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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

88th Ronde van Vlaanderen - CDM

Belgium, April 4, 2004

Results    Live Report    World Cup Standings

Mooi win for Wesemann

Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile)
Photo ©: Sirotti

By Chris Henry in Meerbeke

Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile) is a quiet rider, one who has shown flashes of great potential between periods of more modest results, but today he put his name among the greats by winning the Tour of Flanders. Wesemann claimed victory from a three man escape which formed on the penultimate climb of the Muur van Geraardsbergen, beating Leif Hoste (Lotto-Domo) and Dave Bruylandts (Chocolade Jacques) to the line in Meerbeke. Wesemann bounced back after a fall early in the race, played his cards right, and had the strength to follow through with the winning move.

"On the Muur I was watching Museeuw and Van Petegem, but when neither attacked I realized I had to make my own move," Wesemann said after his victory. "After the top [of the Muur] it was just a question of keeping going until the finish."

De Peet
Photo ©: Luc Claessen

Indeed, with all eyes on defending champion Peter Van Petegem, three-time Flanders winner Johan Museeuw (in his last appearance at de Ronde), and other leaders such as Paolo Bettini and Michael Boogerd, Wesemann not only took an opportunistic win, but showed himself to be the strongest rider in the race.

"When we were riding to the finish with three, I asked my sport director Mario Kummer who Bruylandts and Hoste were. Mario assured me that I could beat them in the sprint. I stayed calm and finished it off."

Second placed Leif Hoste (Lotto-Domo) had an incredible race, making the early break and surviving the next 230 km until the finish. "If you had told me before the start that I would be second in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, I would have laughed it off," he told Belgian TV. "I received instruction from the team to go in an early break. First of all I managed that. But apparently there was more to come. Finally we went with three at the front of the race."

In third position was the consistently strong Dave Bruylandts (Jacques), who couldn't shake his breakaway companions with an attack in the final kilometre. "I'm a bit disappointed, but I knew it would be difficult against Wesemann in the sprint, so I had to do something," he said. "I tried to ride away, and if Hoste hadn't reacted, then I would have won the Ronde van Vlaanderen. You always have to let the fastest sprinter react to an attack and that was Wesemann. I'm angry at the rider Hoste but not at him as a person."

Hoste's response was, "I ride for myself. I don't ride for the national team, right? I didn't have to ride at the front. I had spent all day in front and I had Van Petegem and Van Bon behind me. They were the top men and me the helper."

In his Flanders swan song, Museeuw kept himself in the company of the pre-race favourites for the majority of the race, and said afterwards that he did everything he could and was satisfied with his effort. His Quick.Step-Davitamon teammate Paolo Bettini, on the other hand, acknowledged his own mistake of marking only Van Petegem and allowing the winning move to go clear without him. Milan-San Remo winner Oscar Freire maintained his World Cup lead, but made a hasty exit after the finish, fearing a broken nose after he too crashed earlier in the race.

How it unfolded

Benoît Joachim (US Postal Service)
Photo ©: Chris Henry

With a stiff breeze blowing off the Belgian coast, the peloton set out for a tough slog to Oostende before turning inland toward the famed bergs of Flanders that define the prestigious classic. The requisite early break went clear, but in fact the first quarter of the race was marked by a number of groups trying to define themselves ahead of the nervous peloton. An early break of four eventually grew to 18, including, among others, Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner), Thomas Bruun (CSC), Jan Schaffrath (T-Mobile), Martin Elmiger (Phonak), Benoît Joachim and Antonio Cruz (USPS), Stefano Zanini (Quick.Step), Jörg Ludewig (Saeco), and Steven De Jongh (Rabobank).

Second placed Leif Hoste's performance began early on when he led an eight man chase group behind this first big move, eventually catching the leaders after 44 kilometres and forming an even larger leading group. Hoste would spend virtually the entire day in the front positions, showing great tenacity to pave the way for his leader Van Petegem, and ultimately take his own chance when his man wasn't up to the task.

Stefano Zanini (Quick.Step-Davitamon)
Photo ©: Chris Henry

The lead group, 26 riders strong, built an advantage of over four minutes before riders began to tail off the back of the break and the anxious leaders set their teams to the chase. As the race hit the first of the climbs, the leaders' advantage dropped below the four minute mark as a number of counter attacks upped the pace. Despite having men up front, Lotto-Domo and US Postal Service led the chase early on over the climbs of the Rekelberg and the Molenberg. A chase group went clear with Ludo Dierckxsens (Landbouwkrediet) in search of the large leading bunch, gaining time on the main peloton spreading the race out across the Flemish countryside.

As the front-runners hit the short, steep Wolvenberg climb (km 160), their advantage had grown once more, this time to over five minutes. The intermediate chase group, led by Belgian veteran Ludo Dierckxsens (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), built its own gap to 2'15 over the main bunch. Dierckxsens had plenty of talent in his group, including Danilo Hondo (Gerolsteiner) and Nico Mattan (Relax-Bodysol), both of whom showed good form at the Three Days of De Panne.

Van Petegem and Bettini
Photo ©: Luc Claessen

After the climbs of the Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg, and Koppenberg, the head of the race had split into three groups, as riders like Hoste, Lotto teammate Thierry Marichal, and Stefano Zanini (Quick.Step) forced the pace and caused more damage on the tough cobbled ascents. The peloton by this point was closing in, however, within 2'30 of the leaders and chasing hard. By the top of the Taaienberg, the pressure from Dierckxsens helped spit more riders out from the chase group and a new set of ten going clear. Bruylandts opened his own gap in the main field along with Museeuw, showing himself early relatively early but clearly with strength left in his legs.

American George Hincapie, winner Wednesday in De Panne, tried to spark a winning move on the Leberg. Frustrated, he found nobody to help him, particularly as Van Petegem's Lotto team had two men further up the road. Bruylandts was the next to give it a go, taking Serguei Ivanov with him while Michael Boogerd leapt across to catch the tail end of the move. They were soon caught by the group of favourites, but the attack signaled the coming of the crucial point in the race, with the often decisive climbs of the Tenbosse, the Muur, and the Bosberg still to come.

Van Petegem tried to go clear on the paved rise of the Tenbosse, but Bettini wouldn't let him go. By this point eight men were still away up front, but their advantage was dwindling quickly as the more than 200 kilometres covered seemed to do nothing to blunt the speed of the peloton. The leaders were caught just before Geraardsbergen and the showdown was on on the Muur with a big group of heavy-hitters still together.

The final podium (L to R):
Photo ©: Sirotti

It was at this point that the expected attacks from Van Petegem, Vandenbroucke, and Museeuw didn't materialize, leaving Wesemann and Bruylandts to spark the winning escape with Hoste in tow. Hoste, who had been away in some fashion all day long, avoided taking any pulls as the trio sped toward Meerbeke. The other two let him sit on, preferring to take their own chances rather than get caught up in a premature tactical battle. Hoste did close the gap when Bruylandts put in a last kilometre attack, but it only served to set up the powerful Wesemann to take the sprint and claim his first ever World Cup victory.


Images by Chris Henry/Cyclingnews

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

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Results - 257 km

1 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team                           6.39.00 (38.65 km/h)
2 Leif Hoste (Bel) Lotto-Domo                                           
3 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf                
4 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Lotto-Domo                                     0.28
5 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                            
6 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                     
7 Rolf Aldag (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                    1.09
8 Frank Høj (Den) Team CSC                                          1.16
9 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                              
10 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor     
11 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Domo                                    
12 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Fassa Bortolo                 1.17
13 Laurent Brochard (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance                           1.30
14 Jörg Ludewig (Ger) Saeco                                         1.38
15 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                             
16 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo                                   
17 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile Team                                   
18 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Relax-Bodysol                           
19 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                   
20 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                                       
21 Stijn Devolder (Bel) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor      
22 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) AG2r Prévoyance                              2.10
23 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                                    
24 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                      
25 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                                
26 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                              
27 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                       
28 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco                                          
29 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                          
30 Roger Hammond (GBr) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans                          
31 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Lampre                                       
32 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi                                
33 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Phonak Hearing Systems                        
34 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone             
35 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone                 
36 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Lotto-Domo                                     
37 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems                            
38 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole                                   
39 Nico Mattan (Bel) Relax-Bodysol                                      
40 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC                                       
41 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo                                
42 Chris Peers (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf                   
43 Stephan Schreck (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                  
44 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Fassa Bortolo                              
45 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                   
46 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank                                       
47 Daniele Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team                                 
48 Michel Van Haecke (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans                      
49 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                        2.22
50 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank                                      2.34
51 Servais Knaven (Ned) Quick.Step-Davitamon                        4.56
52 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf                
53 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) Saeco                                   5.07
54 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC                                     
55 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                     
56 Bert Hiemstra (Ned) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf                 
57 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Team CSC                                       
58 Benoît Joachim (Lux) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor      
59 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                           7.38
60 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi                                  
61 Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Domina Vacanze                               
62 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC                                       
63 Jan Kuyckx (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim                                
64 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Lampre                                      
65 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank                                    
66 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Alessio-Bianchi                               
67 Erwin Thijs (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans                            
68 Bert Roesems (Bel) Relax-Bodysol                                     
69 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJeux.com                                    
70 Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Vlaanderen-T Interim                            
71 Johan Coenen (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans                           
72 Mario Aerts (Bel) T-Mobile Team                                      
73 Alexandre Bazhenov (Rus) Domina Vacanze                              
74 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                        
75 Christophe Mengin (Fra) FDJeux.com                                   
76 Scott Sunderland (Aus) Alessio-Bianchi                               
77 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Saeco                                         
78 Jo Planckaert (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans                          
79 Peter Wuyts (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans                            
80 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor    
81 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                       
82 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre                                       
83 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                         
84 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr) Team CSC                                   
85 Grégory Rast (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                            
86 Bart Voskamp (Ned) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf                  
87 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo                                      
88 Serge Baguet (Bel) Lotto-Domo                                        
89 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank                                         
90 Geert Van Bondt (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                        
91 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                          
92 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Relax-Bodysol                                     
93 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                             8.36
94 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Domina Vacanze                           9.49
95 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone              
96 Andy Flickinger (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance                           11.20
97 Mikel Artexte Gezuraga                                               
98 Geert Omloop (Bel) MrBookmaker.com-Palmans                           
99 Jan Van Velzen (Ned) Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdorf                
100 Roy Sentjens (Ned) Rabobank                                         
101 Josu Sillinoiz Aresti                                               
102 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner                               12.38
103 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) FDJeux.com                                     
104 Cédric Hervé (Fra) Crédit Agricole                             13.51
105 David Clinger (USA) Domina Vacanze                             15.24
106 Jimmi Madsen (Den) Team CSC                                    17.53
107 Andris Nauduzs (Lat) Domina Vacanze                                 
108 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                 
109 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) AG2r Prévoyance                                
110 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                           
111 Stefano Casagranda (Ita) Saeco                                      
112 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Saeco                                       
113 Martin Hvastija (Slo) Alessio-Bianchi
114 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Lampre                                          
115 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Lampre                                  
116 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Crédit Agricole                             
117 Johan Verstrepen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                      
118 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor       
119 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Lotto-Domo                                    
120 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Relax-Bodysol                              
121 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto                    
122 Thomas Bruun Eriksen (Den) Team CSC                                 
123 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis  
124 Erki Pütsep (Est) AG2r Prévoyance                                   
125 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                 

World Cup standings after round 2

1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                                 103 pts
2 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team                              100
3 Leif Hoste (Bel) Lotto-Domo                                        70
4 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                     70
5 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                         51
6 Dave Bruylandts (Bel) Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf             50
7 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone              50
8 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                           44
9 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Lotto-Domo                                      40
10 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                           40
11 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                 37
12 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floo  36
13 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone              32
14 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor  29
15 Rolf Aldag (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                    28
16 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Lampre                                    28
17 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo                                26
18 Frank Hoj (Den) Team CSC                                          24
19 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir         20
20 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Domo                                 15
21 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo                           14
22 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco                                       14
23 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance                            13
24 Jörg Ludewig (Ger) Saeco                                          12
25 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) FDJeux.com                                 12
26 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                          11
27 Josu Silloniz Aresti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                      11
28 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi                               10
29 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile Team                                 9
30 Guido Trentin (Ita) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone               9
31 Xavier Florencio (Spa) Relax-Bodysol                               8
32 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                                    8
33 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                 7
34 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi                              7
35 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                                     6
36 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                             6
37 Stijn Devolder (Bel) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor    5
38 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2R Prevoyance                                4
39 Michele Gobbi (Ita) De Nardi                                       4
40 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                            3
41 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                    2
42 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                    2
43 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon                              1
44 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros                                  1


1 T-Mobile Team                                                      20 pts
2 Fassa Bortolo                                                      15
3 Rabobank                                                           13
4 Cofidis, le credit par Telephone                                   12
5 US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor                         11
6 Lotto-Domo                                                          9
7 Quick.Step-Davitamon                                                7
8 Euskaltel-Euskadi                                                   7
9 Saeco                                                               4
10 Gerolsteiner                                                       4
11 Phonak Hearing Systems                                             4
12 Chocolade Jacques Wincor-Nixdorf                                   3
13 Alessio-Bianchi                                                    3
14 Team CSC                                                           1
15 Brioches La Boulangere                                             1

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