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14th Memorial Rik van Steenbergen - 1.1
Belgium, September 7, 2005
Nazon does it alone
By Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Hedwig Kröner
Sprinters can be real men too, as the occasional solo victory by a bunch sprint specialist shows. Frenchman Jean-Patrick Nazon (Ag2r) proved it today by attacking the leading group with 15 km to go to win the 14th Memorial Rik Van Steenbergen in Aartselaar. Nazon finished with a 30 second gap over Wim De Vocht (Davitamon-Lotto) and Jens Renders (MrBookmaker.com) after the two young Belgians escaped the group in the final kilometres to fight it out for the minor placings.
"I felt I had really good legs today so I wasn't actually worried about not being able to beat the others in the sprint," Nazon told Cyclingnews after celebrating with a giant Bolleke at the finish. "I just wanted to win on my own. I haven't had a victory like that since my junior days, it's great!"
Second placed Wim De Vocht was one of the strongest riders in the race, and was frustrated at letting Nazon go. "It was a bit of a lottery in the finale," he told Sporza. "It was just attack and attack. I tried as much as possible to counter, but Nazon is a good rider who knows his job. Someone who can win on the champs Elysées in the Tour is very able. But I admit, I'm disappointed."
Even more disappointed was Nico Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques), a two time winner of this race. Eeckhout was also in the front group but suffered a mechanical at a crucial time. "I had a spoke break in the front wheel. I tried to come back but it wasn't possible. I had to change the wheel three times, and the last was in the finale at a bad moment. You can't do anything."
How it unfolded
146 riders took the start in calm and sunny conditions in Aartselaar, with Eelke van der Wal and Anthony Van den Berghe not signing in. After a very fast start, 24 riders established the race winning move after 61 km: Wim De Vocht, Nico Mattan (Davitamon-Lotto), Bram Tankink, Wouter Weylandt (Quick.Step), Maarten den Bakker (Rabobank), Stéphane Augé (Cofidis), Ludo Dierckxsens (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), Nico Eeckhout, Kevin Van Impe, Aron Huysmans (Chocolade Jacques), Jens Renders, Geert Omloop (MrBookmaker.com), Jean-Patrick Nazon, Erki Putsep (Ag2r-Prevoyance), André Greipel (Wiesenhof), David Kupka (eD'system - ZVVZ), Alain van Katwijk, Rudi Kemna (Shimano-Memory Corp), Kenny Dehaes (Amuzza.com-Davo), Steven De Neef, Bart Van Heule (Bodysol), Thomas Ongena, Evert Verbist (Profel), and Lukasz Bodnar (Intel-Action).
After 95 km, the big group had 3'45 to the peloton, where Kaiku and Landbouwkrediet-Colnago started to chase. But the pace in front was too high, and at the 130 km mark, the gap was still 2'30. At this point, Van Katwijk and Kupka were dropped on cobbles of Pastoor Huveneerstraat in Bornem, while Eeckhout suffered the first of his punctures and was brought back by his teammate Kevin Van Impe. Chocolade Jacques also lost Aron Huysmans, and they were now on the back foot despite originally having three riders in the break.
The gap came down to 1'30 after 135 km, but then the chase lost its impetus and by the first of seven finishing laps, it had grown to 2'20 again. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto), Ludovic Capelle (Landbouwkrediet), Steffen Radochla (Wiesenhof), Bobbie Traksel (MrBookmaker.com), Christophe Stevens (Skil-Moser) and Marco Bos (Shimano) launched an unsuccessful counter attack, then McEwen went again with his teammate Bjorn Leukemans, with a similar result.
The peloton was unable to bring the big break any closer than two minutes after that, and the attacks started in front with around 30 km to go. De Neef, Van Impe and Renders all tried as Kemna punctured out of the break. With 17 km to go, Augé, Vanheule, Dehaes, Greipel, Den Bakker and Ongena attacked, without luck, then a 14 man group formed with Nazon, Pütsep (Ag2r), De Vocht, Mattan (Davitamon), Renders, Omloop (MrBookmaker), Greipel (Wiesenhof), Weylandt, Tankink (Quick.Step), Dierckxsens (Landbouwkrediet), Van Impe (Jacques), Verbist (Profel), Bodnar (Intel-Action), and De Neef (Bodysol). With the big Belgian teams watching each other, Jean-Patrick Nazon took his chance at 14 km to go and opened up a 15 second gap with 9 km to go.
That proved to be enough, and the powerful Nazon extended his advantage in the final lap to win comfortably and impressively. Behind, De Vocht rode well to finish second after jumping with Jens Renders in the closing kilometres.
1 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance 4.17.39 (46.575 km/h) 2 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto 0.30 3 Jens Renders (Bel) MrBookmaker.com - SportsTech 4 André Greipel (Ger) Wiesenhof 0.38 5 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quickstep 6 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 7 Erki Pütsep (Est) AG2r Prévoyance 8 Geert Omloop (Bel) MrBookmaker.com - SportsTech 9 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim 10 Evert Verbist (Bel) Profel Cycling Team 11 Nico Mattan (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto 12 Lukasz Bodnar (Pol) Intel-Action 13 Steven De Neef (Bel) Bodysol- Win for Life - Jong Vlaanderen 14 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quickstep 0.44 15 Bart Vanheule (Bel) Bodysol- Win for Life - Jong Vlaanderen 1.24 16 Thomas Onghena (Bel) Profel Cycling Team 17 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank 18 Stéphane Augé (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone 1.31 19 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim 20 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank 21 Matti Helminen (Fin) Profel Cycling Team 3.17 22 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon - Lotto 3.22 23 Steffen Radochla (Ger) Wiesenhof 24 Wouter Van Mechelen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim 25 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) MrBookmaker.com - SportsTech 26 Steven De Champs (Bel) Profel Cycling Team 27 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quickstep 28 Yon Bru (Spa) Kaiku 29 Marco Bos (Ned) Shimano - Memory Corp 30 Sjef De Wilde (Bel) Bodysol- Win for Life - Jong Vlaanderen 31 Kevin Van Der Slagmolen (Bel) Bodysol- Win for Life - Jong Vlaanderen 32 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 33 Johan Verstrepen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 34 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) AG2r Prévoyance 35 Glenn Poleunis (Bel) Profel Cycling Team 36 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto 3.33 37 Kenny De Haes (Bel) Amuzza.com-Davo 4.48 38 Andy Flickinger (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance 5.36 39 Kurt Hovelynck (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim 40 Bobbie Traksel (Ned) MrBookmaker.com - SportsTech 41 Sam Van Rooy (Bel) Bodysol- Win for Life - Jong Vlaanderen 42 Kenny Van Braeckel (Bel) Profel Cycling Team 43 Kristof De Zutter (Bel) Bodysol- Win for Life - Jong Vlaanderen 44 Pablo Urtasun (Spa) Kaiku 45 Bjorn Coomans (Bel) Drukkerij Van Lijsebetten - Bodyrepair - Bikeland 5.44 46 Rik Reinerink (Ned) Shimano - Memory Corp 5.50 47 Koen Barbé (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim 48 Ludovic Capelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago 5.53 49 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quickstep 50 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Shimano - Memory Corp Starters: 146 Classified: 50
2o04 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 201 km in 4.19.00 2003 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Lotto-Domo 199 km in 4.42.00 2002 Steffen Radochla (Ger) Team Coast 200 km in 4.25.00 2001 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 2000 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Française Des Jeux 203 km in 4.24.40 1999 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 200 km in 4.32.51 1998 Jan Svorada (Cze) 1997 Andrej Tchmil (Ukr) 1996 Jans Koerts (Ned) 1995 Tom Steels (Bel) 1994 Djamolidine Abdujaparov (Uzb) 1993 Mario Cipollini (Ita) 1992 Olaf Ludwig (Ger) Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com