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42nd E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - 1.1
Belgium, March 27, 2004
Big win for Boonen
By Jeff Jones
Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Davitamon) has shown that he is becoming a worthy successor to Johan Museeuw by winning the 42nd E3 Prijs Vlaanderen in a small bunch sprint. Boonen benefited from some excellent work from his teammates, who combined with Lotto-Domo to chase down Dave Bruylandts, Stijn Devolder and Michael Boogerd with 300 metres to go to set up the sprint. Boonen came off Zanini's wheel with 200 metres to go and easily held off Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r) and Andris Nauduzs (Domina Vacanze) with a powerful burst to the finish.
"It wasn't a simple win," explained Boonen. "20 kilometres from the finish, in the last pavé sector, I punctured and I had other technical problems. Thanks to the help of Kevin Hulsmans I succeeded in catching in the group at 7 kilometres to go.
"The guys worked very hard for me. Stefano Zanini was very important in the last kilometre and piloted me up to the 200 meters. It is a win of mine but above all of the team’s. Now I want to concentrate on the Driedaagse van de Panne."
How it unfolded
The riders started from Harelbeke's Grote Markt at 12 noon accompanied by church bells and sunshine. There was little wind today which made for a fast race early on, with the peloton averaging 43 km/h for the first three hours on the flats. The most successful early attacker was Nico Eeckhout (Lotto-Domo), who rode with Marc Streel (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) for a while after attacking at 56 km. After the pair were caught, Eeckhout had another try solo, but this came to an end on the second climb of the day, Berg Stene at 126 km.
The peloton gradually started to pick up the tempo on the next climbs, with Quick.Step and Lotto-Domo very prominent at the front of the large block of riders. There were a surprisingly large number of punctures too, with Belgian champion Geert Omloop (MrBookmaker) one of the victims, forcing him to abandon before too long.
On the Stationsberg with 65 km to go, the attacks started to reduce the peloton. Paolo Bettini was very active in the front, as was Stuart O'Grady (Cofidis), who tried a solo move shortly before the Taaienberg (km 142) which was unsuccessful. Tom Boonen experienced the first of his mechanical problems just after the Taaienberg with 48 km to go, breaking his saddle and requiring a bike change. Despite the continual attacks at the front, Boonen was quickly able to regain the rear of the peloton, and it wasn't long before he was back at the front.
On the Kapelleberg with 45 km to go, a group started to form in front containing Stijn Devolder (USPS-Berry Floor), Marc Wauters (Rabobank), Robbie McEwen, Leif Hoste and Aart Vierhouten (Lotto-Domo) Michel Vanhaecke (MrBookmaker), Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon), Romans Vainsteins (Lampre) and Fabio Baldato (Alessio-Bianchi). With three Lotto riders in it, Quick.Step was forced to mount a chase in the peloton, and Johan Museeuw led a group up the Patersberg (km 161) containing Boonen, Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo), Bruylandts, Peers and Löwik (Jacques), Boogerd (Rabobank), Kirsipuu (Ag2r), Hammond (MrBookmaker), Klier and Wesemann (T-Mobile).
The chase continued on the Kwaremont (km 164), and Museeuw's group was able to bridge the gap to the front riders just after the top. There were 16 leaders at this crucial stage with the remnants of the peloton trying to come back, led by CSC and Bodysol-Brustor. After the descent to Ronse, the peloton's chase succeeded in bringing the dangerous lead group back right at the foot of the Knokteberg (km 176), just in time for the race to begin anew.
Stijn Devolder (USPS) and Nico Mattan (Bodysol) didn't hang around for long and attacked on the Knokteberg, but a massive acceleration by Bruylandts with Michael Boogerd on his wheel caught them before the top, and this looked to be the decisive move. Bruylandts, Boogerd and Devolder got together on the descent to form a powerful trio, opening up a 20 second gap to the peloton by the flat cobbled section at Kaster.
The leaders were able to increase their advantage over the cobbles, as there was no organised chase behind them. Quick.Step, despite having Museeuw, Bettini, Zanini and Boonen in the peloton, was forced on the back foot again when Boonen punctured on the cobbles. But Boonen was fortunate to find a reinforcement in Roger Hammond (MrBookmaker), who had also punctured, and his team car. The pair were thus able to regain the peloton more quickly than if they'd been alone, with Boonen's teammate Kevin Hulsmans also dropping back to help.
Boogerd, Bruylandts and Devolder still had 27 seconds lead on the Tiegemberg (the day's last climb) with 16 km to go, but the peloton was starting to get anxious now. Nico Mattan launched his traditional attack on the climb, and was joined by Museeuw, Zanini, Van Petegem, Van Bon, Kirsipuu, Bartoli, Löwik, Peers, Klier and Vanhuffel. This had the effect of knocking 10 seconds of the lead, and Nico Mattan in particular was keen to keep it going.
Van Petegem and Museeuw looked to be the strongest in this chasing group, but Quick.Step was still keen to play the Boonen card, and Museeuw stopped working, allowing the peloton to come back. The gap was only 10 seconds with 11 km to go, but no-one was willing to put it on the line to catch the committed leaders, who had no intention of letting up. The gap once again rose to 21 seconds.
Finally at 5 km to go, the Quick.Step and Lotto teams started cooperating, and Museeuw's big turns on the front helped bring the leaders back to within 7 seconds with 1 km left. A crash in the peloton took out O'Grady, Guidi and Bettini, but this didn't affect the momentum of the front riders. It was touch and go for the three leaders, and Stijn Devolder opted for a very early sprint, but when Bruylandts and Boogerd took his wheel, they all slowed...and the break was caught with 300 metres to go.
Boonen came storming around the final corner on Stefano Zanini's wheel, and blasted past his Italian teammate with a sprint that no-one could match. Kirsipuu had Boonen's wheel and kept it for second, while Nauduzs mopped up the final podium position.
Just as importantly today, both Museeuw (Quick.Step) and Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) showed themselves to be ready for an almighty duel in next week's Ronde van Vlaanderen.
Images by DCP/Bert Geerts
Images by AFP Photo
Images by Jeff Jones/Cyclingnews.com
Images by Sabine Sunderland/Cyclingnews.com
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 4.31.00 (43.173 km/h) 2 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) AG2r Prévoyance 3 Andris Nauduzs (Lat) Domina Vacanze 4 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank 5 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Alessio-Bianchi 6 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Saeco 7 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team 8 Roger Hammond (GBr) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans 9 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Lotto-Domo 10 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 11 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf 12 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Lampre 13 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 14 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 15 Roy Sentjens (Ned) Rabobank 16 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 17 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Relax-Bodysol 18 Stijn Devolder (Bel) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 19 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team 20 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile Team 21 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank 22 Jörg Ludewig (Ger) Saeco 23 Cédric Hervé (Fra) Crédit Agricole 24 Nico Mattan (Bel) Relax-Bodysol 25 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Lampre 26 Gerhard Trampusch (Aut) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo 27 Stephan Schreck (Ger) T-Mobile Team 28 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf 29 Rolf Aldag (Ger) T-Mobile Team 30 Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim 31 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC 32 Serguei Gontchar (Ukr) De Nardi 33 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) T-Mobile Team 34 Chris Peers (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf 35 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 36 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone 37 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Team CSC 38 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 0.22 39 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 40 Leif Hoste (Bel) Lotto-Domo 41 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 42 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 0.36 43 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr) Team CSC 44 Gerben Löwik (Ned) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf 45 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank 46 Hans De Clercq (Bel) Lotto-Domo 47 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Lotto-Domo 1.42 48 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 2.06 49 Stuart O’grady (Aus) Cofidis 3.45 50 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Team CSC 51 Matej Jurco (Svk) De Nardi 6.25 52 Christophe Mengin (Fra) FDJeux.com 6.46 53 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC 54 Benoît Joachim (Lux) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 55 Matthew Wilson (Aus) FDJeux.com 56 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Brioches la Boulangère 57 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 58 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 59 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Lampre 60 Massamiliano Mori (Ita) Domina Vacanze 61 Sergio Marinangeli (Ita) Domina Vacanze 62 Robert Hunter (RSA) Rabobank 63 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Saeco 64 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Lampre 65 Dario Pieri (Ita) Saeco 66 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJeux.com 67 Michael Skelde (Den) Alessio-Bianchi 68 Allan Johansen (Den) BankGiroLoterij 69 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre 70 Andy De Smet (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans 71 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 72 Mario Aerts (Bel) T-Mobile Team 73 Scott Sunderland (Aus) Alessio-Bianchi 74 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Alessio-Bianchi 75 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Acqua & Sapone-Caffè Mokambo 76 Julian Dean (NZl) Crédit Agricole 77 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Lotto-Domo 78 Michel Van Haecke (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans 175 starters
2003 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank 209 km in 4.33.00 (45.934 km/h) 2002 Dario Pieri (Ita) Alessio 200 km in 4.45.00 (42.10 km/h) 2001 Andrej Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 209 km in 5.08.49 (40.41 km/h) 2000 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Farm Frites 209 km in 5.13.00 (40.06 km/h) 1999 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) TVM-Farm Frites 206 km in 4.39.10 (44.30 km/h) 1998 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-Bricobi 201 km in 4.48.00 1997 Hendrik Van Dyck (Bel) 1996 Carlo Bomans (Bel) 1995 Bart Leysen (Bel) 1994 Andrej Tchmil (Mda) 1993 Mario Cipollini (Ita) 1992 Johan Museeuw (Bel) 1991 Olaf Ludwig (Ger) 1990 Sören Lilholt (DÄN) 1989 Eddy Planckaert (Bel) 1988 Guido Bontempi (Ita) 1987 Eddy Planckaert (Bel) 1986 Eric Vanderaerden (Bel) 1985 Phil Anderson (AUS) 1984 Bert Oosterbosch (Ned) 1983 Willy Tackaert (Bel) 1982 Jean Bogaert (Bel) 1981 Jan Raas (Ned) 1980 Jan Raas (Ned) 1979 Jan Raas (Ned) 1978 Freddy Maertens (Bel) 1977 Dietrich Thurau (Ger) 1976 Walter Planckaert (Bel) 1975 Frans Verbeeck (Bel) 1974 Herman Vanspringel (Bel) 1973 Willy In'T'Ven (Bel) 1972 Hubert Hutsebaut (Bel) 1971 Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1970 Daniel Van Ryckegem (Bel) 1969 Rik Van Looy (Bel) 1968 Jacques De Boever (Bel) 1967 Willy Bocklant (Bel) 1966 Rik Van Looy (Bel) 1965 Rik Van Looy (Bel) 1964 Rik Van Looy (Bel) 1963 Noél Fore (Bel) 1962 André Messelis (Bel) 1961 Arthur De Carbooter (Bel) 1960 Daniel Doom (Bel) 1959 Norbert Kerckhove (Bel) 1958 Armand Desmet (Bel) Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com