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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

47th Brabantse Pijl - 1.1

Belgium, April 1, 2007

Freire to make History?

Spaniard vies for three in-a-row

By Gregor Brown in Gent, Belgium

Freire wins 2006 edition
Photo ©: AFP
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The 47th Brabantse Pijl, following on the heels of Saturday's E3 Prijs, will give the sprinters a fighting chance. The parcours offers less bergs and more flats, as well as a lack of the cobbles that Belgium is so famous for. Looking down the annals of the race, it is easy to see that it favours a sprinter with a little bit of a kick.

Oscar Freire, coming off his Milano-Sanremo success, is a prime example; he has won this race in the last two years and has the class to be the first rider to make it three in-a-row. The Spaniard will find support form Michael Boogerd and Bram De Groot.

Perhaps his biggest threat will come from Nick Nuyens. The Cofidis rider was firing his missiles in the Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday and has stated that he is sitting out of Saturday's E3 Prijs for the purpose of winning Brabantse Pijl. His sparing partner and former teammate, Tom Boonen, will not race, leaving Quick-Step team leadership to World Champion Paolo Bettini.

But there is a wide range of riders who could leap and score when the race reaches its finale, after 200 kilometres, in Alsemberg. Karsten Kroon (Team CSC) narrowly missed out in 2006 and will be looking for revenge. Then there are the likes of Luca Paolini of Liquigas, Daniele Bennati of Lampre-Fondital, Kim Kirchen of T-Mobile, David Kopp of Gerolsteiner or even Erik Zabel of Milram.

Departing from Zaventem, the rider will cover 117 kilometres before reaching the final five circuits. Each go around, 16.6 kilometres, will feature the Bruineput, Lindenberg and Alsemberg. The fifth time up the Alsemberg (19th climb of the day) will decide the race. It was here in 2006 that Freire launched his move leaving Kroon and Nuyens trailing behind.