  51. 170km - Stijn Devolder is also looking for a hat-trick of victories, after winning in 2008 and 2009, and Vacansoleil have a one-two punch with Bjorn Leuekemans. The home fans will also have hopes for Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda) and the BMC duo of Greg Van Amaraet and Philippe Gilbert.

  52. 175km - So what about the other contenders? Riders from the home country are always highly-motivated for Belgium's biggest event in the cycling calendar and have won over 70 per cent of the race's 95 editions so far.

  53. 180km - The lead is now up to five minutes on a sunny but cool spring day in Flanders.

  54. 185km - Cancellara dreams of winning the Tour of Flanders solo again. "My hope is to arrive solo. I don't want have anyone on my back wheel, so then I can say the strongest guy won. The worst case scenario is to have two riders on my back wheel," he said at a press conference in Bruges. "The best is to be alone on the front. What counts is passing the line in the first position."

  55. 190km - "After my victories at E3 Prijs and Gent-Wevelgem the first part of the season, it's already good," Boonen said. "But we will start from zero. The tradition of the race, it's important. We have to try and do our best, always." Video: Boonen interview

  56. 195km - Many are labelling today's race as a showdown between the Belgian and Fabian Cancellara. Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Boonen won two World Tour races on home soil last week, E3 Prijs and Gent-Wevelgem, and is gunning for his third victory in one of the monuments of the European professional calendar. Boonen won Flanders in 2005 and 2006 while Radioshack-Nissan's Swiss star took the honours in 2010 but both face a different route this year.

  57. 200km - Tom Boonen said he is unsure if the new course is more difficult than the 2011 course. "I don't exactly know how the race will be," Boonen said. "It's the first time we've raced on the parcours. I can't say if this is better than last year. For sure it will be a fight - man against man or small group finish. We have a great team, but with a race like this a great team does not guarantee success. We have to be ready to fight each meter and try and get victory at the finish line."

  58. 205km - So what about the new route. Here's the view of Team Sky Sports Director Steven de Jongh: "It's going to be an elimination race. All the teams are going into the unknown which I think gives some chances. I think the good thing is that if it’s hard, for sure you will have strong riders in the final. If our guys are good and they are with that select group over those climbs, it will be easier for them to be in a good position for the next climbs. If you are bad you will get dropped."

  59. 210km - Four minutes is the advantage for the breakaway riders.

  60. 215km - An escape group featuring Anders Lund, Gert Dockx, Manuel Belletti, Peio Bilbao, David Boucher, Vladimir Isajtsjev, Massimo Graziato, Pablo Lastras, Maarten Tjallingii, Tyler Farrar, Sven Vandousselaere, Baptiste Planckaert, Tom Veelers, Daniel Schorn and Andreas Schillinger has formed.

  61. 220km - The favourites are likely to have made their move at some point during the relentless period of climbing from kilometres 177-244 before 12km of flat into the finish in Oudenaarde.

  62. 225km - Hellingen number nine is the steep Koppenberg followed by two more climbs before the second time up the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg. The ascent of the Hoogberg is swiftly followed by the third and final ascent of the pivotal one-two punch.

  63. 230km - Three non-cobbled hills are then tackled before the race heads through the new finish town of Oudenaarde and out onto the new finishing loop. The focal point of the race's restructure is the Oude Kwaremont-Paterberg combination - two cobbled hills in quick succession that will be climbed three times in total. The Oude Kwaremont is a 2.2km ascent with an average gradient of 4.2% while the Paterberg is just 350m but has an average gradient of 12.5%.

  64. 235km - The first 105km of the course do not present much to challenge the riders, with two flat sections of cobbles unlikely to shake things up too drastically. The first of the day's 16 climbs is the Taaienberg after 109km followed by the Eikenberg and Molenberg, which like the Taaienberg are cobbled, with four more sections of cobbles before the 135km mark to form the first selection.

  65. 240km - Much of the pre-race talk has been about the new route. The Muur van Geraardsbergen - once the decisive climb - has been axed and there are now 16 climbs or hellingen on the route with the one-two punch of the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg cobbled climbs tackled three times on a finishing loop. Race Route

  66. 245km - Kurt Hovelynck, Vladimir Isaichev, Lieuwe Westra and Andre Schulze have all tried and failed with early escape bids.

  67. 250km - 199 riders have just rolled out of the official start in Jabbeke to take on the 256km route. All 18 ProTour teams are in attendance (AG2R only have seven riders) plus wildcards Accent Jobs - Willems Veranda's, Team NetApp, Farnese Vini - Selle Italia, Landbouwkrediet, Project 1t4i, Team Europcar, Topsport Vlaanderen.

  68. 09:15 - Welcome to our coverage of the Tour of Flanders, part of the UCI World Tour and one of the so-called monuments of the European professional calendar. I'm Lee Walker, feel free to leave your comments in the box below or you can follow me at @Lee_Eurosport

 

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