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2002 E3 Prijs

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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

46th E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - 1.1

Belgium, March 29, 2003

Main page    Live report    Results

Steven de Jongh fastest in three man sprint

The podium
Photo: © Sabine Sunderland
Click for larger image

Dutch rider Steven de Jongh (Rabobank) has won the 46th E3 Prijs Harelbeke. After 209 km of racing, with no less than 11 climbs in his legs, he won easily from Steffen Wesemann (Telekom) and Stijn Devolder (Vlaanderen-T Interim) in a sprint. The three had attacked with 27 km to go, and profited from the lack of cooperation in the peloton behind them, which seemed content to watch each other rather than chase the break.

"I was on the road with two guys less quick than myself," said a delighted De Jongh at the finish in Harelbeke. "I could sit back and wait, because I simply knew I was the fastest. I was full of confidence. Wesemann is not really slow but I am faster than him. In a time trial he might be quicker, but he'll never beat me in a sprint."

That was never really in doubt, with Wesemann seemingly content to ensure the break stayed away until the finish, doing massive turns and showing that he's a man for the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix.

Third placed Stijn Devolder, a young Vlaanderen-T-Interim rider, was very happy with his result. "De Jongh and Wesemann are both fast and I was tired. I am very happy finishing third and about the way I had a decisive role in the finale," he said.

How it unfolded

Johan Museeuw
Photo: © Jeff Jones
Click for larger image

Underneath a cloudy sky and with only a hint of rain, the race began quickly and nervously. With a field of riders getting ready for the upcoming classics, it promised to be an animated race and the crowd's expectations in Harelbeke ran high. At the feed zone (km 103) the peloton had an average speed of 45 km/h, and the pace never slowed after that. The race was marked by continuous attacks.

With over 80km to go, a very impressive Australian Champion Stuart O'Grady (Crédit Agricole) together with the winner of last week's race in Nokere, Matthé Pronk (Bankgiroloterij), launched the first of a series of unsuccessful attacks. They were allowed to get a lead of two minutes, but on the hilly parcours, a dominant Quick.Step-Davitamon team took the initiative to try and catch the two leaders. Raising the tempo even more, they quickly thinned out the field of participants.

A peloton of 40 riders formed out of which Fabio Baldato (Alessio) and Philippe Gaumont (Cofidis) succeeded in sneaking away to close the gap to O'Grady and Pronk. But soon the leading group consisted of twenty riders, with quite a few big names among them: Museeuw, Vandenbroucke, Boonen (Quick Step), Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo), Vainsteins (Caldirola-Sidermec), Wesemann (Telekom), Boogerd (Rabobank) and last year's winner Dario Pieri (Saeco).

After the climb of Kluisbergen with 27 km to go, Steffen Wesemann attacked. He was accompanied by Stijn Devolder (Vlaanderen-T-Interim) and Steven de Jongh (Rabobank), and there was no immediate reaction from the peloton. The gap quickly grew to 25 seconds, and stayed there.

In what was left of the peloton, Johan Museeuw tested his knee for a second time in the race, and he started the chase on the cobbles in Kaster. Dario Pieri was the only one who could follow his wheel, and they quickly established a small gap, but the peloton went looking for them almost immediately.

Museeuw's attack did manage to tear the peloton into several groups, and a lot of riders suffered badly on the steep climbs. A remarkable performance was the one by Jaan Kirsipuu. He showed his strength in Dwars door Vlaanderen last Wednesday and again gave proof his exceptional form at the front, after having survived the hilly part of the race. However he too was unable to get away from the bunch.

With 10 km to go the gap had come down from 45 seconds to 30, as Wim Vansevenant and Aart Vierhouten (Lotto-Domo) and Gianluca Bortolami (Caldirola-Sidermec) tried to stimulate the chase, but there was no help from the rest of the peloton to catch the leaders. With fast man Steven De Jongh in the front, his Rabobank team did a great job in keeping the group in check, and the gap simply didn't come down quick enough.

With 4 km to go, it was clear that the three leaders would stay away, despite an attempt by Raivis Belohvosciks (Marlux), Frederic Guesdon (FDJ) and Enrico Cassani (Alessio) to catch them. These three managed to stay clear and fight it out for fourth, but the race was in front between Wesemann, De Jongh and Devolder. In the sprint, De Jongh led out and easily passed Wesemann, who was forced to settle for second in front of a weary Devolder. Belohvosciks took the sprint for fourth, while Kirsipuu won the bunch sprint for 7th.

Today's E3 Prijs was a far more balanced affair than the Quick.Step dominated Omloop Het Volk at the beginning of this month, and it may well be that Quick.Step won't have things all their own way when it comes to the Ronde van Vlaanderen. But if Museeuw is back to full fitness by then, he could make a difference. Today he accelerated in the saddle, and was still able to create gaps. Tomorrow he will ride again in the Brabantse Pijl, hoping to get some more race kilometres in before next week.

Photography

Images by Jeff Jones/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Sabine Sunderland/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Bert Geerts

Results - 209 km

1 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank                      4.33.00 (45.934 km/h)
2 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) Team Telekom
3 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
4 Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf         0.04
5 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJeux.com
6 Enrico Cassani (Ita) Alessio
7 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2r-Prevoyance                     0.26
8 Jans Koerts (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team
9 Jo Planckaert (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
10 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal presented by Berry Floor
11 Dario Pieri (Ita) Team Saeco
12 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
13 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Lotto-Domo
14 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC
15 Matthias Kessler (Ger) Team Telekom
16 Roger Hammond (GBr) Palmans-Collstrop
17 Gerben Löwik (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team
18 Philippe Gaumont (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
19 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Sidermec
20 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio
21 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Team Saeco
22 Arkadiusz Wojtas (Pol) CCC-Polsat
23 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
24 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo
25 David Derepas (Fra) FDJeux.com
26 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Flanders-IteamNova.com
27 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
28 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo
29 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo
30 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Flanders-IteamNova.com
31 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
32 Matteo Carrara (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack
33 Andreas Klier (Ger) Team Telekom
34 Frank Hoj (Den) Team fakta
35 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) FDJeux.com
36 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank
37 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
38 Marco Milesi (Ita) Sidermec
39 Rolf Aldag (Ger) Team Telekom
40 Sven Nijs (Bel) Rabobank
41 Kai Hundertmarck (Ger) Team Telekom
42 Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) De Nardi-Colpack
43 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Team Saeco
44 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Lotto-Domo
45 Chris Peers (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
46 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank
47 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
48 Rafael Nuritdinov (Uzb) De Nardi-Colpack
49 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Sidermec
50 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
51 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank
52 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Lotto-Domo                       0.32
53 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
54 Ondrej Fadrny (Cze) De Nardi-Colpack                   3.42
55 Michele Gobbi (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack                   3.51
56 Andy Cappelle (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf             11.00
57 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
58 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Alessio
59 Christophe Agnolutto (Fra) Ag2r-Prevoyance
60 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Lotto-Domo
61 Christopher Jenner (Fra) Credit Agricole
62 Stefano Casagranda (Ita) Alessio
63 Geert Omloop (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop
64 Johan Dekkers (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
65 Lars Bak (Den) Team fakta
66 David Kopp (Ger) Team Telekom
67 Massimo Apollonio (Ita) Sidermec
68 Matthew Wilson (Aus) FDJeux.com
69 Saulius Ruskys (Ltu) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
70 Giosuè Bonomi (Ita) Team Saeco
71 Servais Knaven (Ned) Quick.Step-Davitamon
72 Leif Hoste (Bel) Lotto-Domo
73 Matthé Pronk (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team
74 Bram Schmitz (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team
75 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Team CSC
76 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Team Telekom
77 Davide Bramati (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon
78 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Quick.Step-Davitamon
79 Ondrej Fadrny (Cze) De Nardi-Colpack

Starters: 163
Classified: 79