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61st Dwars door Vlaanderen - 1.1

Belgium, March 22, 2006

2005 Results    Results    Past winners

Veuchelen by a whisker

By Gabriella Ekström

Frederik Veuchelen (Chocolade Jacques)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

27-year old Frederik Veuchelen (Chocolate Jacques) won the first and obviously biggest victory of his career when he took home this year's edition of a most spectacular Dwars door Vlaanderen. He was the sole survivor of a breakaway group that was formed after only 14 kilometres, and he outlasted the peloton by a handful of seconds, showing his backside to riders like Tom Boonen (Quickstep) and Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel).

"No-one expected this: not me, not the team," a clearly emotional Veuchelen said after the race. "In three years as a pro I've never stood on the podium, except maybe in a kermis. This is fantastic."

How it unfolded

The 202 kilometre race left the Grote Markt in Kortrijk at 11.40 and unlike last years 43 km/h edition, the pace was relaxed. After only 14 kilometres, a four man group escaped the peloton and started to build up a gap. They gained a maximum of 18'20, and with one hundred kilometres to go, Frederik Veuchelen, David Boucher (, Kevin Neyrinck (Landbouwkrediet) and Harald Starzengruber (Elkhaus) still had a massive gap of 15 minutes.

With 80 kilometres to go, the normal chase routine was upset when a crash brought down several riders and halted two thirds of the peloton. Most of the blue-clad QuickStep team had just advanced to the front, including Tom Boonen, and the pace was high when the accident took place. Initially it looked as if they would slow down and wait for the large number of riders that were left behind, but approaching Eikenberg, Tom Boonen took of with Gert Steegmans of Davitamon-Lotto. Looking strong as ever, Boonen's approach still raised a few eyebrows since his actions led him away from his own team that still looked very strong and unthreatened. They were rejoined by the chasing group shortly after, but more surprises were to come.

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

It soon became clear that Alessandro Petacchi and his Milram team suffered bad luck in the crash, and Petacchi ended up chasing the 40-man group containing his worst rival Boonen, with Ralf Grabsch as his only teammate. But it seemed that Petacchi was more effected by fatigue than the crash, and he quickly lost time.

With 70 kilometres to go, the second group had brought the gap to the leaders down to ten minutes, and Boonen surprised again when he went on the attack and yet again left his own teammates behind on the Kwaremont to ride off with only Nick Nuyens, (QuickStep) Gert Steegmans (Davitamon-Lotto) and Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis).

Boonen proved his strength up the Paterberg, when he rode away from everyone before being caught, but his tactics remained confusing. The remains of the peloton split up into a smaller front group containing Boonen, Kevin Van Impe, Stephen De Jongh, Nick Nuyens, Bram Tankink (all QuickStep), Bert Roesems (Davitamon-Lotto), Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Karsten Kroon (CSC), Dimitriy Muravyev and Igor Abakoumov (Jartazi), and a larger chasing group containing several CSC riders, Baden Cooke and his team and various Davitamon-Lotto and Chocolade Jacques riders among others.

At the very front, the four leaders were highly benefiting from the varied pace in the chasing groups, and they started to look as if they stood a chance to stay away. Over the tough bergs, Veuchelen and Boucher stood out as the stronger climbers, and with 40 kilometres to go, Starzengruber and Neirynck were repeatedly getting dropped.

Kevin Van Impe (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Petacchi abandoned the race at Oude Kwaremont, never having caught up with Boonen's group again, and the race looked like it could be a perfect outcome for the World Champion, when he once again took off in pursuit of the four leaders. His team mate Kevin Van Impe came with him, and Boonen left behind him three of his teammates in a group where most riders had actually worked hard and harmoniously together. With 30 kilometres to go, two laps in Waregem, Boonen and Van Impe caught up with Starzengruber and Neyrinck, who could no longer follow the high pace of Veuchelen and Boucher. Neither could they keep up with the World Champ and his teammate on a mission, and the QuickStep riders were soon alone again.

In the second chasing group, Chocolate Jacques riders were pretty much alone at the front, trying to bring the two groups back together. Their action could be of great help for Veuchelen at the front, since the peloton hadn't gained much time on them earlier when the chase group was bigger. Now the clock was ticking in favour of Boonen and Van Impe, but they were only two and had never gained more than 30 seconds upon the group behind. With 17 kilometres to go, Boonen looked behind him, shook his head and reached for something to eat.

Joined by a much larger chasing group, the natural outcome would have been a full chase by the QuickStep team, but Boonen had now spent a lot of energy, and instead of a chase, the peloton saw the opposite happen when Boucher's teammates, including the illusive Frank Vandenbroucke went to the front of the peloton and slowed the pace down. They got shouted at, but no-one did anything to really alter the pace. At the front, Davide Boucher was actually getting dropped by Veuchelen at this time, and it seemed to take a few seconds before the team realized they were braking for the wrong guy. Veuchelen dropped Boucher on the Holstraat and set off for home alone, with Boucher getting absorbed by the peloton.

After another Boonen attack caused a mini-selection that didn't last, as - for various reasons - no-one was willing to ride to the finish, the peloton got organised for a sprint. had Jeremy Hunt, but lost past winner Baden Cooke in a nasty crash with three kilometres to go, and Davitamon-Lotto was working for Steegmans.

Gert Steegmans
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Over the slightly curved final stretch, the chasing riders came within two seconds of the overjoyed Chocolate Jacques rider Veuchelen, who was never really threatened. snatched the second place despite their loss of Cooke, opening up the opportunity for Jeremy Hunt instead. Lloyd Mondory of Ag2r was third in the bunch sprint that almost got hampered by the vehicles following Veuchelen, and Nico Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques) took fourth ahead of a tired Tom Boonen.

"I was actually never in doubt," Veuchelen said after the race. "It was fantastic publicity, and if we were caught, the top man [Eeckhout] was in a good position. That's usually a perfect race."

Veuchelen went on to dedicate the win to his father who was injured in a cycling accident a few weeks ago, while descending the Cipressa. He was in a critical condition for a while, but is now reported to be healing well.

Tom Boonen wasn't disappointed with his fifth place. "This was super for the confidence. I'm ready to win." He explained his attacks during the race to the press; "The first was because I had good legs, the second was for training, the third was to win. But I realised reasonably quickly that we wouldn't catch the leaders."

On the question why Quick.Step didn't chase the leaders after Boonen was caught, he answered; "I made the race hard for 50 km. They can't expect us to work for a sprint that I probably can't win?"


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Luc Claessen/

Images by Mani Wollner/

Results - 204 km

1 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen     5.13.20 (39.064 km/h)
2 Jeremy Hunt (GBr)                                          0.02
3 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R Prévoyance                                       
4 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen                 
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                                     
6 Igor Abakoumov (Bel) Jartazi-7Mobile                                      
7 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                      
8 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC                                          
9 Jens Renders (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen                  
10 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                       
11 Christophe Detilloux (Bel) Française des Jeux                            
12 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                      
13 Marco Velo (Ita) Team Milram                                             
14 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Team CSC                                         
15 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone                  
16 Roger Hammond (GBr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                   
17 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner                                         
18 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Crédit Agricole                                     
19 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                
20 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quickstep-Innergetic                               
21 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                              
22 Maarten Wijnants (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen             
23 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen             
24 Allan Johansen (Den) Team CSC                                            
25 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team CSC                                             
26 Steven Kleynen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                             
27 Francis Mourey (Fra) Française des Jeux                                  
28 Koen Barbé (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen                   
29 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                                   
30 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Jartazi-7Mobile                                  
31 Geert Omloop (Bel)                                            
32 Frederik Willems (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen             
33 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                           
34 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quickstep-Innergetic                                  
35 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel)                                     
36 Bert Roesems (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                   0.17
37 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                                
38 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                                
39 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                              0.31
40 David Boucher (Fra)                                       0.42
41 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team              0.45
42 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Jartazi-7Mobile                               0.52
43 Baden Cooke (Aus)                                         2.25
44 Stephan Schreck (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                  3.14
45 Rik Reinerink (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                     5.00
46 Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team              
47 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone                   
48 Matthew White (Aus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                   
49 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank                                            
50 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                        
Starters: 195
Classified: 50

Past winners

Dwars Door Vlaanderen/A Travers la Belgique

2005 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 
2004 Ludovic Capelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
2003 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 
2002 Baden Cooke (Aus)
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,