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Photo ©: Bettini

60th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - 1.1

Belgium, March 4, 2007


Open and Sunny Kuurne

By Gregor Brown in Gent

Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

The 60th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne will run the day after Omloop Het Volk, and although it is not as high in status as its partner Semi-Classic, it is worth of having in any riders' palmarès. Looking down the list of winners over the last 59 editions, you will see names like Peter Van Petegem, Johan Museeuw, Andrei Tchil and Roger De Vlaeminck - all riders of stature that fought hard for the Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne win.

The race lacks the difficult cobble sections that litter the Omloop Het Volk, and typically favours the fast-finishing classics men. Starting in Kuurne at noon, the distance is slightly shorter than Saturday's race, at 193 kilometres, but the riders have to negotiate a series of hard, steep climbs. In that loop are brutes; the Edelareberg, La Houppe, Kanarieberg, Kruisberg, Oude Kwaremont, Cote Du Trieu, Tiegemberg and finally the Nokereberg. The last climb, Nokereberg, comes with 43 kilometres to go - enough time to come to terms and save some energy for the sprint.

The contenders may be different than recent years due to the wave of warm temperatures that have been in Europe all winter. The names are similar in stature to those you count on for Omloop Het Volk, but leaning more in favour of the sprinters. Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) is feeling ill, but perhaps we could see a win by one of his teammates, like Tom Steels or Leif Hoste.

The Predictor squad will butt heads with the other making Belgian super-power, Quick-Step. There are many danger men in the blue team; last year they produced the winner with Nick Nuyens, now with Cofidis, and could once again do the same with Peter Van Petegem, Tom Boonen and hot favourite, Gert Steegmans.

Discovery will put all of its power behind Stijn Devolder after losing the 2005 winner, George Hincapie, in an early season crash. The American squad will have to watch the two mentioned Belgian teams but also keep an eye on T-Mobile. Its rider Bernhard Eisel is on hot form and will form a dangerous duo with teammate Roger Hammond.

Then, as outsiders, there is no reason why Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC) or Jeremy Hunt (Unibet.com) could not make the grade. But really the marked man will be returning champion Nuyens. He will now have full team backing, via French Cofidis, and has shown to be in form by winning stage three and the overall of Etoile de Bessèges..

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the 58th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne live, starting 14:30 local time (CET)/08:30 (USA East)/05:30 (USA West)/00:30 (Australia East).