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Belgian National Road Championships - CN
Vilvoorde, June 29, 2003
Kermesse King Geert Omloop takes biggest win
By Jonas Truwant in Vilvoorde
Geert Omloop (Palmans-Collstrop) has won the Belgian championship, the greatest victory of his career that has been characterised by many kermesse victories. "Yes, indeed, I'm not a winner of prestigious races, but I don't care. It can't be always a Steels or a Museeuw who gets the national jersey!" said the happy but down to earth Omloop after the race. Youngsters Jurgen Van Goolen and Sven Vanthourenhout (both Quick Step-Davitamon) were second and third. The young riders and cyclo-crossers made the race, but 29 year old Omloop won it.
For the second time in history, the Belgian championships were organised in the streets of Vilvoorde. In 1965, Walter Godefroot took the national jersey there. This year, Godefroot, director of Team Deutsche Telekom, didn't have a reason to be happy, as Mario Aerts, the only Belgian with Telekom, didn't start, due to a cold. Rumours say he is training in the Alps, to prepare the Tour de France.
The race was a classic kermesse, held over 17 laps of a 14.6 kilometre flat parcours, with a bunch sprint the most probable outcome. So again, Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) started as a favourite to win his fourth Belgian championship in 10 years and to set a new record. Everybody else knew that they had to attack, if they wanted to avoid the bunch sprint. So it wasn't surprising that the race was an animated sequence of attacks, mostly unsuccessful.
In the third lap, Bart Wellens (individual), world champion cyclo-cross, tried for the third time to attack and to form a leading group. This time, only two riders followed: European track champion Matthew Gilmore (Vlaanderen-T Interim), and Kristof Trouvé (Palmans-Collstrop). Nevertheless, there was perfect co-operation and at the next passage of the finish line, the three had already a gap of more than 6 minutes. Wellens explained: "I'm not only a cyclo-crosser. I can go hard for more than one hour!" The peloton didn't hurry and the break rode out to a 12 minute lead.
During the eighth lap, Landbouwkrediet and Lotto-Domo put some riders in the front of the peloton to reduce the gap, with success. Trouvé saw the danger and went solo, leaving Gilmore and Wellens behind him. With 75 km to go, fighting against a chasing peloton isn't possible, and at the end of lap 14, Trouvé was caught by the chasers.
Jurgen Van Goolen, who had shown his great shape in the Tour de Suisse, decided to try his luck and he was joined by another nine riders: his Quick Step team-mate Vanthourenhout, along with Paul Van Hyfte (CSC), James Vanlandschoot and Kevin Van Der Slagmolen (Vlaanderen-T Interim), Geert Omloop and Davy Commeyne (Palmans-Collstrop), Hans De Clercq (Lotto-Domo), Andy Capelle (Marlux-Wicor-Nixdorf) and Kevin De Weert (Rabobank). Their gap grew quickly and there was no organisation in the peloton, where Landbouwkrediet had to do the work alone.
Van Goolen kept on attacking and De Weert couldn't follow the leaders. "At least, I tried, but it went too fast." When Capelle punctured in the break, eight riders began the last lap with a gap of more than one minute, enough to stay away. Van Goolen didn't lose courage and attacked again and again, Omloop countered each time, and the pair eventually got away. With 1 km to go, it seemed that Van Goolen and Omloop had a gap and would stay away to win. Van Goolen was certainly the strongest rider, just like last year, but in the sprint, Omloop had much more experience and beat Van Goolen easily.
Vanthourenhout took the third spot and confirmed his capacities on the road. "I'll do just one more season of cyclo-cross and then I'll concentrate one hundred percent on my road-career," the talented rider said.
Van Der Slagmolen, Vanlandschoot, Commeyne and Gilbert were another four young riders in the top-ten. A new generation stands up!
1 Geert Omloop (Palmans-Collstrop) 5.44.13 (42.008 km/h) 2 Jurgen Van Goolen (Quick.Step-Davitamon) 0.01 3 Sven Vanthourenhout (Quick.Step-Davitamon) 0.10 4 Kevin Van Der Slagmolen (Vlaanderen-T Interim) 5 Hans De Clercq (Lotto-Domo) 0.13 6 James Vanlandschoot (Vlaanderen-T Interim) 0.15 7 Paul Van Hyfte (Team CSC) 0.17 8 Davy Commeyne (Palmans-Collstrop) 0.30 9 Serge Baguet (Lotto-Domo) 0.59 10 Philippe Gilbert (FDJeux.com) 11 Michel Van Haecke (Palmans-Collstrop) 12 Kurt Van De Wouwer (Quick.Step-Davitamon) 13 Thierry De Groote (Palmans-Collstrop) 1.05 14 Steven Kleynen (Vlaanderen-T Interim) 1.06 15 Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) 1.09 16 Gert Vanderaerden (Palmans-Collstrop) 17 Nico Mattan (Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone) 18 Danny Daelman (Palmans-Collstrop) 19 Kristof Trouve (Palmans-Collstrop) 20 Andy Cappelle (Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf) 21 Leif Hoste (Lotto-Domo) 22 Jurgen Van De Walle (Vlaanderen-T Interim) 23 Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo) 1.17 24 Geert Verheyen (Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf) 1.24 25 Christoph Roodhooft (Palmans-Collstrop) 1.38 26 Erwin Vervecken (SpaarSelect) 27 Manu L'hoir (Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf) 1.44 28 Bert De Waele (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) 29 Christophe Brandt (Lotto-Domo) 30 Peter Wuyts (Palmans-Collstrop) 1.53 31 Gorik Gardeyn (Lotto-Domo) 1.56 32 Jan Verstraeten (Vlaanderen-T Interim) 33 Kevin Hulsmans (Quick.Step-Davitamon) 34 Erwin Thijs (Palmans-Collstrop) 35 Frederik Willems (Vlaanderen-T Interim) 36 Thierry Masschelein (Flanders-IteamNova.com) 2.12 37 Johan Coenen (Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf) 2.13 38 Bert Roesems (Palmans-Collstrop) 2.15 39 Jo Planckaert (Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone) 40 Jürgen Landrie (Flanders-IteamNova.com) 41 Sébastien Mattozza (Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf) 42 Staf Scheirlinckx (Flanders-IteamNova.com) 43 Jan Kuyckx (Vlaanderen-T Interim) 44 Geoffrey Gremelpont (Flanders-IteamNova.com) 45 Patrick d'Hont (Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf) 46 Wilfried Cretskens (Quick.Step-Davitamon) 3.21 47 Wim Van Huffel (Vlaanderen-T Interim) 48 Peter Van Santvliet (SpaarSelect) 49 Geoffrey Demeyere (Vlaanderen-T Interim) 50 Tom Vannoppen (Palmans-Collstrop) 51 Andy De Smet (Palmans-Collstrop) 52 Fabien De Waele (Palmans-Collstrop) 53 Peter Farazijn (Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone) 54 Chris Peers (Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone) 55 Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon) 56 Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step-Davitamon) 57 Wim Vansevenant (Lotto-Domo) 58 Christophe Stevens (Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf) 59 Marc Wauters (Rabobank) 60 Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) 61 Dave Bruylandts (Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf) 62 Kevin Van Impe (Lotto-Domo) 63 Geert Van Bondt (Team CSC) 64 Wouter Van Mechelen (Vlaanderen-T Interim) 65 Björn Leukemans (Palmans-Collstrop) Starters: 103
2002 Tom Steels 2001 Ludovic Capelle 2000 Axel Merckx 1999 Ludo Dierckxsens 1998 Tom Steels 1997 Tom Steels