46th Brabantse Pijl - 1.1
Belgium, March 26, 2006
Start List Results
Commentary by Jeff Jones
Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 17:00 CEST
Welcome back to Sunny Belgium(tm)
for the second of this weekend's semi-classics. Today marks the 46th edition
of Brabantse Pijl, which takes place in Vlaamse-Brabant, near Brussels. Today's
race is 190 km long, with 19 climbs. First there is a 110 km loop between Zaventem
and Alsemberg, then five laps of a 16 km circuit with three climbs per lap:
Alsemberg, Lindenberg, and Bruineput. The finish is up a 1.2 km climb, and although
a sprinter like Oscar Freire can win it, you don't usually get a bunch sprint.
Team CSC is anticipating today's
race, after Marcus Ljungqvist finished sixth yesterday. "We had Allan Johansen
and Marcus Ljungqvist in the pursuing group," said sports director Scott Sunderland
on the team's website after the race. "They were both strong and we chose to
spare Marcus a bit as he's an especially strong finisher in races like these,
and he did end up winning the sprint for the sixth place."
Fabian Cancellara, was in the early break but saw his chances of a top finish
ruined by a broken chain. "Fabian had mechanical problems and had to change
bike at a time where the peloton was split in four groups and the pace was really
fast. When he finally got a new bike he was very far behind, but he still managed
to move up again on his own and finish among the top 40, which is actually pretty
impressive considering," added Sunderland, who is now anticipating today's Brabantse
"We have spared Karsten Kroon and Kurt-Asle Arvesen for this
race, and all our riders are strong at the moment, so I hope we'll be able to
stay up front and put up a good fight for the podium spots." But CSC will have
to start with seven riders today, as Christian Müller is injured.
The weather today is similar to yesterday:
after a wet morning, the wind blew the rain away and there are patches of blue
sky to be seen (from a good vantage point with the right tilt of the head).
It's about 15 degrees, which is fine for racing in provided it doesn't rain.
15:17 CEST 100km/90km to go
The current race
situation: we're just over the halfway mark, approaching the finishing circuits.
Eight riders have a three minute gap over the bunch, including Quick.Step's
15:24 CEST 112km/78km to go
Early abandons today
include Alessandro Ballan (Lampre) and Fabian Cancellara (CSC). The eight leaders
have reached the finishing circuits with diminishing advantage of two minutes.
15:29 CEST 122km/68km to go
The full group: Addy
Engels (Quick.Step), Didier Rous (Bouygues), Tomas Vaitkus (AG2R), Martin Wijnants
(Chocolade Jacques), Claudio Corioni (Lampre-Fondital), Felix Oderbrecht (Wiesenhof
Akud), Norbert Poels (Fondas-P3Transfer Team), Daniele Colli (Liquigas-Bianchi).
They have 43 seconds on the first lap of the circuit. Oderbrecht is sitting
on the back, suffering.
15:29 CEST 123km/67km to go
doing the chasing work, for team captain Bjorn Leukemans. Bart Dockx is leading.
15:32 CEST 125km/65km to go
(Cofidis) is another one of the early abandons, along with Paolini (2004 winner),
Baldato and Petito (Tenax), Pieri, Konyshev (LPR), Scheuneman (Rabobank). It's
not a race to do with sore legs.
The gap is just 25 seconds, with
Davitamon having the situation well in hand. No doubt we'll have counter attacks
15:33 CEST 126km/64km to go
The break reaches
the Alsemberg for the end of the first lap, but only has 20 seconds of its advantage
intact. They're still riding hard - Oderbrecht is goooone.
15:36 CEST 126km/64km to go
Fred Rodriguez is
now working for Davitamon, which has most of its team on the front.
The leaders climb up to the finish with their lead melting all the time. Vaitkus
is also dropped.
15:37 CEST 128km/62km to go
Dockx and Rodriguez
continue to set tempo, closing to within 15 seconds of the leading six.
Jukka Vastaranta (Rabobank) crashed and was taken to hospital with a suspected
broken arm. Also Roberto Traficante crashed and was taken to hospital.
15:40 CEST 130km/60km to go
It's all over with
60 km to go for the breakaways. But the race will (figuratively) explode again.
Wijnants tries to keep things going as the peloton closes the gap.
15:42 CEST 132km/58km to go
Oscar Freire, last
year's winner, follows an attack on the Bruineput. Leukemans counters, but not
too hard. It stretches the peloton, but doesn't break it. A Gerolsteiner rider
follows Leukemans with an energy gel dangling from his mouth. Not a good time.
Vasseur in third wheel.
Verstrepen is dropped with Andy Capelle.
Verstrepen crashed earlier, and it shows.
Auge and Righetto are shelled with
a couple of other riders on the Bruineput. Lights out for them.
15:46 CEST 135km/55km to go
At the bottom of
the descent, Van de Walle pushes the pace for Quick.Step. Then a Rabobank rider
drives through with a Skil-Shimano for company. The peloton is in two parts.
The attacks continue in front as Tankink follows a few others. A dozen are trying
to get clear, and it's all strung out behind them.
15:47 CEST 136km/54km to go
Tankink puts his
head down and keeps driving, opening up a gap now. He has chasers, two of them.
Then a group just ahead of the peloton.
15:48 CEST 137km/53km to go
It's three Dutchmen:
Bram de Groot (Rabobank), Bram Tankink (Quick.Step), and Stef Clement (Bouygues).
Enrico Franzoi (Lampre-Fondital) is chasing them alone.
15:50 CEST 138km/52km to go
Franzoi tacks on
on the bottom of the Lindenberg. Almost...ouch...he needs another 20 metres.
They don't wait, and Franzoi explodes (figuratively).
abandoned as a counter starts behind.
15:51 CEST 139km/51km to go
Van Summeren catches
Franzoi and the Italian takes his wheel as he tries to get up to the four leaders.
A CSC rider joins the party, then the rest of the peloton. The three in front
have 5 seconds max.
15:55 CEST 141km/49km to go
It's a Dutch trio
still, with Clement, De Groot and Tankink nearing the foot of the Alsemberg
for the end of lap 2. They have opened up their advantage a little bit.
Coenen flats at the foot of the climb, no-one to give him a wheel yet. He's
really pissed. Where is the Shimano neutral service?
leads the peloton on the climb, 18 seconds behind the break.
15:56 CEST 142km/48km to go
Three laps to go,
and the break has 13 seconds on the Wim Van Huffel led peloton, which is still
15:59 CEST 145km/45km to go
The leaders open
up more of a gap as Arvesen gets to the front of the bunch with a Milram rider,
trying to get clear of the bunch.
16:02 CEST 147km/43km to go
The break takes a
shorter route over a bike path as it reaches the Bruineput. 19 seconds as Erwin
Thijs (Unibet) powers away with another Shimano rider. Nuyens and Freire are
close to each other in the peloton.
16:03 CEST 148km/42km to go
counters on the Bruineput, taking Nuyens, Leukemans, and Vansummeren with him.
This has hurt the peloton. Baguet is also coming up. Interesting mix.
16:04 CEST 149km/41km to go
Muravyev, Nuyens and Baguet - most of the favourites in this race, are chasing
the three leaders over the top of the Bruineput. They easily hit 80 km/h on
16:08 CEST 151km/39km to go
We now have a group
of 20 or so, with Bram de Groot, Flecha (Rabobank), Stef Clement (Bouygues),
Vansummeren, Dockx, Leukemans (Davitamon), Baguet, Nuyens, Tankink (Quick Step),
Dockx is the next to attack, with Tankink and De Groot
(again) catching him.
16:09 CEST 152km/38km to go
Arvesen bridges up
to the trio, with Talabardon also trying to bring a few riders up. The racing
is flat out now.
16:11 CEST 153km/37km to go
Five join the four
in front, with the peloton tacking on at the foot of the Lindenberg. All back
16:12 CEST 154km/36km to go
Yes, the attacks
continue. Vasseur goes away with four others, including Abakoumov. But the bunch
is on their heels over the top. In bits and pieces, anyway.
A Milram rider goes next - Martin
Muller- with Baguet the Quick.Step rider in tow. Leukemans leads the bunch behind.
16:15 CEST 156km/34km to go
Muller and Baguet
are joined by a Lampre rider. They are near the end of the third lap.
The Lampre rider is Carrara, but
the Milram is Christian Knees. Several more riders are closing the gap to them.
16:17 CEST 158km/32km to go
It's now Baguet (Quick.Step),
Carrara (Lampre), Flecha (Rabobank), Kroon (CSC), Knees (Milram), Bodrogi (Credit
Agricole), and Monfort (Cofidis). Kroon looks good as he opens up a gap on the
Alsemberg. Flecha closes the gap, slowly. Knees and Monfort are in trouble.
16:18 CEST 158km/32km to go
No Davitamons in
the break, but plenty of Quick.Steps on the front of the peloton, slowing things
The break crosses the line with a 10 second gap to Monfort,
then 37 seconds to the Vansummeren led peloton.
16:19 CEST 159km/31km to go
This is an interesting
looking break, with Flecha, Kroon and Baguet all strong riders. Carrara, Knees
and Bodrogi are contributing, while Monfort will have a tough chase to get them
16:21 CEST 161km/29km to go
The gap goes up to
42 seconds as Monfort is absorbed by the bunch, led by Davitamon.
The bunch is strung out in pursuit
of the six leaders, but not making an impression. Still 41 seconds. That's quite
dangerous, at this point of the race. But the situation can change so quickly
in Brabantse Pijl.
16:23 CEST 163km/27km to go
Baguet tries to sit
on for a bit, but Flecha isn't having any of it. He waves the Belgian champion
through. They hit the Bruineput again with 38 seconds.
Unibet and Davitamon are chasing.
16:25 CEST 164km/26km to go
Unibet lead the charge on the Unibet, knocking 10 seconds off the gap. Nuyens
is in second wheel and attacks, but has Abakoumov for company. But he can't
get away alone, so he sits up. That was dangerous for Baguet in front. The leaders
are over the top.
Freire now moves up in the bunch to slow things
down. Abakoumov goes again, cutting it to 12 seconds.
16:27 CEST 165km/25km to go
Abakoumov looks around
and sees no-one is helping, so he sits up. But it's only 13 seconds to the six
leaders. The bunch flies down the descent, still 50-60 riders strong. Sijmens
tries to close the gap on his own. Nope.
16:28 CEST 166km/24km to go
Sijmens does a long
turn, then looks back. No-one comes through and the pace drops off again. Now
an attack from Marichal (Cofidis), which ups the tempo again. 20 seconds to
16:30 CEST 167km/23km to go
Mondory (3rd in Dwars
door Vlaanderen) tries an attack, but it doesn't go anywhere. Freire is up there
blocking, looking good too. He could definitely win again today.
Dockx gets back on the front with a teammate in tow -Van Huffel. He works hard
to close the gap. 10 seconds and closing fast.
16:30 CEST 168km/22km to go
Dockx and Van Huffel
close the gap to the break with 22 km to go. All together again.
16:33 CEST 169km/21km to go
Now the attacks will
be harder, as there aren't many climbs left. They pass through the feed zone,
with the leaders grabbing bidons. Flecha hits a Wiesenhof rider on the helmet
because he couldn't get his bidon.
It's clouded over again, but
the roads are still dry.
Vierhouten - third yesterday - attacks
on the Lindenberg.
16:34 CEST 170km/20km to go
Dockx is dropped,
not surprisingly. Van Summeren leads the peloton, where Sijmens attacks in pursuit
of Vierhouten. He looks awkward, with both knees bandaged.
takes the corner at the top with about 5 seconds. He's looking back a lot though.
16:35 CEST 171km/19km to go
The pace increases
and Vierhouten is caught by a small group of six or seven. The peloton is right
on their wheels though. All together again.
A Wiesenhof rider is trying to keep
the pace up as the peloton strings out again. Van de Walle obliges with a sharp
turn. They're in the streets of Alsemberg, ready for the climb up to the finish
again. Maccanti (LPR) attacks, but has the peloton for company. He sits up.
Fredrik Willems - European continental
tour winner - hammers on the Alsemberg with De Groot (!) on his wheel for Rabobank.
Then Kroon and Vasseur. Then a gap.
16:39 CEST 174km/16km to go
Five leaders, with
Willems, De Groot, Kroon, Vasseur and Leukemans. And Nuyens is on his way too.
16:40 CEST 175km/15km to go
Arvesen and Ten Dam
get up to the leaders but then Ten Dam explodes. Freire is next to bridge up,
and looks good.
The leaders: Willems (Chocolade Jacques),
De Groot, Freire (Rabobank), Arvesen, Kroon (CSC), Vasseur, Nuyens (Quick.Step),
16:42 CEST 176km/14km to go
This is a good group
now, with three pairs of two and two individuals. All the main teams are up
here. Willems nearly takes out De Groot as he looks behind. The cooperation
isn't good yet.
Another Unibet rider is trying to
get up: Johan Coenen. So he must have got a wheel in the end.
16:43 CEST 177km/13km to go
Coenen has the peloton
about 5 seconds behind him, with the break another 10 seconds up the road. There's
plenty of horsepower here.
Two Gerolsteiners are working in the bunch,
with Van de Walle in third wheel. Coenen is caught.
16:44 CEST 178km/12km to go
The break descends
now, with everyone trying to do as little as possible. They are in danger of
getting caught by the Gerolsteiner chase.
16:46 CEST 179km/11km to go
The Bruineput starts
with the peloton right behind the break. De Groot hammers on the front. Nope
- all together again.
Not for long, as Duque (Cofidis) attacks. Flecha,
Leukemans, Nuyens, Kroon, Willems are all there. And Baguet...
16:47 CEST 180km/10km to go
It's not really a
break yet. Leukemans attacks over the top then Nuyens counters hard. That hurts.
Leukemans can respond, with Kroon and Willems on his wheel. Arvesen there too.
Freire is there, and Baguet. Now Baguet accelerates on the descent, forcing
Kroon to chase.
16:49 CEST 182km/8km to go
About 20 riders are
left at the bottom of the descent. Baguet goes again with Freire and a Gerolsteiner
rider. Arvesen closes, with a few others. Carrara too. They look back. Seven
16:50 CEST 183km/7km to go
Van Summeren now closes
the gap to the leaders with the bunch on his wheel. All together with 7.7 km
to go. Freire, Arvesen, Kopp and Baguet attack. Freire attacks again and is
alone. But not by much. Nuyens chases with a few others.
16:51 CEST 183.5km/6.5km to go
It's Freire leading
Nuyens, Flecha, Kroon, Duque in the lead, opening up a handy gap with 6.7 km
to go. Two Rabobanks!
16:53 CEST 185km/5km to go
They hit the Lindenberg
for the last time, all working together. Duque drives, then Flecha. Freire is
in the boxed seat again. Luis Pasamontes (Unibet) is trying to close the gap,
but slowly exploding. 17 seconds behind, then the bunch is further back. This
looks like the winning move.
16:54 CEST 186km/4km to go
Freire does a turn
with Nuyens on his wheel. Then Nuyens attacks! Very hard. Kroon reacts and closes
the gap. Flecha, Freire and Duque are dropped!
16:55 CEST 186km/4km to go
Nuyens and Kroon have
flown the coop. Flecha is trying to limit the gap. Nuyens chats to Kroon - all
stops out now with 4 km to go.
16:56 CEST 187km/3km to go
Freire does a massive
turn and almost bridges the gap. Flecha does. Now four left, as Duque is dropped.
Freire counters with Nuyens having to close. Ouch. Freire is great today.
16:57 CEST 188km/2km to go
Flecha and Kroon come
through for turns, and Freire lets a gap go for Nuyens to close. They're nearly
at the finish. Flecha drives it for Freire now. What a weekend he's had. Duque
is in fifth, alone.
16:58 CEST 188.5km/1.5km to go
The four will
reach the foot of the Alsemberg together. Freire in last wheel, tightening his
straps, drinking for the last time and tossing his bidon away. Flecha continues
in first wheel, emptying the tank for his team captain.
underestimate Kroon and Nuyens. Kroon now drops back to last wheel.
16:59 CEST 189km/1km to go
Kroon must attack
to get rid of the rest, but it's Flecha still driving on the base of the Alsemberg.
Nuyens attacks, but can't gap the rest. He sits up.
Nuyens slows in front, Freire waits,
as does Kroon. Flecha hasn't given up either - he attacks as he reaches them,
keeping the tempo high. Nuyens takes his wheel, Freire and Kroon next.
17:01 CEST 190km/0km to go
Flecha performs the
final lead out and there's no way that Freire will let him down. Nuyens and
Kroon accelerate but it's Freire with a big gap to win Brabantse Pijl for the
second time. Kroon second ahead of Nuyens and Flecha. Then Duque is swamped
by the peloton for fifth. Marcus Ljungqvist takes that place.
And there you have it. Triple world
champion Oscar Freire wins again on the Alsemberg, just as world champion Tom
Boonen did in the E3 Prijs yesterday. Kroon congratulates his former teammate
on the podium, wondering what might have happened if he'd ridden with Nick Nuyens
when the pair were clear. Or maybe, Oscar was just too strong today.
Until the Ronde van Vlaanderen next week, goodbye!
1 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 4.20.51
2 Karsten Kroon (Ned) CSC
3 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick.Step
4 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank
5 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) CSC
6 Igor Abakoumov (Bel) Jartazi
7 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) CSC
8 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram
9 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Lampre-Fondital
10 Sebastien Hinault (Fra) Credit Agricole