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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

56th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - 1.2

Belgium, March 2, 2003

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Crafty Sentjens takes first pro win

By Jeff Jones

Roy Sentjens
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

22 year old Dutch second year pro Roy Sentjens (Rabobank) has scored a fine, opportunistic win in the 56th Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, the traditional followup race to Het Volk. After a wet and miserable 190 km race through West and East Flanders, Sentjens took the initiative with 2 km to go, catching his four breakaway companions completely by surprise and riding away to win by 19 seconds. In second place was disappointed local boy Leif Hoste (Lotto-Domo), while Volker Ordowski (Gerolsteiner), Davide Bramati (Quick Step) and Andy Flickinger (Ag2r) rounded out the top five.

It was Sentjens' first ever professional win, and this young Rabobank rider is certainly not short of talent, having won the U23 version of the Ronde van Vlaanderen. "I am a second year pro and that means you have a bit less pressure to win than the rest," he said after the finish. "In the Omloop Het Volk I was also good. But due to having less race knowledge, I was too far back at the critical time."

Early (and late) leaders
Photo: © Daniel Schamps
Click for larger image

Sentjens, and the other members of the leading breakaway, benefited from the almost total lack of interest in the race by the rain sodden peloton, which was obviously recovering from receiving a battering at Het Volk, courtesy of Quick Step-Davitamon. Today, most of the Belgian teams were represented in the nine man break that went after 35 kilometres, which contained in addition to the above five, Tony Cruz (US Postal/Berry Floor), Jimmy Casper (FDJeux.com), Vincent Van de Kooij (BankGiroLoterij) and Frederik Penne (Palmans).

These nine quickly built a lead as they flew towards Ninove with a tailwind, and five riders decided to set off in pursuit from the peloton: Stijn Devolder and Geoffrey Demeyere (Vlaanderen), Geert Omloop (Palmans), Johan Coenen (Marlux) and Rik Reinerink (BankGiroLoterij). After two hours of racing the nine leaders had 9'30 to the peloton, and 5'50 to the chasing five. There was no serious attempt by the peloton to close the gap, and the race began to be a battle of the smaller names in the bunch.

The wet weather had already taken its toll on riders like Frank Vandenbroucke, who did not start, Ludo Dierckxsens, who abandoned at 30km, and Chris Peers, who crashed for the second time in two days and was taken to hospital with cuts and bruises. The peloton, huddled together in their rain jackets, was content to let the gap stay around 10-11 minutes until around 80 km to go, when they hit the main climbs.

Controlled peloton
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

As the nine leaders continued to work steadily together, the big question was whether the five chasers could close the gap. It was 3'30 on the Oude Kwaremont (km 117) when Geert Omloop and Johan Coenen left their companions behind and set off on a two man pursuit of the nine leaders. In front, French sprinter Jimmy Casper had some bad luck right at the bottom of the Kwaremont when he punctured, and he never saw the lead again.

One of the strongest riders in the leading break was Volker Ordowski (Gerolsteiner), who was getting cold feet (literally and figuratively) and decided to attack on the Kluisberg with 60 km to go. He was not chased by the remaining seven, but eventually gave up his solo effort when his team director told him to ease up - it was too far to go with a headwind, and he would blow himself up.

 

Roy Sentjens
Photo: © AFP
Click for larger image

Behind them, the pursuit match continued with Casper joining Omloop and Coenen to form a group of three, 2'00 behind the leading eight. They worked hard together and gradually brought the gap down to an almost closeable distance of 31 seconds with 25 km to go. But that's as close as they got, as the front eight began to attack and counter attack on the approach to Kuurne for the first of two 9 km finishing laps.

Five of them, Davide Bramati (Quick Step), Leif Hoste (Lotto-Domo), Roy Sentjens (Rabobank), Volker Ordowski (Gerolsteiner), and Andy Flickinger (Ag2r), left Cruz, Van der Kooij and Penne behind with 20 km to go, and it was clear that this was the final selection. With Hoste looking for a local win, Ordowski looking very strong, Bramati looking very nervous, and Flickinger and Sentjens looking anonymous, the attacks started again on the last 9 km circuit.

Happy Roy
Photo: © Daniel Schamps
Click for larger image

Whenever anyone attacked, Volker Ordowski was the man to close the gap. The Gerolsteiner rider did it for Hoste, Bramati, and Sentjens, while Flickinger did his best to hang on. But when Sentjens was on the front with two kilometres to go, Ordowski and Hoste both looked behind them for just a few seconds too long to see if anyone was chasing. Sentjens noticed it and took off like a rocket. Ordowski chased, but this time the German had missed the train.

Thus with a crafty almost track-like move, Roy Sentjens rode away with the 56th Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, becoming only the fifth Dutch rider to win it. Hoste proved to be the strongest in the sprint for second, beating the luckless Ordowski, but he was not overjoyed with a podium spot.

"It's a disappointment," said the Lotto-Domo rider afterwards. "It will be some time before I get another chance like this one. I could not wait for the sprint."

Photography

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Images by Daniel Schamps

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Siegie/www.vdb-online.be

Results - 190 km

1 Roy Sentjens (Ned) Rabobank                           4.48.00 (39.55 km/h)
2 Leif Hoste (Bel) Lotto-Domo                              0.19
3 Volker Ordowski (Ger) Gerolsteiner
4 Davide Bramati (Ita) Quick Step-Davitamon
5 Andy Flickinger (Fra) AG2R Prevoyance
6 Jimmy Casper (Fra) FDJeux.com                            1.52
7 Johan Coenen (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
8 Geert Omloop (Bel) Palmans Collstrop
9 Frederik Penne (Bel) Palmans Collstrop
10 Vincent Van der Kooij (Ned) Bankgiroloterij CT          2.14
11 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal presented by Berry Floor   2.37
12 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick Step-Davitamon                 4.53
13 Gerben Lowik (Ned) Bankgiroloterij CT
14 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis
15 Bobbie Traksel (Ned) Rabobank
16 Benoit Joachim (Lux) US Postal presented by Berry Floor
17 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) FDJeux.com
18 Rik Reinerink (Ned) Bankgiroloterij CT                  5.31
19 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick Step-Davitamon
20 Serge Baguet (Bel) Lotto-Domo
21 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
22 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal presented by Berry Floor
23 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Rabobank
24 Geoffrey Demeyere (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim            8.32
25 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step-Davitamon
26 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank

Teams

1 Quick Step-Davitamon                                        6 pts
2 Lotto-Domo                                                 21