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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

69th Flèche Wallonne - PT

Belgium, April 20, 2005

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Déjà-vu on the Mur de Huy

By Hedwig Kröner in Huy

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas)
Photo ©: AFP
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Danilo di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) followed in the footsteps of his Italian colleague Davide Rebellin today when he took his second victory after Amstel Gold race, just like Rebellin last year. Di Luca was simply the strongest of the main contenders, all hitting the famous "Mur de Huy" together and pounding up the slopes of this final climb for an impressive slo-mo sprint.

The confidence Di Luca gained through his previous victory just a couple of days ago paid off: Moving clear of the likes of David Etxebarria, Patrik Sinkewitz, Oscar Freire, Angel Vicioso and Cadel Evans 200 metres before the line, Di Luca outsprinted Luxembourg champion Kim Kirchen (Fassa Bortolo) and the 2004 triple winner Rebellin, who is still having respiratory problems in the damp, cold weather.

At the finish, the breakthrough classics contender first of all thanked his team. "My team did a great job," he said. "It was only when we all arrived together at the foot of the last climb that I thought of winning. This morning, I was actually more focused on Liège-Bastogne-Liège!"

That was also the impression he gave to Cyclingnews at the start in Charleroi, where Di Luca seemed extremely relaxed and jokingly said he was going to attack "before the last ascent".

The men's podium (L to R):
Photo ©: Sirotti
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In the end, Di Luca got there with the main bunch of course, but it didn't matter. "I did control the front riders in the finale," he said. "I was right there at the front when we hit the Mur, I had to control. I waited for the moves of the others, and I responded."

Kim Kirchen managed to get his nose in front of Di Luca with 200m to go, but it didn't last too long. However, the Fassa Bortolo man held off Rebellin for solid second place. "I felt good all day, especially when it started to rain," said Kirchen. "We arrived at the foot of the last climb, where the finish was, in a group of seventy. The men of Cunego set the pace. We climbed at a strong tempo until the last 250 metres, when I took the initiative and started the sprint. I went strongly, but Di Luca had an extra gear.

"My condition is good and I hope to be able to play for the win in Liege on Sunday. The finish there is not quite as hard and I should be more competitive against a Di Luca in these conditions."

Third placed Davide Rebellin commented, "I like the warm weather better. My legs were good today, but it was hard to breathe because of the bad weather." As for Liege-Bastogne-Liege, "I would love to win it again. Di Luca, Boogerd and Cunego are my main rivals."

How it unfolded

The notorious steep section
Photo ©: AFP
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Under grey, threatening skies, the riders set out from Charleroi's Stade du Pays shortly after 11:00am. The opening kilometres were fast and aggressive, with Frederic Finot (Francaise des Jeux) the first rider to attack after 15 km. He managed to gain half a minute and just hung out in front until km 37, when Jef Peeters (Jacques), Kurt Van de Wouwer (MrBookmaker) and Oliver Kaisen (RAGT) set off in pursuit. Finot stayed clear of the other three, but they were just 13 seconds ahead of the bunch at km 52. That's when Benoît Poilvet (CA), Davide Bramati (Quick.Step) and Jens Voigt (CSC) got across, and the main seven man break was formed.

The peloton gave them a bit of room and at the top of the first climb of the Mur de Huy (km 65), the seven had 2'45 as Van de Wouwer led them over. On the descent, the lead increased to 3'10 at km 70, which was the maximum lead of the break. By the time they had reached the Mur for the second time, it was hovering between 1'30 and 2'00 as the peloton began to increase the tempo. After the top of the Mur, Di Luca's Liquigas team got on the front, and with the help of Marco Serpellini (Gerolsteiner), had the break pegged at between 1'00 and 1'30.

In front, Jens Voigt was looking very strong but he knew he didn't have much time to play with. On the Côte de Pailhe (km 132.5), he began to force the tempo to keep the gap at 1'15, holding it there for the next 10 km as the peloton started to ride harder. But with 60 km to go, Voigt had had enough and attacked the tiring breakaway, with only Jef Peeters (Jacques) managing to hold his wheel.

Jens Voigt (CSC)
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There were several attempts from the peloton to close the gap to Voigt and Peeters, which rapidly went up to 2'00 again. Thierry Marichal (Cofidis) and Sylvain Calzati (Ag2r) bridged to the remnants of the breakaway (Bramati, Finot, Van de Wouwer and Poilvet), but were swallowed by the peloton at 45 km to go as rain started to fall and the roads became slick and dangerous, causing several crashes.

On the Côte de Bellaire with 43 km left, Voigt surprised Peeters and powered away from him, hoping to get to the Mur de Huy alone. The German super-diesel still had 1'47 on the peloton, which was led by Liquigas, Illes Balears and Phonak's Uros Murn. Rik Verbrugghe (Quick.Step) had hopes of repeating his 2001 victory and attacked on the Côte de Bohissau with 32 km to go, catching Peeters but not being able to get clear of the peloton. The pair were drawn back in to the peloton while Voigt increased his lead out to 1'52.

The chase really started then, driven by Liquigas, Illes Balears and Murn, and the peloton had closed to within 1'00 of Voigt at the foot of the Côte de Ahin with 12 km to go. Voigt lost a lot of ground on the climb as Andrey Kashechkin (CA) tried to get up to him, but he couldn't quite close that gap and it was 15 seconds over the top, with the strung out peloton another 10 seconds back.

Di Luca
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
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On the run into Huy, Voigt gave up the rest of his lead to Kashechkin, Chavanel, Pereiro and Pineau. But even they couldn't hold off the bunch before the climb commenced, and it was all together at the foot of the 1.3 km Mur. The protected team leaders massed at the front in a battle for position on the brutally steep climb. Di Luca, Freire, Vinokourov, Rebellin, Sinkewitz, Kirchen and Celestino were all there, and it was the climb and the riders' legs that decided the finishing order. With 200m to go, Kirchen accelerated, but Di Luca countered and moved past the Luxembourg champion to take his second victory in four days, with Rebellin again showing good form by finishing third.

Can Di Luca do the triple, á la Rebellin last year? He definitely has the form to win in Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Images by Luc Claessen/www.actiefotos.be

Images by AFP Photo

Results - 201.5 km

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                              4.44.55 (42.43 km/h)
2 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo                                           
3 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                        
4 David Etxebarria Alkorta (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team             0.04
5 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank                                               
6 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                            
7 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quick Step                                         
8 Aitor Osa (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne                            
9 Cadel Evans (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                     0.08
10 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                        
11 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems                       0.11
12 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                                 
13 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                     
14 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                                      
15 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                  
16 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir                              0.16
17 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze                                 0.17
18 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone              
19 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                              0.19
20 Bradley Mcgee (Aus) Française Des Jeux                                   
21 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC                                     0.22
22 Christophe Le Mevel (Fra) Credit Agricole                            0.24
23 Benjamin Noval (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                  
24 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                             
25 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                               
26 Nicki Sorensen (Den) Team CSC                                        0.27
27 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                              
28 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                             
29 Axel Merckx (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                        
30 Fabian Jeker (Swi) Saunier Duval-Prodir                                  
31 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                0.31
32 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                           
33 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                                  
34 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Credit Agricole                                  
35 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                 0.34
36 Michael Rasmussen (Den) Rabobank                                     0.35
37 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                                          
38 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                            0.37
39 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Domina Vacanze                                     
40 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne                  
41 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                                   
42 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step                                           
43 Massimo Giunti (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                       
44 Iker Camano (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                                      
45 Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre-Caffita                0.45
46 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                  
47 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                              
48 Thomas Lovkvist (Swe) Française Des Jeux                                 
49 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Lampre-Caffita                                 0.48
50 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                            0.51
51 Pieter Mertens (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim                         
52 Didier Rous (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                   0.58
53 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                            
54 Matej Mugerli (Slo) Liquigas-Bianchi                                 1.02
55 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Française Des Jeux                           1.04
56 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                             1.06
57 Massimo Codol (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                    1.11
58 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Credit Agricole                                  
59 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                       
60 Sylvester Szmyd (Pol) Lampre-Caffita                                 1.14
61 Volodymir Gustov (Ukr) Fassa Bortolo                                 1.22
62 David Loosli (Swi) Lampre-Caffita                                    1.29
63 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                          1.32
64 Patrice Halgand (Fra) Credit Agricole                                2.23
65 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                  
66 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne                      
67 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r Prevoyance                                  2.32
68 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team       2.33
69 Bingen Fernandez (Spa) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                  
70 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                      
71 Jérémy Roy (Fra) Française Des Jeux                                  2.45
72 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Ag2r Prevoyance                                 3.01
73 Andrea Moletta (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                    3.03
74 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC                                        3.24
75 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                      3.29
76 Maxime Monfort (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                         3.53
77 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Liquigas-Bianchi                             4.34
78 Inaki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                                  5.12
79 Santiago Botero (Col) Phonak Hearing Systems                         5.37
80 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step                                     5.52
81 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team CSC                                              
82 Xabier Zandio (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne                       
83 Serge Baguet (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                       
84 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Quick Step                                          
85 Beat Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                                            
86 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                          5.57
87 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                               6.05
88 Stéphane Goubert (Fra) Ag2r Prevoyance                               6.08
89 Hubert Dupont (Fra) R.A.G.T. Semences                                8.20
90 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                   
91 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago                             
92 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Domina Vacanze                                       
93 Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim                 10.41
94 Christophe Moreau (Fra) Credit Agricole                                  
95 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Liquigas-Bianchi                             10.46
96 Koen De Kort (Ned) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                            
97 Renaud Dion (Fra) R.A.G.T. Semences                                 11.07
98 Cyril Dessel (Fra) Ag2r Prevoyance                                       
99 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Lampre-Caffita                                 11.09
100 Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                    
101 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Davitamon-Lotto                                   
102 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                    
103 Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team         
104 Addy Engels (Ned) Quick Step                                            
105 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne                  
106 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française Des Jeux                             11.12
107 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Saunier Duval-Prodir                            11.14
108 Freddy Bichot (Fra) Française Des Jeux                             11.22
109 Theo Eltink (Ned) Rabobank                                         11.23
110 Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Ag2r Prevoyance                              11.30
111 Frédéric Finot (Fra) Française Des Jeux                            11.32
112 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                            
113 Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Credit Agricole                           13.10
114 Camille Bouquet (Fra) Mrbookmaker.com-Sports Tech                  14.54
115 Mauro Facci (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                                    14.59
116 Steven Kleynen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim                   15.06
117 Jef Peeters (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim                           
118 Marcos Antonio Serrano (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team            15.12
119 Isidro Nozal Vega (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                 15.13
120 Philip Deignan (Irl) Ag2r Prevoyance                               20.26
121 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Credit Agricole                              20.32
122 Markel Irizar (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                                   
123 Unai Etxebarria (Ven) Euskaltel-Euskadi                                 
124 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Ag2r Prevoyance                              20.34
125 Inigo Chaurreau (Spa) Ag2r Prevoyance                              20.45
126 Olivier Kaisen (Bel) R.A.G.T. Semences                             21.18 

ProTour standings

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
6 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel                75
7 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                            75