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Photo ©: Sirotti
49th E3 Prijs Vlaanderen
Belgium, March 25, 2006
Start List Results
Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Brecht Decaluwé
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CET
Estimated finish: 17:00 CET
Photo ©: Jeff Jones
Welcome to sunny (yes, you read that
correctly) Harelbeke for Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 49th E3 Prijs
Vlaanderen. The weather is surprisingly good today, with a strong southwesterly
wind blowing all the overnight rain away, and the riders could start in dry
conditions with temperatures actually above 10 degrees.
today will make the race even tougher, although there are also 12 climbs, starting
with La Houppe after 117 km, and ending with the Tiegemberg with 14 km to go.
And of course there are a few cobbled sections, including the Holleweg, Paddestraat,
Kaperij and Varent stones. No-one is going to get an easy ride to the finish
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) was a non-starter this morning, but
most of the other classics stars were there in Harelbeke's Grote Markt: double
winner Tom Boonen (Quick.Step), his teammate and 2003 winner Steven de Jongh,
Peter Van Petegem, Gert Steegmans an Robbie McEwen (Davitamon-Lotto), Roger
Hammond, Leif Hoste and Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel), Andreas Klier, Serguei
Ivanov and Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile), Nico Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques) and
There was talk about Tom Boonen having a beefed up bike
ready for this race, but the world champion told Cyclingnews that it
wasn't ready yet. It should be for the big classics though.
was at noon, with Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Fabio Sacchi (Milram), and Ben Johnson
(Agritubel) not starting. After 15 km, a group of 26 riders got clear, including
Wilfried Cretskens, Servais Knaven (Quick.Step), Henk Vogels (Davitamon), Fabian
Cancellara (CSC), Anthony Geslin, Rony Martias, Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues),
Sébastien Minard, Thierry Marichal (Cofidis), Marcus Burghardt, Andreas Klier,
Stephan Schreck (T-Mobile), David Loosli, Daniele Righi (Lampre), Daniele Colli
(Liquigas), Fumiyuki Beppu, Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Discovery), Steven Kleynen
(Landbouwkrediet), Jeremy Hunt, Matthew Wilson (Unibet.com), Torsten Schmidt,
Lars Wackernagel (Wiesenhof), Marlon Perez (Tenax), Dmitri Konyshev, Michele
Maccanti (LPR), and Christian Murro (Tenax).
After 40 km, the group
had a minute with the race speed very high: 47 km in the first hour. Loosli
was dropped, and Minard had to let go after a mechanical, leaving 24 in front.
In the peloton, it wasn't easy either: Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux)
was dropped, suffering stomach problems, while Marc Wauters and Jukka Vastaranta
(Rabobank) were also in trouble. Yukihiro Doi (Skil Shimano) crashed after 61
km and was taken to hospital.
Tom Boonen flatted just before the
Paddestraat, but was able to rejoin the peloton. Alessandro Petacchi had similar
luck, as did Sébastien Hinault, who punctured on the Paddestraat. Unfortunately,
when he did, Niko Eeckhout and Franck Renier rode into him.
70 km, a group of nine countered in pursuit of the 24 leaders: Peter Van Petegem,
Robbie McEwen, Gert Steegmans (Davitamon), Alessandro Petacchi (Milram), Steffen
Wesemann (T-Mobile) were all present, but the group came back after 8 km. The
gap to the leaders with 120 km to go was half a minute, as the riders covered
44 km in the second hour. Servais Knaven flatted in front, but was able to rejoin.
Andreas Klier (T-Mobile) - who is
in the lead group - finished second in the E3-Prijs Harelbeke last year. What
does he expect of the race today? "I'd like to move up one spot. The opponents
will be the same and I feel I'm on the same level also. It will be hard to beat
Boonen, one on one. But I'm not the only one with that problem," he remarked
in HNB. "I heard that Boonen rode aggressively in Waregem on Wednesday.
I like that; I'll join him. If Tom remains passive, I'll shake the tree myself.
"Wesemann, Ivanov and myself were there already last year." he explained to
HLN "With Bernucci and Burghardt in a supportive role, we're off well
collectively. Boonen will be the biggest obstacle. The pressure of the rainbow
jersey. Ah well, he's too young and too good to have problems with that!"
14:22 CET 101km/97km to go
Servais Knaven has
been dropped from the lead group, which now numbers 23 and has a 1'14 lead.
He's back in the bunch now.
14:24 CET 104km/94km to go
The gap goes up to
1'34 as the leaders hit the feed zone. Klier is the most dangerous man in the
break. Gerolsteiner and Milram have been chasing.
Dirk Demol, director of the Discovery
team, told Cyclingnews before the start today that, "We were never a
team of early victories. But since we are
leading in the Pro-Tour ranking
for teams, we are very pleased. It proves that we have no single top riders,
but a whole team of them. Today, our leaders are the local boys, being young
Stijn Devolder and the more experienced Leif Hoste. Not like last year, Devolder
has to be in top form from now on. He will do most races from the Tour of Flanders
until Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Hoste should be a bit stronger than Devolder, as
he isn't showing up at the Wallonian races. We aim to win a big classic. Of
course, later on, we want to perform well in the Giro
d'Italia and Tour
Leif Hoste will be racing on home-turf today, as he grew
up in Bavikhove, near Harelbeke. "This is more than just coming home to me,"
he was quoted in HNB. "I should be able to go higher than the level I
was on in 2004. I'm virtually riding every race there is from Harelbeke onwards
and I consider myself able to play a role in every finale.
that went wrong last year has been turned around. I hope that this can last
another three weeks. No, the big results aren't there yet. But the feeling that
things are heading the right way is most important. If I'm afraid of Boonen?
On the contrary..."
14:30 CET 108km/90km to go
Rabobank has lost
most of its riders already: Oscar Freire (DNS), Joost Posthuma, and Marc Wauters
are all out. Jan Boven and Jukka Vastaranta were also struggling earlier.
Roger Hammond (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Jeff Jones
Roger Hammond won't be one of Discovery
Channel's leaders, despite being in good form at the moment. "No, no," he said,
when we asked him. Why? "Because I hate this race! Even the year I was third,
I was hanging on in this race. There was always a time when my parents used
to come over and watch me, and every year I was in the bus."
now, Hammond admitted, "I have good legs. I feel different to other years now.
I just have a free role - I'm just not a leader."
And maybe back
in a captain's role for the Ronde van Vlaanderen? "We'll see, we have a few
other guys coming there. We just have to see how the next days go. If I keep
pulling up, recovering well after the races, then hopefully I'll be given another
free role. I don't expect protection, I'd just like the free role idea. Then
I can make a decision in the race how I feel, whether to help or to go for it."
14:44 CET 119km/79km to go
The leaders have reached
the first climb, La Houppe, a 2.8 km hill averaging 3.3%. It's a gentle aperitif
to the cobbled monsters coming up. The gap is still a minute.
Fabian Cancellara (CSC) is part of
the break away. He's happy with his form and says on the team's website that
the TT win in Tirreno-Adriatico was good for the confidence: "It was very important
to win that one – both for me and the team. It was good for morale to show that
we've prepared for the big races in the right way. I feel totally ready and
I look forward to hitting the cobblestones. There are two good races this weekend
and I'm initially going to try to sit up front in the E3 Prijs on Saturday.
It will prove a good test of my form even though primarily it's all about getting
ready for Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix."
Wackernagel is dropped from the lead
group on La Houppe and is absorbed by the bunch. 22 left in front.
In the bunch, Rik Reinerink (Skil - Shimano), Francesco Planckaert (Jartazi)
and Simone Cadamuro (Team Milram) are all in trouble.
Van Petegem and Michael Blanchy collide in the peloton, and Fumiyuki Beppu comes
down in the front group. He abandons.
14:56 CET 124km/74km to go
The leaders have now
51 seconds of their advantage left as they race towards Berg Stene, the second
climb of the day. They're on it now.
14:59 CET 127km/71km to go
T-Mobile is working
hard in the lead group, but they're losing the battle against the peloton. It's
half a minute as they hit the Boigneberg.
Philippe Gilbert won the Omloop Het
Volk early in the season. We talked
with him before the E3-prijs Harelbeke
got under way. "This race suits me
well enough, but the Tour of Flanders
and Liège are more important," he said. "Choosing between those two is impossible,
they are both top classics.
This morning I was a bit scared of the rain,
but like things are
unfolding it looks like we will race in dry conditions.
My health is ok,
though I protect my knees to avoid tendonitis."
Gilbert also commented on his performance in Milano-Sanremo: "Last year I finished
as second and I hoped to do better this year. I was there in the front group
wanted to attack. But, I was to far away to try it. Same thing at
the finish line, so I wasn't able to get a top-10 result."
was in trouble, though, earlier on in the race.
15:02 CET 130km/68km to go
The peloton slows
down on the Boigneberg, as McEwen gets to the front with Boonen. One of their
teammates has punctured, we think. The gap goes out to over a minute again.
In front, Burghardt, Van den Broeck and Perez push the pace on the climb, opening
up a gap to the rest of the break.
15:05 CET 132km/66km to go
Perez, Burghardt and
Van den Broeck take the descent of the Boigneberg and are en route to climb
4, the Eikenberg. The break is a little disorganised behind them. Maccanti tries
to bridge on his own, but fails.
Sergey Ivanov is not a team leader
for T-Mobile: "Our man is Andreas Klier,
but these are my races too. I
hope to do well because I know these hard
and physical races suit me very
The three leaders hit the Eikenberg
cobbles, with Van den Broeck pushing the pace, before Perez (not Colli) takes
15:08 CET 134km/64km to go
Perez seems the strongest
of the three leaders at the moment.
In the bunch, it's McEwen, Boonen
and Ivanov in that order on the Eikenberg. The pace isn't that hot at the moment.
15:10 CET 135km/63km to go
Vogels is suffering
in the peloton (one of many to be struggling today). He's leading a small group
in pursuit of the bunch over the top of the Eikenberg.
and Van den Broeck catch Perez. They are 12 seconds in front of the rest of
the early break.
Marichal is dropped from the break.
15:12 CET 137km/61km to go
The three leaders
are caught again, as Marichal, Maccanti and Konyshev are all dropped. That leaves
Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Discovery), Marlon Perez (Tenax),
Wilfried Cretskens (Quick.Step), Henk Vogels (Davitamon), Fabian Cancellara
(CSC), Anthony Geslin, Rony Martias, Alexandre Pichot (Bouygues), Andreas Klier,
Stephan Schreck, Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Daniele Righi (Lampre), Daniele
Colli (Liquigas), Steven Kleynen (Landbouwkrediet), Jeremy Hunt, Matthew Wilson
(Unibet.com), Torsten Schmidt, Lars Wackernagel (Wiesenhof), and Christian Murro
"I urgently need to learn to control
myself," Stijn Devolder told Het Laatste Nieuws. "I don't like anything
more than to race according to my own temperament. It's just that that isn't
as profitable." His 2005 season is the proof of that. Devolder raced aggressively
in Qatar, the Ruta del Sol, Het Volk, K-B-K, Tirreno-Adriatico, E3-Prijs, with
a stage win in the Three Days de Panne as a the nicest result.
by then I had already had the best days. In the Tour of Flanders and P-R, my
favourite races, I was as dead as mutton. Painful."
with Demol and Bruyneel, Devolder tried a different approach, of which the base
was laid in the Vuelta. "Just before the hardest mountain stages I had him racing
with the brakes on," Demol commented "He (Devolder) was angry. 'Come on Dirk,
not going all out in a time-trial? You can't be serious' he said. 'I am' I said.
Because on Cerler, I want to see what you're really worth. He became a big revelation."
"I have to avoid going into the red too much," added Devolder. "Make the difference
between the important and trivial stuff. And dose my energy better during the
race, attack at the right moment. That's what I'm keeping in mind. With only
one goal: to win more often in the period between Dwars door Vlaanderen en Paris-Roubaix.
For now, I'm below Hincapie in the classics; in a free role."
today, Devolder sees Boonen as the man to beat. "At the moment, he's wiping
everything and everybody off the map. A combination of power and cleverness
will be needed to beat him. But hey, he won't win every race, will he?"
15:15 CET 138km/60km to go
Maarten den Bakker
is now on the front of the bunch, pegging the gap back to 45 seconds as the
leaders hit the cobbled Sationsberg (700m). This is a tougher climb than it
looks. Jeremy Hunt is hanging on the back.
Now McEwen and Zberg work
in the peloton, driving the pace up.
Matt Wilson and Jeremy Hunt are both
out of the lead group. It's been a tough couple of days for the Unibet team.
Frank Vandenbroucke was in trouble earlier.
15:18 CET 139km/59km to go
The peloton swallows
Maccanti and Konyshev, as Leif Hoste attacks with McEwen and a few others, stringing
out the peloton in a very long line and knocking 10 seconds off the gap to the
leaders. 27 seconds now.
Hunt comes back as Devolder, Tankink
and Ballan attack. Hunt hangs onto them. They're approaching the Taaienberg.
15:21 CET 142km/56km to go
The peloton is strong
out with gaps appearing everywhere. The four chasers twist their way through
the back roads, avoiding the mud, as they tack onto the break. That was quick.
As he did last year, Andreas Klier
hammers away from the rest of the break on the Taaienberg. Mengin (FDJ) tries
to follow the German, and is 50m off his back wheel. The rest of the break is
15:27 CET 146km/52km to go
Klier and Mengin are
together now, with the next group containing Devolder, Burghardt, Cretskens,
Geslin, Perez, and Murro. The peloton is still 1'04 back. Klier eases off the
pedals to let the chasers come back. Two T-Mobiles up there.
group has formed from the peloton with Van Petegem, Tankink, Cooke and quite
a few more.
15:30 CET 147km/51km to go
The leaders: Klier,
Burghardt (T-Mobile), Mengin (FDJ), Devolder (Discovery), Cretskens (Quick.Step),
Geslin (Bouygues), Perez and Murro (Tenax). They have 40 seconds on a group
containing Boonen, Van Petegem, Steegmans, McEwen and about 20 more. They are
almost at the Oude Kruiskens, climb 7.
Lampre-Fondital is working hard in
the chase group now, but isn't getting much help. The group is may 30 riders
strong. Cancellara breaks his chain - bad luck for the CSC rider. He has to
wait ages for a spare bike, and is shaking his head.
15:35 CET 151km/47km to go
The chase group is
very nervous as De Jongh appears in front. The gap comes down to 22 seconds
with the eight leaders still away. Burghardt is doing a lot of work, as is Devolder.
They hit the cobbled Oude Kruiskens.
Klier, Burghardt lead the way in the
break, as Lampre and Liquigas chase behind. Cretskens is in trouble in the break,
which means Quick.Step might have to start chasing now. Yes, he's dropped. Over
the top, Devolder hangs onto the two leaders.
15:38 CET 153km/45km to go
Boonen, as does Van Petegem on the Oude Kruiskens. They're over the top with
a bit of a gap to the peloton. PVP has to work hard but he's there. The gap
melts to 15 seconds.
Steegmans and Hoste join Boonen's group, which
has caught Cretskens.
It's getting messy.
15:43 CET 156km/42km to go
Ballan is also in
the chase group, which has caught four of the eight leaders. Still Burghardt,
Klier, Geslin, Murro in front, then at 15 seconds: Boonen, Cretskens (Quick.Step),
Mengin (FDJ), Devolder, Hoste (Discovery), Perez, (Tenax), Steegmans, Van Petegem
(Davitamon), Ballan (Lampre), and Scheirlinckx (Cofidis). Not sure where the
peloton is (or isn't).
The four leaders are on the Kapelberg, climb
8, which averages 7.1 percent for 750m. The chase group is catching them, but
are in turn being caught by a bigger group, also known as the peloton. It's
all going to come together, it looks like. Petacchi has made it to the front
15:46 CET 158km/40km to go
Burghardt tries to
keep it going as the bunch regroups with 41 km to go, but Devolder, Geslin and
Boonen mark him. The attacks rain one after the other now. Cooke has a go, then
Burghardt again. The T-Mobile rider is alone. He's had a pretty good race, you
McEwen accelerates behind, gapping Boonen. They are almost
at the Paterberg.
Burghardt returns to the peloton as
it descends to the Paterberg. This is only 400m, but it averages 12.5 percent
and it's cobbled. It's difficult. Boonen is in third wheel as they near the
15:49 CET 159km/39km to go
McEwen, Klier then
Boonen in that order on the Paterberg. McEwen has the gutter, and Klier can't
take it away from him. That's the order now. Cooke is in fourth wheel. Position
is so important on this climb. It starts to bite and Ballan attacks around McEwen
with Boonen driving after him. That was 1'10. Boonen did it faster mid-week
15:50 CET 160km/38km to go
The bunch files over
the top of the Paterberg, but already Boonen and Ballan are away. Schreck is
off the back, as he had to put his foot down.
15:51 CET 162km/36km to go
Boonen and Ballan
do some big turns to keep their gap. Ballan looks good. Steegmans, Burghardt,
Hoste, Vierhouten and 25 others are chasing at 36 seconds. That's a huge gap
15:53 CET 163km/35km to go
The two leaders are
now at the foot of the Kwaremont, with 26 seconds on the chasing peloton. This
will be a critical climb. McEWen is back on the front, chasing for Van Petegem.
McEwen was the one who blew up on the Paterberg and allowed that gap.
PVP moves in front with Klier on his wheel.
Boonen leads Ballan on
the Kwaremont, as the cobbles start.
Ballan pedals up the climb behind
the World Champ, clinging to his wheel. Boonen is in a big gear, grinding away.
Klier leads the peloton, looking for help. Flecha moves up to second wheel.
PVP drops back.
15:56 CET 164km/34km to go
It's Klier with a
small gap over Flecha and Van Petegem in the peloton, trying to limit the damage
to Boonen and Ballan. 32 seconds.
15:57 CET 164km/34km to go
It's Klier with a
small gap over Flecha and Van Petegem in the peloton, trying to limit the damage
to Boonen and Ballan. 32 seconds.
15:58 CET 164km/34km to go
Bad news for Davitamon:
Steegmans is dropped from the bunch. Klier doesn't have many with him now. PVP
is the only one. They cross the mighty summit at 26 seconds. Deja vu all over
16:00 CET 166km/32km to go
Boonen and Ballan,
the two Bs, have 32 seconds over Klier and Van Petegem, who are joined by Hoste,
De Waele, Scheirlinckx, Cooke, Flecha, Carrara, Cooke, Zabel, Ljungqvist, Johansen
The chasers, now at 42 seconds, consist
of Van Petegem (Davitamon), Klier, Ivanov (T-Mobile), Hoste and Hammond (Discovery),
De Waele (Landbouwkrediet), Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Cooke (Unibet), Flecha (Rabobank),
Carrara (Lampre), Zabel (Milram), Ljungqvist, Johansen (CSC), Paolini (Liquigas),
Murro and Petito (Tenax), Mourey and Guesdon (FDJ), Vierhouten (Skil).
16:06 CET 171km/27km to go
The gap is 37 seconds
as the two leaders hit the flat before the Knokteberg. Boonen is giving it the
full horsepower treatment, looking very powerful in his world champion's jersey.
Ballan is good too today - don't underestimate him. He must fancy himself more
than Klier did last year.
16:07 CET 172km/26km to go
Another group is trying
to close to the chasers with Van Impe, Tankink and Devolder. No chance before
16:09 CET 172km/26km to go
Ballan takes a turn
at the foot of the Trieu, as they increase their gap to 44 seconds! Incredible
riding, but Boonen isn't world champ for nothing. However, it's not over yet.
The chase is surprisingly disorganised. It should be fairly obvious what has
to be done to win this bike race...
16:10 CET 25km/173km to go
Ivanov leads the chasers
at 50 seconds now, with Hammond and PVP following. No Quick.Steps left, but
they've got their man in front. Boonen is powering away at the top of the Trieu,
with Ballan suffering in his wake. The time, from the white farmhouse: 2'45.
16:12 CET 174km/24km to go
PVP takes over in
the chase group with Klier on his wheel, but they're close to a minute behind
at the top. 55 seconds. They had better get a proverbial wriggle on.
Boonen and Ballan refuel at 50 km/h over the top. One more climb to come.
16:14 CET 176km/22km to go
The chasers make the
best use of the descent as the leaders hit 80km/h down it into Berchem. They
have a bit of a tailwind now, and it's going to be very hard to get 'em back.
Johansen rolls through, then the impressive Klier.
16:16 CET 177km/21km to go
The chase group hits
70km/h at the bottom of the descent into Berchem, still nearly a minute down
on the two leaders. The Varent cobbles are approaching, which will help the
two in front rather than the 19 behind.
Ballan's saddle looks to
be in a rather painful position. That can't be good for you.
16:17 CET 178km/20km to go
Ballan has won just
one race this season: Trofeo Laigueglia. He also won a stage of De Panne last
Hammond does a rather tired looking turn in front of the chase
group as the gap goes up again, now it's 1'06.
16:18 CET 179km/19km to go
Boonen leads on the
slick cobbles of the Varentstraat. Ballan tries to follow him the best he can.
The gap continues to grow, now 1'10.
Johansen tows the chase group over
the cobbles, with Klier on his wheel. He nearly overcooks it on the corner.
This is a treacherous section.
16:21 CET 181km/17km to go
Johansen and Klier
lead all the way, as the two leaders exit the cobbles at last with 1'20. Van
Petegem now on the front, looking relaxed but clearly suffering.
Boonen gets some encouragement from the team car.
16:22 CET 182km/16km to go
Ballan's saddle is
being fixed. It was pointing upwards.
Murro punctures on the cobbles.
He's now chasing.
Cooke in front, looking frustrated at the lack
of organisation. It's fairly ordinary. The gap hovers at 1'17.
16:24 CET 183km/15km to go
Ballan leads Boonen
through Tiegem, towards the last climb of the day: Tiegemberg. Ballan's saddle
problems have cost the break time. Boonen goes pretty hard on the climb, but
Ballan hangs on.
Hoste attacks the chase group. 1'14
is going to be hard to close by himself.
16:26 CET 184km/14km to go
The pair reach the
top of the Tiegemberg and take the left hander with 1'25 on the peloton. Hoste
is chasing alone, but is being caught by Klier and Van Petegem.
De Waele pushes it behind and Hoste
is caught at the top. Vierhouten is also there. 1'17 to the leading pair though.
16:29 CET 186km/12km to go
and De Waele are in pursuit of Tom Boonen and Alessandro Ballan, with the rest
of the bunch riding 5 seconds behind them. The two leaders are holding their
1'15 gap, which looks to be enough to stay clear.
Johansen is chasing the three chasers
alone. The CSC rider is hanging off the back as Klier, Zabel, PVP and a couple
of others come back to him.
16:33 CET 190km/8km to go
The situation is stable
as Boonen and Ballan keep their 1'13 gap over the next three. Klier is the next
to try to bridge up to Hoste, De Waele and Vierhouten.
16:34 CET 191.5km/6.5km to go
At the moment,
I'd put Tom Boonen at 90 percent chance of winning this race for the third time
in a row. Ballan has got a chance, for sure, as he can sprint. But it ain't
16:35 CET 192km/6km to go
Hoste powers the chasing
trio, which is 1'35 behind the two leaders. Boonen does another massive turn.
Full credit to Ballan, who is not sitting on the world champion's wheel at all.
16:37 CET 193.5km/4.5km to go
The leading pair
are rapidly approaching Harelbeke, with a 53 second gap to the three chasers.
The leaders can't afford to fool around
too much. Boonen tightens his straps, then comes through for another powerful
turn. The gap is up to 1'18 at 4 km to go. Forget about that last time check
of 53 seconds.
16:39 CET 195km/3km to go
Boonen drives it with
Ballan still lookin' good on his wheel. They're sharing the load, that's for
sure. It'll be the best man winning today. You'd have to put a few euros on
Boonen though. Three in a row?
Jaan Raas also won this race three
times in a row (1979-1981). As a world champ, too.
16:41 CET 196km/2km to go
The leaders hit 2 km
to go. No chance of getting caught now. Who will be third? Hoste, Vierhouten
or De Waele?
16:41 CET 196.5km/1.5km to go
No games yet. The
lead pair want to get to the finish. Ballan leads. Boonen looks relaxed as he
stretches out of the saddle.
16:42 CET 197km/1km to go
Boonen lets Ballan
to a long turn up until 1 km to go, but stays on the Italian's wheel. Surely
he won't come through now.
As the bells in Harelbeke toll, Alessandro
Ballan is leading world champ Tom Boonen with 600m to go. They can sense the
finish. There can only be one result now.
16:44 CET 198km/0km to go
Ballan eases off a
bit but Boonen is ready to pounce. It's a tailwind finish. He pounces and Ballan
is destroyed. Boonen wins the E3 Prijs for the third year in a row!!!! Another
very impressive ride.
Crowd goes wild.
trio come in now, slowing - they can't afford to wait too long. They look back.
Hoste in third wheel, he's the slowest. Vierhouten in front as the fastest.
Hoste jumps first, then Vierhouten takes his wheel and comes past the Discovery
rider to take third place. De Waele fourth. Ljungqvist next for sixth.
Well, Tom Boonen has done it again,
winning the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and marking himself as a favourite for next
week's Ronde van Vlaanderen. Rik Van Looy won it four times, so Boonen still
has to be pro for a couple more years to beat that record.
moment was on the Paterberg, when McEwen slowed down and Ballan and Boonen went
around him, opening up a big gap over the top. That was at 40 km to go and the
chase bunch never saw them again.
Thanks for following our live
coverage today. We'll be back tomorrow with the Brabantse Pijl. Tot straks!
1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
2 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
3 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Skil-Shimano
4 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
5 Leif Hoste (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
6 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Team CSC
7 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas
8 Roger Hammond (GBr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team