• Another win for Marcel Kittel in the sprinters classic. (Getty)Source: Getty
Marcel Kittel edged out Elia Viviani (Sky) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) in the sprint focussed race which serves as build-up for the Paris-Roubaix this Sunday.
Cycling Central

6 Apr 2017 - 6:05 AM 

While Kittel won the 202km race from Mol to Schoten it was Quick-Step Floors team-mate Tom Boonen who was the focus of the fans, with the race his last on Belgian soil before retirement after Paris-Roubaix.

“It was some pressure to win, being the defending champion, and I’m happy I could finish off the great job of my teammates," Kittel said.

"It was an important day also because Tom rode for the last time in Belgium. He was incredible during the race, sacrificing himself for the team and for a good result, despite having his big goal of the season on Sunday.

"He showed again what a great rider he is and I’m happy to end my relationship with him in such a way. I hope he will have reasons to smile after Paris-Roubaix, where I wish him all the best in his attempt to bring a fifth cobble-shaped trophy home."

The race left from Boonen's home village of Mol and at the 50km mark rode past the house in which he now lives.

“Today was unbelievable," boonen said. "I was touched by the warm welcome I received and by the huge support I got from the fans.

"I would never have dreamed of such incredible moments. I want to thank everyone for turning out and to the organizers for moving the start to Mol, making it a day I will never forget.”