• The moment the race was lost? (Getty)Source: Getty
Along with BMC's Greg van Avermaet, Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) was the man to watch at the 2017 Tour of Flanders.
Cycling Central

3 Apr 2017 - 8:52 AM  UPDATED 3 Apr 2017 - 10:34 AM

The Slovakian is usually the straw that stirs the drink in every race he enters, with the peloton closely covering his every move. And as always, Sagan was involved in a pivotal moment of the race when he crashed.

Less than a minute behind eventual winner Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) there was still the potential to snatch the victory.

But tragedy struck as he cut things too fine along the barriers, taking van Avermaet and Oliver Naesen (AG2R) with him. For the two favourites the race was effectively over.

Gilbert's solo slog brings Tour of Flanders glory
Phillipe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) attacked on the Oude Kwaremont with 55km to go and never looked back. It was the first Tour of Flanders win by a Belgian since Tom Boonen's victory in 2012.

“It was a complicated race, but I felt I was in good form and in a position that would have allowed me to reach Gilbert in the final stretch," Sagan said.

"Unfortunately, my crash meant it was all over and that was a pity because the team did a tremendous job to help me and keep me safe. I don’t know how I crashed but these things are a part of cycling.”

After untangling himself, Sagan eventually finished in 27th place and 3min 30sec behind Gilbert.

For van Avermaet the race did not end at the crash site. He used his incredible run form to conjure up a second overall.

"I think Peter Sagan was close to the barrier or the people and maybe he hit somebody on the side of the road and I was just behind so I couldn't avoid the crash," said van Avermaet.

"That was the moment when maybe we could have still done something with Peter and Olivier Naesen. We could have worked together but then you stop, you crash, and you lose another 30 seconds and then the race is over.

"If you see how close we still came at the finish I think the race was not over until that point."