Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) extended his lead in the UCI WorldTour individual ranking with a solo victory at Gent-Wevelgem that left his rivals in the race for the minor placings. He also distances his rivals in the season-long ranking.
The talented Slovakian rider scored 80 points for his victory at Gent-Wevelgem, extending his points to 232. Classics rival Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) is second in the ranking, with 151 points.
Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) is third in the individual ranking, with 144 points after he finished second overall in the Volta a Catalunya stage race in Spain. The week-long stage race was won by Ireland's Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp), with Italy's Michele Scarponi (Lampre-Merida) third overall.
Martin scored 100 points for his overall victory and is now eighth overall in the individual ranking.
Team Sky continues to lead the team ranking, while Spain stays on top of the nations ranking. Team Sky has a total of 407 points. Katusha is second with 268 points and RadioShack-Leopard is third with 266 points.
Sagan rode a tactically perfect race to win Gent-Wevelgem, despite the cold conditions that caused the race distance to be shortened. He ensured he was part of the decisive breakaway and then controlled his rivals over the Kemmelberg climb and on the ride to the finish. They clearly thought Sagan would wait for the sprint but after an attack from Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), he surged clear, with the other riders quickly deciding to ride for second place.
Borut Bozic (Astana) won the sprint for second place, with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) third.
Sagan celebrated his first UCI WorldTour Classic victory by pulling a wheelie while crossing the finish line.
"It's great to have won. This race perhaps isn't a monument, one of the biggest Classics, like Milano-Sanremo, the Tour of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix but I'm still very happy," he said.
Martin is the king of Catalunya
Daniel Martin also celebrated his first major UCI WorldTour success on Sunday. The Irish climber confirmed his potential by winning stage four with a brave solo attack and then defended his slim race lead with intelligence and thanks to some excellent support from his team.
Martin lives in Catalunya and so celebrated winning his 'home' race.
"I'm really, really happy. Winning at home is very special," he said.
"This is the best win of my career and I think it's the best I've ever performed. Now my next goal is to do well in the Ardennes Classics in April."
The UCI WorldTour continues in Belgium with more one-day action on Easter Sunday. The Tour of Flanders or Ronde van Vlaanderen as it is known locally sees riders tackle a mix of steep climbs and cobbled roads. Sagan is the favourite for victory but faces huge competition from Cancellara and 2012 winner Tom Boonen and his Omega Pharma-Quick Step team.
Photo: Peter Sagan wins Gent-Wevelgem and extends lead in UCI WorldTour rankings