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59th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - 1.1

Belgium, February 26, 2006

More cold action in Kuurne

By Jeff Jones

2005 winner George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)
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Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne is the second race of the Belgian opening weekend, taking place over a slightly shorter (194 km) and easier parcours than Saturday's Omloop Het Volk. Most significantly, there aren't the tricky cobbled sections in the finale that so often destroy the bunch in Het Volk, and the sprinters usually do better in K-B-K. But, being a Belgian one day classic, bunch sprints are hard to come by.

Last year, George Hincapie and Kevin van Impe made the most of a very chaotic finale to escape on the finishing laps, with Hincapie taking the victory. This year, the American is racing in the Tour of California, while Van Impe has joined the Quick.Step block, and will be riding support for Tom Boonen, who is a good chance to win.

There will be no Robbie McEwen in the Davitamon team, as his wife Angelique just gave birth to a baby daughter, Elena. Instead, Davitamon will look to Peter van Petegem, Gert Steegmans, and perhaps Nico Mattan and Henk Vogels. Defending champions Discovery Channel will rely on sprinters Roger Hammond and Max van Heeswijk, with Stijn Devolder sure to play a role.

T-Mobile has the experienced Steffen Wesemann and Andreas Klier, while Matthew Hayman, Joost Posthuma, and perhaps Graeme Brown will form Rabobank's push. Team CSC has Allan Johansen at the helm with Kurt-Asle Arvesen and Lars Michaelsen their other main men. Jimmy Casper (Cofidis) is probably their best hope of a victory, although Arnaud Coyot beat Thor Hushovd last week in France. Hushovd is riding too, and is not a bad bet for a race like this. So is his teammate Jaan Kirsipuu, who won in 2002.

Nico Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques) is a good man for the cold races, and KBK is sure to be cold, as is the aggressive Glenn D’Hollander.

The parcours is 194 km and takes in eight climbs, the last of which is the Nokereberg with 44 km to go. It's usually a battle against the wind in the finale, with the northeasterly likely to play havoc with the bunch again.

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the 58th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne live, starting 14:30 local time (CET)/08:30 (USA East)/05:30 (USA West)/00:30 (Australia East).