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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

60th Omloop Het Volk - 1.HC

Belgium, February 26, 2005

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Beautiful solo for Nuyens

By Jeff Jones

Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: CN
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24 year-old Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step) has continued where he left off at the end of last season, winning his most important race to date: the 60th Omloop Het Volk. Nuyens rode a superb race, firstly as a helper for Boonen in bringing back a dangerous break, and finally as a leader when he attacked on the Vogelzangstraat cobbles with 15 km to go, holding off the entire peloton on the run in to Lokeren. Nuyens gained 30 seconds despite Rabobank and Lotto trying to chase him down, and certainly deserved the victory. To complete Quick.Step's triumph, a strong Tom Boonen won the bunch sprint for second ahead of Steven de Jongh (Rabobank).

"I went after Coenen and Dierckxsens in order to take the pressure off Boonen," Nuyens explained afterwards. "When the two had to let go on the Vogelzangstraat, the other teams had to ride and that suited us well. They didn't even come back. It was the longest 15 kilometres of my life. I was never in doubt, because I knew I was strong. The other guys in my team, who slowed things down, may ask everything of me now."

Tom Boonen, who rode an excellent finale despite looking shaky early on, was delighted with his teammate's success, especially as he'd tipped him as one of the strongest in the team. "It's as if I'd won myself - that's how happy I am for Nick," said Boonen. "I was also very content that he was there, because it meant that I wasn't going to get it all on my neck. With all the Discovery riders around me I had difficulty. The win is a boost for the team. If you can win a race like the Omloop Het Volk, then you are strong."

Rabobank's Steven de Jongh salvaged some pride for the orange team by taking third place, having ridden a strong race all day. "We have had a fantastic Omloop Het Volk," said De Jongh post-race. "Today we had complete confidence in Karsten Kroon, but it wasn't possible. The season is still long.

"It's as if I won myself"
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"Sunday we want to have another go in Kuurne. We are riding the race with the same guys and actually, Kuurne always suits us a bit better," said the winner of last year's Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Despite the result, Quick.Step certainly didn't have it all their way. They were partly caught out on the Leberg when Stijn Devolder (Discovery) and Karsten Kroon (Rabobank) attacked, but fortunately Bram Tankink was able to be there for Quick.Step and did not contribute to the work. When a group with Hincapie, Ekimov, Van Petegem, Gardeyn and Gilbert joined the leaders after the Molenberg, there were three Discovery riders in front with the peloton floundering at 50 seconds. But Quick.Step marshaled its forces and recaptured the leaders with 37 km to go, putting them back in the race and allowing Nuyens to make the decisive move with 15 km left. The rest was up to Nuyens, and he did not let the team down.

How it unfolded

All lined up
Photo ©: CN
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The predicted cold weather greeted the riders at the start, with temperatures hovering at around 2 degrees and the lightest of snowflakes falling. But for most of the race, the conditions stayed dry until the last 50 km. Eelke van der Wal (Shimano) launched the first attack from kilometre zero, but it was Jakob Piil (CSC), Kristof Trouvé (MrBookmaker.com) and Benoît Vaugrenard (Francaise des Jeux) who made the successful move at km 15, establishing the early break.

The three weren't allowed too much room though, and Quick.Step in particular kept the gap to a maximum of 4'39 at Brakel (km 72) before starting to ride harder to bring them back. In the meantime, a crash claimed CSC's classics man Tristan Hoffman, who broke his left leg and will miss the rest of the classics.

The pace was picking up as the peloton reached the Eikenberg with 93 km to go, having the leaders pegged at just 2 minutes. Stijn Devolder (Discovery) started to ride at the front of the peloton, stretching it out on the Holleweg and Haaghoek cobbles before attacking on the Leberg with 80 km to go. Karsten Kroon (Rabobank) and Bram Tankink (Quick.Step) were able to latch onto the bare-legged Discovery man, while Boonen, then Dierckxsens tried and failed to get across the gap.

The three quickly got a 25 second advantage as they drove over the Berendries, catching and passing the early break, and then down towards the Molenberg. But a concerted effort by Davitamon-Lotto brought them back to within striking distance at the foot of the feared climb, allowing Peter Van Petegem to get across. They were joined by Slava Ekimov and George Hincapie (Discovery), Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux) and Gorik Gardeyn (MrBookmaker.com). With 65 km to go, Discovery suddenly had all the cards in front with three men in the break of eight that quickly established a 45 second gap.

The leading break of eight
Photo ©: CN
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Quick.Step had missed it, although having Tankink sitting on the break allowed them some leverage. T-Mobile and CSC were also not represented, but it seemed as though all the responsibility to chase fell on Quick.Step's shoulders. Firstly it was Knaven and Hulsmans working with Boonen, then Nuyens, Lotz and Cretskens joined in (along with Aldag from T-Mobile) and Boonen could relax a little. As the rain started to fall, the well oiled Quick.Step machine gradually brought back the eight leaders and the break was history with 37 km to go, despite a prolongation by Gilbert, Tankink and Van Bon.

The peloton was still 70 men strong at this point, and now the counter-attacking began for the finale. The next 20 km contained five narrow, slippery cobbled sections, culminating with the 1300m Vogelzangstraat with 15 km to go. All the favourites had their turns attacking: Hincapie, Van Heeswijk, Devolder (Discovery), Van Bon (Davitamon-Lotto), Sentjens, Den Bakker, Kroon (Rabobank), O'Grady (Cofidis), Boonen (Quick.Step), Gilbert (FDJ), Kirsipuu (Credit Agricole) and Dierckxsens (Landbouwkrediet). The latter, after being caught with 18 km to go, went again almost immediately with Johan Coenen (MrBookmaker.com), creating a small gap that Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step) rode across.

The three hit the Vogelzangstraat with a 10 second lead of the peloton, and then Nuyens made the winning move. He poured on the power and Dierckxsens and Coenen had no answer, letting the 24 year old ride away over the wet cobbles. At the end he had 10 seconds and was looking strong, but there were still 15 kilometres to race and a big peloton behind.

Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: CN
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Nuyens was on a good day though, and pedaled a nice cadence in the next few kilometres, opening up a gap of 15, then 20 seconds. Somehow, the peloton's chase was having no effect, as Nuyens continued to ride away. Rabobank and Davitamon-Lotto pulled out all stops, even putting Van Petegem in the rotation to add some firepower. But to no avail as Nuyens reached 32 seconds with 4 km to go.

That was plenty for the Quick.Step man and he rode over the last bridge into Lokeren and down the finishing straight a very happy man, punching the air to all sides as he claimed his biggest victory so far in a career that has included wins in Paris-Brussels, GP Wallonie and GP Industria & Commercio Di Prato. With Tom Boonen comfortably taking the sprint for second ahead of Rabobank's De Jongh, Quick.Step's two young guns cleaned up in the opening race of the season.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

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

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Christine Grein/www.capture-the-peloton.com

Pre-race action

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Jeff Jones/Cyclingnews.com

Results - 201 km

1 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quickstep                              5.06.00 (39.4 km/h)
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep                                  0.14
3 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank                                  
4 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim               
5 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                   
6 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                          
7 Roy Sentjens (Ned) Rabobank                                     
8 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Discovery Channel                        
9 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank                                    
10 Ludo Dierckxens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                                         
11 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile                                   
12 Allan Johansen (Den) Team CSC                                  
13 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Davitamon - Lotto                          
14 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                          
15 Johan Coenen (Bel) MrBookmaker.com - SportsTech                
16 Christophe Detilloux (Bel) Française des Jeux                  
17 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone           
18 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone         
19 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Crédit Agricole                            
20 Matthé Pronk (Ned) MrBookmaker.com - SportsTech                
21 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux                      
22 Nico Mattan (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto                            
23 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank                              
24 Grégory Rast (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                      
25 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile                                  
26 Koen Barbe (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim                 
27 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Davitamon - Lotto                        
28 Cédric Vasseur (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone         
29 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                         
30 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel                        
31 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile                                
32 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank                                   
33 Marc Lotz (Ned) Quickstep                                      
34 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quickstep                                 
35 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quickstep                                   
36 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank                                    
37 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim             
38 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto                      
39 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Davitamon - Lotto                           
40 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel                     0.26
41 Jan Kuyckx (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto                         3.47
42 Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Barloworld - Valsir                 
43 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Crédit Agricole                    4.06
44 Andy Flickinger (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance                          
45 Thierry De Groote (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago              
46 David Boucher (Fra) MrBookmaker.com - SportsTech               
47 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                    
48 Cycril Lemoine (Fra) Crédit Agricole                           
49 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel                          
50 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team CSC                                  
51 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) Discovery Channel                     
52 Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim          
53 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto                        
54 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank                                       
55 Glenn D'Hollander (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago              
56 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) MrBookmaker.com - SportsTech               
57 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC                                 
58 Erwin Thijs (Bel) MrBookmaker.com - SportsTech                 
59 Roger Hammond (GBr) Discovery Channel                          
60 Lilian Jegou (Fra) Française Des Jeux                                            
61 Stephan Schreck (Ger) T-Mobile                                 
62 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) MrBookmaker.com - SportsTech                 
63 Daniele Contrini (Ita) Team LPR                            6.25
64 Cédric Coutouly (Fra) Agritubel                                
65 Ludovic Auger (Fra) Française des Jeux                     7.34
66 Denys Kostyuk (Ukr) Jartazi Granville Team                     
67 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone      
68 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                 
69 Benny De Schrooder (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - T Interim         
70 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto                           
71 Christopher Baldwin (USA) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team    
72 Mickael Delage (Fra) Française des Jeux                        
73 Kirk O'Bee (USA) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team             
74 Rolf Aldag (Ger) T-Mobile                                      
75 Oleg Grishkine (Rus) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team        

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