Belgium's cycling star Wout van Aert is the winner of the 2021 Gent-Wevelgem, the penultimate cobbled race before the Tour of Flanders on 4 April.
The 26-year-old of the Jumbo-Visma team was the fastest in a seven-man sprint with European champion Giacomo Nizzolo finishing second, and Matteo Trentin in third.
"It was a sprint at high speed, we had a tailwind all the way back from the Kemmelberg and we were able to launch early enough. Everything went perfect and nobody came past," van Aert said after taking the 83rd edition of the 255km-long classic event.
"It was only a group of about 20 guys [for the last 180km]. It’s a big group but you still have to do a lot of turns. The whole day in the crosswinds, it never stopped actually. And this is a massive effort but definitely worth it."
Van Aert is the 50th Belgian winner of the race and adds the Gent-Wevelgem to a rich palmares which includes the 2020 Milan-San Remo and three Tour de France individual stages.
Last year's winner Mads Pedersen was unable to race after Trek Segafredo withdrew its entire men's squad following two COVID-19 positive cases.
2021 Gent-Wevelgem Final Standings
1 Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
2 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Qhubeka-Assos
3 Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
4 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious
5 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange
6 Stefan Küng (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
7 Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
8 Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers
9 Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie
10 Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix
Vos wins women's event
In the women's event, it was London 2012 gold medallist Marianne Vos who took the win.
The race was decided by a bunch sprint, with the Dutch rider crossing the finish line in front of Belgium's Lotte Kopecky and Lisa Brennauer of Germany in third.
Gent-Wevelgem Women Final Standings
1 Marianne Vos (Ned) Jumbo-Visma Women Team
2 Lotte Kopecky (Bel) Liv Racing
3 Lisa Brennauer (Ger) Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling Team
4 Elisa Balsamo (Ita) Valcar-Travel & Service
5 Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Ale’ BTC Ljubljana
6 Emilia Fahlin (Swe) FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope
7 Kristen Faulkner (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank
8 Sarah Roy (Aus) Team BikeExchange
9 Emma Norsgaard (Den) Movistar Team Women
10 Lauren Stephens (USA) Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank