Hel van het Mergelland, Cat 1.5

Netherlands, April 4, 1998

1997 Results

Brief Report

The Hel van het Mergelland starts and finishes in the town of Eijsden which is about 9 kms south of Maastricht in the south of Limburg right on the border with Belgium. The town is tucked in between the main highway north from Luik to Maastricht (A2) and the River Maas. It is also tucked between the "Dutch Alps" and the river flats. This is the south end of Amstel Gold country. There is a tourist route called the Mergelland route and it takes you through the whole region including the significant hills.

The Hel van het Mergelland has 31 climbs (41 km climbing). The race goes into the Belgian Ardennes, south of Eijsden and the riders faced very windy conditions. After 26 km, a group of 9 rode off the front of the peloton. In a short time they had 40 seconds. After 60 km, Ralf Grabsch punctured but was strong enough to regain contact with the breakaway. After 75 km Hans de Meester attacked from the chasing peloton which was 2.20 down to the break. It took 45 minutes for De Meester to get across to the leaders.

In Slenaken (still 35 km to go) Grabsch attacked during a climb. The rest of the breakaway was unable to match him and trailed at 100 metres. But his teammate Raymond Meijs attacked from this group and was strong enough to get across to Grabsch. Now there were two leaders: Grabsch and Meijs, both from Team Gerolsteiner.

In Eijsden, Raymond Meijs (30 years, 1985 World Junior Champion and winner of the Hel van het Mergelland in 1990 and 1997) wins the sprint. Third place arrived at 3.30 and only 32 riders finished overall

Meijs said after the race: "I was strong enough and hope to make a good season without injuries. My target is a good Dutch championships and of course a good World Championship in my own home town of Valkenburg."

So it seems that the local knowledge (Valkenburg is nearby) is worth something.

Eijsden - Eijsden, 180 kms:

 1. Raymond Meijs (Ned) Team Gerolsteiner 	     4.45.02 (37.9 km/ph)
 2. Ralf Grabsch (Ger) Team Gerolsteiner 
 3. Hans de Meester (Ned) Tonissteiner			3.30
 4. John van den Akker (Ned) MGI Fietsen
 5. Leif Hoste (Bel) Vlaanderen-2002
 6. Matthe Pronk (Ned) Rabobank Elite			4.28
 7. Marcel Luppes (Ned) Axa Cycling Team		4.32
 8. Bram de Groot (Ned) Rabobank Elite			4.35
 9. Marcin Gebka (Pol) Mroz			       14.08
10. Marc Patry (Bel) MRL
11. Bart Boom (Ned) P&O-L÷wik
12. Danny Stam (Ned) Piels-Timmers
13. Inaki Barrenechea (Spa) Tonissteiner
14. Ivan Peeters (Ned) Axa Cycling Team
15. Bert de Waele (Bel) Groeninge Spurters
16. Stefan van Dijk (Ned) Rabobank
17. Jan van Velzen (Ned) Golff-Gazelle
18. Franky de Buyst (Bel) Tonissteiner 
19. Darlusz Wojciechowski (Pol) Mroz
20. Jason Phillips (Aus) Die Continentale
21. Thorwald Veneberg (Ned) Agu Sportteam
22. Grzegorz Rosolinski (Pol) Mroz
23. Daniel van Elven (Ned) Rabobank Elite
24. Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Vlaanderen-2002
25. Ole Sigurd Simensen (Nor) Agro Adler Brandenburg
26. Bjorn Glasner (Ger) Team Gerolsteiner
27. Hielke Boersma (Ned) MGI Fietsen
28. Dennis Heij (Ned) Golff-Gazelle
29. Marco Engels (Ned) Midden Limburg		       15.58 
30. Steve Vermaut (Bel) Vlaanderen-2002
31. Kees Jeurissen (Ned) P&O-L÷wik
32. Remmert Wielinga (Ned) Agu Sportteam               15.58

Started: 146
114 riders dropped out