Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

68th Gent-Wevelgem - PT

Belgium, April 5, 2006

Main Page    Results    Live report    ProTour standings

Mighty Thor hammers Kopp and Petacchi

Powerful sprint gives Hushovd first Norwegian victory in Gent-Wevelgem

By Jeff Jones and Brecht Decaluwé in Wevelgem

A happy viking
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

After a very tense finish to the 68th Gent-Wevelgem, Norwegian Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) grabbed his second win of the season, beating David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) and Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) in a small bunch sprint. After a stage win in Tirreno-Adriatico, this is his second win in a ProTour event. "This is a big victory for me, my first classic," Hushovd said after the finish. "Winning green in the Tour de France is bigger. Still, winning a race like Gent-Wevelgem, a semi-classic, is big. I'm really happy."

Talking about the sprint, Hushovd admitted it was tight. "Yeah it was really close. He [Pozzato] did a really good attack. I choose to stay in the wheel of Petacchi. David Kopp started the sprint quite early and instinctively I decided to go with him. It proved to be the right decision as I passed him at the end."

The win in Gent gains in importance when you beat the likes of Petacchi. "First of all I'm really happy to win the race and for sure it's good to beat Petacchi in the sprint. I saved as much energy as possible and then I had enough power in the end to win the sprint."

The sprint
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Paris-Roubaix, the 'Hell of the North' is coming on Sunday, a race that suits the bear from Grimstad as well. "I'm in good form. It's my last race before my holiday so I want to do well." The powerful Norwegian sprinter added that he loves Belgium, "I do many races in Belgium so it's kind of my second home. Though I race here very often, it's not easy to win here. I'm 28 years old and considering that this is my first win in Belgium, it proves that you need a lot of experience. Hopefully I can go on with my progression and eventually the biggest classics like the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Those races are tougher, but that should suit me well."

Second placed David Kopp wasn't far off a victory, falling short by just a few centimetres. The result is a surprise, although he has been riding very well this season, winning at the Trofeo Calvia in February. After this good start, Kopp finished 12th in Milano-Sanremo. Last Sunday he proved that he's a man for the classics with a 16th place in the Tour of Flanders. "I am overjoyed, the second place in this classic makes up for my bad luck last Sunday on Koppenberg," he said. "Today, we had four men in the first group. My compliments on Rene Haselbacher, Sebastian Lang, Frank Hoj and Heinrich Haussler, who worked their tails off for me. In the end I lost by 3 centimetres, but on the other hand, I outsprinted Petacchi - I can be satisfied with that!"

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Petacchi wasn't satisfied, however. "It was a sprint that I don't like," he said. "The speed was not very high and with the wind up front it was very hard. I'm very disappointed because my form is alright. Coming second in Milano-Sanremo and third over here is sad because you know the chance was there to win both races. Still, for me the most important thing is to gain experience in these races. I know I can win a big classic one day. My form is alright but I don't want to take any risks considering the Giro is coming up in a few weeks. That's why I won't compete at Paris-Roubaix."

How it unfolded

Dry, sunny but windy conditions greeted the riders as they lined up in Deinze's Grote Markt for the start of the 68th Gent-Wevelgem. John Gadret (AG2R) and Daniele Colli (Liquigas-Bianchi) were non-starters. With a chilly wind blowing from the north east, it was likely that the peloton would stay together for the most part of the race, with the often treacherous coastal section more tailwind than crosswind. Before the start, the UCI carried out blood tests on six teams: Rabobank, Quick.Step, Euskaltel, AG2R, Française des Jeux and Cofidis, with all riders declared fit to race.

The back
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

The peloton covered 40 km in the first hour as it headed west through the many of the same towns that were visited last Sunday in the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The first abandon came from Lorenzo Bernucci after just 4 km, reducing his T-Mobile team to only five riders. After 25 km, three riders attacked: Iker Flores (Euskaltel-Euskadi), David Boucher (Unibet.com) and Cyril Lemoine (Crédit Agricole)< but were brought back. After 40 km, Carlos Zarate (Saunier Duval) and Kenny van Hummel (Skil-Shimano) were able to get clear. They stayed away along most of the coastal section, where the peloton flew along at 60 km/h with the wind behind. But at 105 km, it was all back together again, save for an unlucky Bernard Van Ulden (Navigators), who crashed out of the race.

With 95 km to go, Vladimir Gusev (Discovery Channel) and Bernhard Eisel (Française des Jeux) jumped away and built up a steady lead as they road towards the hill zone and the feared Kemmelberg. With 80 km left, the pair had 1'20 over the peloton, where Matt White (Discovery) and Sergei Ivanov (T-Mobile) were sharing the workload. The pace increased as the hills approached, and the leaders had only half a minute at the Scherpenberg (km 136), the first of the climbs.

Leif Hoste (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

On the Vidaigneberg, the gap was only 17 seconds and last year's winner Nico Mattan (Davitamon-Lotto) led a counter attack in pursuit of the leaders. He was joined by Allan Davis (Liberty), David Kopp (Gerolsteiner), Marco Milesi (Liquigas), Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step), Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux), Gert Steegmans (Davitamon), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Andre Greipel and Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) as they caught the leaders before the top. David Kopp and Allan Davis tried to continue the move, but the peloton came back together after the descent.

Eventual winner Thor Hushovd made a strong impression on the first ascent of the Kemmelberg (km 150), leading for much of the way before Fabian Cancellara (CSC), Leif Hoste (Discovery) and Tom Boonen (Quick.Step) took over. The cobbled climb strung out the peloton, but no real breaks occurred, and it was still together at the start of the second lap of the hill zone.

Bidons were flying
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

With 55 km to go, a group of five split off the front: Wim Vansevenant (Davitamon-Lotto), Steven De Jongh (Quick.Step), Anthony Geslin (Bouygues) Alessandro Cortinovis (Milram) and Rene Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner). There were a few sprinters in this group, which got 48 seconds very quickly, before Discovery began to chase hard. Matt White buried himself to reduce the lead to around 30 seconds, then Rabobank came to the fore and carved more time out of the break.

On the second time up the Kemmelberg, Geslin had problems following the other four, but could rejoin them on the tricky descent. The quintet kept 24 seconds of their lead over the bunch, now led by Liberty's Allan Davis. Tom Boonen was sitting well down in the field, preferring to save his legs for Sunday while his teammates Pozzato and Nuyens kept themselves in front.

Fighting the crosswinds
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

As the race hit the flatlands again and began to head back towards Wevelgem, the peloton finally split for good. A group of around 40 riders gapped the rest with 37 km to go, with Milram putting six riders in front, including Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi. Other sprinters such as Hushovd, Kopp, Davis, Eisel, Hincapie, Flecha, Dekker, Pozzato and Nuyens, all made the cut, while Boonen ended up in group two with Tom Steels, Nico Mattan and Leon van Bon. Mattan and Van Bon pulled their hardest to bridge the gap, but 16 seconds was as close as they got and they sat up. Their consolation was that Davitamon's Henk Vogels and Bert Roesems sat in front.

Milram and Rabobank kept the tempo up, and it was very difficult for anyone to escape. Former winner Lars Michaelsen (CSC) had a go with 15 km left, but lasted only 3 km before he came back. Then Bert Roesems (Davitamon) put in an enormous attack at 12 km to go, using his power into the wind to carve out a lead over the Milram train. Roesems stomped away in front as Milram used up all of its strength to try to bring him back. He gained 13 seconds with 9 km to go and the small peloton was stretched in pursuit.

Bert Roesems (Davitamon-Lotto)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Roesems reached the safety of Wevelgem with a diminished lead, and it seemed as though he would lose the battle to the sprinters. But it cost Milram so much strength to bring him back, that Erik Zabel ended up on the front with 1.5 km to go as Roesems was caught. Then it was the turn of Quick.Step's Filippo Pozzato, who had targeted this race after his disaster here last year, when he crashed. He powered away from the group with just over a kilometre to go, opening up a nice looking lead and anticipating the sprint.

Pozzato gave it everything, but the headwind finish proved to be too much for him and he was caught in the final 50 metres. In another small surprise, it was Thor Hushovd who proved stronger than David Kopp and Alessandro Petacchi, becoming the first Norwegian to win Gent-Wevelgem. Not only that, Belgians finished outside the top 10, which might also be some kind of a record in a Belgian classic.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Luc Claessen/www.ctm-images.com

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Results - 210 km

1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole                           4.53.15 (42.967 km/h)           
2 David Kopp (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                       
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Team Milram                               
4 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quickstep-Innergetic                          
5 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team            
6 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC                                    
7 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Française des Jeux                             
8 Erki Pütsep (Est) AG2R Prévoyance                                   
9 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                        
10 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC                                   
11 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner                               
12 Henk Vogels (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                  
13 Alexei Markov (Rus) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears                 
14 Baden Cooke (Aus) Unibet.com                                       
15 Franck Renier (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                               
16 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                        
17 Grégory Rast (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                          
18 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears           
19 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile Team                               
20 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Crédit Agricole                             
21 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone            
22 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir          
23 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                             
24 Koen De Kort (Ned) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                      
25 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                 
26 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                              
27 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                             
28 Frederik Willems (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen       
29 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux                          
30 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quickstep-Innergetic                          
31 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Française des Jeux                         
32 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                  
33 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                            0.07
34 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank                                 
35 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française des Jeux                      0.09
36 José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears    
37 Bert Roesems (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                             0.20
38 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                     0.22
39 Marco Velo (Ita) Team Milram                                       
40 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram                                  
41 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram                                       
42 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Team Milram                            
43 René Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner                            0.33
44 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                  
45 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                          0.42
46 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) Team Milram                              1.20
47 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC                                 1.35
48 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team                   2.55
49 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone             5.55
50 Alexandre Usov (Blr) AG2R Prévoyance                               
51 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                
52 André Greipel (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                  
53 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                             
54 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Crédit Agricole                            
55 Vladimir Goussev (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          
56 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Team Milram                               
57 Pedro Horrillo Munoz (Spa) Rabobank                                
58 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone              
59 Angel Castresana Del Val (Spa) Unibet.com                          
60 Hilton Clarke (Aus) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team              
61 Florent Brard (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears                 
62 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                     
63 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) AG2R Prévoyance                           
64 Luciano André Pagliarini Mendonca (Bra) Saunier Duval-Prodir       
65 Nick Ingels (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                  
66 David Boucher (Fra) Unibet.com                                     
67 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Skil-Shimano                              
68 Paul Martens (Ger) Skil-Shimano                                    
69 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Unibet.com                                    
70 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Phonak Hearing Systems                        
71 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Crédit Agricole                                 
72 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen          
73 Andy Flickinger (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                             
74 Cycril Lemoine (Fra) Crédit Agricole                               
75 Rik Reinerink (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                   
76 Matthew White (Aus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team             
77 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner                                   
78 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Crédit Agricole                               
79 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears                
80 Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone        
81 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                     
82 Ludovic Auger (Fra) Française des Jeux                             
83 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                               
84 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Würth Team            
85 Benoît Joachim (Lux) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team            
86 Marco Righetto (Ita) Liquigas                                      
87 Robert Hunter (RSA) Phonak Hearing Systems                         
88 Marco Milesi (Ita) Liquigas                                        
89 Nico Mattan (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                  
90 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank                                           
91 Angel Gomez (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                             
92 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Unibet.com                                  
93 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas                                      
94 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team            
95 Ivan Mayoz (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                                 
96 Matthé Pronk (Ned) Unibet.com                                      
97 Stephan Schreck (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                
98 Enrico Poitschke (Ger) Team Milram                                 
99 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quickstep-Innergetic                         
100 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems                         
101 Tristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone            
102 Lilian Jégou (Fra) Française des Jeux                             
103 Arnaud Gérard (Fra) Française des Jeux                            
104 Allan Johansen (Den) Team CSC                                     
105 Frank Hoj (Den) Gerolsteiner                                      
106 Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team         
107 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team            
108 David Loosli (Swi) Lampre-Fondital                                
109 Claudio Corioni (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                             
110 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                                  
111 Leif Hoste (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team               
112 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank                                     
113 Iker Flores Galarza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                       
114 Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                           
115 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Phonak Hearing Systems                       
116 Servais Knaven (Ned) Quickstep-Innergetic                         
117 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                             
118 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                         
119 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Davitamon-Lotto                                
120 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank                                       
121 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Unibet.com        

Starters: 193
Classified: 121

ProTour standings

1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic                            89 pts
2 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Team Milram                               72
3 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic                       70
4 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                             70
5 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team            60
6 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems                           52
7 Thomas Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                        51
8 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole                                  44
9 Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Spa) Lampre-Fondital              43
10 Leif Hoste (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                42
11 Jörg Jaksche (Ger) Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                    40
12 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas                                        35
13 Antonio Colom Mas (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne-Illes Balears             35
14 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC                                   34
15 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                  31
16 David Kopp (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                      30
17 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto                            30
18 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          30
19 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                            26
20 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                       25
21 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                                     25
22 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                                  24
23 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone        23
24 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic                        21
25 José Azevedo (Por) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team              20
26 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                                         15
27 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas                                    15
28 Ivan Basso (Ita) Team CSC                                          15
29 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team CSC                                       15
30 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Credit Agricole                            10
31 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                      9
32 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Française Des Jeux                             7
33 Erki Pütsep (Est) Ag2R Prevoyance                                   5
34 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems                         5
35 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                   5
36 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team    5
37 Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                5
38 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram                                        4
39 Markus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                                     3
40 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Caisse D'Epargne-Illes Balears       3
41 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                                         3
42 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                2
43 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team           2
44 Christopher Horner (USA) Davitamon-Lotto                            2
45 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank                                       2
46 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone             2
47 Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir                         2
48 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto                                 2
49 Evgeni Petrov (Rus) Lampre-Fondital                                 2
50 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team CSC                                    1
51 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir         1
52 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                1
53 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                1
54 Bradley Mcgee (Aus) Française Des Jeux                              1
55 Sandy Casar (Fra) Française Des Jeux                                1
56 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Liberty Seguros - Würth Team         1
1 Gerolsteiner                                                        79 pts
2 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                                  76
3 Team CSC                                                            73
4 Quick Step - Innergetic                                             68
5 Phonak Hearing Systems                                              66
6 Rabobank                                                            57
7 Davitamon-Lotto                                                     55
8 Lampre-Fondital                                                     54
9 Liberty Seguros - Würth Team                                        54
10 Credit Agricole                                                    54
11 Caisse D'Epargne-Illes Balears                                     50
12 Française Des Jeux                                                 47
13 T-Mobile Team                                                      45
14 Team Milram                                                        43
15 Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                                   38
16 Euskaltel - Euskadi                                                28
17 Bouygues Telecom                                                   27
18 Saunier Duval - Prodir                                             24
19 Ag2R Prevoyance                                                    20
20 Liquigas                                                           19
1 Italy                                                              277 pts
2 Belgium                                                            161
3 Spain                                                              138
4 United States Of America                                           119
5 Netherlands                                                        108
6 Germany                                                             80
7 Norway                                                              45
8 Switzerland                                                         42
9 Luxembourg                                                          25
10 Portugal                                                           20
11 Australia                                                          12
12 Austria                                                             7
13 Kazakhstan                                                          5
14 Estonia                                                             5
15 France                                                              4
16 Russian Federation                                                  2