Race PreviewG.Bugno, last year's winner says "It's the most difficult [World Cup] race to win."
The Form Guide
Maurizio Fondriest (Italy)
Race ReportMeerbeke, Belgium
Johan Museeuw (Belgium) dropped Fabio Baldato (Italy) fifteen kilometers from the finish to win the Tour of Flanders World Cup race for the second time in three years today. His decisive attack came on a steep cobble-stone climb. "I had a super day," said Museeuw, 29 years old. "This was one of the greatest days of my career."
Museeuw's victory was not without some misfortune. He punctured 53 kilometers from the finish and saw his 19 breakaway companions head up the road. "First I thought, now it's all over," Museeuw said.
But he road very hard after the wheel change and managed to catch the group again 41 kms from the finish, just when Baldato broke away. After a brief rest, Museeuw started his chase for Baldato at the 33 kilometer mark and caught him three kilometers further on. Tchmil made an attempt to bridge up to the two leaders but was unable to bridge before Museeuw's final attack on the climb.
Race Distance: 261 kms
1. Johan Museeuw (Belgium, Mapei-GB) 06:36:24 2. Fabio Baldato (Italy, MG-Technogym) + 01:27 secs. 3. Andrei Tchmil (Moldova, Lotto) 4. Claudio Chiappucci (Italy, Carrera) 2:03 5. Gianluca Bortolami (Italy, Mapei-GB) 6. Jesper Skibby (Denmark, TVM) 7. Michele Bartoli (Italy, Mercantone Uno) 2:05 8. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Russia, Novell) 3:25 9. Maximilian Sciandri (Britain, MG-Technogym) 10. Franco Ballerini (Italy, Mapei-GB) 3:28 11. Stefano Zanini (Italy, Gewiss-Ballan) 5:09 12. Maurizio Fondriest (Italy, Lampre-Panaria) 13. Hendrik Redant (Belgium, TVM) 5:17 14. Giovanni Lombardi (Italy, Polti) 15. Wilfried Peeters (Belgium, Mapei-GB) 16. Herman Frison (Belgium, Lotto-Isoglass) 17. Marc Sergeant (Belgium, Lotto-Isoglass) 18. Maarten den Bakker (Netherlands, TVM) 19. Johan Capiot (Belgium, Ceramiche Refin) 20. Rolf Aldag (Germany, Telekom) all s.t.
Full Listing of Results
1. Museeuw 261km in 6.36.24 2. Baldato at 1.27 3. Tchmil same time 4. Chiappucci 2.03 5. Bortolami 6. Skibby same time 7. Bartoli 2.05 8. Ekimov 3.25 9. Sciandri same time 10. Ballerini 3.28 11. Zanini 5.09 12. Fondriest same time 13. Redant 5.17 14. Lombardi 15. Peeters 16. Frison 17. Sergeant 18. Den Bakker 19. Capiot 20. Aldag 21. Scirea same time 22. Sorensen 8.08 23. Michaelsen 24. Cipollini same time 25. Fidanza 8.39 26. Abdoujaparov 27. F. Bontempi 28. Dietz 29. Hundertmark 30. Pianegonda 31. Mulders 32. Yates 33. Zberg 34. Holm 35. Tafi 36. G. Bontempi 37. Bugno 38. Nelissen 39. Gotchenkov 40. Moreels 41. Willems 42. Van Hooydonck same time 43. Roscioli 11.57 44. Andreu 45. Armstrong 46. Van Bon 47. Hoffman 48. Verstrepen 49. Colombo same time 50. Van Bondt 13.21 51. Serpellini 13.53 52. Bertolini 53. M. De Clrecq 54. Vanderaerden 55. Marie 56. Verhoeven 57. Ferrigato 58. Van der Poel 59. Missaglia 60. Laukka 61. Fornaciari 62. Vasseur 63. Rue 64. Edo 65. Imboden 66. P Van den Abeele 67. Stenersen 68. Serrano 69. Zabel 70. E. De Clercq 71. Spruch 72. Wesemann 73. Roes 74. Hodge 75. Leysen 76. Bauer 77. Martin same time 78. Duclos-Lassalle 15.26 79. De Meester 80. Assez 81. Zen 82. Knaven 83. Nottebart 84. Van Camp 85. Durand 86. F. Van den Abeele 87. Raab 88. Mattan 89. Ludwig 90. Desbiens 91. Meijs 92. Capelle* 93. Feys 94. Thijs 95. Cattai 96. Brasi 97. Bramati 98. Dernies (191 starters, 91 finishers)*L'Equipe notes of Capelle, classified 92nd, that there is solid evidence that he in fact retired.
The Video in Words - from Roger ThomasThe first serious attack took place at km54, when the Mapei-GB team of Museeuw sent Tafi forward. In a break accompanied by Roscioli (Refin), Martinelli (Polti) and Steels (Vlaanderen 2002), Tafi gained a maximum lead of 5 minutes and cleared the Tiegemberg (125km), the first of the 15 climbs, with a lead of 4.50. Steels and Martinelli fell back because of mechanical problems and Tafi then shook off Roscioli to stay alone to cross the Kwaremont (153km).
After the Kwaremont, Tafi drove on alone, with a lead of 3 minutes on the peloton. A counter-attack was launched by Bauer (Motorola), Hoffman (TVM), Pianegonda (Polti), Peeters (Mapei) and Roscioli, who had been caught. With 80km to go [soon after the ninth climb] Tafi's lead went back up to 3.45 on a peloton that had split into two main groups, such riders as Duclos-Lassalle, Durand, Brochard and Colotti having fallen back into a second group.
Tafi was caught at the second feed at Zottegem (km218) and almost immediately after, with 41km to go, Baldato (MG) attacked at about the time Museeuw was briefly held up by a puncture [Museeuw enjoyed a rapid wheel change thanks to his team-mate Ludwig Willems being at hand]
Baldato had about 30 seconds on the first group of favourites when, with 29km to go, Museeuw decided to go after him alone. He caught up with Baldato on the small climb at Brakel (km230, 30km to go) and the pair worked together as far as the Mur at Geraardsbergen. Behind this tandem, Tchmil made a solitary attack in pursuit.
Museeuw attacked on the Mur and took off alone with 16km to the line. Tchmil caught Baldato at the foot of the Bosberg, but over the last dozen kilometres of flat Museeuw built up a minute and a half lead. Baldato found the strength to outsprint Tchmil for second place.