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Giro finale
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69th Gent-Wevelgem - PT

Belgium, April 11, 2007

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Burghardt takes stunning debut win

T-Mobile control Gent-Wevelgem finale

By Gregor Brown and Brecht Decaluwé in Wevelgem

Marcus Burghardt (T-mobile)
Photo ©: AFP
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23 year-old Marcus Burghardt nabbed his first professional win in Gent-Wevelgem thanks to perfect team work by T-Mobile. The young German took the Semi-Classic win in front his British team-mate, Roger Hammond. The duo formed part of the winning move of five when, at 26 kilometres to go, Burghardt bridged to an early escape which included Hammond. The two T-Mobile men had to contend with three-time World Champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank), who formed part of the move with Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Christophe Mengin (Française Des Jeux).

"I wasn't intending to sprint with Freire," Burghardt said. With Gent-Wevelgem Burghardt grabs his first professional victory, "and immediately a ProTour race. This is the biggest moment of my career," he said.

Burghardt is a hot prospect for all the classics, he finished third in the E3-Prijs Harelbeke this year as well. "In Harelbeke I had too much respect for Boonen and Cancellara. This time I showed just enough respect," Burghardt said.

"For a moment I thought we wouldn't make it but suddenly we had 50 seconds. When the finish was coming closer I realized I had to attack as I wasn't intending to sprint with Freire," Burghardt explained. "These last weeks have been grandiose for me, certainly if you compare them with last year when I was injured. This year, I trained even harder than last year to perform to my best."

When Burghardt attacked with one kilometre to go, the rest of the break hesitated. It was up to Freire to try to bring the tall German back, but he could not close the gap down, discouraged by the shadow of Hammond. Hammond jumped Freire in the final metres to make for a T-Mobile one-two. "I think I made a mistake in the last kilometre, because I thought Ventoso was strong," said Freire. "I thought to wait for the first attack then go with the second attack but I made a mistake and, of course, T-Mobile rode strong."

Freire is the new ProTour leader
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Freire was hoping to become the first Spaniard to win in Wevelgem, and his disappointment was clear on the podium. "I was very good in the last kilometres. It was difficult, with five or six riders, it is a lottery. Also with T-mobile, it was difficult." As a consolation, Freire move into the overall ProTour lead. The winner of Milano-Sanremo in March was presented the white jersey by UCI President Pat McQuaid after the finish.

The chasing peloton, which was actively led by Quick-Step for Tom Boonen, was led home by Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto). The Aussie sprinted clear of Max Van Heeswijk (Rabobank), just a few seconds behind Ventoso and Mengin.

Regarding this Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, Burghardt said, "It has a different character and it is sixty kilometres longer. I am certainly motivated; I have loads of confidence. T-Mobile will be good in France, as we also have Bernhard Eisel, who did well last year."

How it unfolded

The peloton rolls
Photo ©: Sirotti
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It was a cloudy in Deinze where 193 took the start for the 69th edition of Gent-Wevelgem. Light winds meant that an echelon race in the 'Moeren' – a flat open part close to the coast – would be unlikely. Forty riders were visited by the doctor this morning, all were declared fit to start, however Italian sprinter Daniele Bennati did not start due to stomach problems.

Wouter Van Mechelen (Landbouwkrediet) was the first to attack after just four kilometres of racing, but he wasn't allowed to get away. During the first 15 kilometres, there were more attacks from Jimmy Engoulvent, Markel Irizar and Wouter Van Mechelen, but nothing went clear. Philippe Gilbert won the first intermediate sprint in Pittem ahead of Eric Baumann and Grégory Rast.

Good weather meant that the speed in the peloton was consistently high, with riders trying to break away repeatedly. Birthday boy Kevin Hulsmans was sufferign dizziness, and abandoned the race after 27 kilometres. In the first hour, the peloton covered an astonishing 49 kilometres, and still riders were trying to break free. David Boucher's attempt lasted only one kilometre, and it wasn't until French champion Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne), Christophe Mengin (Française Des Jeux) and Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) attacked that the breakaway would have any success.

The three leaders quickly gained two minutes on the bunch, and by the time they reached the coast in Oostende, the lead had ballooned to more than seven minutes, reaching a maximum at 10'50" with 100 kilometres to go. However, as soon as the riders turned back towards Wevelgem, the peloton awoke and the gap started to come down quickly. As the race approached the main difficulties, the Vidaigneberg, the Rode Berg, Monteberg and finally the cobbled Kemmelberg climbs, the gap was brought down to five minutes.

Yowza! That's got to hurt!
Photo ©: Sirotti
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More fast, nervous racing inflicted more crashes on a battle-heardened peloton, and leading into the hilly section, Servais Knaven (T-Mobile) and Danish champion Allan Johansen, crashed, the latter flying over his handle bars into the ditch; meanwhile Tomas Vaitkus abandoned the race. While the leaders passed the top of the Kemmelberg for the first time with Brard safely leading the group, the peloton behind was not so lucky. Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval) led the peloton on the cobbles with Burghardt, Boonen and Nuyens following closely behind the Spanish rider, but over the top of the Kemmelberg, all hell broke lose.

On the cobbled descent, a water bottle was jarred loose, and a Gerolsteiner rider swerved to avoid it, causing a crash that left Unibet's Jimmy Casper lying on the cobbles with blood pouring down his face. As riders braked to avoid Casper, several more nasty crashes occured, taking out Wim De Vocht (Predictor), Tyler Farrar (Cofidis), Luke Roberts (CSC), Wilfried Cretskens (Quickstep), Andy Cappelle (Landbouwkrediet) and Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner).

The first part of the peloton didn't wait for news about their colleagues and a group of ten riders including Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Kevin Van Impe (Quickstep) and Leukemans forged ahead in pursuit of the leaders, but Milram brought the chasing peloton back together for Alessandro Petacchi. Two riders then went clear on the Monteberg, Dmitriy Muravyev and last year's number two David Kopp, but Muravyev realized it was a mission impossible, and went back to the bunch.

The crash on the Kemmel
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

On the second ascent of the Kemmelberg, the leading trio of Brard, Hammond and Mengin had just over two minutes on the peloton, which was closing in on Kopp. Near the top, the Gerolsteiner rider was caught by the bunch, led again by Ventoso, Burghardt, Boonen and all the favourites who were wisely staying up front for safety. Once again, disaster struck on the descent of the Kemmelberg. Another bottle hit the ground, and this time took down Fabio Sacchi (Milram). Aart Vierhouten (Skil) braked to avoid the Italian, lost control and slid down the cobbles, and was followed to the ground by Matthew Hayman (Rabobank).

Once again, the leaders took this opportunity to try to make a move, and Burghardt and Ventoso opened up a gap with 30km to go. They were joined by thirteen riders: Grégory Rast (Astana) and Igor Abakoumov (Astana), Robbie McEwen (Predictor), Joaquin Rojas Gil, Nick Nuyens (Cofidis), Stuart O'Grady (CSC), Boonen and Wouter Weylandt, Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Eric Baumann (T-Mobile) and Baden Cooke (Unibet), now just one minute shy of the leaders.

The Spanish riders must've been feeling particularly strong, because out of this group, Freire attacked again and was joined by Ventoso and Burghardt. With the lanky German sitting on in defense of Hammond up ahead, Freire and Ventoso did much of the work to close the gap, but when the trio closed in on the lead riders, Ventoso attacked, bridged up to the group and went straight to the front, leaving Freire alone with Burghardt. Sensing the danger of missing out on a chance to join his team-mate, Burghardt put in the last bit of gas needed for Freire and himself to make the break six.

The six men in front fought hard for every second on the peloton, and with 16km to go the lead was still about half a minute on a peloton led by Quickstep and CSC. With fresh energy in the break, the tough pace caused Brard's legs to give out, and he had to let go of the five other riders in front. A bit of disorganisation in peloton allowed the break's gap to grow up to 45".

Hammond and Burghardt
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Hammond and Burghardt put a lot of effort into the move, as did Freire, who was anxious to see a sprint. In the final five kilometres Freire could be seen judging up Ventoso, who started skipping pulls. The Spaniard of Saunier Duval helped form the winning move, and looked to be the one to present Freire with the most problems. Instead it was solid teamwork by Germany-based T-mobile.

As the group approached the one kilometre to go banner, Ventoso tried to ride Burghardt off the back of the break. But the powerful young German bided his time, and as Ventoso reconsidered his tactic and closed the gap, Burghardt launched his winning move. When Freire jumped it was too late; Burghardt already had a sizable gap, and Hammond was wisely on the wheel of the three-time World Champion. Burghardt got his first professional win, minus the Metas Volantes competition in the Ruta del Sol, ahead of Hammond, making for a T-mobile one-two.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com

Images by AFP

Images by Luc Claessen/www.ctm-images.com

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Results - 207km

1 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile Team                         4.52.14 (42.50 km/h)
2 Roger Hammond (GBr) T-Mobile Team                               0.04
3 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                               0.05
4 Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                    0.06
5 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Française des Jeux                          
6 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto                             0.15
7 Max van Heeswsijk (Ned) Rabobank                                    
8 Baden Cooke (Aus) Unibet.com                                        
9 Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                           
10 Alexandre Usov (Blr) AG2r Prévoyance                               
11 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole                                 
12 Olaf Pollack (Ger) Team Wiesenhof Felt                             
13 David Kopp (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                      
14 Koen De Kort (Ned) Astana                                          
15 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Astana                                           
16 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Rabobank                        
17 Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2r Prévoyance                               
18 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                               
19 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas                                        
20 Franck Renier (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                               
21 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner                                   
22 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Unibet.com                                      
23 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone                  
24 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team CSC                                      
25 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                
26 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) T-Mobile Team                                 
27 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                              
28 Arnaud Labbe (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                
29 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana                                      
30 Eric Baumann (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                   
31 Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne            
32 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team            
33 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram                                  
34 Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team          
35 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Unibet.com                                     
36 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Skil-Shimano                              
37 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team CSC                                     
38 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team Milram                                   
39 Grégory Rast (Swi) Astana                                          
40 William Bonnet (Fra) Crédit Agricole                               
41 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas                                     
42 Michael Schär (Swi) Astana                                         
43 Roberto Petito (Ita) Liquigas                                      
44 Pedro Horrillo Munoz (Spa) Rabobank                                
45 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux                          
46 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) AG2r Prévoyance                               
47 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                  
48 Julian Dean (NZl) Crédit Agricole                                  
49 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) T-Mobile Team                               
50 Tristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone             
51 Steffen Wesemann (Swi) Team Wiesenhof Felt                         
52 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                     
53 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                         
54 Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Gerolsteiner                                 
55 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Crédit Agricole                           0.25
56 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC                                     
57 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Team CSC                                   
58 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quickstep-Innergetic                          
59 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                            0.34
60 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                       
61 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                 0.55
62 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC                               1.46
63 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                          
64 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Predictor-Lotto                          3.16
65 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                            4.57
66 Matthew White (Aus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team             
67 Alan Perez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                                 
68 Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                        5.02
69 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                            
70 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Team Milram                            
71 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française des Jeux                        
72 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne                              
73 Iban Iriondo (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                               
74 Graeme Brown (Aus) Rabobank                                        
75 Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                
76 Bert Roesems (Bel) Predictor-Lotto                                 
77 Bastiaan Giling (Ned) Team Wiesenhof Felt                          
78 Nico Mattan (Bel) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                        
79 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française des Jeux                          
80 Antonio Cruz (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team              
81 René Mandri (Est) AG2r Prévoyance                                  
82 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                              
83 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas                                      
84 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                       
85 Matti Breschel (Den) Team CSC                                      
86 Markel Irizar (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                              
87 Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen      
88 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                  
89 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                             
90 Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Liquigas                                  
91 Florent Brard (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne                               
92 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Unibet.com                                     
93 Eric Berthou (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne                                
94 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic                          
95 Carlo Westphal (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                  
96 Steven Kleynen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                  
97 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Française des Jeux                          
98 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen          
99 Roy Sentjens (Ned) Predictor-Lotto                                 
100 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone           
101 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone              
102 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank                                          
103 Raul Alarcon (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir                      11.41
104 Stéphane Poulhies (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance                           
105 Christophe Laurent (Fra) Crédit Agricole                          
106 Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Fra) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone       
107 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Crédit Agricole                            
108 Frédéric Gabriel (Fra) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner               
109 Bernard Sulzberger (Aus) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                
110 Michiel Elijzen (Ned) Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone             
111 Kurt Hovelynck (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen        
112 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Crédit Agricole                           
113 Laurent Mangel (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance                              
114 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen    
115 Steffen Radochla (Ger) Team Wiesenhof Felt                        
116 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team           
117 Sven Renders (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen          
118 Luciano André Pagliarini Mendonca (Bra) Saunier Duval-Prodir      
119 René Haselbacher (Aut) Astana                                     
120 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank                                      
121 Bart Dockx (Bel) Predictor-Lotto                                  
122 Unai Uribarri (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi                             
123 Pavel Padrnos (Cze) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team            
124 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen      
125 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Predictor-Lotto                              
126 Robert Wagner (Ger) Team Wiesenhof Felt                           
127 Cameron Jennings (Aus) DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed                  
128 Nicolas Rousseau (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance                            

ProTour standings

1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                                    77 pts
2 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team    56
3 Andreas Klöden (Ger) Astana                                          53
4 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                              50
5 Robbie Mcewen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto                                  44
6 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                   42
7 Kim Kirchen (Lux) T-Mobile Team                                      41
8 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                 40
9 Leif Hoste (Bel) Predictor-Lotto                                     40
10 Allan Davis (Aus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                40
11 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Astana                                   38
12 Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Spa) Caisse D'epargne                        38
13 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic                            37
14 Luca Paolini (Ita) Liquigas                                         36
15 Stefan Schumacher (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                35
16 Roger Hammond (GBr) T-Mobile Team                                   30
17 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team CSC                                        30
18 Tadej Valjavec (Slo) Lampre-Fondital                                30
19 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Team Csc                                       29
20 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas                                    28
21 Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team             25
22 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team            25
23 David Lopez Garcia (Spa) Caisse D'epargne                           23
24 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Saunier Duval - Prodir         22
25 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team              20
26 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Milram                                        20
27 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC                                           20
28 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Française Des Jeux                          15
29 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                  15
30 Cadel Evans (Aus) Predictor-Lotto                                   15
31 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana                                       10
32 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Team Milram                               10
33 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                                        10
34 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Rabobank                                      7
35 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank                                       7
36 Riccardo Ricco (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir                          6
37 Baden Cooke (Aus) Unibet.Com                                         5
38 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Caisse D'epargne                           5
39 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                    5
40 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse D'epargne                        3
41 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Caisse D'epargne                      3
42 Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                            3
43 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                3
44 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team           3
45 David Millar (GBr) Saunier Duval - Prodir                            3
46 Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Fondital                                    3
47 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team CSC                                     3
48 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance                             3
49 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Liquigas                                     2
50 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas                                       2
51 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Team Milram                                   2
52 Sebastian Siedler (Ger) Team Milram                                  2
53 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2R Prevoyance                                 1
54 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole                                   1
55 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                       1
56 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank                                         1
57 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                                 1
58 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic                      1
59 Sébastien Joly (Fra) Française Des Jeux                              1
60 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance                                1
1 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team                                   79 pts
2 Team Csc                                                             76
3 Liquigas                                                             73
4 Caisse D'epargne                                                     71
5 Astana                                                               62
6 T-Mobile Team                                                        61
7 Rabobank                                                             57
8 Ag2R Prevoyance                                                      57
9 Predictor-Lotto                                                      49
10 Team Milram                                                         47
11 Lampre-Fondital                                                     47
12 Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone                                    42
13 Quick Step - Innergetic                                             42
14 Saunier Duval - Prodir                                              40
15 Unibet.Com                                                          35
16 Credit Agricole                                                     33
17 Gerolsteiner                                                        30
18 Bouygues Telecom                                                    27
19 Française Des Jeux                                                  25
20 Euskaltel - Euskadi                                                 16
1 Spain                                                               216 pts
2 Germany                                                             168
3 Italy                                                               166
4 Australia                                                           133
5 Belgium                                                              92
6 Slovenia                                                             55
7 Luxembourg                                                           51
8 Kazakhstan                                                           48
9 Netherlands                                                          44
10 Great Britain                                                       33
11 Russian Federation                                                  28
12 France                                                              21
13 Lithuania                                                           20
14 Ukraine                                                              3
15 Czech Republic                                                       2
16 Belarus                                                              1
17 Norway                                                               1