Latest Cycling News for April 4, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
"You have to win the Ronde van Vlaanderen solo"
Boonen comes of age as a classics rider
By Jeff Jones in Ninove-Meerbeke
For 24 year-old Tom Boonen, winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen was a career ambition achieved, and he did it in the best possible way. Last week, he was extremely impressive in winning the E3 Prijs in Harelbeke, where he beat Andreas Klier in a two man sprint after the pair had escaped with 60 km to go. On Sunday, April 3, he went one better: escaping on the Valkenberg with 32 km to go together with Andreas Klier and Peter Van Petegem, the trio caught Zabel, Ballan and Petito. They then destroyed the rest of the peloton on the run into Geraardsbergen, as Discovery and Rabobank missed the bus.
Boonen accelerated at the top of the final climb of the Bosberg, and only Van Petegem was really strong enough to hold his wheel. After the regrouping, Boonen attacked again and again, before finally getting away with 9 km to go for a magnificent solo effort into Ninove-Meerbeke. Although he gained 50 metres with his first jump, the chasers knew the danger and worked hard to bring him back. They couldn't, and Boonen won the Ronde.
"Until the last kilometre I was just fighting with myself, looking at my speedometer to gain as much speed as possible," said Boonen in the post-race press conference, and described his feelings in the finale. "There wasn't a lot of time to think. But in the last kilometre, I was sure I was going to win. Then it started to break through to me, to get through in my head. In the last 500 metres, it was a strange feeling. I thought I was going to be extremely happy, but I was just sitting on my bike. It was very strange. It wasn't like I was very happy, or just sitting there. I had a lot of emotions in my body but I couldn't tell what it was. And after the finish line it was just one big yell, and 'I won the Tour of Flanders'. I think I'm going to realise it tomorrow.
Lore Van de Weyer's lucky charm
Tom Boonen's girlfriend Lore has been at the finish line of almost every race Tom has ridden this year. She follows her hero around the course and is there to give him a big hug once he crosses the line in victory. During the RVV, miss Van de Weyer, a shop-assistant in a video store, must have experienced one of the most nervous times of her young life. When Tom embraced her after his great effort, she had a hard time grasping what just happened.
"I can hardly bear the thrill," Lore Van de Weyer told Het Nieuwsblad. "Too many emotions. I think I won't be able to sleep. This was an unforgettable hug. We fell into each others arms and shed some tears of happiness. We didn't even talk, but acted a bit silly as always. This was one of Tom's biggest goals this season. We rarely talked about it but this is what he worked for the whole winter. Those last kilometres were nerve wrecking. The lucky charm my brother Joris gave us worked. I keep the secret and won't tell you what it is; it was in my bag, that was enough."
Two injured for Davitamon-Lotto
Vasseur also out
The Davitamon-Lotto team lost two key men in the lead-up to the Oude Kwaremont yesterday: Wim Vansevenant and Johan Vansummeren, who crashed into each other and abandoned the race. Vansevenant had to be taken to hospital in Oudenaarde where he was diagnosed with a small break and a large wound in his left elbow. He was operated on under general anaesthetic, and will be out for several weeks. Vansummeren escaped with bruises and abrasions, and did not break anything. Cédric Vasseur (Cofidis) was the third rider involved in the crash, and broke his shoulder.
"We'll lick our wounds and see who we can put in the lineup for Paris-Roubaix," a disappointed Marc Sergeant, Davitamon-Lotto team manager, told the Belgian VUM newspapers. "At a certain moment in the race, I really didn't see things positively any more. Just before the Kwaremont we lost Vansevenant and Vansummeren, and a bit later Steegmans got a rock against his leg. He couldn't turn the pedals for a while... then we were five.
"It looked bad but we were able to adjust to the situation and got back into the race. It could have been better because Van Bon was able to follow when Ballan attacked; but then he went out on a bend a bit later. We would have had that extra rider at the front if that hadn't happened. But yeh, he should have stayed on the road. Van Petegem tried, but Tom countered and kept going."
Pais Vasco under way
By Martin Hardie
Stage 1 of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco kicks off at 2:00pm European time on Monday afternoon and the line up and competition is already looking fierce. Ivan Basso (CSC) said in Zarautz this morning that although Jens Voigt is as strong as ever, Bobby Julich is the man to watch in the CSC line up this week. For his part, Dennis Menchov has said that his new team Rabobank have his plans set firmly on the Tour in July, but that any victory in the Vasco is unforgettable as the level of competition is always very high.
Other than Julich one name on the lips of many directors today has been that of Alejandro Valverde. Phonak's director Juan Fernandez said that Valverde "has a riding style that is tremendously aggressive and his competitiveness allows him the chance of always picking up a few seconds and these overall could give him the lead."
Liberty's Alberto Contador is also being looked at as a real contender by some. Their assistant director, the legendary Basque rider Marino Lejarreta, said, "We have come with a potent squad, with many options to take out the general classification. Our objective is to win." But if he has to pick someone out side of the Liberty squad, which has along with Contador, David Etxebarria and Roberto Heras as options, he nominated Bobby Julich as a clear favourite.
Zarautz resident and Euskaltel rider Gorka Gonzalez spoke of today's final climb. "Garate is hard, but short. It only has a little more than two kilometres of climbing in it. But for sure it's going to be a fast stage, but even so I am not sure that it will break up the peloton excessively. If the climb of Garate is very fast from the bottom (where it is at its steepest), it could split into a group of 25 or 30 riders. It's possible with the descent for such a group to stay away until the finish. But maybe it could be a group of 50 arriving for a bunch sprint."
Gonzalez commented that even given the 16% ramps of the Garate "some climb it in the big ring. Others go at it in the little ring with a 15 or 17 at the back. It is a short climb, for strong riders, not for pure climbers. In a stage where there are other tough climbs before hand Garate wouldn't make that much difference but today that is not the case."
The finishing straight today is 300 metres long and will give us the first leader of this year's ProTour Vuelta al Pais Vasco, and the third rider to win here in Zarautz after Sean Kelly in 1984 and Manuel Jorge Domínguez in 1987.
Ullrich finally ready
Jan Ullrich (T-Mobile) will start his season at last in the Circuit de la Sarthe on Tuesday. "I could train very well in Tuscany," said Ullrich, who has been plagued by illness for the early part of the season.
Fantasy game start list for Gent-Wevelgem
The start list for the Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday, April 6 has been uploaded to the Fantasy game site. Pick your riders now!
Congratulations to manager "Obélix" with team "Fightersss" for winning the second classics prize of the game so far. He has won one of the six Decibel helmets from Specialized worth $169 USD. Enter your team now to win one of the prizes in this year's Fantasy Spring Classics game:
Specialized Roubaix bicycle equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed groupset worth US$4400
Per Classic Prizes
6 x Specialized's Decibel helmets worth $169 USD each
A pair of Zipp 404s worth $1,600 USD; 2005 model Carnac M5 Carbon road shoes; Sinclair Imports 10 x Specially engraved IB-2 multi-tool from Park Tools
We will begin displaying the overall points for the Spring Classics on Tuesday.
We have enhanced the game so you can now see the breakdown of other manager's teams. If you played last year you can see these on your homepage.
If you haven't played before go to the ranking page, select a race and click on any of the team names to see more.
If you know the name of your friend's team/s you can also search for them on the ranking page.
It's not too late to join in, you have every chance of winning one of the "prizes per classic" and are still eligible for the Grand prize of a Specialized Roubaix bicycle equipped with Shimano Dura-Ace 10-speed groupset worth US$4400, and runner up prizes.
All you need to do to take part in this, the latest of the Fantasy Games at Cyclingnews, is register and select 8 riders for just a few, or all of the following races:
Ronde van Vlaanderen - April 3
As a manager you will have 4000 UCI points to purchase your riders for each race. There are ~250 riders in each official start list to choose from. Make your choice wisely as expensive riders don't always score the highest points for the team. The first 15 riders to finish each race will score points for your team. Have a look at the rules for more information.
It's a great way to follow the Spring Classics.
To register your teams for the game go to http://fantasy.cyclingnews.com/
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