Mads Pedersen wins Belgian cobbled classic Gent-Wevelgem

Brussels (AFP) –

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Denmark's former world champion Mads Pedersen of Trek-Segafredo won an ultra-competitive Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday after outsprinting an elite escape group.

The race was billed as a clash between the two up-and-coming superpowers of one day racing in Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, who finished with the winning riders but in 8th and 9th.

The pair seemed to cancel each-other's threat and allowed others to steal in at the end.

The race came down to the two men who contested the finale of the 2018 world championships in Harrogate as Italy's Matteo Trentin broke from a select head group and only Pedersen and Frenchman Florian Senechal managed to keep up.

Pedersen won the world title in a Yorkshire deluge two years' ago and this season, still only 24, has won three impressive races.

"It kept raining then drying up so it was all about dealing with getting cold," said Pedersen.

"It was perfect for me."

This was the first big Belgian classic run on cobbles this year and comes a week ahead of the Tour of Flanders.