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85th Ronde van Vlaanderen (CDM)
Belgium, April 8, 2001
Complete Live Report
Start time: 1000 CET
0900 CET - Preview
Welcome to cyclingnews.com's live coverage of the 85th Ronde van Vlaanderen, the second round of the UCI World Cup. The race today is 269 kilometres, taking in 16 climbs, seven of which are cobbled. The start is in Brugge's spectaclar Grote Markt, and from there the race heads towards the west coast, before turning inland to the hilly section that starts near Oudenaarde. The hills start with 150 km to go, with the final 12 being contained in the last 80 kilometres.
The weather today is fairly good (although Belgians might argue). Temperature will hit 10 degrees celsius, and the riders will be assisted for the most part by a NW wind. There is the chance of rain, but it is likely to remain dry as it did all day yesterday.
0940 - 0.0 km
Eddy Merckx is interviewed at the start in Brugge, where the crowds have turned out in force. His picks "Bartoli, Tchmil, Wesemann, Vainsteins, Museeuw...The weather looks pretty light, and even for someone like Van Petegem who has been sick, it might help him."
Last year's winner, Andrei Tchmil: "It will happen in Tenbossestraat or after. Before that, it's just the whole team working. We'll see at the end."
The 196 riders start at 0945 for a 15 minute neutral section before the official start.
0952 - 0.0 km
The riders are still in the neutral zone, and are taking advantage of the conditions to commune with nature. Stefano Zanini (Mapei) calls for his team car as he punctures his rear wheel.
The weather is slightly damp.
1010 - 6.0 km
The riders pass the official start in Sint-Pieters (Brugge) and head out of town towards the west coast. Division II team Collstrop leads the way at the head of the peloton.
One rider who was not allowed to start today was Italian Fabiano Fontanelli (Mercatone Uno). He recorded a high hematocrit, and will presumably be used as the guinea pig for the UCI's introduction of EPO testing.
1035 - 20 km
As the peloton approach Oostende, they are riding into a strong headwind and rain. These conditions are not expected to hold throughout the day, but they will quieten the riders' spirits at first.
There is a fall in the peloton. Johan Museeuw is one rider who has gone down, but it is not serious. Erik Zabel was involved as well.
1053 - 28 km
Another rider involved in the fall was Mapei's Paolo Bettini, but he manages to get back on as well. However, one rider has a broken arm.
There are now two groups of five men leading the race. Domo's Wilfried Peeters is in the first group.
1103 - 44 km/235 km to go
There is now a small break at the head of the race. They have 15 seconds on the field. No names given yet.
1115 - 55 km/214 km to go
Collstrop has placed Karel Pauwels and Bert Scheirlinckx in the lead now. They have 25 seconds on the peloton which is now moving quite quickly. Mercatone Uno have lost some riders in anohter fall, in addition to Fontanelli who was prevented from racing.
Jean Patrick-Nazon (FdJ) was another non-starter this morning (sick), meaning that Francaise des Jeux is down to 6 riders.
1127 - 65 km/204 km to go
There is now a group of 15 following Pauwels and Scheirlinckx, who have a 20 second gap on the peloton. In this chasing group are some big names, including Farazijn (Cofidis), Tchmil, Dewaele (Lotto) and Servais Knaven (Domo).
1136 - 69 km/200 km to go
The peloton is racing across West Flanders now, and the pace is high with the tailwind. Peter van Petegem is OK after his fall.
1207 - 93 km/176 km to go
The 15 riders have caught the leading duo, with the peloton at 30 seconds. The first of the 16 hills is due in 30 kilometres just after Oudenaarde (Achterberg). Then follows the Wolvenberg, Molenberg and Grotenberge at Zottegem (km 148). The race then turns back towards Oudenaarde to do the next 12 hills, beginning with Kluisbergen at kilometre 189.
1220 - 105 km/164 km to go
The peloton hit the cobbles at Wannegem. Telekom's Gian-Mateo Fagnini is riding at the front.
1235 - 113 km/156 km to go
Four riders have attacked from the leading group, including Nico Eeckout (Lotto), who rode incredibly well in the Dwars door Vlaanderen last week. They have a 5 minute gap on the peloton, which is being led by Andrea Tafi (Mapei). His teammate Michele Bartoli is one of the favourites.
Zabel, Tchmil and Vainsteins are riding safely in the peloton.
1242 - 118 km/151 km to go
Paolo Bossoni (Tacconi), Christophe Detilloux (Collstrop) are two of the other riders in the leading break. They are just about on the Achterberg, the first of the 16 climbs. It is one of the longer ones at 1300 metres, and has a steep 11% section at the bottom before levelling out.
Telekom have lost Kai Hundertmarck and Andreas Klier in the falls earlier in the day.
1250 - 125 km/144 km to go
The four leaders are now on the second climb (Wolvenberg). This is a "smooth" hill but has a maximum grade of 19 percent.
1300 - 130 km/139 km to go
The break consists of Nico Eeckhout (Lotto), Paolo Bossoni (Tacconi), Christophe Detilloux (Collstrop) and the fourth rider is Martin van Steen (Bankgiroloterij). Eeckhout is clearly the strongest, and this is an excellent tactical move by the Lotto team in order to save Tchmil.
Mapei, with Nardello and Bettini are riding at the head of the peloton. Light rain has started falling.
Jan Svorada (Lampre), Enrico Cassani (Domo) and Andy Vidts (Vlaanderen T-Interim) have abandoned.
1311 - 138 km/128 km to go
Bart Leysen (Mapei) has also given up. The race has been extremely hard so far, and there are only 40 or so riders in the main peloton. The four breakaways were on the Molenberg (climb 3) with about 2'32 lead. Eeckhout looks comfortable while the others fight for position in the smooth gutter on his wheel.
The leaders are now on the cobbles of Paddestraat, with 128 kilometre to go. The Grotenberge at Zottegem is the next climb.
1325 - 150 km/119 km to go
The leading four pass through Zottegem with a 2 minute plus advantage. Eeckhout looks strong, riding at the back. Lampre's Ludo Dierckxsens comes next, with a small advantage over the peloton, which is down to about 50 riders.
Mario Cipollini (Saeco) is off the back, but sees an opportunity for a short cut as the race does a U-Turn.
1331 - 154 km/115 km to go
A group containing DeWaele (Lotto), Knaven (Domo), White (USPS), Zanini (Mapei), Baldato (Fassa), Den Bakker (Rabobank), Piccoli, Diercxksens (Lampre) and has attacked the peloton.
Eeckhout has a puncture, but the break is doomed anyway. The gap is now 1'20.
1336 - 157 km/112 km to go
Van Hyfte, Guns, Piziks, Hoj are part of a six rider chasing group. They are just behind the leading bunch with Knaven et. al. The four breakaways have just 30 seconds now.
In the main peloton, Saeco are leading the chase.
It's reported that Nicolas Jalabert (CSC) hit a car head on, and is out of the race.
1340 - 161 km/108 km to go
The four riders are caught, and there are now 22 in the lead at St Maria Latem. They have 1'54 on the peloton, kead by Saeco and Cofidis. There is a strong headwind towards Oudenaarde, but the pace has been extremely high until now. The Kluisbergen is the next climb at km 189.
More names in the leading group: Vandevelde (USPS), Vanhaecke (Landbouwkrediet) and Dekker (Rabobank).
1351 - 168 km/101 km to go
The gap to the 22 leaders is slowly being brought down. It is now 1'41, with Saeco still chasing.
The leading group is: Van Hyfte & DeWaele (Lotto), Knaven (Domo), White (USPS), Zanini (Mapei), Baldato (Fassa), Den Bakker (Rabobank), Piccoli, Diercxksens (Lampre), Guns (Vlaanderen), Piziks (CSC), Hoj (Coast), Vandevelde (USPS), Vanhaecke (Landbouwkrediet) and Dekker (Rabobank), Giordani, Petacchi (Fassa), Nardello (Mapei).
1402 - 178 km/91 km to go
Still 10 kilometres to go until Kluisbergen. Telekom and Mercury are leading the chase, 1'18 behind the leaders. The average speed is over 44 km/h so far.
Some photos from Zottegem:
1412 - 184 km/85 km to go
The leaders turn left up towards Kluisbergen, still with a 1'35 advantage. The fun really starts now.
Kluisbergen is a popular town for racing: some 70 races are organised through here each year, meaning a lot of work for the police.
1420 - 189 km/80 km to go
Giordani (Fassa) crosses the Kluisbergen in the lead. His teammate, Alessandro Petacchi suffers at the back though.
The peloton start the climb, led by Farazijn, with US Postal and Lampre close behind. The gap is 1'48.
1424 - 194 km/75 km to go
The leaders are on their way to Knokteberg, a steep but non-cobbled 1,100 m climb. It's reasonably tough with a maximum grade of 13 percent.
Matt White is chatting with Erik Dekker at the back of the leading group. The weather is nice and sunny now.
1430 - km 197/72 km to go
Daniele Nardello (Mapei) leads the breakaway up the Knokteberg. Detilloux and Petacchi are dropped. White is a little way off the back, as is Guns.
Back in the peloton, Ludo Diercxksens attacks at the base of the climb, stringing out the bunch.
1441 - 204 km/65 km to go
The leading bunch are on the 2,200 m Oude Kwaremont now. This is a tough climb due to its length, and is entriely cobbled. Piziks is in trouble at the back. There are only about 10 riders in the lead now.
Farazijn, Planckaert (Cofidis), Tchmil (Lotto) and Trenti (Cantina Tollo) lead the peloton on the Oude Kwaremont. Hincapie (USPS) is there too, as is Hoffman (CSC). The Paterberg is not far away.
Some more pics, from earlier in the race:
1447 - 208 km/61 km to go
The leaders are now at the base of the Paterberg, with its maximum grade of 20%. Ludo Dierckxsens (Lampre) leads. De Waele, Van Hyfte, Piziks, Hoj and White are 23 seconds behind these riders, with the peloton at 1'33. Dierckxsens crosses first.
1455 - 213 km/56 to go
The leaders: Dierckxsens (Lampre), Nardello (Mapei), Knaven (Domo), Vandevelde (USPS) , Zanini (Mapei) and Baldato (Fassa).
Piziks, Den Bakker and Michel Vanhaecke join them to make a front group of 9, while the rest are scattered along the road.
The Kortekeer is coming up next (hill 9 of 16). It is not quite as tough as the Paterberg - 1,000 m long, no cobbles with a maximum of 11%.
1500 - 215 km/54 km to go
The leading group of 9 cross the Kortekeer together, as Trenti leads the peloton with Sciandri, Tchmil Wesemann, Petitio, Bartoli, Bettini, Balducci, Serpellini, Zberg, Planckaert, Vainsteins, Sorensen, Hoffman, Vainsteins etc. They are at 1'50. Museeuw, Van Petegem and Zabel are missing however.
Karel Pauwels (Collstrop) and Nico Eeckhout (Lotto) have abandoned.
1506 - 219 km/50 km to go
Climb 10 is the cobbled Taaienberg, with a maximum grade of 18%. The nine leaders ride up in the right hand gutter, much to the delight of the fans lining that side of the road.
As they go over the top, Dierckxsens (Lampre), Nardello (Mapei), Knaven (Domo), Baldato (Fassa) and Piziks (CSC) lead, with the others in trouble and having to chase back on.
The peloton aren't far behind, as Planckaert leads Tchmil who is looking impressive.
1514 - 224 km/45 km to go
The Eikenberg is next - another cobbled climb with a maximum of 11%. Dierckxsens is having a "superday" as he leads the break.
The peloton have closed to 1'19, as Nico Mattan gets a flat at a critical moment. There are now a few kilometres before the next climb (Leberg, km 232), giving the peloton a chance to organise a chase. Lotto has also lost Hendrik van Dijck.
Or maybe not as they start freewheeling - Museeuw, Kirsipuu rejoin the peloton...
1520 - 228 km/41 km to go
Max Sciandri (Lampre), Gabriele Balducci (Tacconi) and Van Bondt (Mercury) catch Lotto's Paul van Hyfte, and have a 50m gap to the peloton, which is around 25 riders.
Peter Farazijn (Cofidis) has a puncture.
1526 - 232 km/37 km to go
The leaders hit the Leberg (climb 12, maximum 16%) with a reduced advantage. Nardello tries an attack but it is nullified by Dierckxsens. Sciandri's group bridges up to the leaders, but the peloton are just 25 seconds back now.
1530 - 235 km/34 km to go
The speed approaches 70 km/h as the leaders head for the Berendries, the fourth last climb. It is smooth, with a maximum of 14 percent. Arvis Piziks has had an impressive ride, considering he fell off on the Oude Kwaremont. The Latvian champion is still with the leaders, but they will probably be caught on the Berendries.
Dekker, VanHaecke and Dierckxsens are suffering at the back of the leaders now.
Weseman, Bartoli, Bettini, Tchmil, Hincapie are all prominent at the fron of the peloton.
1535 - 239 km/30 km to go
Max Sciandri (Lampre) attacks as the leaders head into Brakel (Peter van Petegem's home town). Piziks, Nardello, and Peers join him.
1540 - 241 km/28 km to go
Peers leads the quartet over the Tenbossestraat, with a small chasing group at 11 seconds, and the peloton at 42 seconds. Rolf Sorensen (CSC) is with the leaders.
The next climb is the Muur, followed by the Bosberg. They're racing flat out now.
1545 - 247 km/22 km to go
The leading group are continually reforming. Sciandri, Dierckxsens, Peers, Nardello and Zanette are the five leaders, with 5 km to go until the Muur. But they are caught by Knaven, Dekker, Bortolami, and Van Hyfte.
Tchmil, Vainsteins, Wesemann, Hincapie, Mattan, and Bartoli are part of an 8 man chase group and they are gaining on the leaders.
1550 - 251 km/18 km to go
The leaders are in Geraardsbergen now, with a small advantage over the chasers (16 seconds). Dekker looks behind to see where they are.
They're on the cobbles of the Muur, with Dierckxsens and Sciandri leading the way. The crowd are out in force in the dry weather, waving their yellow flags.
1554 - 253 km/16 km to go
The uneven cobbles of the Muur see the riders all over the road. Zanette leads Sciandri over the top, with Peers, Nardello and Diercxksens following. Vandevelde is also well up there. One climb to go...
1600 - 257 km/12 km to go
The final climb of the Bosberg. A 475 m cobbled hill, with a nice downhill run to the finish. The leading group has reformed, but the group with Wesemann, Planckaert, Museeuw, Tchmil, Vainsteins, Bartoli etc. almost catches them at the base.
Peers leads Nardello and Zanette over the top. Bortolami and Sciandri are also there, with Dekker, Sorensen, Dierckxsens and Vandevelde chasing back on. Can Tchmil's group get them in time?
1604 - 260 km/ 9 km to go
The gap is just 14 seconds from the 8 leaders to the Museeuw-Tchmil chasing group. It is downhill, with a slight tailwind to the finish.
1608 - 264 km/5 km to go
There is more firepower in the chasing group, but time is running out. With 5 kilometres to go, the gap is 13 seconds.
Sorensen attacks with Zanette with 4 km to go. Sciandri chases, with Chris Peers.
1612 - 267 km/2 km to go
Sorensen and Zanette are caught, but the Dane goes again with 2 km to go. The leaders are too watchful though and he is caught. Dekker and Nardello are lurking...
1616 - 269 km/0 km to go
Nardello puts in a stinging attack, but they won't let him go. All together for the sprint. Sciandri leads out, Zanette takes over, but Dekker and Bortolami are stronger still. Bortolami gets it!
Bortolami: "I helped Museeuw win Roubaix, and across the line here I was congratulated by Museeuw. I never thought I would win - it's a dream come true."
He added: "I chased for 20 km because my bike broke."
1 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola 6.10.12 2 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 3 Denis Zanette (Ita) Liquigas 4 Rolf Sorensen (Den) CSC-World Online 5 Daniele NArdello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 6 Chris Peers (Bel) Cofidis 7 Max Sciandri (GBr) Lampre-Daikin 8 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Lampre-Daikin 9 Andre Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 0.18 10 Romans Vanisteins (Lat) Domo-Farm Frites 11 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis 12 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) Telekom 13 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service 14 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Tacconi Sport 15 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 16 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites 17 Christian Vandevelde (USA) US Postal Service 18 Frank Hoj (Den) Team Coast 19 Hans De Clercq (Bel) Lotto-Adecco