GP E3 Harelbeke - Belgium

GP E3 Harelbeke (Cat 1.1, Belgium) March 30

Carlo Bomans (Bel, Mapei-GB) won the Belgian semi-classic with Peter Van Petegem (Bel, TVM) second at 1.20 and Wiflried Nelissen (Bel, Lotto) third.
 1. Carlo Bomans (Bel, Mapei-GB) 	206km in 5.10.44
 2. Peter Van Petegem (Bel, TVM) 		  + 0.23 secs
 3. Wilfried Nelissen (Bel, Lotto) 		  + 0.29
 4. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus, Rabobank)		  + 0.34
 5. Olaf Ludwig (Ger, Telekom)
 6. Johan Museeuw (Bel, Mapei-GB)
 7. Tristan Hoffman (Neth, TVM)
 8. Lance Armstrong (USA, Motorola)
 9. Andrei Tchmil (Rus, Lotto)
10. Massimo Strazzer (It, Brescialat) 		  all s.t.

(184 starters, 78 classified)


Carlo Bomans finished fourth in A Travers La Belgique on March 27 but had been reckoned the strongest rider. Before the GP E3 on Saturday he told his wife he wouldn't come back to the house if he didn't win. Saturday, said L'Equipe, was the sort of day you wouldn't let a dog go outside -- zero degrees Celsius, with snow and icy rain. The race is a great dress rehearsal for next Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen, with 12 climbs including the Oude Kwaremont, the Patersberg, the Taienberg and the Mur at Geraardsbergen.

Bomans, not wanting to spend more than five or so hours out in this sort of weather, escaped halfway through the race with Massimo Strazzer. The pair built a lead of four minutes before being halted by Belgian Railways -- it was that classic incident of European bike racing, a closed level crossing... This reduced their lead to two minutes over a chase group that included Museeuw, Tchmil, Nelissen, Armstrong, Baldato, Ludwig, Michaelsen, Hoffman, Ekimov, Hoffman and Van Petegem. Bomans never got caught, attacking on the Tiegemberg 15km from the finish and, in L'Equipe's effectively untranslatable words, "s'offrir une soiree au domicile conjugal" [awarded himself an evening in his conjugal dwelling].