|Cyclingnews TV News Tech Features Road MTB BMX Cyclo-cross Track Photos Fitness Letters Search Forum|
87th Ronde van Vlaanderen/Tour des Flandres - CDM
Belgium, April 6, 2003
Van Petegem strikes back
By Jeff Jones
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."
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.
"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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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