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Vlaamse Druivenveldrit - C1
Overijse, Belgium, December 16, 2007
Vantornout finally harvests
Wellens eats sour grapes
By Brecht Decaluwé
Belgian Klaas Vantornout abandoned yesterday's race in Essen but today he bounced back to beat the big guns in the mother of all cyclo-cross races, the 'grape'-cross in Overijse. The 25 year-old Fidea rider maybe wasn't the strongest rider today, but he surely rode the smartest race of all. Together with team-mate Bart Wellens, the Fidea team out-played the opposition, featuring as number one and two on the podium.
UCI-leader Sven Nys didn't have a good day and when the victory was out of sight the Belgian dropped back and focused on staying healthy on the hard, slippery course – understandably since this race is not part of any regularity competition, besides the UCI-rankings. Nys' rival Bart Wellens waited too long on the decisive move from Nys, and he could only focus on the second place from then on. What was surprising to see was that the competition for second place came from a non-Belgian, and even more surprising was that it was an Under-23 rider, Philip Walsleben (Heinz von Heiden). He probably rode the best race of his life, which allowed him to clinch a fantastic third place in Overijse.
Winning was never easy for Vantornout, but on Sunday the Fidea rider threw his fist in the air after grabbing his biggest ever win. "For sure it's the biggest win in my career since I haven't won a big race just yet," Vantornout laughed. "This race is a classic and when Wellens left a gap I didn't hesitate a moment, and attacked. This was team work!"
The victory for Vantornout wasn't just a surprise for the spectators but also for the rider himself as yesterday he was suffering with a stiff back. "Yesterday evening I urgently needed treatment from a physiotherapist for my locked back, but apparently it was good enough to grab the win today," Vantornout explained. The eventual winner wasn't spotted in the front during the first laps, but then he never disappeared from the picture. "My start wasn't too well, but when I was able to close the gap on the leading group on the Tenotsberg in one big rush I gained morale."
The rider that wins three times in Overijse receives a veranda worth of €12,500; which could be interesting for Vantornout since he's currently building a new house in Torhout. "It would be a nice extra," Vantornout smiled, "and I'm still only 25 years old, so I know that I can even become a little bit stronger."
Vantornout is now third in the UCI-rankings behind Nys and Wellens, a position he didn't expect to claim before the season. "I'm third in the UCI-rankings, which seemed unbelievable before the season started. I'll try to defend that by focusing on the World Cup races and on the championships. Whatever happens, my season is already perfect," Vantornout stated.
Runner-up Bart Wellens was disappointed that he didn't follow his team-mate when he attacked, but he tried to focus on the good that he noticed today. "When Klaas attacked I had a bad moment and decided to take it easy for one lap. The next lap, I felt fresher and waited for Nys to launch the counter-attack on Vantornout, but apparently he didn't have the legs today," Wellens explained. "Later on, I expected to grab Walsleben easily, but actually he was riding quicker than I thought," Wellens smiled, "he's a boy to watch out for!"
The boy Wellens talked about was delighted with his performance. On the hilly course Walsleben was using a small gear and lots of souplesse, while most other riders were using the big gears and their forces. "This is great for me," Walsleben said. "I had a good day and the hilly course suited me. Yesterday, in Essen, I saved a little for today and that helped me a lot," the 19 year-old German said. "The atmosphere along the course was fantastic, with all those fans along the course. That was the first time I could enjoy it with the big guys."
The young German currently rides for the German Heinz von Heiden team, but from January 2008 on he will be defending the colours from the Belgian Palmans team that has other young riders like Niels Albert and Radomir Simunek in its line-up. In January, he will be the main rival for his future team-mate Niels Albert, in search of the U23 world title in Treviso, Italy. "Albert is stronger than me, but the form of the day will be all important in Treviso," Walsleben added.
How it unfolded
There was a small crash between some riders, including Italy's Enrico Franzoi right after the start. The peloton immediately hit the Tenotsberg on a cobbled road with Lars boom leading the field. Surprisingly, Paul Voss led the bunch back down the hill, with Philip Walsleben and Bart Wellens on his wheel.
Wellens took over the command while the two Germans seemed surprised to notice they were still riding between the front-runners. Seven men led the race with Wellens, Walsleben, Paul Voss, Nys, Lars Boom, Thijs Al and Sven Vanthourenhout. World Champion Erwin Vervecken led the chase in a second group at five seconds from the leaders. Franzoi followed in a group with John Gadret, Groenendaal and De Knegt at more than 20" from the leaders.
On the cobbled road of the Tenotsberg, Al attacked and nobody reacted immediately. The Dutch rider had a good gap but then slipped away when jumping off the bike on a frozen ramp and the bunch took him back halfway the lap.
After reaching the top of the Tenotsberg early on the next lap, Vantornout attacked and the race exploded. Wellens tried to bridge-up towards his team-mate but with Boom, Nys, Vanthourenhout, Walsleben and Kevin Pauwels on his wheel he touched his brakes and waited for Nys to take the initiative. With six laps to go, Klaas Vantornout stretched his sore back, and sat up so four riders got back on his wheel, including the surprisingly quick Walsleben.
Nys had to switch bikes halfway the next lap, and the Fidea-duo Vantornout and Wellens understandably didn't wait for the UCI-leader to come back on them. He was forced to contend with the Fidea team tactics because just when he got back to the two leaders on the Tenotsberg Vantornout jumped away again. Nys couldn't react and Vantornout quickly gathered 12" on Wellens, Nys, Boom and Walsleben. Back down the Tenotsberg, the speed in the chasing group dropped off completely and Vantornout already had 27" on Boom and the others. With four laps to go Vantornout had 34" on the four chasers, where Wellens was spotted stretching his sore back. Since the speeds were no longer extremely high a group with Al, Pauwels and Vanthourenhout were able join the first chasing group where seemingly nobody wanted to start the chase on Vantornout. Wellens crashed on the slippery soil but he was quickly back on his feet and managed to stay in the group.
Walsleben felt that the speed wasn't high enough, and he decided to attack the chasing group. Nobody joined him immediately and with only three laps to go he was 55" behind Vantornout. Al was a couple of seconds further while the main chasing group with Nys, Wellens, Sven Vanthourenhout, Voss and Pauwels was at 1'05".
Wellens launched his attack of the race on the descent of the Tenotsberg, clearly taking a lot of risks. The Belgian champion wanted to use Walsleben as a springboard, but had a lot of trouble to bridge up towards the German. Behind the first three riders Al was another victim of the slippery ramps while Nys rode with caution, trying to keep Wellens insight and managing to drop Boom, Vanthourenhout, Voss and Pauwels.
After the slowest lap of the race Vantornout had 54" on Wellens and Walsleben, while Nys rode at 59". Boom followed with Pauwels and Vanthourenhout at 1'10". Nys seemed to lack the energy to turn things around and Wellens probably misjudged the forces from the UCI-leader, focusing on Nys for too long. After 50 minutes of racing, Walsleben understandably had to let go of Wellens in an uphill section.
Vantornout had to climb the Tenotsberg one last time, and if his bike didn't let him down the victory would be his. Wellens was alone at 40" back with nothing more than a possible second place. Walsleben's third place seemed secure at 53", with young Pauwels following at 1'10". Nys and Sven Vanthourenhout were riding 1'20" behind the leader.
Vantornout kept stretching his back along the course, and although the Fidea rider slowed somewhat the victory was his. He clenched his fist and grabbed a great win ahead of Belgian Champion Wellens and – discovery of the day – Walsleben. Pauwels managed to get away from the main chasing group, and the young Fidea rider finished fourth. The sprint for fifth place was won by Aernouts ahead of another surprising German, Paul Voss.
Nys won the sprint for seventh place ahead of Richard Groenendaal and Vanthourenhout. Al completed the top-10 before Dutch Champion Boom, who clearly didn't chase a place of honour in the final laps. World Champion Erwin Vervecken finished on a disappointing 13th place.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Erik Van Breugel/www.cyclingmoments.com
Elite (47 starters) 1 Klaas Vantornout (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 1.02.07 2 Bart Wellens (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 0.40 3 Philipp Walsleben (Ger) Heinz von Heiden Focus 0.48 4 Kevin Pauwels (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 1.08 5 Bart Aernouts (Bel) Rabobank 1.13 6 Paul Voss (Ger) Team 3C - Gruppe Lamonta 7 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank 8 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) AA Sport Drinks 9 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job 10 Thijs Al (Ned) BeOne CRC Team 1.23 11 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank 2.03 12 Marek Cichosz (Pol) 2.15 13 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 2.39 14 Wesley Van Der Linden (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job 2.43 15 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Lampre-Fondital 16 John Gadret (Fra) Ag2r Prévoyance 2.59 17 Gerben De Knegt (Ned) Rabobank 3.05 18 Ben Berden (Bel) Revor Cycling Team 3.23 19 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel) Easypay Cyclocross Team 4.16 20 Thijs Van Amerongen (Ned) CT Van Vliet EBH Advocaten 4.43 21 Stijn Huys (Bel) Palmans-Cras 5.00 22 Maarten Nijland (Ned) Ruiter Dakkapellen Wielerteam 5.23 23 Kamil Ausbuher (Cze) Easypay Cyclocross Team 5.26 24 Quentin Bertholet (Bel) Fidea Cycling Team 5.32 25 Dave De Cleyn (Bel) Scott USA Cycling Team 6.05 26 David Meys (Bel) Klaipeda - Splendid Cycling Team 6.48 27 Tom De Kort (Bel) AWS Cycling Team Kasterlee 6.58 28 Sylwester Janiszewski (Pol) CWKS Legia Warszawa 7.08 29 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Cofidis 30 Jorn Van Der Veken (Bel) Profel Ziegler Team 31 Dries Dewit (Bel) Scott USA Cycling Team 7.40 32 Konrad Jasik (Pol) 8.30 33 Kenneth Van Compernolle (Bel) Sunweb Pro Job 34 Tomasz Repinski (Pol) 35 Alexander Forst (Ger) MTB Verein Berlin 36 Torsten Wittig (Ger) BRC Zugvogel 37 Chris Young (GBr) 38 Alex Atkins (GBr) Asfra Flanders 39 Freddy De Meester (Bel) Rijschool AH - Gentse Velosport Women (22 starters) 1 Stephanie Pohl (Ger) Team Getränke-Hoffmann 41.23 2 Saskia Elemans (Ned) WV de Meteoor 3 Sanne Cant (Bel) ASD Selle Italia Guerciotti 0.24 4 Helen Wyman (GBr) 0.30 5 Daphny van den Brand (Ned) ZZPR.nl 0.47 6 Katrien Pauwels (Bel) Empella Czech Team 1.29 7 Loes Sels (Bel) 2.14 8 Veerle Ingels (Bel) AVB/USspa Cycling Team 3.10 9 Ludivine Henrion (Bel) 3.43 10 Anne Arnouts (Bel) 3.57 11 Katrien Aerts (Bel) Benelux Team 4.43 12 Roe Eileen (GBr) 6.15 13 Laure Werner (Bel) Vlaanderen-Capri Sonne-T Interim 14 Nancy Bober (Bel) Granville-Morgan Blue Cycling Team 8.00 15 Kathy Ingels (Bel) 16 Kim Van Renterghem (Bel) Asfra Racing Team 17 Vicki Thomas (Bel) 18 Limke Peeters (Bel) Wielerclub Oostende Noordzee 19 Jo Blanchaert (Bel) A.T.B. De Mountain-Freaks Oudenaarde 20 Sharon Defoor (Bel) Juniores (27 starters) 1 Lubomir Petrus (Cze) 43.48 2 Marek Konwa (Pol) 0.11 3 Sean De Bie (Bel) 0.16 4 Filip Adel (Cze) 0.49 5 Petr Marvan (Cze) 0.59 6 Simon Geets (Bel) 1.07 7 Vinnie Braet (Bel) 1.21 8 Gerry Druyts (Bel) 1.24 9 Michal Benda (Cze) Scania Apache Team 1.49 10 Max Walsleben (Ger) 2.18 11 Zico Waeytens (Bel) 2.34 12 Dany Lacroix (Bel) 3.01 13 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) 3.31 14 Tommy van Beem (Ned) 4.03 15 Milan van den Ende (Ned) 5.12 16 Romain Gilhoul (Bel) 5.56 17 Robin De Cnodder (Bel) 6.04 18 Ian Boswell (USA) 6.07 19 Stijn Van Driessche (Bel) 6.19 20 James Laureys (Bel) 7.42 21 Clint Van Droogenbroeck (Bel) 10.12 22 Ken Van Crombruggen (Bel) 23 Kevin Collaer (Bel) Beginners (34 starters) 1 Laurens Sweeck (Bel) 30.15 2 Mike De Bie (Bel) 0.30 3 Emiel Dolfsma (Ned) 4 Bart De Vocht (Bel) 5 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) 1.00 6 Jens Vandekinderen (Bel) 7 Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) 8 Diether Sweeck (Bel) 9 Joeri Hofman (Bel) 2.30 10 Hendrik Sweeck (Bel) 11 Thomas Moses (GBr) 12 Floris De Tier (Bel) 13 Elias Hoop (Bel) 14 Axel De Corte (Bel) 15 Rob Leemans (Bel) 16 Ben Kerrebrouck (Bel) 17 Ruben Geerinck (Bel) 18 Jorn Claes (Bel) 19 Paul Young (GBr) 20 Lorenzo Pepermans (Bel) 21 Oliver Webster (GBr) 22 Wannes Cauwenbergh (Bel) 23 Wesley Foque (Bel) 24 Mike Mutsaerts (Bel) 25 Lorenzo Vanderschueren (Bel) 26 Jellen Schiettecatte (Bel) 27 Olivier Smet (Bel) 28 Thomas Raeymaekers (Bel) 29 Kris Vermeir (Bel) 30 Bryan Rossignol (Bel) 31 Jimmy Cornu (Bel) 32 Robin Van den Bruel (Bel) 33 Jasper Struelens (Bel) 34 Maxime Gilain (Bel) U12 1 Stijn Caluwé (Bel) 20.24 2 Jacob Relaes (Bel) 2.56 3 Rob Vanden Haesevelde (Bel) 3.55 4 Dylan Debontridder (Bel) 6.00 5 Kurt Van Esbroeck (Bel) U13 1 Lode De Smet-Van Damme (Bel) 20.53 2 Johan Hemroulle (Bel) 1.28 3 Caine Van Mol (Bel) 2.33 4 Martial Robeet (Bel) 2.58 5 Shana Maes (Bel) 3.44 6 Ganaelle Reynaert (Bel) 6.00
2006 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank Daphny Van Den Brand (Ned) 2005 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank 2004 Sven Nys (Bel) Rabobank 2003 Bart Wellens (Bel) Spaar Select 2002 Bart Wellens (Bel) Spaar Select 2001 Tom Vannoppen (Bel) Collstrop-Palmans 2000 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) RVS Liege 1999 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) 1998 Erwin Vervecken (Bel) 1997 Richard Groenendaal (Ned) 1996 Luca Bramati (Ita) 1995 Luca Bramati (Ita) 1994 Adri Van der Poel (Ned) 1993 Daniele Pontoni (Ita) 1992 Daniele Pontoni (Ita) 1991 Thomas Frischknecht (Swi) 1990 Danny De Bie (Bel) 1989 Christian Hautekeete (Bel) 1988 Danny De Bie (Bel) 1987 Roland Liboton (Bel) 1986 Roland Liboton (Bel) 1985 - 2 Hennie Stamsnijder (Ned) 1985 - 1 Roland Liboton (Bel) 1984 - 2 Roland Liboton (Bel) 1984 - 1 Eric and Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1983 Roland Liboton (Bel) Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com