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Scandinavian Open Road Race - 1.5
Sweden, August 10, 2003
Nilsson too good for Vanlandschoot in the heat
By Gabriella Ekström in Vårgårda
24 year old John Nilsson (Amical Velo Club Aixois) outsprinted Belgian James Vanlandschoot to give his team the second Swedish win in two days. Nilsson's teammate Martinez won the Grand Prix on Friday, and was a valuable help when he sat together with Nilsson in the final break today.
The race was contested on a 13 kilometre circuit that was ridden 17 times. The temperature was in the mid 30's during the race, and the parcours offered the narrow steep of Hägrungabacken, a tiring climb that took its toll on the riders during the day. The pace was high from the start, and the first rider was dropped from the peloton after only a few kilometres. A normal scene of course, as amateurs and local riders were mixed with pro's, but even the well known names in the race had to work hard to keep their positions.
The first attack of the day broke clear after only five kilometres and it was CK ECI-Champion rider Anders Juhlin who attacked with Marcus Juneholt (Team Mälarenergi). Their move was soon neutralised, but it was a clear indication of what was to come. The spectators around the course were looking forward to an exciting race, greeting the riders with daylight fireworks, masquerade and bagpipes, and were rewarded with constant attacks.
Olivier Martinez (Amical Aixois), Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swedish Nat. Team) Martin Halvarsson (Smålands CF), Jan Verstraeten (Vlaanderen T-interim), Thomas Lövkvist (Team Bianchi Scandinavia) and Stijn Devolder (lent to Team fakta) formed the first big break of the day, but could not find the rhythm to stay away from the peloton that regrouped after 35 kilometres. Friday's GP winner David Martinez made a solo attempt right after, but also he found it too hard to get away.
After a few minor attacks, a group with Martin Rittsel (Team fakta), John Nilsson, Olivier Martinez (Amical Aixois), Daniel Eriksson (CK ECI Champion), Jesper Ingvaldsson (Swedish Nat. Team), Tobias Lergård (Team Bianchi Scandinavia) Vahur Valvas (Mäe, Estonia) Jussi Veikkanen (Team Mälarenergi) and once again Jan Verstraeten got away, and the nine man group got a minute and a half before the peloton led by the turquoise Team Bianchi brought them back.
When brought back, Nilsson and Veikkanen were never really caught by the peloton, but formed a new lead group together with Swedish champion Jonas Holmkvist (Team Bianchi Scandinavia) and Jehudi Schoonacker (Vlaanderen). They were chased by Johan Svensson (Mälarenergi), Franck Champeymont (Aixois), Kevin Van Der Slagmolen (Vlaanderen) and Jonas Ljungblad (Bianchi). Team fakta then went to the front and brought the chasing group back and got the leading group to within one minute, but could not reach them. The peloton was now down to twenty five riders, and a downhill speed rise saw ten more riders bridge up to the leading group. Once again it was David and Olivier Martinez from Aixois who jumped together with Thomas Lövkvist and Tobias Lergård (Bianchi), Martin Rittsel and Stijn Devolder (Team fakta), Dennis Persson (Swedish Nat. Team) and James Vanlandschoot (Vlaanderen), who made his first appearance up front.
The big lead group stayed at little over a minute to the chasers for a long time, but the heat and the climb as well as the pace once again narrowed them down to five. (Lergård, Lövkvist, Nilsson, Martinez and Vanlandschoot). A few attempts to bridge up were made in the chasing group, but only caused disorganisation.
During the final passage of the climb, the group lost Lergård who reportedly suffered from cramps. Tomas Lövkvist attacked several times when left alone with the two Aixois riders and Vanlandschoot, but Nilsson and Martinez rode according to the book and Martinez chased the young Swede down every time. Vanlandschoot led out the sprint with two hundred metres to go, but was outsmarted by Nilsson who felt reasonably fresh. Nilsson got on the Belgian's wheel and could pass him in the last few metres.
Nilsson, who has been riding for French club CC Etupes for one year before switching to Amical Aixois for the last two years, told Cyclingnews after the race that he felt pretty good going in to the last lap, and that he attacked when he saw Lergård cramp during the last climb. "It was a bit ugly, I admit, but the group came down to four after that. Lövkvist attacked several times, but my teammate David Martinez chased him back every time. Coming into the sprint, I knew that Vanlandschoot was a good sprinter. He beat me in the GP race here two days ago, so I wanted his wheel."
Vanlandschoot who was second didn't look too disappointed, although he had clearly expected to win the sprint. "I started the sprint with two hundred meters to go, and I am normally a good sprinter, but that guy came past me in the last 50," he said and pointed towards Nilsson. "Don't know why it didn't work today, but I think the heat affected me a bit and it was a big parcours. Phew!"
Thomas Lövkvist who lightened up the final with his persistent attacks admitted that the race had been very hard. "If I'm lucky I can do well in a sprint, but my real chance to win is to go on my own. I attacked three or four times towards the end, but got chased down every time."
1 John Nilsson (Swe) Amical Velo Club Aixois 4.22.38 2 James Van Landschoot (Bel) Vlaanderen - T-Interim - Eddy Merckx 3 Thomas Lövqvist (Swe) Team Bianchi Scandinavia 4 David Martinez (Fra) Amical Velo Club Aixois 0.07 5 Tobias Lergård (Swe) Team Bianchi Scandinavia 1.18 6 Kevin Van Der Slagmolen (Bel) Vlaanderen - T-Interim - Eddy Merckx 1.34 7 Olivier Martinez (Fra) Amical Velo Club Aixois 1.37 8 Franck Champeymont (Fra) Amical Velo Club Aixois 9 Fredrik Johansson (Swe) Team Mälarenergi 1.47 10 Dennis Persson (Swe) Swedish National Team 3.08 11 Jonas Holmqvist (Swe) Team Bianchi Scandinavia 3.58 12 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Team Fakta 13 Martin Rittsel (Swe) Team Fakta 4.01 14 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Team Mälarenergi 15 Jan Kuyckx (Bel) Vlaanderen - T-Interim - Eddy Merckx 8.20 16 Petr Cirkl (Swe) CSK Ludvika 17 Nicolas Boulenger (Fra) Amical Velo Club Aixois 9.20 18 Sigvard Kukk (Est) Mäe Ratturite Klubi Estonia 19 Fredrik Lindberg (Swe) Degeberga CK 20 Jan Mattsson (Swe) CK Norrtälje 21 Jonas Gartman (Swe) Team Trek - Åstorps CK 22 Kimmo Kananen (Fin) Team Mälarenergi 23 Lucas Persson (Swe) Swedish National Team 24 Benny Elofsson (Swe) Värnamo CK 25 Håkan Nilsson (Swe) Degeberga CK 26 Jonas Ljungblad (Swe) Team Bianchi Scandinavia 27 Jesper Ingevaldsson (Swe) Swedish National Team 28 Jonas Svensson (Swe) Team Mälarenergi 29 Peter Johansson (Swe) Alingsås CK 9.25 30 Fredrik Modin (Swe) Team Fakta 9.25 31 Arne Daelmans (Bel) Vlaanderen - T-Interim - Eddy Merckx 9.32 32 Tommy Mlekus (Swe) Värnamo CK 9.41 33 Mathias Forslund (Swe) Smålands CF 17.06 98 starters
2002 Jonas Holmqvist (Swe) Team Crescent 2001 Petter Renäng (Swe) 2000 Magnus Ljungblad (Swe) 1999 Martin Kryger (Den) 1998 Vegard Overaas-Lied (Nor) Elite 1997 Frank Hoj (Den) 1989 Johnny Weltz (Den) 1988 Sören Lilholt (Den) 1987 Kim Andersen (Den) 1986 Rolf Sörensen (Den) Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com