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Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

57th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - 1.2

Belgium, February 29, 2004

Main page    Live Report     Results   

De Jongh repeats Rabobank's success

By Jeff Jones

Steven De Jongh (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen

Dutchman Steven De Jongh has given Rabobank its second successive victory in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, which served as the opening event on the Belgian calendar this year after the cancellation of Het Volk yesterday. The 30 year old won an eight man group sprint, beating Italian champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) and Gerben Löwik (Chocolade Jacques) after leading out from around 250m to go.

De Jongh was exhausted but very happy with his win. "To win the only race in the opening weekend, that's really good," he was quoted on Belgian Radio 1. "Maarten den Bakker rode excellently in the final kilometres and brought me perfectly to the finish. Than I just had to reckon with the other fast men Bettini and Planckaert."

Last year, De Jongh won the GP E3 Prijs in nearby Harelbeke, and now has another Flemish semi-classic to his name. "This area suits me," he admitted. "I also like these cold temperatures."

How it unfolded

Early leader Michael Sandstod (CSC)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen

The cold temperatures were indeed a factor in today's race, which was held a day after Het Volk was cancelled due to the snow. At 10:00am on Sunday morning it was misty and -3 degrees celsius, but by the time the race started at midday, the sun was shining and the temperature had lifted to 4 degrees, with a cool northeasterly wind blowing.

As the peloton battled its way towards Ninove into the headwind, the attacks came from Michael Sandstød (CSC), then Kristof Trouvé (MrBookmaker), Marc Streel (Landbouwkrediet) and René Jørgensen (Alessio-Bianchi), until finally French neo-pro Alexandre Naulleau (Brioches la Boulangère) escaped. He gradually built up a lead but was chased and caught by Luxembourg champion Benoît Joachim (US Postal-Berry Floor), who simply motored by him on the Kanarieberg (km 98). At this stage, the peloton was 5'20 back and starting to get nervous.

Joachim remained alone in front with a gradually diminishing lead as the action started to heat up in the bunch, but eventually succumbed with 55 km to go. After Fassa Bortolo stretched things out on the Kruisberg, the race exploded on the Oude Kwaremont with 80 km to go, with Quick.Step doing the most damage. Tom Boonen and George Hincapie (USPS) led over the top of the 2.2 km cobbled climb, and a group of 36 riders formed in front en route to Ronse.

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Lars Rønbøg

The group contained five Quick.Steps (Boonen, Museeuw, Zanini, Bettini, Hulsmans), five Fassas (Vandenbroucke, Cancellara, Petito, Trenti, Flecha) four Rabobanks (De Jongh, Den Bakker, Hayman, Kroon), four US Postals (Van Heeswijk, Hincapie, Devolder and later, Joachim), three MrBookmaker-Palmans (Planckaert, Hammond, Omloop), three Lampres (Carrara, Vainsteins, Bossoni), three Cofidis (O'Grady, Farazijn, Scheirlinckx) and others such as Mattan (Bodysol), Hushovd (Credit Agricole), Eisel (FDJeux.com), Van de Walle (Jacques), Klier (T-Mobile), Eisel (FDJeux.com) and Steegmans (Lotto-Domo). Apart from Steegmans' presence, the entire Lotto-Domo team had missed the cut and spent the next 50 km in a fruitless chase. Peter van Petegem eventually abandoned once they hit the finishing circuits.

Once this lead group was established, it flew over the final climbs and back towards Kuurne. A number of teams, particularly Quick.Step, were interested in keeping it together for their sprinters, while other teams, such as MrBookmaker-Palmans and Fassa Bortolo wanted to split things up. The attacks were thus frequent for the remainder of the race, with Belgian champion Geert Omloop by far the most aggressive rider. Omloop was involved in almost every attack, initiating most of them, and eventually was able to get away with 10 km to go with Löwik (Jacques), O'Grady (Cofidis), Planckaert (MrBookmaker), Bettini (Quick.Step), Flecha (Fassa Bortolo), De Jongh and Den Bakker (Rabobank).

Steven De Jongh (Rabobank)
Photo ©: AFP

"I attacked until I practically fell off," said Omloop to VRT at the finish. "In the big group there were a lot of very fast men. Quick.Step and Rabobank speculated on a bunch sprint and I didn't want to end up with a 15th place. Therefore I was very happy that a break finally happened. Unfortunately there were also a few fast men there. The national jersey made me go harder."

This time it was US Postal-Berry Floor who missed the move, and George Hincapie tried in vain to bring the group back up for his teammate Van Heeswijk over the final kilometres. The race was being played out in front, however, and a watchful Paolo Bettini was relying on his sprinting legs for the victory. But in the end it was Steven De Jongh, who attacked from a long way out with Bettini on his wheel to hold off the Italian for the victory, his biggest after the GP E3 Prijs last year. In the cold conditions, the Dutchman was the strongest, and Rabobank could enjoy its second consecutive success in this race after Roy Sentjens last year.

Less than two hours after the finish, it started snowing again.


Images by Luc Claessen/Cyclingnews/www.actiefotos.be

Images by Lars Rønbøg/www.picturesport.com

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Luc Claessen/Cyclingnews/www.actiefotos.be

Results - 193 km

1 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank                                 4.39.10 (41.481 km/h)
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon
3 Gerben Löwik (Ned) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
5 Geert Omloop (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans
6 Jo Planckaert (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans
7 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Fassa Bortolo
8 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank
9 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                              0.08
10 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor
11 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole
12 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo
13 Roger Hammond (GBr) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans
14 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC
15 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team
16 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Lampre
17 Geert Van Bondt (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
18 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
19 Nico Mattan (Bel) Relax-Bodysol
20 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank
21 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
22 Chris Peers (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf
23 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Fassa Bortolo
24 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile Team
25 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
26 Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf
27 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank
28 Guido Trenti (USA) Fassa Bortolo
29 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon
30 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
31 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Lampre
32 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Lotto-Domo
33 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor  0.32
34 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                         0.37
35 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) FDJeux.com                                   0.53
36 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Lampre                                       4.00
37 Stijn Devolder (Bel) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor
38 Benoît Joachim (Lux) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor   5.12
39 Erwin Thijs (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans                         8.35
40 Kristof Trouve (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans
41 Michel Van Haecke (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans
42 Johan Coenen (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans
43 Rik Reinerink (Ned) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf
44 Andy De Smet (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans
45 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Crédit Agricole
46 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) BankGiroLoterij
47 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Relax-Bodysol
48 Andrej Hauptman (Slo) Lampre
49 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Lampre
50 Nacor Burgos Rojo (Spa) Relax-Bodysol
51 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Relax-Bodysol
52 Bert Roesems (Bel) Relax-Bodysol
53 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) AG2r Prévoyance
54 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJeux.com
55 Ludovic Capelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
56 Laurent Brochard (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance
57 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
58 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Alessio-Bianchi
59 Christophe Mengin (Fra) FDJeux.com
60 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) FDJeux.com
61 René Jørgensen (Den) Alessio-Bianchi
62 Scott Sunderland (Aus) Alessio-Bianchi
63 Jan Kuyckx (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
64 Paul Van Hyfte (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
65 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Brioches la Boulangère
66 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf
67 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Phonak Hearing Systems
68 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) AG2r Prévoyance
69 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor
70 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
71 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
72 Vladimir Goussev (Rus) Team CSC
73 Stéphane Berges (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance
74 Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim
75 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
76 Mario Aerts (Bel) T-Mobile Team
77 Nicolas Portal (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance
78 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quick.Step-Davitamon
79 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
80 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
81 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team
82 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Relax-Bodysol
83 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Relax-Bodysol
84 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC
85 Leif Hoste (Bel) Lotto-Domo
86 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Relax-Bodysol
87 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor
88 Giosuè Bonomi (Ita) Saeco
89 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Saeco
90 Dario Pieri (Ita) Saeco
91 Jörg Ludewig (Ger) Saeco
92 Stephan Schreck (Ger) T-Mobile Team
93 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr) Team CSC
94 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi
95 Allan Johansen (Den) BankGiroLoterij
96 Remco Van Der Ven (Ned) BankGiroLoterij
97 Matthé Pronk (Ned) BankGiroLoterij
98 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
99 Andy Flickinger (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance
100 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre
101 Erki Pütsep (Est) AG2r Prévoyance
102 Antonio Bucciero (Ita) Saeco
103 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank
104 Franck Bouyer (Fra) Brioches la Boulangère
105 Roy Sentjens (Ned) Rabobank
106 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Rabobank
107 Thomas Bruun Eriksen (Den) Team CSC
108 Frank Høj (Den) Team CSC
109 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC
110 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
111 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Lotto-Domo
112 Franck Renier (Fra) Brioches la Boulangère
113 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon
114 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team