Sagan wins Gent-Wevelgem race, Demoitie in hospital

GENT, Belgium (AP) World champion Peter Sagan posted his first victory in the rainbow jersey on Sunday, winning Belgium's Gent-Wevelgem classic in a race overshadowed by an accident that left another rider in the intensive care unit of a French hospital.

Belgian rider Antoine Demoitie was taken to the hospital in the northern French city of Lille. Belgian media reported that Demoitie had been hit by a motorbike following a fall.

Demoitie's team Wanty-Gobert said in a statement on Sunday night that his condition ''remains very serious. His wife and family are with him at the hospital in Lille.''

Earlier, Sagan had come out on top of a four-man sprint to take the race victory.

''I'm very happy that I've won finally in this jersey,'' said the Slovak rider, who claimed the world title last September in Richmond, Virginia.

Viacheslav Kuznetsov made the first move, about 200 meters from the finish line, but Sagan then easily outsprinted his rivals.

Sagan, who finished runner-up at the E3 Harelbeke race earlier this week, won ahead of Sep Vanmarcke and Kuznetsov, with one-day classic specialist Fabian Cancellara in fourth place.

It was Sagan's second victory in Gent-Wevelgem, following his maiden success in the 234-kilometer cobblestone classic back in 2013.

Sagan and Vanmarcke jumped away from the main pack with 34 kilometers left to follow Cancellara when the Swiss rider accelerated in the final climb of the day up the cobbled Kemmelberg.

After catching Kuznetsov, the four breakaway riders collaborated well and resisted the peloton's chase.

''(It) was very hard because we were in a breakaway,'' Sagan said. ''Today I felt very, very good and the victory is here.''

Cancellara said he was hampered by cramps in the final five kilometers and was unable to fight for victory.

''In the end, I did not have the legs, or power, that I am used to,'' Cancellara said.

Sagan will be among the favorites at the upcoming Tour of Flanders before competing in Paris-Roubaix.