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86th Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) - CDM
Belgium, April 7, 2002
News for April 8
Ronde post race comments
Andrea Tafi (Mapei), 1st
"This is a surprise I like. At the start of the race, it's true, I was especially on a mission to work for my teammates. But every race has its own story. Here the scenario was ideal, it turned in my favour and I could make use of my excellent condition. I am at the top of my form."
"Last year, I had continuing health problems. I raced only 57 days over the year. However, I've already raced 40 this season. I am a rider who needs a lot of racing to feel good. I've worked hard since January and that paid off today."
"Up to 25 kilometres until the finish, Daniele Nardello and I decided to collaborate in the break and to widen our advantage to the chasers. Then, our director sportif Serge Parsani asked us to attack to trap the two Belgians who had obviously decided to race together. That worked. I benefited from a small lapse in concentration by Museeuw and Van Petegem, but also by Hincapie who I really feared, to make my attack. I then gave everything. It was only under the red kite [1 km to go] that I was really sure when I saw my advantage over my rivals."
Next Sunday, Tafi will be "Physically, I am on top. And mentally, I will be even more motivated thanks to this success in the 'Ronde'. Tafi is not finished! And even if I were to stop today, I could not argue that I haven't had a beautiful career."
Johan Museeuw (Domo), 2nd
"I really am very disappointed. I attacked on several occasions on the climbs thinking I could gain a few meters advantage and then rely on my power. But Tafi and Nardello clung on. I gave everything."
Peter Van Petegem (Lotto), 3rd
"Johan (Museeuw) and I made the race, but we did not finish our remarkable work. Too bad. After having forced the selection by accelerating in turn, we unfortunately found ourselves faced with the numerical superiority of Mapei, who placed two dangerous men in the lead, Tafi and Nardello. Johan and I, we then agreed to counter each one's attacks in turn. I was also to be wary of Hincapie, who seldom left the wheel."
"When Tafi attacked, I hesitated and the Italian profited from this. It was bad because I really had the legs to win."
Erik Zabel (Telekom), 10th
I got over the Koppenberg well, but I didn't think I had the strength to go in the break that went. The sprint with Cipollini? No, it was not a question of prestige, I regret not being able to contest the victory. There, it was only for ninth place. I concentrate now on Paris-Roubaix. It is a little like the Tour of Flanders, the final adventure in cycling. I don't really want to say that I will win it. I have too much respect for this race."
Erwin Thijs (Palmans-Collstrop), 54th
"I never believed I could do such a thing in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen. I was not at the top of the list within my team. But I seized my chance. When my companions dropped off, I wondered how my legs were going to react. But I continued on my attack. That was in any case great publicity for me and the team."
Andrea Tafi bio
Andrea Tafi is aged 36, and is in his 14th season as a professional, his ninth with Mapei. This is his fifth win in a World Cup race, coming on top of the Tour of Lombardy (1996), Rochester Classic (1997), Paris-Roubaix (1999) and Paris-Tours (2000). Today's result in Flanders came in his 11th attempt at the race, his previous best being 15th place. He is hoping to win Paris-Roubaix for a second time next Sunday.
Name: Andrea Tafi
Lotto lost strong man Nico Eeckhout after 150 kilometres, as he was forced to pull out with an injured right hand after falling.
One of the favourites, Fabio Baldato (Fassa Bortolo) was another early victim of a fall, and abandoned shortly afterwards.
The luckless Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) had problems with his shoes (remember last year's Paris-Roubaix?) and also abandoned. That left the team to rely on Erik Zabel, who finished a creditable 10th but missed the main breakaway.