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60th Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - 1.1
Belgium, March 4, 2007
Superstar Boonen shines in Kuurne
Quick-Step shreds finale for a sprint win
By Gregor Brown and Brecht Decaluwé in Kuurne
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!"
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 (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.
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.
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
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