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60th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - 1.1

Belgium, March 4, 2007

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Superstar Boonen shines in Kuurne

Quick-Step shreds finale for a sprint win

By Gregor Brown and Brecht Decaluwé in Kuurne

Boonen takes his sixth victory of the season
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Belgian Tom Boonen took his first win in the 60th running of the Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne. The 26 year-old, winner of the 2005 Worlds, two Ronde Van Vlaanderens and a Paris-Roubaix, blasted his rivals thanks to the lead-out work of his Quick-Step teammates.

The team decided that the early escape, with its rider Sébastien Rosseler, was not going to make it to the finish and started an infernal rhythm around 10 kilometres to go. The pace destroyed the nine-men who at one point had around two minutes, with Matthé Pronk (Unibet.com) and Preben Van Hecke (Predictor-Lotto) being the last of the escape to hold clear, to be caught under two kilometres to go.

In the finale it was a massive Quick-Step effort, partially aided by Skil-Shimano and Discovery Channel. Even 2001 winner, Peter Van Petegem, was there to give his teammate a hand in the sprint. He moved over to give way to new-signing Gert Steegmans. The tall and powerful Belgian turbo-desiel hit high gear for his teammate, whipping out the Discovery effort before he pulled off to the left. His job was a success.

Boonen was set free with 200 metres to the line; over on his left Steegmans started his celebrations as his teammate went to his first in Kuurne. Left in the wake of the former World Champ were Marcel Sieberg (Milram) and Iljo Keisse (Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen).

"This race wasn't comparable with yesterday's race," said Boonen after the finish. "I said before that I can only win these races if it comes down to a bunch sprint as the selection zone is too far away from the finish. We waited a long time before taking the initiative as we believed in the chances of Sébastien Rosseler.

"It's good that we're not always going for a sprint as we believe in the chances of all our riders. This win is as important as any other win, otherwise you wouldn't have to start in other races besides the Classics!"

Devolder on a climb
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

A surprise in the breakaway was 20 year-old Nikolas Maes (Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen), who showed his power on the bergs. The young Belgian received no prizes for his result but he surely deserves respect for his performance.

"Are you surprised by this? Actually, I was annoyed by the poor cohesion in the breakaway, I expected better from those big names. Siedler was very passive and Rosseler didn't help much either, but that was no surprise as he had Boonen in the group behind. I'm a bit disappointed but I guess I'll have to learn that this is how a pro cycling race develops," Maes said to Cyclingnews at the finish in Kuurne.

Predictor-Lotto was present all weekend long but they end up without a single result of note after an important weekend. Today, it did have its eyes on the victory until Preben Van Hecke was caught with only one kilometre to go. "This was good but I didn't win so apparently it just doesn't want to happen for me," Van Hecke noted disappointedly. "The collaboration in the breakaway wasn't good so I tried to get away. Our team ends up without the win but that's not my mistake, at least I'm trying and that's what I've been doing for the past four years," Van Hecke continued. If he can keep performing like he did today then we should see win some day soon.

Rosseler was Quick-Step's man in the breakaway and he did his job to perfection as his team didn't have to work and neither did he. Only during the final kilometres did he fade away but by then Quick-Step had placed its money on a bunch sprint for Tom Boonen. "I believed in our chances until the climb of the Nokereberg, anyway, I felt much better than yesterday," Rosseler noted to Cyclingnews.

Stijn Devolder
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) seemed to be the strongest man in the breakaway but after the climbs he didn't push it any further. "I didn't want to play along with their cat and mouse games. Today was a test for me and it leaves me with lots of confidence for the upcoming races," Devolder said to Cyclingnews.

Six day specialist Iljo Keisse (Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen) was the surprise podium-placer in Kuurne; the sprinter never competed during the Spring Classics before this race. "This is the first time I've been active during the Spring Classics. I've got only one real road training session and the Tour of Algarve under my belt, so no surprise I was suffering during the final lap. Then I used my usual tactic; drop back and float along with the peloton. I benefited from a Discovery guy to get to the front and then I choose the wheel of Sieberg. This is a result that goes beyond all what I'd hoped for before the race," the winner of the Rotterdam six-day said.

How it unfolded

Big crowds wished the peloton good luck this morning in sunny Kuurne where yesterday's winner Filippo Pozzato and last year's winner Nick Nuyens featured among them. After a relatively calm start due to the strong headwind, the first rider to get away was Jarno Van Mingeroet (Jartazi). But the peloton didn't appreciate his attack during a natural break and his 1'10" advantage was quickly neutralized.

A subsequent breakaway of seven riders proved to be more successful although only three riders survived this attack. At the 1300 metres long partly cobbled Kruisberg near Ronse the three leaders - Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel), Sebastian Siedler (Milram) and Matheus Pronk (Unibet.com) - had almost 40 seconds on the peloton. Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Stuart O'Grady (CSC), Sébastien Rosseler (Quick-Step) and Nikolas Maes (Chocolade Jacques) tried to bridge up towards the three leaders on the Kruisberg but Devolder's work in front didn't allow them to get any closer.

The peloton was mainly concerned about getting into a good position to hit the Oude Kwaremont so the advantage grew up to 1'20" a the foot of the Oude Kwaremont. The less experienced Benjamin Justessen (Vision Bikes) tumbled into the ditch as there wasn't much room for error on the tight roads and we imagine he will never forget his visit to Flanders. Kevin Van Impe and Tom Boonen led the peloton over the Oude Kwaremont without too much effort.

Halfway the climb Leif Hoste powered away with only Burghardt and Boonen in his wheels. At the top of the climb some riders were coming back and there were multiple attacks by Burghardt, Bram Tankink and Hoste but nobody got away. Meanwhile in front the two groups came together so there were seven leaders: Devolder, Siedler and Pronk were joined by O'Grady, Maes, Scheirlinckx, Rosseler and Maes. At the cote de Trieu climb Preben Van Hecke made the jump from the peloton towards the leaders together with Stijn Vandenbergh.

Preben Van Hecke
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

With 60 kilometres to go the leaders had more than a minute on what was left of the peloton. On the climb of the Tiegemberg Devolder set the pace while Vandenbergh attacked the group, he didn't get away and his move was not appreciated by the group. Anyway, the nine leaders were not chased by the peloton as many teams were present in the break; the lead quickly grew up to more than two minutes. Teams without riders in the break tried to get away so we noted attacks from Astana, Skil and Acqua Sapone without much success.

Adam Hansen, Thierry Marichal, Koen De Kort and Aurélien Passeron got away and when nobody expected anything to happen Niko Eeckhout attacked the peloton using a big gear. Nothing changed on the climb of the Nokereberg although Marcus Burghardt tried to get away from the peloton in search of Niko Eeckhout, again without success; meanwhile the peloton trailed three minutes behind the nine leaders. The weather turned worse as some rain showers were spread out over Flanders.

The strange attack from Niko Eeckhout came to an end when he was disqualified by race officials for having used assistance from a neutral service vehicle during the last climb. While the Skil team took the initiative in the peloton Niko 'Rambo' Eeckhout gave an on-bike television interview about the decision. "The neutral car came by my side and they asked me if I wanted a cola, I said yes. When I took it they said that I've been caught hanging on a car and that I'm out of the race," Eeckhout said. "What can I say when that happens?"

The Skil team received help from AG2R, Wiesenhof and Crédit Agricole in their organized pursuit and the advantage of the leaders dropped quickly back to a minute.

The breakaway then split as Scheirlinckx, Pronk and Van Hecke jumped away. Rosseler and O'Grady were the first riders to successfully bridge back up.

With twenty kilometres to go the leaders had thirty seconds on Marichal, Hansen and Passeron and a minute on the peloton while Maes brought everybody back together in front as the riders when the finish was crossed before completing two local laps.

Boonen wins
Photo ©: Luc Claessen
(Click for larger image)

Van Hecke and Pronk attacked the group and they immediately had ten seconds. The peloton couldn't get any closer and was following at 1'08". Twenty four year-old Van Hecke and 32 year-old Pronk looked to be able to go all the way until Quick-Step - with Bram Tankink, Peter Van Petegem - took the initiative in the peloton which was still trailing at one minute. The battle was on between the duo and the peloton as the group in between couldn't come back to the front.

The remnants of the original nine-man break was caught with five kilomteres to go and the peloton immediately set about bringing in the final two breakaway riders to setup a bunch sprint. And with two-kilometers to go, the Peloton came together.

In the final sprint, Quick-Step put Gert Steegmans on the front and led Boonen perfectly to the final 300 metres for his sixth victory of the season.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

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

Images by Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews.com

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com

Start photos

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews.com


Results - 193 km

1 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic                  4.29.50 (42,915 km/h)
2 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team Milram
3 Iljo Keisse (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen
4 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française Des Jeux
5 Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic
6 Kenny Robert Van Hummel (Ned) Skil-Shimano
7 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Discovery Channel Pro
8 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner
9 Tyler Farrar (USA) Cofidis, Le Credit Par
10 Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par
11 Olaf Pollack (Ger) Team Wiesenhof Felt
12 Pieter Ghyllebert (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen
13 Roger Hammond (GBr) T-Mobile Team
14 Jukka Vastaranta (Fin) Jartazi Promo Fashion
15 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Liquigas - Primagaz
16 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Roubaix Lille Metropole
17 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Predictor-Lotto
18 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Astana
19 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner
20 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank
21 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Bouygues Telecom
22 Renaud Dion (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance
23 Tom Steels (Bel) Predictor-Lotto
24 Anthony Ravard (Fra) Agritubel
25 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Csc
26 William Bonnet (Fra) Credit Agricole
27 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Credit Agricole
28 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux
29 Michael Schär (Swi) Astana
30 Giannoni Juan Flecha (Spa) Rabobank
31 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française Des Jeux
32 Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas - Primagaz
33 Julian Dean (NZl) Credit Agricole
34 Aivaras Baranauskas (Ltu) Agritubel
35 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
36 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2R Prevoyance
37 Igor Abakoumov (Bel) Astana
38 Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua Sapone - Caffe
39 Sergey Kolesnikov (Rus) Unibet.Com
40 Grégory Rast (Swi) Astana
41 Bastiaan Giling (Ned) Team Wiesenhof Felt
42 Bart Vanheule (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen
43 Franck Renier (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
44 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Unibet.Com
45 Steffen Wesemann (Swi) Team Wiesenhof Felt
46 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Skil-Shimano
47 Kai Reus (Ned) Rabobank
48 Steven Cummings (GBr) Discovery Channel Pro
49 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Unibet.Com
50 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen
51 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Astana
52 Erwin Thijs (Bel) Unibet.Com
53 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Team Milram
54 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram
55 Ludovic Auger (Fra) Française Des Jeux
56 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
57 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance
58 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro
59 Mathieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française Des Jeux
60 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit Par
61 Leif Hoste (Bel) Predictor-Lotto
62 Martin Pedersen (Den) Team Csc
63 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit Par
64 Frédéric Finot (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole
65 Jörg Ludewig (Ger) Team Wiesenhof Felt
66 Matthew White (Aus) Discovery Channel Pro
67 Bert Grabsch (Ger) T-Mobile Team                            0.21
68 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) Ag2R Prevoyance
69 Aurélien Passeron (Fra) Acqua Sapone - Caffe
70 Niels Scheuneman (Ned) Unibet.Com
71 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quick Step - Innergetic               0.31
72 Frédéric Gabriel (Fra) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner         0.38
73 Angelo Furlan (Ita) Credit Agricole
74 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Team Csc                               0.41
75 Geert Omloop (Bel) Jartazi Promo Fashion
76 Yohann Gene (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
77 Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
78 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Predictor-Lotto
79 Antonio Cruz (USA) Discovery Channel Pro                    1.00
80 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic                1.10
81 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic
82 Evert Verbist (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen
83 David Boucher (Fra) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner            1.26
84 Marc Streel (Bel) Palmans Collstrop                         1.57
85 Janek Tombak (Est) Jartazi Promo Fashion                    2.12
86 Francois Jurgen (Bel) Jartazi Promo Fashion
87 Yohan Cauquil (Fra) Jartazi Promo Fashion
88 Pedro Horrillo Munoz (Spa) Rabobank
89 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quick Step - Innergetic
90 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank
91 Sven Nevens (Bel) Jartazi Promo Fashion
92 Michiel Elijzen (Ned) Cofidis, Le Credit Par
93 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro
94 Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par
95 Cédric Pineau (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole
96 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Quick Step - Innergetic
97 Clément L'hottelerie (Fra) Skil-Shimano
98 Andrea Rossi (Ita) Acqua Sapone - Caffe
99 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Française Des Jeux                   2.14
100 Martin Müller (Ger) Team Milram
101 Branislau Samoilau (Blr) Acqua Sapone - Caffe
102 Steven Kleynen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner
103 Andrei Kunitski (Blr) Acqua Sapone - Caffe
104 Emilien Benoit Berges (Fra) Agritubel
105 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team Csc
106 Simone Masciarelli (Ita) Acqua Sapone - Caffe
107 Christophe Laurent (Fra) Credit Agricole
108 Cedric Coutouly (Fra) Agritubel
109 Sebastian Siedler (Ger) Team Milram
110 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner
111 Glenn D'hollander (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen
112 Adam Hansen (Aus) T-Mobile Team
113 Matheus Pronk (Ned) Unibet.Com
114 Anders Lund (Nor) Team Csc                                 2.35
115 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Skil-Shimano
116 Fabrice Patanchon (Fra) Française Des Jeux
117 Nicolas Rousseau (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance
118 Dimitri Champion (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
119 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Credit Agricole
120 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Credit Agricole
121 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit Par
122 Jean Zen (Fra) Roubaix Lille Metropole
123 Allan Johansen (Den) Team Csc