69th Flèche Wallonne - PT
Belgium, April 20, 2005
& Profile Start
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Hedwig Kröner
Complete live report
Live coverage starts: 13:45 CEST
Estimated finish time: 16:10 CEST
13:13 CEST 96km/105.5km to go
Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
Welcome aboard Cyclingnews' inflatable dirigible, "The Oxygen Transfer", which
is hovering just above the Mur de Huy in south eastern part of Belgium. After
being the only airborne craft to brave the dense fog in southern Limburg last
Sunday, today is somewhat of an easier task as we have anchored the "Transfer"
to the tennis courts adjacent to the finish line on the Mur, which is a damn
sight nicer than Charleroi airport. You can therefore be assured that we will
not miss a moment of the action in today's 69th Flèche Wallonne. Unless someone
has booked the tennis court between 2 and 4 pm.
Today's race is 201.5 km long and started from the Stade du Pays de Charleroi
at around 11:00am. The riders have already passed over the Mur de Huy for the
first time and are tackling it for the second time. After this, there are just
over 100 km to go including the Côte de Bellaire (km 160), Côte de Bohissau
(km 171.5), and Côte de Ahin (km 190.5) are all important, falling in the final
40 kilometres of the race.
The weather is quite cool but calm, with no wind. It was a bit damp at the start,
but it's clearing up now. Seven riders are riding up the Mur now: Davide Bramati
(Quick.Step), Jens Voigt (CSC), Benoît Poilvet (CA), Frederic Finot (Francaise
des Jeux), Kurt Van de Wouwer (MrBookmaker), Jef Peeters (Jacques), Oliver Kaisen
(RAGT). They have 1'28 on the peloton.
13:16 CEST 98km/103.5km to go
The peloton is coming up the Mur, led by Bettini (Quick.Step), Wegmann (Gerolsteiner)
and Klöden (T-Mobile). Cunego and Pozzato are well placed. Van Goolen (Quick.Step)
is off the back a bit. The gap is 2'00 at the top.
13:22 CEST 100.5km/101km to go
The six leaders (one has been dropped) are over the top of the Mur and all together,
with a 1'53 gap over the peloton. Stangelj (Lampre) leads the bunch through
the feed zone at the top, then Liquigas takes over for Di Luca and Pellizotti.
The latter can't be seen at the moment, but Di Luca certainly can in fifth wheel.
Di Luca tells his teammates to ease up a bit, and they do.
The average speed has been quite fast so far, some 43 km/h, and we're on track
to finish at about 16:00.
We are back with seven leaders. Someone must have gone back for a drink.
For those asking, we will have an update on the women's race when we see them
on the Mur at about 15:00. If we can get any info before then, we will certainly
let you know.
13:27 CEST 104.5km/97km to go
The leaders race through Les Gottes and are now on a narrow road through the
lush green countryside. All are working well, with Peeters looking pretty good,
as well as the irrepressible Jens Voigt.
13:28 CEST 105.5km/96km to go
The peloton's speed is picking up again, and the gap has gone from 2'00 on the
Mur to 1'25. Rebellin's blue Gerolsteiner henchmen are at the front with the
fluoro green jerseys of Liquigas.
13:31 CEST 106.5km/95km to go
The break realises the danger as some of the cars start to pass them, meaning
the gap is getting down close to a minute. Jens Voigt picks up the pace, stringing
them out, but it's now 1'17. There's just one Gerolsteiner rider on the front
of the bunch, but he's having a pretty good effect.
13:33 CEST 108.5km/93km to go
The big Oliver Kaisen (RAGT) does a turn in the break, but then Jens Voigt comes
through and lifts the tempo again. The gap is just 1'10.
13:36 CEST 110.5km/91km to go
Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick.Step)
Kjell Carlström (Liquigas) does a turn in the peloton, then Marco Serpellini (Gerolsteiner).
The pace has slowed, and the gap grows to 1'20 again.
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner was at the start in Charleroi this morning, and
spoke with German talent Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick.Step). "If my legs are as good
as they were on Sunday, I hope to finish right at front," he said. "At Amstel
I could have even placed better because I started the final climb at the back
of the bunch really.
"Paolo [Bettini] doesn't have a problem at all riding for me, he enjoys it - that's
if I have the legs today. He'd like to see me on the podium today, he says! He's
recovering from his illness and getting stronger every day, though. As for the
weather, I'd much prefer sun and 25 degrees, but hey! What can you do...? It would
be good if stayed dry, though..."
13:39 CEST 112.5km/89km to go
Finnish champ Carlstrom is on the front of the peloton again, setting a steady
tempo with his hands draped over the tops of the bars. Jörg Jaksche (Liberty)
shows himself near the front, with teammate Nozal on his wheel, trying not to
eat an energy bar wrapper. Or maybe he's trying not to eat the energy bar.
Serge Parsani (DS Quick.Step) told us this morning that Sinkewitz "is in good
form, he showed it at Amstel Gold Race. He's a young rider important to us,
also for next Sunday. So if Patrik has good legs today, and Bettini is still
in his group, then it's all for Sinkewitz. Bettini's alright with that. It's
also an important race for Pozzato, where he could place well, and of course
for Verbrugghe. It's a nervous race, and it will start off fast. We'll see after
the first two laps where we stand, and try everything in the finale."
13:42 CEST 114.5km/87km to go
Voigt is back on the front of the break, but not doing a hard turn this time.
The powerful German is taking it steady, hoping that the break survives until
the last climb of the Mur. It's a big ask though, as they've only got 1'25 with
87 km to go in Villers-le-Temple.
The riders in the break: Davide Bramati (Quick.Step), Jens Voigt (CSC), Benoît
Poilvet (CA), Frederic Finot (Francaise des Jeux), Kurt Van de Wouwer (MrBookmaker),
Jef Peeters (Jacques), Oliver Kaisen (RAGT).
13:46 CEST 117.5km/84km to go
One of the outside favourites for today, Bjorn Leukemans (Davitamon-Lotto) is
being towed back to the peloton by teammate Koos Moerenhout. Meanwhile, Serpellini,
Carlstrom and Verstrepen are leading the peloton at 1'35 behind the front septet.
The break passes the church and graveyard at Scry.
13:49 CEST 119.5km/82km to go
Carlström is back on the front, riding on his imaginary TT bars, which
the UCI have deemed safer than real ones. The leaders keep going through the
back farm roads under grey skies.
13:52 CEST 121.5km/80km to go
Alejandro Valverde has a radio problem and goes back to the team car to get
it fixed. He's back in the peloton now.
The next climb, the Cote de Pailhe, is approaching in about 10 km.
13:55 CEST 124.5km/77km to go
The peloton is picking up speed again, courtesy of the two Liquigas men, Serpellini
(Gerolsteiner) and Thierry de Grootte (Landbouwkrediet). The gap falls to 1'30.
Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Discovery) is back with the team car to get a bottle.
Celestino is back there, being brought up by his Domina Vacanze teammates.
14:01 CEST 129.5km/72km to go
The break is now enjoying some sunshine as it passes yet another grand Wallonian
building, the Chateau de Modave. Still around 1'30 to the peloton, which doesn't
seem interested in closing it down yet.
14:04 CEST 130.5km/71km to go
It falls to 1'11 as De Grootte does a big turn. The average speed after three
hours is a brisk 43.3 km/h./
14:06 CEST 132.5km/69km to go
The leaders get a bit of a break just before the Côte de Pailhe, but now it
will get tough to hold off the peloton.
Serpellini is back on the front with Carlström.
14:08 CEST 133.5km/68km to go
Kaisen is dropped on the Pailhe as Voigt does a strong turn. Finot is hanging
10m off the back too. He looks toast. No he comes back. Six leaders at 1'05.
14:11 CEST 135.5km/66km to go
Moreau is at the back of the peloton, but he's not in trouble. One of the main
attackers in the Amstel Gold Race is looking good today.
Voigt's tempo in the break has extended the gap out to 1'15 again. In the peloton,
it's still the same two Liquigas riders and Serpellini, as Vasseur (Cofidis)
moves into fourth wheel.
The leaders enter the province of Namur again.
14:12 CEST 136.5km/65km to go
Kaisen is back with the peloton now. Six leaders: Davide Bramati (Quick.Step),
Jens Voigt (CSC), Benoît Poilvet (CA), Frederic Finot (Francaise des Jeux),
Kurt Van de Wouwer (MrBookmaker), Jef Peeters (Jacques).
Guerini (T-Mobile) has a problem with his bike, but is back on it again now.
The gap comes down to a minute again, thanks to Serpellini. A few more teams
are getting nervous and moving their men up to the front. The real finale should
Correction: Kaisen has made it back to the break. Nice work by the young Belgian!
14:17 CEST 139.5km/62km to go
Kaisen's presence probably won't be a lot of use to the leaders, who now have
just 54 seconds of their lead, which was a maximum of 3'10.
14:21 CEST 141.5km/60km to go
Martin Wynants (Jacques) has another problem with his bike, but gets a quick
change and is back in the peloton. 60 km to go and Finot has attacked out the
back of the break. Meanwhile, Jens Voigt and Jef Peeters have attacked off the
front of the break.
Further behind, Preben van Hecke (Lotto) and Benoît Joachim (Discovery) have
counter attacked the peloton.
14:24 CEST 144.5km/57km to go
The break has completely fragmented with Voigt and Peeters going off the front.
Finot, Poilvet, Van de Wouwer and Bramati are behind, but not really chasing.
Kaisen has now given up and gone back to the bunch. Joachim and Van Hecke are
in there somewhere, as another two riders: Marichal (Cofidis) and Calzati (Ag2r)
attack the peloton.
14:25 CEST 146.5km/55km to go
Thierry Marichal (Cofidis) and Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r) have now caught Davide
Bramati (Quick.Step), Benoît Poilvet (CA), Frederic Finot (Francaise des Jeux)
and Kurt Van de Wouwer (MrBookmaker). Voigt and Peeters are still off the front,
but Van Hecke and Joachim have been caught by the bunch, which is led by Serpellini
at 1'22. The chasers are at 1'09.
14:29 CEST 148km/53.5km to go
Ben Day, Laurent Paumier (MrBookmaker), Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears) and
Andriy Grivko (Domina Vacanze) crash near the back of the peloton.
In front, Voigt and Peeters have 1'10 on the nearest chasers and 1'40 on the
peloton. There's no holding back now!
Illes Balears and Domina are at the front of the peloton, chasing Erik Dekker
who has just attacked.
14:34 CEST 151.5km/50km to go
Dekker still has a bit of a gap over the peloton, which is getting restless.
But there are still two groups ahead of him. The Dutch champion is caught. Now
just Voigt and Peeters at 1'45 and Marichal, Calzati, Bramati, Poilvet, Finot
and Van de Wouwer at about 45 seconds.
Pozzato needs a wheel change.
Peeters does a turn now - he has been sitting on Voigt all this time. They have
David Moncoutié (Cofidis)
David Moncoutié (Cofidis) told us this morning that "The climbs are a little too
short for me. I'll try to attack before the final climb - if I arrive at the bottom
of the Mur de Huy with the bunch, it will be hard. So I have to anticipate."
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
14:39 CEST 154.5km/47km to go
Löwik and Sijmens crash in the peloton, but it's not serious. They're going
again. The bunch isn't hanging around, but Voigt and Peeters still have 2'00
as they hit the Côte de Coutisse. The six chasers are 1'30 behind Voigt and
14:41 CEST 156.5km/45km to go
Voigt gives it plenty of gas on the Coutisse, but Peeters is able to hang on.
The peloton is just about to catch the chase group of six, as Marichal and Calzati
try to stay away. Brandt counters, driving through the remnants of the break.
Verheyen is with him.
14:44 CEST 158.5km/43km to go
The peloton is breaking up as Bichot, Brandt and two others get a small gap,
1'37 behind Voigt and Peeters. Voigt attacks! Peeters gives it everything to
try to hold the powerful German, but no...
14:47 CEST 160.5km/41km to go
The three chasers behind Voigt (and Peeters): Patxi Vila (Lampre), Moos (Phonak),
Bichot (FDJ). Brandt had a bike problem and has gone back to the peloton.
Voigt is driving up the Côte de Bellaire now, with 1'47 over the bunch.
14:50 CEST 162.5km/39km to go
Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues) has crashed into the side of the road, along with
Castresana and Coenen. Sprick doesn't look too good, but he's up again.
Nicole Cooke (SAFI) has won the women's Flèche Wallonne, beating Oenone Wood
(Nürnberger), Judith Arndt (Nürnberger) and Mirjam Melchers (Buitenpoort). Cooke
went so hard that she collapsed after the finish line.
Benoît Vaugrenard (FDJ) has attacked the peloton.
14:52 CEST 164.5km/37km to go
Matthias Kessler (T-Mobile) was third here last year. The German told us this
morning, "We will do our best as we always do. Every race counts, and with the
amount of races we've won so far we really have to observe the races differently
Voigt has 1'49 over the peloton. There's still a group with Moos, Vila and Bichot
14:53 CEST 165.5km/36km to go
Voigt hits the Cote de Bellaire at full speed, driving in the big ring. Impressive
work by the CSC super-diesel.
The peloton has caught counter-attacker Vaugrenard.
14:54 CEST 166.5km/35km to go
CSC's press officer Brian Nygaard updated Cyclingnews on the status of Ivan
"Ivan Basso is in good shape. We have conducted some performance tests in Germany,
and the results are very good. He might be able to show his abilities in the
last climb, but his true goal is Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday."
14:56 CEST 167.5km/34km to go
Vila is now joined by Pieter Ghyllebert and a Discovery rider. No sign of Moos
and Bichot. But the peloton will likely sweep them all up.
14:59 CEST 169.5km/32km to go
Voigt is now in the small chainring on the steep Côte de Bohissau (the last
one was the Bellaire, sorry). He still has 1'46 and doesn't look like slowing
down for a coffee break.
In the peloton, it's Illes Balears, Liquigas and Phonak's Murn in front.
15:00 CEST 169.5km/32km to go
Rik Verbrugghe attacks on the Bohissau! He gets a gap. He won this race four
years ago with a similar move.
15:03 CEST 171.5km/30km to go
Verbrugghe has now caught Jef Peeters on the Bohissau. The pair 1'39 behind
the impressive Voigt, who is at the top of the climb and fighting his way along
the false flat.
It's raining a little now...
Gerolsteiner DS Christian Henn
Jörg Jaksche spoke to us this morning, and said, "I feel good, we'll see how it
goes in the race. The climbs are short and explosive for guys like Kessler, who
can really push it hard during three minutes. But Flèche is between Amstel and
Liège, and both of these races have more prestige, so anything can happen here."
Photo ©: Hedwig Kröner
15:06 CEST 173.5km/28km to go
Voigt has increased his advantage out to 1'52! Verbrugghe and Peeters are swallowed
by the Liquigas boys on the front of the peloton. Still spots of rain falling,
but the roads are dry here.
15:08 CEST 174.5km/27km to go
The peloton is strung out in a long line now in pursuit of the lone leader,
Jens Voigt. Illes Balears has got it cranking with Liquigas. 1'36.
15:11 CEST 176.5km/25km to go
It's Voigt against the peloton with 25 km and two climbs to go. An Illes Balears
rider is hammering on the front of the peloton, along with Liquigas. Pellizotti
is up to third wheel, while Di Luca is in sixth. Jaksche and Kirchen are also
well up there, as is Freire.
15:13 CEST 178.5km/23km to go
The rain starts to fall a bit harder but that doesn't deter Jens Voigt, who
is mashing along in his typical style en route to the Cote de Ahin. Jaksche
is now in second wheel in the bunch, at 1'26.
15:14 CEST 179.5km/22km to go
The peloton is in full pursuit of Voigt now, and has the gap pegged to 1'21.
But it's not over yet as the wet roads will make it hard to chase. Voigt has
a few problems with his chain/gears on a descent.
Murn is back on the front for Phonak, with a Lampre man there too. Look out
for Cunego in today's finish.
15:17 CEST 181.5km/20km to go
Another crash! Thomas Dekker is down with about six others. They're all strewn
across the road. This has been a very crash filled race. Strange fall - Dekker
crashed by slamming on the brakes after riders crashed in front of him. He didn't
even get close to hitting them.
Murn is back on the front of the peloton, still at 1'18. Voigt can sniff victory,
but it's still 20 km away and up a couple of big hills.
15:19 CEST 182.5km/19km to go
Murn has to take the descent very gingerly. That's not going to help the chase.
It's murderously slippery.
Mauro Facci (Fassa) and Aldag and Sevilla (T-Mobile) were also in the crash.
15:19 CEST 183.5km/18km to go
Voigt has to slow right down to take a corner, but he's back up to full speed
again as he heads towards the Ahin. Still 1'18 - the CSC rider is going very
15:20 CEST 184.5km/17km to go
Voigt drives through the rain, which is not too heavy but enough to make it
slippery now. Murn is still leading the chase, at 1'16.
Murn, the Slovenian champion, is working with Szmyd (Lampre) in the pursuit.
They're going to need more than two men to catch Voigt. He still has 1'18. Amazing
15:23 CEST 185.5km/16km to go
Xabier Zandio (Balears), Ronny Scholz (Gerolsteiner) and Marcus Ljungqvist (Liquigas)
come to lend a hand. Then a host of Lampre-Caffita blue and pink outfits.
15:24 CEST 186.5km/15km to go
Voigt told Cyclingnews this morning that he didn't want to start the final climb
with the rest, so his attack was planned...
Stangelj is driving the peloton at 1'11 behind the German.
Stangelj pulls off and an Illes Balears rider takes over. Then Ljungqvist. Vinokourov
is well placed near the front.
15:26 CEST 188.5km/13km to go
Voigt will hit the Cote de Ahin with just over a minute of his lead, it looks
like. The roads haven't got any drier and it's quite cold and wet now.
The chase has gotten a bit more organised on the big roads. Murn is in action
again. Obviously Phonak is not riding for him today!
15:27 CEST 189.5km/12km to go
The bunch pegs the gap back to 49 seconds at the foot of the Ahin. 12 km to
go. This will be hard for Voigt.
15:28 CEST 189.5km/12km to go
Voigt is losing time rapidly, as Stangelj drives off the front of the peloton
with a Landbouwkrediet rider in tow - Bert De Waele. 39 seconds.
15:29 CEST 190.5km/11km to go
A Credit Agricole rider comes up to De Waele and Stangelj, and passes them.
It's Andrey Kashechkin. Voigt now has only 28 seconds. He's gone, it looks like.
15:30 CEST 190.5km/11km to go
Kashechkin can see Voigt 15 seconds ahead of him as he gets to 1km from the
summit. The others have dropped back to the peloton.
Voigt looks behind.
Kashechkin is strong as he closes the gap to Voigt, steadily. He has about 10
seconds on the peloton.
15:32 CEST 191km/10.5km to go
Plenty of attacking in the peloton now as Vino shows himself near the front
with Di Luca, Kessler, Celestino and Cunego. A Liberty rider has managed to
get a gap.
Andrey Kashechkin is still in pursuit of Voigt.
Vino attacks! Kirchen goes with him.
15:33 CEST 191.5km/10km to go
The Liberty rider is Vicioso. He is chasing Voigt and Kashechkin, with Vino
and Kirchen behind him.
15:35 CEST 192.5km/9km to go
Vino and Kirchen are back, as is Vicioso. But it's still Voigt in the lead -
he hasn't been caught by Kashechkin yet. The gaps are small though: Voigt has
15 seconds on Kashechkin with 9 km to go. He has been away since km 50.
15:35 CEST 193.5km/8km to go
Voigt continues to hammer away in front, holding 16 seconds lead on Andrey Kashechkin
and 23 over the peloton. A Euskaltel rider is in pursuit now.
15:36 CEST 194km/7.5km to go
Vasseur counters from the peloton with Dekker on his wheel. It's very wet here,
and very dangerous. Vasseur likes it.
15:37 CEST 194.5km/7km to go
Vasseur's move has the peloton in one long line, but Kashechkin is now caught.
Still Jens Voigt in front with 17 seconds!!
15:38 CEST 195.5km/6km to go
The peloton is fairly large at the moment - maybe 60-70 riders. They're descending
16 seconds behind Jens Voigt, who is flying down towards Huy. Just one more
15:39 CEST 196.5km/5km to go
Voigt takes the hairpin and is nearly at the foot of the descent. He only has
14 seconds. He's going to need more than that.
Voigt goes under 5 km with just 9 seconds on a group of four chasers. Kashechkin
, Vasseur, Pineau and Moos are there, with the peloton a few seconds behind.
15:41 CEST 197.5km/4km to go
It's Chavanel, not Pineau. They catch Voigt, and there are five leaders. Voigt
hooks onto the back.
And it's Pereiro, not Moos :-)
15:42 CEST 198.5km/3km to go
The leaders: Jens Voigt (CSC), Kashechkin, Vasseur, Chavanel and Pereiro. Lampre
is leading the peloton about 10 seconds behind, and then the rest of the favourites
are massing in preparation for the Mur. Evans can be seen near the front for
15:44 CEST 200.5km/1km to go
A Liquigas rider ups the tempo as Pereiro drives. Chavanel was in the break,
not Vasseur. So it was Jens Voigt (CSC), Kashechkin, Pineau, Chavanel and Pereiro.
The bunch is together at the foot of the Mur. 1 km to go.
The leaders fight for position in front - maybe 25 riders in contention. Lampre
still driving it with 1km to go. Now the climb gets harder.
Vinokourov is well placed as the climb steepens. Evans is there on the left
hand side, and Di Luca is in front too. Rebellin and Freire are there, as are
Sinkewitz, Celestino and Valverde.
15:46 CEST 201km/0.5km to go
Freire, Rebellin and Vino are the front three, then Di Luca right behind with
Sinkewitz and Celestino. Merckx is in about 15th.
15:47 CEST 201.5km/0km to go
Sinkewitz takes over in front with Di Luca there. The Italian looks good, but
Rebellin is ready. Freire still there and Vino.
Now it's Kirchen accelerating, but Di Luca drives and drives all the way and
wins La Flèche Wallonne!!!!! Kirchen second, ahead of Rebellin. How about that?
Di Luca wins his third ProTour race of the season and takes the lead in the
ProTour classification. Can he do the triple in LBL?
Thanks for following today's Flèche Wallonne with us on Cyclingnews.
Stay tuned for our Tour de Georgia coverage soon on live.cyclingnews.com.
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi 4.44.55
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
4 David Etxebarria Alkorta (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team
5 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
6 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team
7 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quickstep
8 Aitor Osa Eizaguirre (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon - Lotto
1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi 130 pts
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step 112
3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 94
4 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 93
5 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 86
the commentary team