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57th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - 1.2
Belgium, February 29, 2004
De Jongh repeats Rabobank's success
By Jeff Jones
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
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.
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).
"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
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