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59th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - 1.1

Belgium, February 26, 2006

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Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Brecht Decaluwe

Live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CET
Estimated finish: 17:00 CET

Lining up
Photo ©: Jeff Jones
(Click for larger image)

14:30 CET   
Welcome to the centrally heated Cyclingnews blimp for our live coverage of the 59th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, the second race of the Belgian opening weekend. Held on a slightly easier parcours than Het Volk, KBK usually offers the sprinters a bit more of an opportunity. But if yesterday was anything to go by, we'll see a very attacking race, with little hope of a bunch sprint.

At the sign on this morning in Kuurne's Hippodrome, it was very cold (1°), overcast, windy and even snowing lightly. But plenty of hardy souls (and frozen journalists) were willing to brave the elements to catch a glimpse of the riders as they shivered their way to the stage, maybe being blessed with an autograph on the way back.

Although lacking a the cobbled sections of yesterday, the course is still quite difficult. It features eight climbs, starting with the Edelareberg after 29 km and finishing with the Nokereberg at km 150. The key climb is the Kwaremont after 112 km, which usually causes a split.

14:32 CET    102km/92km to go
At the moment, we have a lone leader, Steve Cummings (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), who has 2'20 as he tackles the Kanarieberg, the third climb of the day. The peloton is on the descent towards the climb, led by Kuyckx and Boonen at 75 km/h. Everyone wants position.

14:35 CET    103km/91km to go
Cummings will certainly make it to the top of this climb in front as the attacks start behind. Lithuanian Thomas Vaitkus managed to get away after La Houppe and started the climb with a small advantage over the bunch. Now a Jartazi ride goes past him: Muravyev? He and Vaitkus are now together. Ivanov (T-Mobile) leads the bunch with Boonen on his wheel, and they pass Vaitkus and Muravyev.

14:36 CET    104km/90km to go
Boonen sticks to Ivanov's wheel over the top, with some seven riders making it. The peloton follows at another five seconds. Cummings still has 2'07, nice riding.

Tom Boonen (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Brecht DecaluwÚ
(Click for larger image)

14:38 CET   
World champion Tom Boonen was not happy about how thing unfolded in the Omloop Het Volk yesterday: "The rivalry between Quickstep and Davitamon made things develop in a way that shouldn't happen."

Boonen is always confronted with a lot of media attention and a bodyguard is on his side these days: "I don't really need that bodyguard but this is the same guy as in the Tour de France. He was in the neighbourhood so he's helping us a bit."

14:40 CET    107km/87km to go
Boonen swings off after doing a turn, then Aivaras Baranauskas (Agritubel), Leukemans (Davitamon). Serge Baguet is also there for Quick.Step. There are about 12 riders ahead of the peloton.

Matt Hayman (Rabobank)
Photo ©: Jeff Jones
(Click for larger image)

14:42 CET   
Matt Hayman is also up there for Rabobank. He was in the break yesterday, and we caught up with him at the start: "I didn't eat enough," was his summary, then related how he was off the back then suddenly off the front: "We figured we'd turn onto the big road...We had a crosswind from the left and I thought we'd have a headwind. I was going to take my jacket off. Next thing I know, we were on the side of the road and 10 of us got dropped off the back. So I had to do a bit of chasing to get back on. Then as soon as I got back on, I jumped once, and we were gone. 30 seconds, 40 seconds, and I thought, 'Oh no'. Joost [Posthuma] was going to be our guy. I was just following wheels, then with 20 km to go I realised I hadn't eaten enough and the lights just went out and I just got to the finish.

"Today is normally a little bit easier but there are a lot of the same riders riding as yesterday. Normally the guys that go really deep on the first day suffer on Sunday. A lot of guys didn't finish yesterday, so they're really motivated to do well today. It's a little bit easier compared to yesterday but we'll have to wait and see. The Oude Kwaremont is where it's going to be decided. After that, there's a group away, and it's how many guys in the bunch left chasing, and then sometimes it comes back together before the finish, sometimes it doesn't.

"Graeme Brown had his first encounter on the cobbles yesterday. He'd been a bit sick this week, so he didn't have any legs. It was definitely an experience for him. Today's more of a sprinters' race so maybe, another day since being sick. It was only a virus thing, he was over it pretty quick, but it tends to take it out of you. He was off at the feed so maybe he'll have a good run. Joost is really strong at the moment, Marc Wauters also.

"We're not the team to control the race so we've just got to get guys in the moves. We had three guys in the break [yesterday] and 15 km before that I wouldn't have thought we would have. We didn't really have much control over the race, like Lotto and Quick.Step."

14:43 CET    109km/85km to go
Cummings starts the Kruisberg with 1'12 on the Boonen group, which leads the peloton by 20 seconds. Maccanti (LPR) and Albasini are also there. They're the guys from yesterday.

14:44 CET   
Baguet now does a turn on the Kruisberg, and it's hard. Leukemans and Boonen follow, then another T-Mobile and Albasini. The rest are having problems.

14:45 CET   
Baguet, Leukemans and Boonen drop the rest of the break on the Kruisberg. 38 seconds to Cummings at the top.

14:49 CET    112km/82km to go
Over the top of the Kruisberg, and there is support for Boonen and Baguet. The group is now six-strong, with Boonen, Baguet (Quick.Step), Leukemans (Davitamon), Albasini (Liquigas), Baranauskas (Agritubel), Bernucci (T-Mobile). They trail Steve Cummings by 40 seconds.

14:52 CET    114km/80km to go
Jaan Kirsipuu (CA), who won this race in 2002, is passed by the Boonen group. He's already packed and is riding home.

Hayman, Maccanti, Ivanov and Weissinger are chasing the Boonen group, which has just caught Steve Cummings.

14:55 CET    117km/77km to go
the situation at 78 km to go: We have a lead group with Tom Boonen, Serge Baguet (Quick.Step), Bjorn Leukemans (Davitamon), Michael Albasini (Liquigas), Aivaras Baranauskas (Agritubel), Lorenzo Bernucci (T-Mobile), and Steve Cummings Landbouwkrediet). A second group is chasing them at 17 seconds with Sergei Ivanov (T-Mobile), Michele Maccanti (LPR), Matt Hayman (Rabobank), Rene Weissinger (Skil). Then a group of 15 or so riders, then the peloton.

Albasini decides it's too slow, and attacks.

Ah - the chasing groups have merged and a 25 man group forms at the foot of the Kwaremont. Albasini is caught.

14:57 CET    118km/76km to go
Mattan attacks the group as the Kwaremont starts, and is joined by Baguet and Bernucci.

14:58 CET    118km/76km to go
Winner of Gent-Wevelgem 2005, Belgian Nico Mattan, finished in the bunch in the Belgian opening classic Omloop Het Volk. The flamboyant Davitamon rider explained why he wasn't up front: "I had some saddle sores in Qatar. Because of these annoying problems, I can't perform to my best this weekend. I'll try to slip into the big escape but otherwise I'll work for the team. But, my real goal is to win the prologue of Paris-Nice next weekend. In the past, I could win that time-trial twice (2001 and 2003) and always finished into the top-10."

Asking him about the rivalry between the Quickstep and Davitamon teams: "Of course we fight against Quickstep and more specifically, world champion Boonen, because he is one of the strongest men in the peloton. But, we realize that when our teams are fighting each other, an third team is going to clinch the win most of the time."

14:59 CET   
Mattan, Baguet and Bernucci have a nice gap on the bunch on the Kwaremont, 18 seconds. Peter van Petegem has not made the 25 man bunch, which will hurt Davitamon's chances. Baguet looks very strong today.

15:01 CET    120km/74km to go
Baguet even gaps Mattan and Bernucci at the top.

Behind, Hoste goes hard in the bunch, taking Leukemans and Boonen with him over the top of the Kwaremont. The gap is 17 seconds.

15:03 CET    121km/73km to go
The Boonen chase group grows as Steegmans, Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), and Leif Hoste (Discovery) all join. Then a few more. The three leaders have 12 seconds on the big road before the descent towards Ronse.

15:04 CET   
The group grows to 20 and all cooperation disappears. Quite a few Quick.Step jerseys here, but the shouldn't ride with Baguet in front. Seven riders are chasing 20 chasing three.

15:05 CET   
Joost Posthuma (Rabobank) said that, "Yesterday I enjoyed a great race. Doing better than my seventh place was not possible. Today, together with veteran Marc Wauters, I'm leading the team again. Hopefully with an even better result."

15:07 CET    124km/70km to go
Baguet, Mattan and Bernucci have 22 seconds now as they reach the foot of the descent. The Cote de Trieu awaits. Hoste drives the group behind, irritated that they won't work with him. The three big teams have riders in front though.

15:07 CET   
Roger Hammond (Discovery) attacks the medium sized group in pursuit of the three leaders.

Belgian veteran Peter Van Petegem underperformed yesterday: "My legs felt like they were blocked by something. Today won't be better. There are some new names in our team, so maybe they can perform to their best."

15:09 CET    126km/68km to go
Hammond is fighting a losing battle, although he's gapping the bunch now. He's 32 seconds behind the three leaders, Mattan, Baguet and Bernucci, who are just about on the Trieu. There look to be only 20-30 riders in contention for the win now.

15:11 CET    127km/67km to go
Hammond rides through Russeignies, half a minute behind the lead break. He checks back, and can't see the bunch, who are 10 seconds behind but around a corner.

Mattan is leading the break as they reach the foot of the Trieu (known in Flanders as the Knokteberg, but we're not in Flanders here).

15:12 CET    128km/66km to go
The Trieu measures 1.1 km and averages 8 percent, with a maximum of 13 percent. Mattan and Baguet are doing most of the work. Staf Scheirlinckx attacks the peloton in pursuit of Hammond and the three leaders.

The Irishman Mark Scanlon (AG2r) did well in the Omloop Het Volk but blew up his legs with 20 kilometres to go: "I think that I recovered from my efforts from yesterday. I want to ride in front. Hopefully, it will deliver again."

15:14 CET    128km/66km to go
Posthuma, Scheirlinckx, Hoste, Nuyens, Simon and a few others form a group behind Hammond on the Trieu. Posthuma catches the British rider near the top, but they are 40 seconds behind the leaders.

15:16 CET   
Posthuma and Hammond trail the three leaders by 32 seconds over the top. Then the Boonen group comes over at 43 seconds, led at a relaxed pace by the World Champion himself. Hoste attacks again.

15:18 CET    131km/63km to go
Hoste drives down the Ronde van Vlaanderenstraat with the rest of the small bunch on his wheel. They won't let him go of course. Steegmans obliges with a turn. It's up to 43 seconds now to the three leaders. Boonen is doing a great job slowing it down for his teammate Baguet. Plenty of Davitamon jerseys in the bunch now, but they shouldn't chase with Mattan up there.

15:19 CET    132km/62km to go
Some teams are trying to get Davitamon to chase, but there's no way. It'll have to be Discovery, FDJ, Jacques, whoever... not the big guns.

Posthuma and Hammond are still clear of the bunch, trailing the three leaders by 40 seconds.

15:21 CET    133km/61km to go
Koen Barbe (fourth yesterday) attacks through Berchem in pursuit of the five in front.

Stijn Devolder is chasing back onto the peloton after being dropped on the Trieu.

15:22 CET   
Frenchman Franck Renier was a surprising eighth yesterday in the Omloop Het Volk: "I was surprised myself because I couldn't train for three weeks. We had some luck because the race developed very tactically. Sadly enough, when we were almost caught by the chasers, I jumped. At that moment, Philippe Gilbert attacked and took the win. But, he deserved that win.

"Last year was a catastrophic season for me. Some falls and health problems disallowed from getting any serious results. My performance in the Omloop Het Volk gives me a lot of confidence for the upcoming races. The team is also boosted by my result and we are motivated to do well in Kuurne too. The cold isn't really hindering us, it would be different if it would be wet."

15:23 CET    134km/60km to go
We now have five leaders with 60 km to go: Serge Baguet (Quick.Step), Lorenzo Bernucci (T-Mobile), Nico Mattan (Davitamon), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), and Roger Hammond (Discovery).

15:24 CET   
The Boonen group has eased off, allowing the five in front to gain 38 seconds again. Five teams are represented in front. This is a dangerous moment of the race.

15:27 CET    137km/57km to go
Koen Barbe and Maarten den Bakker attack, or at least try to lift the pace in this 25 rider chase group. 30 seconds behind them is the main peloton.

Scheirlinckx attacks, but Hulsmans and Ingels mark him.

The leaders hit the Tiegemberg with 43 seconds.

15:29 CET    165km/29km to go
Coenen, Simon, Hulsmans, Scheirlinckx, Renier and Ingels have now got a small gap over the Boonen group as they reach the foot of the Tiegemberg. Hoste leads the peloton up to them, then Boonen himself counters, catching all but Coenen and Simon.

At the top, the leading five have 32 seconds on a strung out mini-peloton.

15:31 CET   
We spoke to Henk Vogels (Davitamon) this morning, and the West Australian was looking comfy in the cold weather. "I've done Mallorca, Tour Down Under, Portugal and hopefully it should be alright," said Vogels of his first race in Belgium. "The condition is not that bad but not really good yet. I think today that the most dangerous thing is the wind."

The plan? "Steegmans is great, Van Petegem is good. It's all going to be on the Kwaremont. The whole race is going to change on the Kwaremont for sure. The first 80 km there's a lot of wind too, so I'll try and stay out of the crap at the back. "

15:32 CET    140km/54km to go
The Boonen group grows a bit. Erwin Thijs (Unibet) attacks through Anzegem, and is just 23 seconds behind the five leaders: Serge Baguet (Quick.Step), Lorenzo Bernucci (T-Mobile), Nico Mattan (Davitamon), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Roger Hammond (Discovery).

15:34 CET    142km/52km to go
Leukemans and Nuyens chat in the bunch as a big chunk of the peloton returns. The leaders have about 20 seconds advantage, and now there should be teams to chase.

15:36 CET    143km/51km to go
The bunch is at 50 seconds while Thijs is just 15 seconds behind the leaders. He's nearly there.

15:37 CET    140km/54km to go
Thijs' thighs pump up and down as he closes the gap to the five leaders. A good ride there. He used a bit of strength though, using a monstrous gear.

A reaction behind now as various teams take up the cudgels to chase. The gap is 55 seconds.

15:39 CET    144km/50km to go
Lebeau (Landbouwkrediet) attacks the bunch in pursuit of the now six leaders. Auge and Martias go after him.

It's a pretty big peloton now, maybe 80 riders.

15:41 CET   
Lebeau is a neo-pro, and hasn't had any big results yet.

Ludovic Auger (FDJ) is the next rider to try to go after the leaders. May as well. The three chasers are 44 seconds behind the front six: Serge Baguet (Quick.Step), Lorenzo Bernucci (T-Mobile), Nico Mattan (Davitamon), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Roger Hammond (Discovery), Erwin Thijs (Unibet).

15:43 CET    146km/48km to go
The chasers are fighting hard against the wind, keeping the gap at 44 seconds. The front six are in a good position, given that most of the teams are represented. The peloton is now at 1'20.

15:44 CET   
There's no-one really left to chase in the peloton. A couple of Liquigas jerseys mosey on down to the front.

15:47 CET    147km/47km to go
Skil-Shimano is working with Franšaise des Jeux now. They'd better do something, as the gap between the six leaders and the bunch is over a minute. The three chasers are still dangling at 43-44 seconds.

15:50 CET    149km/45km to go
The leaders hit the final climb, the cobbled Nokereberg, with 44 seconds on the chase group of three and 1'08 on the Skil-led peloton. Fred Guesdon (FdJ) reacts from the peloton, with Tom Boonen on his wheel as policeman. A few more riders join on. Boonen won't do a hard turn.

15:51 CET    150km/44km to go
The bunch has splintered a bit as Boonen does a turn in this chase group, which catches the three in front. Verheyen and Pronk are there too.

15:52 CET   
The chase group is at 45 seconds, containing Boonen, Verheyen (Quick.Step), Lebeau (Landbouwkrediet), Martias (Bouygues), Pronk (Unibet), Guesdon (FDJ), and Auge (Cofidis). The peloton is reacting, courtesy of Davitamon-Lotto. Of course.

15:53 CET    151km/43km to go
Boonen is giving it gas as they put 20 seconds into the peloton. Boonen is left with Martias after they cross a bridge. That had to hurt. 37 seconds.

15:53 CET   
Leukemans works hard on the front of the peloton. You don't let the World Champion go. That's rule number 1.

15:54 CET    153km/41km to go
Boonen's group has carved the gap back to 32 seconds, with the peloton another 15 behind, led by Roesems, Vogels, Leukemans. Steegmans in fourth wheel as the protected rider.

15:55 CET    154km/40km to go
The gap melts like butter as Boonen drives the group behind to within 16 seconds.

Lebeau (Landbouwkrediet) is dropped. Six chasers, six leaders. And the peloton.

15:56 CET    155km/39km to go
The peloton is 17 seconds behind Boonen and 32 behind the leading six. The two front groups come together with 39 km to go. There are now three Quick.Steps in front.

15:58 CET   
The leading group is now: Tom Boonen, Geert Verheyen, Serge Baguet (Quick.Step), Lorenzo Bernucci (T-Mobile), Nico Mattan (Davitamon), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Roger Hammond (Discovery), Erwin Thijs, Matthe Pronk (Unibet), Rony Martias (Bouygues), Fred Guesdon (FDJ), Stephane Auge (Cofidis). They have 17 seconds on the Davitamon led peloton. It's panic stations a bit here.

Leukemans rides himself into the ground in pursuit.

15:59 CET    156km/38km to go
Mattan won't work in the front group, of course. The peloton is coming back now, and is at 10 seconds. The leaders had better get a wriggle on.

16:00 CET   
It's Pronk and Thijs working now, then Boonen comes through for another turn in front. The gap between the two groups is 10 seconds with the peloton in a loooong line. This will hurt Davitamon, but it will also hurt Boonen. Probably someone from another team will win then.

16:01 CET    158km/36km to go
Thijs does another turn, followed by Guesdon, Auge, Hammond, Posthuma, Baguet. The advantage is slender - 9 seconds. One mistake in front and it's all over.

16:02 CET    159km/35km to go
It's very very close, but the bunch hasn't closed the gap yet. Now Boonen comes through for another powerful turn, lifting the pace with Posthuma in tow. But the reactions are coming from the bunch, which is close enough to close the gap. Two riders jump across - Steegmans is one of them, and Hulsmans?

16:03 CET    160km/34km to go
It's Pozzato, not Hulsmans. But now the grunt goes out the lead group as they sit up. Pronk keeps going. But no, it's back together.

16:05 CET    161km/33km to go
It's probably in Quick.Step's interests to work for a sprint now, as they have enough men. 33 km to go and they're getting close to Kuurne. Coenen now on the front, and attacks. Wauters chases him, as does Scheirlinckx, B.

16:07 CET    163km/31km to go
The peloton won't stay together for long. Coenen, Van Impe (2nd last year) take turns. Then a Skil rider attacks with Jurgen van den Broeck (Discovery) on his wheel. The pair get a gap.

16:08 CET    163km/31km to go
It's Folkert de Haan from Ubbink with Van den Broeck. They are caught by Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step).

16:10 CET    165km/29km to go
Folkert de Haan (Ubbink), Jurgen van den Broeck (Discovery), Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step), and Matthe Pronk (Unibet) are in front now, with 5 seconds on the peloton. The counters keep coming through. It's very high speed racing as the finishing circuits approach.

16:13 CET    167km/27km to go
A small group with Van Impe, Boonen, Steegmans, Eeckhout and a few others close the gap to the four leaders. The peloton is breaking up a bit. Nine in front.

Hoste, Klier, Mattan, and Flickinger are chasing.

16:14 CET    171km/23km to go
Leaders: Folkert de Haan (Ubbink), Jurgen van den Broeck (Discovery), Van Impe, Boonen, Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step), Coenen, Matthe Pronk (Unibet), Steegmans (Davitamon), Eeckhout (Jacques).

Then a group with Mattan (Davitamon), Hoste (Discovery), Klier (T-Mobile), Flickinger (Ag2r). Here they come past the finish line for the first time.

Mattan and Hoste will close the gap to the leaders. The peloton is at 23 seconds.

16:16 CET    174km/20km to go
Hoste and Mattan fight very hard to close the gap to the latest Boonen group. But they do. Klier. and Flickinger can't though. 11 leaders with 20 km to go.

16:17 CET    175km/19km to go
Boonen attacks, and Steegmans reacts with VDB the Younger on his wheel. Boonen is fairly strong today, it seems. But he's got Nuyens and Van Impe with him. 24 seconds to the bunch.

16:18 CET    176km/18km to go
Bouygues and Landbouwkrediet are chasing in the peloton, at 23 seconds. In front, the cooperation is not sensational, as you would expect.

16:19 CET   
Our 'Leffe of the Day' goes to Boonen for being the most aggressive today. Mattan next, then maybe Leif Hoste.

16:20 CET    177km/17km to go
Bouygues and Landbouwkrediet continue to chase, pegging the gap back to 18 seconds. It's not easy.

16:22 CET    179km/15km to go
The leaders: Tom Boonen, Kevin Van Impe, Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step), Folkert de Haan (Ubbink), Jurgen van den Broeck (Discovery), Johan Coenen, Matthe Pronk (Unibet), Nico Mattan, Gert Steegmans (Davitamon), Niko Eeckhout (Jacques). They are actually working.

The peloton is at 21 seconds, also working. They are on the first of two finishing circuits, and the late afternoon sun is out to warm the riders and the crowds.

16:24 CET    181km/13km to go
It's breaking up a bit in front as the speed lifts. Four men off the front, with Boonen and a teammate, and a couple of others. Four chasers close the gap.

Eeckhout, Boonen, Nuyens, Van den Broeck, Pronk are all in front. Mattan and de Haan are dropped.

16:25 CET    181km/13km to go
Steegmans and Boonen attack in the crosswind. Ouch. The peloton hits the crosswind 23 seconds behind the leaders.

16:26 CET   
Van den Broeck and Coenen join the lead pair, then Eeckhout. It's getting hard.

16:28 CET    183km/11km to go
Leaders: Tom Boonen, Jurgen van den Broeck (Discovery), Johan Coenen (Unibet), Gert Steegmans (Davitamon), Niko Eeckhout (Jacques). They come to the end of the first lap, and Boonen throws off his jacket.

Four chasers: Kevin Van Impe, Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step), Matthe Pronk (Unibet), Hoste (Discovery). The peloton remains at 24 seconds, very disorganised.

16:29 CET    184km/10km to go
The peloton is at 40 seconds, well out of it. Amorison gets across to Mattan and de Haan on his own, but they're 35 seconds down on the leaders, who have 7 seconds on the Nuyens/Van Impe group.

16:30 CET    185km/9km to go
The last lap of KBK, and Tom Boonen is still in a perfect position to win this race. One of the others will have to attack, but Boonen looks comfy as he sits on the tops and chats to Eeckhout. The chasing four are coming back.

16:31 CET    185km/9km to go
Nine leaders again: Tom Boonen, Jurgen van den Broeck (Discovery), Johan Coenen (Unibet), Gert Steegmans (Davitamon), Niko Eeckhout (Jacques), Kevin Van Impe, Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step), Matthe Pronk (Unibet), Hoste (Discovery).

16:32 CET    186km/8km to go
Van Impe and Nuyens work now, wanting to set up Boonen for a sprint. The others behind aren't coming back - 35 seconds.

16:33 CET   
Boonen is also working, as he has done for the whole day. This has been a hell of a ride by him, but he still has to finish it off. Will the others go to the finish with him?

16:34 CET    187km/7km to go
The riders' shadows are long as they negotiate the back part of the circuit, Tom Boonen casting a very big one. Coenen in front on a roundabout. Maybe the Discovery duo can do something?

16:35 CET    188km/6km to go
Eeckhout pulls through, then Van Impe attacks on Boonen's signal. Steegmans has to chase him down. He does. Steegmans looks good. Then Van den Broeck counters, but Coenen is on his wheel. Boonen watching, in third.

16:36 CET    188km/6km to go
Eeckhout is next to attack, as Nuyens and Hoste counter. Steegmans has to chase them, and he has Boonen and Van Impe for company.

16:37 CET    189km/5km to go
All together for a short time. Eeckhout gesticulates wildly. That was his chance. Now it's Nuyens attacking. That's good. Eeckhout reacts and Boonen gets his wheel. The World Champ is playing a perfect role. Nuyens still has a gap, and Van den Broeck has to chase now.

16:39 CET    190km/4km to go
Nuyens is caught by VDB, Boonen and Coenen. Then Steegmans, Eeckhout, Pronk and the other two close. Nuyens attacks again!

16:40 CET    191.5km/2.5km to go
Nuyens goes under 3 km to go with a small gap, now Jurgen van den Broeck leads the chasing group. Nuyens looks back and sees he has a good gap. This is dangerous. Rule number 2 is that you don't let Nick Nuyens go.

16:41 CET    193km/1km to go
Nuyens now under 2 km with 6 seconds. VDB leads the chase. Van Impe and Boonen next. The others will have to chase. Van den Broeck explodes. It's over, surely?

16:42 CET    193km/1km to go
Coenen and Steegmans try a rearguard action, but the two remaining Quick.Steps have the race in hand. Nuyens reaches the final kilometre with 8 seconds!

16:43 CET   
The rest are sitting up until Eeckhout goes with Van Impe in tow. Nope. Can't get away. Nuyens keeps looking back - don't do it son! Just win.

16:46 CET    194km/0km to go
And Nick Nuyens wins the 59th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne with a fantastic solo on the final lap!!! Hoste second, alone, then Boonen, saluting in third, and Eeckhout.

16:54 CET   
That's all from us in the live blimp from the Belgian opening weekend. We'll keep the central heating on for a bit longer, as snow is predicted next week. But not today: it stayed dry and we saw another great race. Quick.Step achieved its revenge for yesterday, while Davitamon came away a bit empty handed, although Steegmans' form is promising.

Tot ziens!

Results

Provisional
1 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick.Step
2 Leif Hoste (Bel) Discovery
3 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step
4 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques
5 Matthe Pronk (Ned) Unibet.com
6 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
7 Johan Coenen (Bel) Unibet.com
8 Jurgen Van den Broeck (Bel) Discovery
9 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quick.Step