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60th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - 1.1

Belgium, March 4, 2007

By Gregor Brown and Brecht Decaluwé in Kuurne

Our live coverage returns Sunday afternoon (Central Europe time) with the 60th running of the 1.1 rated semi-classic Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne. Our coverage starts at 14:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 8:00 (USA East)/ 0:00 Australia (EST). You can also follow along on WAP-enabled mobile devices at http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/.

14:43 CET    Welcome back to the Cyclingnews coverage of Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, the second race of Belgium's weekend of semi-Classics that really kicks off the European racing season. Unlike yesterday's start of Het Volk, where it was raining and rather bleak, today there's warm and sunny weather for the riders of this 60th edition.

14:44 CET    109km/84km to go The peloton is at 109km into the race with a breakway group of three.

14:51 CET    It was a calm start today due to a head wind. There was an early attack by Van Mingeroet, he went while the peloton was taking a natural break. However the minute the Belgian took was quickly smashed by the peloton that did not appreciate his tactics. A group of seven went away early shortly after, of which the three currently leaders came out of.

14:51 CET    Abandons from R. Petito, B. Eisel, who crashed early plus suffered stomach problems.

14:52 CET    116km/77km to go The three are twisting through small cities here, there are some clouds over but otherwise a very nice day.

14:57 CET    119km/74km to go The riders have hit the Kwaremont, one Belgium's favoured climbs - not. It is suffering at its best here. Van Impe is leading Boonen up the climb in the chase group.

14:57 CET    Kevin Van Impe has really earned his pay here. He is going so strong to bring back the move, which is now up to 20".

14:58 CET    Hoste is putting in a massive move. He is really putting everyone on their toes.

15:03 CET    132km/61km to go O'Grady is really wanting to make up for yesterday. He is on the front of this group of seven. They are now pounding over smooth roads.

15:13 CET    They have hit the Mont du Trieu! Devolder and Maes have powered off the front here with a few seconds of advantage.

15:14 CET    Devolder, Maes, Rosseler and Scheirlinckx are up front by about 20". They are all Belgians and would love to add their name to the race's list of winners.

15:15 CET    BTW - check out our Pre-race photo gallery for some great shots of riders like Boonen and Pippo's winning machine from yesterday. The brass band was clanging away, riders were happier to stand and talk to fans, sign autographs, and lastly, in their order of priorities, speak to journalists. Of course.

15:16 CET    The gap of the four Belgians is only at 4". Very tiny.

15:17 CET    They are winding their way through these very Belgian looking streets. The views are amazing. O'Grady is on the the front of the second group, and he is bridging up to the four, with the rest of his chase group.

15:19 CET    133km/60km to go Astana is here today in Belgium. The team has a few of its men on the front of the peloton.

15:21 CET    After the Tiegemberg and Nokereberg it will be a mostly flat affair to the finish, in Kuurne. The riders started from the same town at noon. Along the finish line it is very festive. There are hamburger and hotdog stands every where. And of course you can get beer, frites and waffles; this IS Belgium.

15:22 CET    The gap of the nine up front is at 1.33. It is a mainly a Belgian affair, except for an Aussie, Germen and a Dutchman.

15:23 CET    136km/57km to go The group is in a small forest here. There are tall trees lining both sides of the road.

15:24 CET    There are small attacks coming here from the group of nine. If this keeps up the dynamics will break down and we will see that gap of 1.47 disappear.

15:25 CET    The peloton has now hit the Tiegemberg.

15:26 CET    Devolder is not please with the small attacks going on around him and would prefer that this group work in unison so that they can get to the finish line ahead of the peloton.

15:27 CET    The lead of nine is heading towards the final bump of the day, the Nokereberg. This is climb number 8 of the day and comes at km 146.

15:28 CET    Adam Hansen (T-Mobile) has tried a little dig off the front of the peloton... He, and one other, have about 20".

15:30 CET    53km to go Unibet.com has a slight advantage here in the move. Of the nine, it has two men; Pronk and Vandenbergh.

15:33 CET    Maes is a young-gun. The Belgian is only 20 years-old; he is from Flanders and not Wallonne, the French speaking part of Belgium. In 2005 he was 11th in the Espoir version of Paris-Roubaix. He could be one to watch.

15:34 CET    144km/49km to go That peloton is slipping away. They are around two minutes back and must be thinking about getting back to the teams' hotel.

15:36 CET    So, what will Quick-Step do? Will they decide to reel in this move or rely on Rosseler to do go for the win. He is not really a great sprinter, so it could be gamble.

15:36 CET    146km/47km to go Rambo attacks!

15:38 CET    'Rambo' is in fact the Belgian National Champion Niko Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen). It is crazy move, but maybe if he joins the other two in no-mans' land they could do something. Really it is just for TV time.

15:40 CET    148km/45km to go The last cobbled climb, Nokereberg, did not do any damage. Devolder was able to keep the group in one piece and they will likely stay this way for the next 44 kilometres to Kuurne. Discovery really need to do something here today. Maybe Devolder will be happy with the rain showers that have now started to come down.

15:41 CET    The peloton has hit the Nokereberg; a really short but steep affair. Burghardt from T-Mobile leads the peloton with a slight gap.

15:42 CET    Over the top he is trying to hold his gap, but it will be hard. The weather is getting worse; dark clouds are over the race.

15:44 CET    An update on 'Pippo': The Italian from Veneto is still in the race but he is really enjoying his victory of yesterday. Winning the 1.HC Het Volk was really something for him. This morning he was talking a lot with the press, including Cyclingnews, and also with Belgian superstar Tom Boonen.

15:47 CET    Pippo was fined for not signing-in yesterday in Het Volk but those small amount of Swiss Francs won't matter now that he has that win added to his palmarès. We confirmed with Mario Scirea before the race, he said, "Yes, I don't know how much it costs, but the important thing is that Pippo won the race." Pippo added that he is ready to repeat in the Milano-Sanremo.

15:50 CET    155km/38km to go Rambo in the Jungle! The problem for Rambo is that he has been kicked out of the race. He was caught hanging onto a car over a climb by the race jury; it was then, after that, he went on his bold solo move off the front of the peloton. We suppose that Rambo is mad for not being allowed to hold on to a car? And no, there is no survival knife strapped to his right leg!

15:50 CET   

15:53 CET    Rambo is now being interviewed by the TV cameras. "The neutral car went past me and asked me if I want a Coke. I said 'yes,' but then the race jury saw me grabbing the Coke and kicked me out!" Rambo must have been hanging onto that Coke for a long time!

16:00 CET    163km/30km to go The peloton is rolling along, looking a little bit faster now but still they are at 1.32 behind. The rain and dark clouds must be smashing its morale. But will Quick-Step want to quash this move or not? Will it bet it's day on Rosseler? Will Unibet.com give odds on the chance of Quick-Step closing the gap? Wait and see!

16:01 CET    Trackies in the race today - Matthé Pronk in the break, Iljo Keisse was up there at the front earlier on - Keisse is from Gent, and is a big star. He's easy to spot with his awesome blonde tipped euro mullet.

16:03 CET    165km/28km to go The roads are really looking wet now. You can see the reflections of the riders on the road, and the reflection of the road on the riders. The riders typically rub their legs down with oil to help deflect the rain and elements, and to attract the local ladies.

16:04 CET    166km/27km to go O'Grady moves off the front with Devolder and Maes. What a young-gun, Maes!

16:05 CET    This road is cement and there is a 'death valley,' that strip in the middle of the road where the two slabs of concrete are connected. If you get your 20mm tire in there then you can kiss your day good bye, along with a bit of skin.

16:06 CET    168km/25km to go The three are still working well off the front of the original nine. O'Grady punches, but nothing. Devolder punches, but nothing. Rosseler punches, from behind, and bridges!

16:09 CET    Five riders have formed up front!

16:10 CET    170km/23km to go We are nearing the finish, in fact the riders are on part of the finishing circuit. The group of five, with O'Grady, really don't have much time over its chasers.

16:12 CET    The group of five have gone through the finish line. They are O'Grady, Rosseler, Devolder, Pronk and Scheirlinckx.

16:13 CET    173km/20km to go Uffa! Il ciclista, Pippo, ha detto "basta." Non va ancora!

16:14 CET    Sorry, in English: The cyclist, Pippo, said enough is enough. He pulled out of the race as it passed the finish line. The winner of yesterday's Omloop Het Volk will rest his legs and return to Italy, preparing for the Milano-Sanremo.

16:16 CET    174km/19km to go Pronk and Van Hecke have some space over the rest. It is really touch-and-go but one of these moves could finally stick.

16:17 CET    The two men are working well but they only have about 20 metres.

16:18 CET    Back behind it is a hardened group of seven giving it muscle.

16:21 CET    178km/15km to go The German-Dutch could hold on here... They have 14". The roads will work in their favour; there are many twists and turns so that the chase will have a hard time judging its efforts to the two. Note: Van Hecke is only 24 years-old. Pronk is an 'Old' 32.

16:22 CET    179km/14km to go The peloton is under the control of Credit Agricole; maybe for J. Dean?

16:23 CET    Dean is the New Zealand Road Champion.

16:24 CET    The German-Dutch duo has 27 seconds over the chase; led by Devolder. He keeps giving instructions to his companions on how to ride in the escape; he is very upset with the lack of cooperation of the move.

16:25 CET    Oh, what do we have here? Quick-Step is now putting the pedals down and clawing back the escape. They have decided that Rosseler has had his chance and now they need to bet on Boonen or Steegmans.

16:26 CET    One loop to go. Or one 'Ronde.'

16:29 CET    184km/9km to go The peloton is STRUNG out under the efforts of Quick-Step. This is all going to come back together.

16:29 CET    185km/8km to go The move has been wiped out! The two escapees remain pounding away up the road but the rest of that breakaway group is now in the peloton.

16:33 CET    187km/6km to go Robbie McEwen might be watching this on TV and wondering if he should have raced Kuurne instead of Omloop. This will be an all out sprint that would have suited the talents of the Aussie.

16:33 CET    Boonen is in 7th position. There are mostly Quick-Step boys but with some Skil riders mixed in. Also, watch out for Alan Davis of Discovery.

16:35 CET    189km/4km to go Three QS lead, including Van Petegem. The talented Belgian is asking the other teams what they are doing in the mix; it could be a QS day!

16:36 CET    Liquigas has Chicchi and Fischer for its sprint chances.

16:37 CET    190km/3km to go There are round-abouts here, the riders are so talented to be able to hold this pace and negotiate around the bends. It is an amazing bit of display.

16:37 CET    Wow, a U-turn with -3K. All is safe, the peloton hammers on.

16:38 CET    191km/2km to go Pronk and Van Hecke are smashed now; caught with just under 2km to go.

16:39 CET    They are swept up by a Disco rider.

16:39 CET    Disco leads the sprint.

16:39 CET    QS took over.

16:40 CET    Steegmans starts the lead out.

16:40 CET    He easily leads out for a Tom Boonen win!

16:41 CET    Boonen wins the Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne for the first time in his career. Last year it was teammate Nuyens.

16:42 CET    Oh, Boonen looks really, really wasted after that massive effort.

16:42 CET    What a happy teammate Gert Steegmans.

16:42 CET    Ladies, Boonen is taking off his shirt; he is getting cleaned up for the podium and for interviews.

16:43 CET   Boonen is fast but he still has to work for his wins. Cycling is a hard sport and he is that professional in his job he makes it look easy; he now looks good for the rest of spring to come. After he crossed the line, he turned and rode back and was quick to congratulate his lead-out man, Steegmans, who sat on the two Disco riders and then hit the turbo to blast past them, with Boonen on his wheel. Poor Alan Davis (Dsicovery) also made his move but could only watch this blue blur. It was a spectacular final kick by the Belgian champion who was also in the thick of things yesterday, but rode a more conservative race today.

Also see: race report, results and photos