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60th Dwars door Vlaanderen - 1.1
Belgium, March 23, 2005
Eeckhout for the second time
By Jeff Jones
Nico Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques) has won the Dwars door Vlaanderen for the second time in his career, beating Roger Hammond (Discovery) and Gabriele Balducci (Acqua & Sapone) in an eight man sprint. Eeckhout and his team rode a tactically smart race, forcing Quick.Step and Davitamon-Lotto on the defensive for much of the time, and saved nearly everything for his powerful kick to the line in Waregem.
"Everyone came to me this morning and said that today was for me, and I was nervous at the start," Eeckhout told Sporza after the finish. "But I felt good and if I can sprint at the end on grunt, then I know I'm strong. I had also seen that Cooke wasn't at his best. The art is not being surprised: the freshest rider won, I think." Eeckhout denied that it his win was some sort of revenge for not being hired by Lotto this season. "No, it's more a thankyou to Walter Planckaert and Noël De Meulenaere, who gave me a new chance. This is a team with a future."
Roger Hammond was slightly disappointed with his second place, but realised that there was nothing to do against a super Eeckhout. "There were so many good finishers in the lead group," said Hammond. "In the sprint, I gave it everything, but it wasn't enough."
How it unfolded
177 riders took the start in Kortrijk in warm sunny spring weather, with temperatures hovering in the high teens and a moderate wind blowing from the south. The wind didn't seem to slow the riders down in the first hour, as they covered 47 km with attack after attack trying to establish a break. Roberto Lochowski (Team Wiesenhof) and Eelke Van Der Wal (Shimano-Memory Corp) tried to get away just before the Kattenberg with 120 km to go, but despite riding out to a 45 second lead, they were caught at the 100 km mark.
After the Berendries (km 102), Frenchman Sebastien Minard (RAGT) attacked, with Benny De Schrooder and Steven Caethoven (Chocolade Jacques) both bridging up in the next 15 km. The three leaders had 45 seconds at the foot of the Eikenberg with 84 km to go, but a strong move by Tom Boonen (Quick.Step), Stijn Devolder (Discovery), Kevin Van Impe (Chocolade Jacques) and Nico Mattan (Davitamon-Lotto) on the climb closed the gap, and there were seven leaders with 79 km to go. Chocolade Jacques were well represented in the break, which grew to 14 when another group of seven, including Van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto) and last year's winner Ludovic Capelle (Landbouwkrediet), got across. The peloton hadn't given up yet though, and brought everyone back on the Hotonde with 75 km to go.
On the lead up to the Knokteberg, GP Dhaenens winner Koen Barbe continued the Chocolade Jacques offensive and opened up a 15 second lead before the climb. Meanwhile, Ludo Dierckxsens (Landbouwkrediet) and Matthé Pronk (MrBookmaker) crashed, ending their races. Barbe stayed away until the Oude Kwaremont, where Nico Mattan and Aart Vierhouten (Davitamon-Lotto) drove the peloton with Van Petegem on their wheels, splitting the bunch into several pieces. All the main players were up there, including Boonen, Hammond and Devolder, and it was clear that the final selection had started.
Lotto continued to work on the Paterberg and over the top, there were 14 riders left: Peter Van Petegem, Nico Mattan, Aart Vierhouten (Davitamon - Lotto), Tom Boonen, Nick Nuyens, Marc Lotz (Quickstep), Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Roger Hammond, Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel), Nico Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques), Mathew Hayman (Rabobank), Gabriele Balducci (Acqua & Sapone) and Baden Cooke (Française des Jeux), Peter Farazijn (Cofidis). A second group of 12 riders formed, containing Bert de Waele (Landbouwkrediet) and three CSC riders (Gussev, Michaelsen, Johansen), but they never saw the front again.
The front group worked well on the run home to Waregem, holding the second group at bay by a minute. With three kilometres to go before the start of the finishing circuits, Nico Mattan attacked and had 15 seconds lead across the line with 30 km to go. That gave Lotto a bit of breathing space in the group, but Quick.Step's Marc Lotz and Tom Boonen forced the pace on the Herlegemweg cobbles and Mattan was suddenly at 10 seconds. With 24 km left, Matt Hayman put in a tentative bridging move on the Holstraat, but it went nowhere and instead it was T-Mobile's young pro Marcus Burghardt who bridged up to Mattan on the climb. Devolder waited, then accelerated after them, but Boonen, Eeckhout and the rest of the group were right on his wheel.
Burghardt sat up when he realised Mattan wouldn't work with him any more, and there was a general regrouping at 20 km to go. However, Van Petegem, Boonen and Devolder refused to work with each other to close the gap to the leaders and were all dropped, together with Farazijn and Lotz. That left nine riders in front and with Boonen gone, all eyes were on Baden Cooke as the best sprinter in the group. Cooke won this race in 2002 and was having a good day. But so was Eeckhout, who looked extremely strong all the time.
On the last lap with 8 km to go, Matt Hayman attacked again on the Holstraat, just before the last climb, and opened up a handy 12 second lead. Mattan did most of the damage in chasing, before dropping off. That left Hayman with just 5 seconds, and he was caught with 4 km to go. Nick Nuyens had been playing his cards close to his chest up until this point and now was his moment to attack. He took the rangy Burghardt with him, but Roger Hammond was also feeling good and dragged the group back up.
A series of counter-attacks followed in the final two kilometres, including one by Eeckhout and Cooke, but it was all together under the 1 km to go banner. Nuyens led out at 700m, trying to surprise the rest, but he didn't have the legs. Eeckhout seemed to get himself a bit boxed in, before he blasted around Roger Hammond with 100m to go to win by over a bike length, Hammond second and Balducci third, another couple of lengths back.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Luc Claessen/www.actiefotos.be
Images by Mani Wollner/foto-grafik-satz.de
1 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 4.43.15 (42.789 km/h) 2 Roger Hammond (GBr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 3 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil 4 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile Team 5 Baden Cooke (Aus) Française Des Jeux 6 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step 7 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Davitamon-Lotto 8 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank 0.08 9 Nico Mattan (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 0.46 10 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2r Prevoyance 1.04 11 Ludovic Capelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 12 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Ag2r Prevoyance 13 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 14 Michal Precechtel (Cze) Ed' System-Zvvz 15 Igor Abakoumov (Bel) Jartazi Granville Team 16 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 17 Eric Baumann (Ger) T-Mobile Team 18 Christophe Detilloux (Bel) Française Des Jeux 19 Dennis Kraft (Ger) Action 20 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 21 André Korff (Ger) T-Mobile Team 22 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC 23 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team CSC 24 Denis Bertolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil 25 Stefan Van Dijck (Ned) Mrbookmaker.com-Sports Tech 26 Christophe Stevens (Bel) Team Skil-Moser 27 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank 28 Steffen Radochla (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 29 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Credit Agricole 30 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Française Des Jeux 31 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Credit Agricole 32 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r Prevoyance 33 Koen Barbe (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 34 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 35 Renaud Dion (Fra) R.A.G.T. Semences 36 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick Step 37 Benny De Schrooder (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 38 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française Des Jeux 39 Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Team Barloworld-Valsir 40 Antonio Bucciero (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil 41 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Flanders 42 Ralf Grabsch (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 43 Matti Breschel (Den) Team CSC 44 Jans Koerts (Ned) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 45 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 46 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Mrbookmaker.com-Sports Tech 47 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 48 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Shimano-Memory Corp 49 Bastiaan Giling (Ned) T-Mobile Team 50 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Rabobank 51 Bogdan Bondariew (Ukr) Action 52 Leonardo Duque (Col) Jartazi Granville Team 53 Sébastien Minard (Fra) R.A.G.T. Semences 54 Francis Mourey (Fra) Française Des Jeux 55 Johan Coenen (Bel) Mrbookmaker.com-Sports Tech 56 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Flanders 57 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Française Des Jeux 58 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 1.08 59 Frederik Willems (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 60 Peter Ronsse (Bel) Jartazi Granville Team 61 Henk Vogels (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto 62 Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) Française Des Jeux 63 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 64 Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil 1.10 65 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 66 Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr) Acqua & Sapone-Adria Mobil 67 Cyrille Monnerais (Fra) Française Des Jeux 68 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 69 Martin Müller (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 70 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 71 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 72 Piotr Chmielewski (Pol) Action 73 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank 74 Ronald Mutsaars (Ned) Rabobank 75 Kristof Trouve (Bel) Mrbookmaker.com-Sports Tech 76 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank 77 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 78 Marc Lotz (Ned) Quick Step 79 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 80 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 81 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 82 Servais Knaven (Ned) Quick Step 83 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank 84 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone 85 Erki Pütsep (Est) Ag2r Prevoyance 86 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 87 Allan Johansen (Den) Team CSC 1.17 88 Jens Heppner (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 89 Julian Dean (NZl) Credit Agricole 1.21 90 Antonio Salomone (Ita) Team Barloworld-Valsir 1.26 91 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC 1.35 92 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole 2.19 93 Steven Kleynen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 2.27 94 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Rabobank 2.42 95 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone Starters: 177 Classified: 95
Dwars Door Vlaanderen/A Travers la Belgique 2004 Ludovic Capelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 2003 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 2002 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com 2001 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) 2000 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) 1999 (2) Johan Museeuw (Bel) 1998 Tom Steels (Bel) 1997 Andrej Tchmil (Mda) 1996 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) 1995 (2) Jelle Nijdam (Ned) 1994 Carlo Bomans (Bel) 1993 Johan Museeuw (Bel) 1992 Olaf Ludwig (Ger) 1991 (2) Eric Vanderaerden (Bel) 1990 Edwig Van Hooydonck (Bel) 1989 Dirk De Wolf (Bel) 1988 (2) Eddy Planckaert (Bel) 1987 Jelle Nijdam (Bel) 1986 Eric Vanderaerden (Bel) 1985 Eddy Planckaert (Bel) 1984 (2) Walter Planckaert (Bel) 1983 Etienne De Wilde (Bel) 1982 Jan Raas (Ned) 1981 Frank Hoste (Bel) 1980 Johan Van der Meer (Bel) 1979 Gustave Van Roosbroeck (Bel) 1978 Adri Schipper (Ned) 1977 Walter Planckaert (Bel) 1976 Willy Planckaert (Bel) 1975 Cees Priem (Ned) 1974 Louis Verreydt (Bel) 1973 Roger Loysch (Bel) 1972 Marc Demeyer (Bel) 1970 (2) Daniel Van Ryckegem (Bel) 1969 Eric Leman (Bel) 1968 (2) Walter Godefroot (Bel) 1967 Daniel Van Ryckegem (Bel) 1966 Walter Godefroot (Bel) Dwars door Belgie 1965 Albert Hermans (Bel) 1964 Piet Van Est (Ned) 1963 Clément Roman (Bel) 1962 Martin Van Geneugden (Bel) 1961 Maurice Meuleman (Bel) 1960 Arthur Decabooter (Bel) 1959 Roger Baens (Bel) 1958 André Vlayen (Bel) 1957 Noél Fore (Bel) 1956 Lucien Demunster (Bel) 1955 (2) Alberic Schotte (Bel) 1954 Germain Derijcke (Bel) 1953 Alberic Schotte (Bel) 1952 André Maelbrancke (Bel) 1951 (2) Raymond Impanis (Bel) 1950 (2) André Rosseel (Bel) 1949 Raymond Impanis (Bel) 1948 André Rosseel (Bel) 1947 Albert Sercu (Bel) 1946 Maurice Desimplaere (Bel) 1945 b) Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel) 1945 a) Joseph Somers (Bel) Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com