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61st Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne - 1.1

Belgium, March 2, 2008

Complete live report

Live commentary by Bjorn Haake

13:59 CET   
Welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage. We are still in Belgium, this time for the 1.1 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. The weather is pretty much as yesterday, but a few more clouds in the sky. The race is held in the same region as Het Volk. In fact, one of the eight hellingen to be done by the riders today has been in yesterday's race. The Kruisberg will be tackled just after the half-way point. And the big question is, what will Quick Step do? They won this race last year with Tom Boonen, but looked a little lost yesterday.

14:09 CET   
There were three non-starters today. Bert Grabsch (High Road), William Frischkorn (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) and the runner-up of last year, Marcel Sieberg (High Road). The start was given at 12:01 local time. There have already been a few crashes: At km nine, Paolo Bettini was one of the victims and he dropped out of the race. In the same crash Adam Hansen (High Road), Aivaras Baranauskas (Roubaix Lille Metropole), Nicolas Jalabert (Agritubel) and Mickael Larpe (Roubaix Lille Metropole) were badly injured. They all get transported to the hospital in Kortrijk. We hope they will be OK and the injuries are not too serious.

14:14 CET    90km/103km to go
The situation right now is that a group of nine riders is away. It consists of Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Serge Pauwels (Topsport Vlaanderen), Matthew Goss (Team CSC), Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle - H30), Jeremy Hunt (Crédit Agricole), Aurélien Clerc (Bouygues Telecom), Grégory Habeaux (Mitsubishi-Jartazi), David Kopp (Cycle Collstrop) and Wim De Vocht (Silence-Lotto). They have an advantage of 1'43", with still over 100 kilometres to go. That will be some tough riding for the front runners.

14:19 CET   
The current race situation is good news for Bastian, who was asking about David Kopp yesterday. The Collstrop rider is in the front group. But they are are just now tackling the second helling of the day. It's the La Houppe.

Can Tom Boonen defend his title?
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

14:21 CET   
The first little rise, or helling, of the day was the Edelareberg, after 23 kilometres. The peloton went over it still compact. A couple of kilometres later, another crash on the testing Belgian streets reduced to peloton even further. Bart Dockx (Silence-Lotto) had to give up, as he and Geert Omloop (Mitsubishi-Jartazi) and Martin Velits (Team Milram) hit the deck at a roundabout.

14:28 CET    100km/93km to go
No, we are not missing an 's' at the end of Brussel, as this is the Flemish spelling. The u is pronounced like the German umlaut 'ü' Sort of like the 'y' in mythical.

Wim De Vocht (Silence-Lotto) is in the break
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
(Click for larger image)

14:31 CET   
The lead has slightly dropped, to 1'30". Helling number three is passed, the Kanarieberg. Laszlo Bodrogi is leading the peloton over the short uphill section. The peloton is not worried about the gap right now.

14:36 CET   
After 51 kilometres, the average speed was 51km/h! It make it really hard for breakaways to form. Even a larger group of 25 tried and couldn't get anywhere. This caused a lot of crashes, too. Bart Dockx (Silence-Lotto), Geert Omloop (Mitsubishi-Jartazi) and Martin Velits (Team Milram) hit the deck at a roundabout. Dockx had to abandon the race, the other continued, slightly banged up, though. Eventually, the tail wind turned into a headwind, which made things more interesting, and the nine-man group got away.

Current race situation

  • Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Serge Pauwels (Topsport Vlaanderen), Matthew Goss (Team CSC), Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle - H30), Jeremy Hunt (Crédit Agricole), Aurélien Clerc (Bouygues Telecom), Grégory Habeaux (Mitsubishi-Jartazi), David Kopp (Cycle Collstrop) and Wim De Vocht (Silence-Lotto)
  • Peloton at 1.30

14:42 CET    116km/77km to go
Quick Step must have heard some word from their DS yesterday. They are now hammering on the front and it has caused a split in the main bunch. Jurgen Van de Walle is driving the it. Lottos is near the front as well, lending a hand, too

14:45 CET   
Tom Boonen shouts instructions to Van der Walle, while team-mate Gert Steegmans takes over at the front. The break hits the Oude Kwaremont. This is a tough climb, and very rough.

14:46 CET   
Stiijn Devolder is near the front again. We saw him briefly yesterday, but he didn't have a good day. The break is now near the top of the climb. There are only seven now.

14:48 CET    118km/75km to go
Quick Step completely blows the race apart! Four of them have already reached the break, which has splintered on the climb.

14:52 CET   
Coming off the cobbles, back onto the main road, an Agritubel rider goes down. Quick Step is now driving the break. It is about 15 men in front, five of them from Quick Step, including Boonen, Devolder, Steegmans! A first chase group contains only about the same amount of riders.

14:53 CET    123km/70km to go
The second group has gotten a bit bigger, but the gap is more than half a minute. Boonen is encouraging his team-,mates to keep powering. Tommeke also takes pulls himself. It almost looks like a team time trial.

14:56 CET    126km/67km to go
The effort of Quick Step wasn't enough and the big group of chasers has now caught up with the Quick Steppers. However, the main peloton is still 50 seconds behind.

14:59 CET    127km/66km to go
The field is hitting the sixth climb of the day, the cote du Trieu. The gap is still 48 seconds.

15:03 CET   
Attack by Serguei Ivanov (Astana)! He sits comfortably in first spot, then does a hard acceleration, initially not even going out of the saddle. He quickly gets a good gap. An Amateur rider has slipped in-between Ivanov and the Quick Step-led group.

15:06 CET    132km/61km to go
The riders go through Berchem. The speed from Quick Step is so high now that not everyone can follow the pace and there i a split in the front group, right down the middle.

15:07 CET   
Unfortunately we can report one serious injury so far today. Bart Dockx has a broken hip following his crash early today, his team Silence-Lotto has reported.

In the mean time, the lead of the front group, which has become one big unity again, has increased to 1'15"

15:10 CET    135km/58km to go
Quick Step has some discussions with other riders in the break. For example Frederik Willems (Liquigas). The Belgian team wants the break to stay away. They certainly have the numbers. Five riders are now trying to bridge from the peloton, including Markus Eichler (Team Milram) and Anthony Ravard (Agritubel).

15:12 CET    136km/57km to go
Devolder and Boonen can be seen riding next to each other and talking about the next steps. It is looking much better now for the men around Tommeke. The lead, going through Tiegem, has gone up to 1'30" Dries Devenyns (Silence-Lotto) has dropped to the team car to ask for a power gel. He puts it in his mouth and is off again!

15:18 CET    140km/53km to go
The front group includes Martin Elmiger (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Gerben Löwik (Rabobank), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Christophe Mengin (Française des Jeux), Frédéric Guesdon (Française des Jeux), Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle - H30), Koen De Kort (Astana), Serge Pauwels (Topsport Vlaanderen), Roy Sentjens (Silence-Lotto), Enrico Franzoi (Liquigas), Nicolas Jalabert (Agritubel), Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto), Martin Elmiger (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Roy Sentjens (Silence-Lotto), Frederik Willems (Liquigas), Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Matteo Tosatto, Jurgen Van de Walle, Tom Boonen, Gert Steegmans and Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Serge Pauwels (Topsport Vlaanderen), Matthew Goss (Team CSC), Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle - H30), Jeremy Hunt (Crédit Agricole), Aurélien Clerc (Bouygues Telecom), Grégory Habeaux (Mitsubishi-Jartazi), David Kopp (Cycle Collstrop) and Wim De Vocht (Silence-Lotto)

Current race situation

  • Group of about 25 riders, including Matteo Tosatto, Jurgen Van de Walle, Tom Boonen, Gert Steegmans and Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Serge Pauwels (Topsport Vlaanderen), Matthew Goss (Team CSC), Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle - H30), Jeremy Hunt (Crédit Agricole), Aurélien Clerc (Bouygues Telecom), Grégory Habeaux (Mitsubishi-Jartazi), David Kopp (Cycle Collstrop) and Wim De Vocht (Silence-Lotto)
  • Peloton at 2.09

15:20 CET   
It is Quick Step and also Liquigas now that are doing the lion's share of the work on the front. It had an impact as the lead has increased to 2'07"

15:25 CET    146km/47km to go
The wind is coming from the right hand side now. So the echelon forms from right to left. Of course those who can't make it into the echelon are screwed. especially when the pace is high and subsequently the front group breaks now into three! Two riders being caught are Thor Hushovd, who got third yesterday, and Leif Hoste!

15:27 CET   
The leaders hit the Nokerenberg. More cobbles in the uphill! Hoste is just catching back onto the front group, together with a few other riders.

15:32 CET    151km/42km to go
The five chasers, including Martyn Maaskant (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) and Markus Eichler (Team Milram), are now going up the Nokerenberg. They re trying to avoid the cobbles by riding in the gutter. But there are some obstacles in the way and the two almost crash. They are about a good minute behind. Martin Elmiger and Thorn Hushovd are in-between, in no man's land. They were not able to rejoin the front, like most of the others around Leif Hoste.

15:34 CET   
Hoste is riding at the back now. Liquigas has also dropped back, to let Quick Step do the work again. Boonen himself drops back all the way to try to convince the Italians to share some more of the work load. It is still 40 kilometres to go. Boonen is unlikely to want to sprint against Thor Hushovd, who seems to be in great form.

15:37 CET   
When the two groups merged earlier, it gave Quick Step even better numbers. It is actually the whole team that is in the front now. Seven riders. The only one missing is Paolo Bettini, who abandoned after a crash.

15:40 CET   
Nonetheless the gap is coming down again. It is now 45 seconds, but the group chasing behind is small. It includes Steven Cozza, who was in the front group earlier today. We don't see any Skil-Shimano riders. Sorry for those who asked.

15:43 CET    158km/35km to go
Karsten Kroon is dropping back to the team car. The CSC rider is asking for advise. Still 35 km to go, so it's time to figure out a tactic against the Quick Step team, which looks like if they don't win they will be made fun off.

15:51 CET   
The lead has increased again. It is now over the one-minute mark, despite the fact that the chasers are forming an nice echelon and pulling through consistently. But on the front it continues to be the entire Quick Step Team that is making the pace. The Liquigas riders are sitting right behind.

15:56 CET    168km/25km to go
Indeed, Slipstream is riding very well. But the two in the chase (Frischkorn and Cozza) have their work cut out. The gap is now 1'15" and it will be very hard for the chasers to get back. We don't see any High Road riders. 26km to go and anything but a victory from this front group would be astonishing.

16:01 CET   
It is still very windy today. The jerseys are flapping in the wind. It is blowing from the right, so the group is lined up from right to left. But Quick Step moves over to the left, to leave the least amount of possibilities for drafting for the guys behind the seven Quick Steppers. It may not drop them, but they will have to spend more energy in the remaining 24 kilometres. And what will the strategy be? Will Boonen go earlier? The best for them would be to keep it together and wait for a sprint. But there will be some riders trying to do something different. The gap to the chasers has increased to 1'34" The Astana riders, including Ivanov and De Kort, are in the second group.

16:04 CET    171km/22km to go
The front group is passing the start-finish line now for the first time. Two more laps to go after that, or 22 kilometres. The gap is still more than 90 seconds. Hoste is scratching his chin, as if he is thinking about his possible options. Frankly, it will be hard for him. But at least he is able to grab an bottle from a team helper.

Current race situation

  • Group of about 25 riders, including Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Steven De Jongh (Quick Step), Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), Gert Steegmans (Quick Step), Matteo Tosatto (Quick Step), Jurgen Van de Walle (Quick Step), Maarten Wynants (Quick Step), Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank), Karsten Kroon (Team CSC), Matthew Goss (Team CSC), Christophe Mengin (Française des Jeux), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas), Enrico Franzoi (Liquigas), Nicolas Jalabert (Agritubel), Frédéric Amorison (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner)
  • Chasers including Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle - H30), William Frischkorn (Slipstream Chipotle - H30), Frédéric Amorison, (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner), Martin Elmiger (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Roy Sentjens (Silence-Lotto), Gregory Rast (Astana), Serge Pauwels (Topsport Vlaanderen), Steven Cozza (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) at 1.54

16:09 CET    176km/17km to go
Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) hangs on to the team car for a second. They call this getting instructions, but it is also a welcome break. But they can't do that for too long, otherwise there will be a possible fine (either time or money or both) or even a disqualification.

16:11 CET    177km/16km to go
Crash in the front group! It is Nicolas Jalabert who went down hard!

16:13 CET   
It looks like his front wheel got caught on some rough part, dividing the bike path from the road. His front wheel gets taken sideways and he can't stay upright. After being a bit shocked for a few seconds, Jalabert is back up and riding. He checks his wrist and he looks in pain.

16:15 CET    178km/15km to go
Jalabert is back in the front group. They didn't take advantage of the mishap. Jalabert's arm warmers are rolled down to his wrist. Maybe it provides enough stability for an attack, but even with an OK wrist it will be hard for anybody to beat Quick Step.

16:15 CET    180km/13km to go
Ouch, Jalabert's elbow is pretty blood. He drops back to the doc's car

16:16 CET   
Steegmans is now on the front, which means he won't act as joker. It is everybody for Boonen.

16:17 CET    181km/12km to go
Flecha doesn't like it. He attacks! But everybody is attentive. Kroon steps up to the front

16:18 CET    182km/11km to go
Now it is Willems of Liquigas who takes over. One more lap or 11km. Van Der Walle is dropped, He has done enough for the team.

16:19 CET    183km/10km to go
Liquigas has still Franzoi and Quinzato, besides Willems. But it is Quick Step at the front again. However, Kroon and Willems try again to string it out.

16:20 CET   
There is a small gap, five riders on the front. Langeveld and Willems are in there, but it's not enough of a gap.

16:20 CET   
Next attack by Langeveld, but the Belgian Champion Devolder catches him.

16:21 CET    186km/7km to go
The second group comes through the start finish with almost three minutes of a gap.

Mengin tried, but Quick Step has the luxury of five riders being able to assist Tom Boonen.

16:23 CET    187km/6km to go
Langeveld again. But to no avail. Willems indicates to the others to keep rotating. Boonen can be seen gesturing from the back as well. He wants a steady pace and his team to pull through nicely.

16:23 CET   
Attack by Hoste!!!

16:24 CET    187km/6km to go
Devolder and Steegmans chase Hoste, who sat at the back for a long time today, but now put in a strong effort at the left hand side of the road.

16:25 CET   
Hoste has around 100m. Steegmans is trying to bring him back. Devolder has dropped back to the group.

16:26 CET   
Devolder is leading the group, but now there is counter from a Rabobank rider. Either Langeveld or Flecha. Steegmans has caught Hoste. Maybe it will not be Boonen's day. It is Langeveld.

16:27 CET    189km/4km to go
But Langeveld is caught and two more riders counter. Willems and Amorison

16:28 CET   
Well, there was too much playing around involved, and it is all back together. But not for long. Langeveld again. He must have some Duracell batteries in his bike. Looks like De Jongh has caught his wheel

16:29 CET   
Australian Goss also is taking off, with Steegmans on his wheel. Every rider gets a personal Quick Step attendant.

16:30 CET   
Only De Jongh and Langeveld now. Hoste is trying again to bridge up. He is in-between the two leaders and the group.

16:31 CET    191km/2km to go
Quick Step doesn't know what to do. Should they rely on De Jongh? No, with Hoste coming up they pick up the pace again.

16:32 CET    192km/1km to go
Well, Hoste didn't make it. It is too windy for a solo effort. Quick Step shuts down the race behind the front duo.

16:32 CET   
Langeveld is stuck - he has to work all by himself now and drag De Jongh with him. They are approaching the line.

16:32 CET   
Willems is trying to bring the group back

16:33 CET   
But it is too late - the duo at the front start the sprint!

16:34 CET   
Well, that was easy for De Jongh, after sitting on for several kilometres, He easily gets pout of Langeveld's slipstream and sprints past the Dutchman, winning the race!

16:46 CET   
Tasmanian Matthew Goss finished third. He was feeling good, saying that "it was a long day." He was in the attack earlier, then managed to be there in the end. "I am not sure if I could have won against Boonen, but maybe one day I can win [ a race like this]."

With this good result for Quick Step and the Australians we say good-bye from today's live coverage in Kuurne. We'll try to warm up now. Thanks for tuning. Until the next time.


1 Steven De Jongh (Bel) (Quick Step)
2 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank
3 Matthew Goss (Aus) Team CSC
4 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
5 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas
6 Bobbie Traksel (Ned) P3Transfer - Batavus
7 Borut Bozic (Slo) Cycle Collstrop