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87th Ronde van Vlaanderen/Tour des Flandres - CDM

Belgium, April 6, 2003

Main Page     Results    Live report    World Cup Standings

Van Petegem strikes back

By Jeff Jones

Peter Van Petegem
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

It was his first victory of the season, but what a way to open his account. Lotto-Domo's classics captain Peter Van Petegem won the 87th Ronde van Vlaanderen in a two man sprint with Frank Vandenbroucke (Quick.Step-Davitamon). At the end of a race which had all the elements of a great classic, PVP and VDB were simply too strong on the Muur van Geraardsbergen with 16 km to go, as they attacked and rode away from the 12 man leading group. The pair cooperated right to the end to ensure their break succeeded, with Van Petegem far too strong in the sprint for Vandenbroucke.

"It was a tough Ronde van Vlaanderen, for sure the headwind was hard," said a tired but elated Van Petegem at the finish in Ninove-Meerbeke. "The race broke open on the Koppenberg. My team was great, as Serge, Wim and the other guys brought everything back. From then on it was a matter of looking around and covering every move."

"On the Muur I saw that the rest were at the end of their strength, together with Frank I made the final jump. Only once I was nervous, when Museeuw attacked in Horebeke I had to go deep. On the Leberg they stopped riding and then I thought that it was possible to win."

Johan Museeuw
Photo: © Sirotti
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Museeuw was indeed in dangerous form today, but perhaps he felt too strong as he marshalled the front of the peloton, watching for any dangerous moves. With Van Petegem, Mattan and Guesdon on his wheel, the Lion of Flanders shattered the peloton on the Haaghoek cobbles with 39 km to go, chasing down Saeco's Dario Pieri who was in front. But it came back together, and when Museeuw needed the strength to attack on Tenbossestraat he didn't have it. Van Petegem powered past him on the climb to bridge up to Mattan and Guesdon, thus starting the final selection.

Vandenbroucke was also in his best form of the season so far, but admitted afterwards that he can still improve a few percent. "I have been longing for this race the whole winter, I know I was very good but I was still lacking something in Harelbeke and Waregem," he said. "The last two weeks I have been looking after myself so well. I was just missing that something but I knew that it was coming and I also had a bit of a problem with a light cold."

"I asked to be protected for the finale as I knew it wasn't going to be easy for me. It wasn't my idea to attack and when Peter went, he was so fast. I tried to ride away from him [on the Bosberg] but it didn't work. I didn't have Bettini or Johan to speculate a bit. I told Peter we'd sprint for the win but I knew my chances were very small in the sprint."

Third place getter today was a canny and strong Australian champion Stuart O'Grady, who bided his time in the peloton for most of the day, but made the critical selection on the Berendries and Tenbossestraat. He was the quickest of the second group, beating Fabio Baldato and Nico Mattan in the sprint.

Stuart O'Grady
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

"I felt good the whole day," said O'Grady. "In the hard sections I was well placed and I had the legs to stay in front. This is my best result here, of course. The year is going well, I even think that it's my best start to the season since I turned pro. I've never had a podium finish in a World Cup."

When asked about Paris-Roubaix, O'Grady replied, "I prefer not to think of it now, I take the races as they come."

In the World Cup standings, Peter Van Petegem is now the joint leader on 100 points with Paolo Bettini, who finished outside the top 25 today. But the Belgian earns the right to wear the jersey in the next race, as the most recent winner of a World Cup event. Saeco's Mirko Celestino, thanks to his 11th place today and 2nd in San Remo, now sits in 3rd overall.

How it unfolded

Fans day out
Photo: © Sirotti
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193 riders from 25 teams took the start of the 87th Ronde van Vlaanderen in Brugge's Grote Markt, in front of a large crowd of eager supporters. In cool, windy and later sunny conditions, the race got off to a fast start, with nearly 90 kilometres covered in the first two hours. The break of the day happened after just five kilometres, when German time trial specialists Thomas Liese (Team Coast) and Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) attacked and were chased by Vincent van der Kooij (BankGiroLoterij) and - of course - Jacky Durand (FDJeux.com).

Durand won this race in 1992 in a long breakaway, and has since then made it his trademark, although never quite with the same success. Today he made sure he was in the early break, as the peloton allowed the quartet to ride out to a 14'50 lead by halfway (128 km). Noticeably absent from the break were the jerseys of the Vlaanderen-T Interim and Palmans-Collstrop teams, who usually manage to gain some exposure for their sponsors by going with the suicide move. But once the four were gone, there was no catching them until they finally blew themselves apart later in the race.

It was during the early phase of the race that Phonak's Oscar Camenzind came to grief, falling in the feed zone after 103 km when a piece of clothing entangled itself in his front wheel. He was taken to hospital in Oudenaarde, where it was found that he had compressed the eighth vertebrae in his back. He will need to take three weeks rest before returning to the saddle.

Liese and Co.
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

The pace in the peloton lifted as the bunch hit the Paddestraat cobbles (km 116), followed by the Molenberg and then the 3 km cobbled section at Mater-Kerkgate (km 129). In that short distance, the four leaders had their gap cut by three minutes, and the race was on in earnest. The Rabobank and Quick.Step-Davitamon teams were primarily responsible for the pace setting, with all of the favourites staying near the front on the cobbled sections.

Durand's group reached the Kluisberg, the fourth climb of the day (km 161) with not much over 8 minutes to the peloton, still led by Rabobank with a couple of Quick.Step riders helping out. Over the next few hills, Durand and Van Der Kooij began to pay for their efforts, and were dropped each time by the very strong Thomas Liese and Michael Rich, but each time they were able to get back on.

Just before the Kwaremont (km 177), Paolo Bettini punctured and had to chase back through the peloton on the climb, costing him energy in a critical section. His teammate Luca Paolini was setting the pace in front, with big favourites Peter Van Petegem and Johan Museeuw always in the top 10, and very attentive.

On the 12.5 percent cobbled monster that is the Paterberg (km 180), the peloton began to break up into smaller pieces, and after the descent an interesting group of eight riders shot off the front, in pursuit of the flagging Liese, Rich, Durand and Van der Kooij. What was interesting is that they were all Italians, including Paolo Bettini and Luca Paolini (Quick.Step-Davitamon), Marco Serpellini (Lampre), Fabio Sacchi (Saeco), Enrico Cassani (Alessio), Gabriele Balducci (Sidermec), Giovanni Lombardi (Domina Vacanze), and Roberto Petito (Fassa Bortolo). There were no Rabobanks and no Lotto-Domo riders there, forcing these two teams to chase hard with such a dangerous group in front.

Thomas Liese
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

Liese and Rich dropped Durand and Van der Kooij for good on the Koppenberg, the steepest climb in the race. They realised that the race was coming up behind them, and they wanted to be in front for as long as possible. The eight chasing Italians closed the gap over the Steenbeekdries and on the Taaienberg, where Liese powered away from the hulking Michael Rich on his own. But Bettini's group certainly wasn't clear of the peloton, which was driven by Marc Wauters (Rabobank) and Wim Vansevenant (Lotto-Domo), who reduced a dangerous 1 minute gap to zero over the next couple of climbs.

Finally it all came back together at the foot of the Boigneberg (km 204), with Liese, who had been away for over 200 kilometres, being caught over the top by a fiery Dario Pieri (Saeco). The Saeco man was looking strong, and dropped Liese on the Foreest (km 211), but it was too early to go for a solo move with the peloton still large behind him.

Mattan on the Taaienberg
Photo: © Jeff Tse
Click for larger image

Rolf Aldag launched himself after Pieri and caught him before the Haaghoek (km 216), and the pair held a small gap to the main group. That was until Johan Museeuw extended his claws and dropped the hammer on this fast 2 km section of cobbles. Only Peter Van Petegem, Nico Mattan and Frederic Guesdon could follow him, and many wondered whether this was the right move.

It wasn't quite, although they had no problems catching Pieri and Aldag, and the leading group gradually became smaller as they went over the Leberg and Berendries (km 223). It was on this climb that Guesdon and Mattan went on their own, creating a small gap over the top and down the other side to Brakel. The group behind contained Museeuw, Van Petegem, Commesso, Bruylandts, Vandenbroucke, Ivanov, Boogerd, Celestino, Sacchi, Baldato, O'Grady and Bartoli, among others, and it was clear that this was a decisive point of the race.

Mattan and Guesdon had 15 seconds at the foot of Tenbossestraat (km 229), when the chasing group exploded behind them. First Ekimov, then Museeuw and finally Van Petegem attacked, with the latter pumping up the climb on the drops and homing in on Mattan and Guesdon. Only Bruylandts and Vandenbroucke could follow, while Museeuw seemed to have finally run out of legs. On the windy approach to Parike, Van Petegem, Mattan and Guesdon were joined by Bruylandts and Vandenbroucke, with another group of six (Baldato, Celestino, Ekimov, Boogerd, Ivanov, and O'Grady) chasing them and catching them just in Geraardsbergen with 18 km to go.

PVP and VDB
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Frederic Guesdon took his chance through the ancient town and attacked at the foot of the famous Muur van Geraardsbergen, the final time that the old cobbles will be ridden over in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, as it is being re-cobbled later this year. Guesdon made it most of the way up before he succumbed to the climb, being passed by Van Petegem and Vandenbroucke who were leading the chase group.

It was at that moment, on the steepest section of the Muur, that VDB and Van Petegem turned on the gas and opened up a gap to Bruylandts and the chasers. That was all they needed, gaining 10 seconds over top, and increasing it on the descent towards the Bosberg, the final climb of the race.

The eight chasers (Ivanov punctured but later rejoined) were unable to catch the duo, and although Mattan tried blasting up the Bosberg, he couldn't make any impression. In front, Vandenbroucke tried to attack Van Petegem over the top, but the latter was too strong and held the wheel of the Quick.Step rider.

From then on the Belgian pair worked smoothly and efficiently to increase their advantage over the chasers, who didn't have the legs to close it. Neither tried to attack the other again, and Vandenbroucke seemed resigned to second place as he knew Van Petegem was the stronger sprinter.

The podium
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

It was Van Petegem who led into Hallebaan for the last 500m, but it was Vandenbroucke who jumped first for the sprint at 350m to go. It was too early, but it didn't matter. Van Petegem barely sat on VDB's wheel for long before he powered past him to take his second Ronde in five years. Van Petegem was naturally delighted with the win, while VDB was satisfied with second, knowing his form is coming back to what it was. O'Grady led home the chasers for a strong third place.

So ended an aggressive and exciting Ronde van Vlaanderen, one that will surely make the Belgians happy again after two Italian wins in the last two years. Van Petegem and Vandenbroucke on top, Mattan and Bruylandts riding well, and Museeuw showing signs of good form - at last the Belgians can redress the balance in the classics that has tipped the way of the Italians in recent years.

Photography

Images by Chris Henry/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Jeff Tse/www.jefftse.com/cycling

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Images by AFP

Images by Elmar Krings

More images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Images by Luc Claessen/www.actiefotos.be

Results - 255 km

1 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo                         6.18.48 (40.232 km/h)
2 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                0.02
3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole                          0.19
4 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio
5 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
6 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJeux.com
7 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo
8 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal presented by Berry Floo
9 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
10 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
11 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco
12 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Team Saeco                                2.19
13 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Team Saeco
14 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) FDJeux.com
15 Dario Pieri (Ita) Team Saeco
16 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
17 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre
18 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval     2.31
19 Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf              3.03
20 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Team Saeco                              3.10
21 Guido Trenti (USA) Fassa Bortolo
22 Fabien De Waele (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop
23 Enrico Cassani (Ita) Alessio
24 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval
25 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
26 Mauro Gerosa (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval
27 Andreas Klier (Ger) Team Telekom
28 Chris Peers (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
29 Rolf Aldag (Ger) Team Telekom
30 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
31 Benoît Joachim (Lux) US Postal presented by Berry Floor
32 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf
33 Andrea Ferrigato (Ita) Alessio
34 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) iBanesto.com                     
35 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr) Lampre
36 Serge Baguet (Bel) Lotto-Domo
37 Zbigniew Spruch (Pol) Lampre
38 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
39 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon
40 Massimo Apollonio (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval     6.38
41 Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
42 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank
43 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom
44 Malte Urban (Ger) Team Coast
45 Matthé Pronk (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team
46 Christophe Mengin (Fra) FDJeux.com
47 Andrea Tafi (Ita) Team CSC
48 Roger Hammond (GBr) Palmans-Collstrop
49 Philippe Gaumont (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
50 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) FDJeux.com
51 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank
52 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
53 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
54 Marco Milesi (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval
55 Matteo Tossato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
56 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
57 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Team Telekom
58 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Lampre
59 Ludovic Capelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
60 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Team Saeco
61 Thorsten Rund (Ger) Team Coast
62 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com
63 Jo Planckaert (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
64 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Team CSC
65 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems
66 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank
67 Mario Scirea (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
68 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) Team Telekom
69 Bart Voskamp (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team
70 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
71 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC
72 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Team Telekom
73 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo                       10.26
74 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
75 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank                                    11.34
76 Thomas Liese (Ger) Team Coast
77 Robert Sassone (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone
78 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Lotto-Domo
79 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                           14.09
80 Bram Schmitz (Ned) BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team
81 Stefan Kupfernagel (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems
82 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank
83 Bert Roesems (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop                        15.20
84 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
85 Paul Van Hyfte (Bel) Team CSC
86 Servais Knaven (Ned) Quick.Step-Davitamon
87 Daniel Becke (Ger) Team Coast
88 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Lampre
89 Andy De Smet (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop
90 Christopher Jenner (Fra) Credit Agricole
91 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
92 Stefano Casagranda (Ita) Alessio
93 Gianluca Sironi (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval
94 Johan Dekkers (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf

World Cup standings after round 2

1 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo                            100 pts
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                      100
3 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco                               85
4 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                 70
5 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole                           55
6 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                        50
7 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo                             48
8 Dario Pieri (Ita) Team Saeco                                   47
9 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio                                    40
10 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron                  40
11 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone             36
12 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJeux.com                             32
13 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                                 32
14 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                             28
15 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) FDJeux.com                               26
16 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal presented by Berry Floor   24
17 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre                                      24
18 Guido Trenti (USA) Fassa Bortolo                              21
19 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                                20
20 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Team Saeco                                 17
21 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf                   16
22 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval     15
23 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Team Saeco                           13
24 Markus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                               13
25 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com                                  12

Teams

1 Saeco                                                          24 pts
2 Fassa Bortolo                                                  18
3 Fdjeux.Com                                                     13
4 Alessio                                                        12
5 Quick Step                                                     12
6 Rabobank                                                       10
7 Marlux                                                          7
8 Sidermec                                                        7
9 Lampre                                                          6
10 Cofidis                                                        2
11 Domina Vacanze                                                 2
12 Phonak                                                         1