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64rd Gent-Wevelgem - 1.HC
Belgium, April 10, 2002
Gent-Wevelgem: Cipollini versus Zabel in mid-week classic
By Jeff Jones
Positioned midway between the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix is the semi-classic Gent-Wevelgem, which celebrates its 64th running this year. Starting near the centre of the "student city" of Gent, the race makes its way out to the west coast of Flanders via Brugge, passing through the coastal towns of Oostende, Koksijde and De Panne, before continuing south and inland via Poperinge to the Kemmelberg, the main climb of the race. The riders have to tackle this cobbled monster twice before they head back towards Wevelgem, with 207 kilometres in their legs.
This year, the Kemmelberg has been moved closer to the finish, but there is still 35 kilometres of flat terrain between the top of the Kemmel and Wevelgem. It is considered a sprinter's classic, although last year a break did manage to get away and deny the sprinters their glory.
At the end of that breakaway, George Hincapie (USPS) won an incredibly close sprint from Leon Van Bon to take his first ever classic victory, and he will be lining up in Gent's Citadelpark with at least some ambitions to defend his win. However, after a 4th place in last Sunday's Ronde, Hincapie's sights are clearly set on Paris-Roubaix this weekend. Again he will be aided by Lance Armstrong and the rest of the very capable US Postal team.
Cyclingnews' Live coverage of the 64th Gent-Wevelgem will start at 14:00 local time (8:00am USA eastern time, 5:00am USA west, 10:00pm Australian east). You'll find it here.
Verstrepen to skip Gent-Wevelgem
Johan Verstrepen, who crashed during the Ronde van Vlaanderen, has decided not to take part Gent-Wevelgem, as his right shoulder is still painful. Raivis Belohvosciks will take his place. There is still hope that Verstrepen will recover in time to race the Paris-Roubaix, according to the team.
Eeckhout for Gent
Nico Eeckhout (Lotto), has been confirmed as a starter at Gent-Wevelgem despite the sprained wrist he sustained in a fall at the Tour of Flanders. Eeckhout will also therefore be able to start Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.
Gaumont doubtful for Paris-Roubaix
Cofidis rider Philipe Gaumont is suffering from a respiratory complaint caused by an allergy and is therefore unlikely to start Paris-Roubaix this weekend.
Gaumont, who is currently riding the Circuit de la Sarthe, consulted a pulmonary specialist after the first stage.
Fractured shoulder-blade for Verstrepen
Johan Verstrepen (Lampre-Daikin), crashed yesterday after around 100 kilometres in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen and was forced to abandon. The Belgian was examined today and was diagnosed with a fracture of his right shoulder-blade. Because of that, his participation in Wednesday's Gent-Wevelgem is in doubt. Verstrepen and Lampre-Daikin technicians will decide tomorrow after training.
According to the doctors it will be the pain rather than the seriousness of the wound that will make Verstrepen's presence difficult.
The team is therefore as follows for the semi-classic:
Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Milan Kadlec (Slo) Alberto Loddo (Ita) Luciano Pagliarini (Bra) Marco Serpellini (Ita) Zbigniew Spruch (Pol) Johan Verstrepen (Bel) or Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat) Team manager: Pietro Algeri
Armstrong will start in San Remo
Lance Armstrong's return to European racing in 2002 will take place on March 23 in the first round of the World Cup, Milan-San Remo. The triple Tour de France winner was due to start racing in Murcia this week, but was KO'd by a stomach bug.
According to US Postal assistant director Dirk Demol, Armstrong will next race in the Criterium International (March 30-31), the Tour of Flanders (April 7) and Gent Wevelgem (April 10). He will then return to the USA for the Ride for the Roses in mid-April, travelling back to Europe for the Tour of Aragon and the Amstel Gold Race (April 28).
In May, Armstrong will start his normal Tour de France preparation, possibly including the GP
Midi Libre (May 22-26) and the Dauphine Libére (June 9-16).