Laporte and Van Aert secure 1-2 at Gent-Wevelgem

WEVELGEM, Belgium (AP): Christophe Laporte won the first one-day classic race of his career after the Frenchman and teammate Wout van Aert secured a 1-2 finish at Gent-Wevelgem for the Jumbo-Visma team on Sunday.

In heavy rain, the duo resisted the peloton’s chase in the 260.9-kilometer (162-mile) race through Belgium after a 50-kilometer breakaway they launched on a steep ascent.

Van Aert and Laporte celebrated together on their way to the finish line, with the 2021 winner happy to let Laporte take the win by a few centimeters.

“My gratitude to Wout is so great,” Laporte said. “That such a great champion puts his hand on his heart and grants me the victory is indescribable.”

Van Aert, who will be among the favorites at the Tour of Flanders next week, said he was more than happy to help Laporte triumph.

“He is such a great team player that it was an easy decision for me,” Van Aert said. ”“He is not only a colleague, but also a very good friend. I have not forgotten all that he has done for me in the past.”

Sep Vanmarcke, who rides for Israel-Premier Tech, won the sprint for third place, about two minutes behind.

Laporte became the fourth French rider to win the cobbled classic after Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Philippe Gaumont.

Marlen Reusser of Switzerland won the women’s race ahead of Megan Jastrab of the United States and Dutch rider Maike van der Duin.