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93rd Ronde van Vlaanderen - ProT

Belgium, April 5, 2009

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Devolder repeats win in Flanders

By Brecht Decaluwé in Meerbeke

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) won his second Ronde in a row
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Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) repeated last year's victory in almost identical style, soloing away in the final kilometres for his second consecutive win the Vlaanderens Mooiste. The 29-year-old Belgian dropped his breakaway companions on the penultimate climb of the day, the legendary cobbled Muur of Gramont, and from then on, he raced to glory on the roads toward the finish in Meerbeke. While crossing the line, Devolder gestured in honor of his recently deceased friend and fellow racer Frederik Nolf.

"This is unbelievable. I've lived up to this race for so long and I encountered a lot of bad luck," said Devolder. I worked hard with all the people that kept believing in me. I said I would win and I did it."

"It was very weird race. I was able to join [Tom] Boonen (Quick Step) and [Filippo] Pozzato (Team Katusha) after the Berendries, and then I pulled through toward the leaders. I recovered, and on the Muur, I played my last card," said Devolder.

"I'm planning to stay focused on this race during the next few years as the Ronde van Vlaanderen remains the most important race of the year for me," said Devolder.

An aggressive Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) anticipated the final sprint and escaped from the large chase group on the finishing straight to finish second. The bunch sprint was won by Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto). Pozzato and Martijn Maaskant (Garmin - Slipstream) followed to finish fourth and fifth.

The peloton sets out
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"I didn't have the legs today," said Haussler. "In the end I was going to ride for Thor, but he told me to attack, so I went."

After the race, favorite Boonen explained that racing for the victory wasn't possible for the day since the other top favorite, Pozzato, wasn't chasing any other wheel than his.

"The shadow," Boonen described Pozzato. "Everybody saw that we were killing each other. I couldn't drop him, and he couldn't drop me. When we attacked, we distanced everybody, but he didn't want to continue. So for me, the door was closed, but it opened the door for Stijn and Sylvain (Chavenel)."

"Boonen was the strongest, compliments to the Quick Step team," said Pozzato.

Fast start out of Brugge

The canals of Brugge.
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
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Shortly after leaving the packed "Grote Markt" in medieval-like Brugge at 10:00 am, it was clear that many teams had ordered their riders to get into the classic, early break. As a results, the average speed during the first three hours was extremely high.

When approaching the first of the sixteen hellingen, the Molenberg, the peloton was riding ten minutes ahead of the fastest schedule. As a result, it took 125 kilometres before the first breakaway group was established, and it included just four riders: Wim De Vocht (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), Sebastien Turgot (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Filip Meirhaeghe (Landbouwkrediet - Colnago).

Finale starts on Paterberg

Cervélo TestTeam showed its global strength as they lined up with five guys in front of the peloton approaching the Oude Kwaremont. The long, cobbled climb didn't appear to provide the expected spectacle at the front, but in fact, the action happened further back, where a tough selection separated the peloton into two groups.

Cervélo led the first part of the peloton toward the short, but extremely steep and cobbled Paterberg, and that's where the race exploded. About twenty riders distanced the rest, but clearly the favorites were still hesitating whether to go on or not.

Six men anticipated the Koppenberg and jumped away toward the two riders who were still left off the front. Right after the Kwaremont, Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto), Frederic Guesdon (Française Des Jeux), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo Test Team) and Marco Bandiera (Lampre - N.G.C.) drove the chase.

Boonen vs. Pozzato, part one: Koppenberg

Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam)
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
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Favorites Boonen and Pozzato engaged in a scrimmage of sorts on the legendary Koppenberg. The two riders hammered up the cobbles, shoulder to shoulder. Meanwhile, Team Saxo Bank 's Fabian Cancellara's chances for the day ended when he broke his chain. First, he walked up the rest of the hill, then he turned around and rode halfway back down to collect his chain, which he hung around his neck as a sort of souvenir.

Eight kilometres later, the two jumped away from the peloton thanks to an acceleration from Boonen.

Only seventeen riders were able to bridge up with them before the eighth helling, the Eikenberg. That's also where early attacker De Vocht got dropped from the front, reducing the leader's group to seven riders. A group of about twenty riders joined the Boonen group, and on the Varent, a new climb, the peloton took it easy.

Going into the Leberg, the tenth climb of the day, the gap from the seven leaders grew to more than one minute.

Boonen vs. Pozzato, part two: Berendries

Upon reaching the Berendries, Chavanel, Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) and Hoste dropped their four breakaway companions, but one minute later Pozzato copied the attack he had launched during the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde earlier this week. Boonen was glued to his wheel, and defending Flanders champion Devolder bridged up a little later.

The three chasers steamed towards the leaders, picked up Bandiera, and with 36 kilometers to go, right after the Valkenberg (climb number 12), they joined the front trio. This seven-man lead group didn't stay together for long as Quinziato sneaked away together with Chavanel.

Quick Step left the chasing initiative to the other riders and as a result, a small peloton gathered half a minute behind the two leaders on the steep Tenbosse street. Just past this climb, Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) anticipated the next climb and jumped away from the peloton.

Quinziato and Chavanel arrived at the fourteenth climb, the Eikenmolen, with forty seconds on the reduced peloton.

The Muur: Devolder again

Devolder was happy
Photo ©: AFP
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Devolder attacked the leader's group on the packed, legendary Muur of Gramont, with Quinziato and Chavanel unable to respond. In the peloton, Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) started the debate on the Muur, but Hoste took over with Boonen and Pozzato on his wheel.

Van Hecke bridged back up with Quinziato and Chavanel, but this trio soon trailed by half a minute the unleashed Devolder. The front group, including Boonen, followed at one minute behind Devolder.

The relative positions of the lead racers remained the same over the Bosberg despite efforts from Flecha and Gilbert in the peloton. Devolder was unstoppable and gathered up to one minute over the three chasers as he approached the Meerbeke.

Behind a celebrating Devolder, the chasing trio was reeled in by the peloton that would sprint for second place. Haussler anticipated the group's sprint and launched off the front to capture second place.

A serious crash ruined the chances of riders like Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto) and Gregory Rast (Astana). Gilbert captured third place ahead of Pozzato and Maaskant.

Video of the race's end


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Brecht Decaluwé / Cyclingnews

Images by Gregor Brown / Cyclingnews.com

Images by Sirotti/www.sirotti.it

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews

Images by Tim Van Wichelen /www.cyclingview.be


1 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step                         6.01.04 (43,455 km/h)
2 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team                  0.59
3 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Silence-Lotto                           
4 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream                     
5 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha                             
6 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank                            
7 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad                
8 Bjorn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team             
9 Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale                          
10 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                 
11 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                  
12 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team          
13 Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervelo Test Team                         
14 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Team Saxo Bank                            
15 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Rabobank                                    
16 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Silence-Lotto                              
17 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quick Step                               
18 Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas                               
19 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago             
20 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                                   
21 Gerben Löwik (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team               
22 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Silence-Lotto                         
23 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha                             
24 Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team                         
25 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator         
26 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana                                    
27 Leif Hoste (Bel) Silence-Lotto                                
28 Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Barloworld                         
29 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux                     
30 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank                            
31 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step                         1.08
32 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas                           1.11
33 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank                        1.14
34 George Hincapie (USA) Team Columbia - Highroad            1.44
35 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto                     3.02
36 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française Des Jeux                   3.06
37 Murilo Fischer (Bra) Liquigas                             3.17
38 Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas                           
39 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank                                   
40 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step                           4.37
41 Marco Bandiera (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.                          
42 Simon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - N.G.C.                            
43 Grégory Rast (Swi) Astana                                 4.57
44 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervelo Test Team                     5.38
45 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) Cervelo Test Team                          
46 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator     6.45
47 Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                       
48 Steve Chainel (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                     
49 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad                 
50 Yoann Offredo (Fra) Française Des Jeux                        
51 Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                     
52 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano                              
53 Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Vorarlberg - Corratec                  
54 Michael Schär (Swi) Astana                                    
55 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team            
56 Imanol Erviti (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne                          
57 Ermanno Capelli (Ita) Fuji-Servetto                           
58 Arnaud Labbe (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                      
59 Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana                                   
60 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank                                  
61 Josep Jufre (Spa) Fuji-Servetto                               
62 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Barloworld                             
63 Martin Velits (Svk) Team Milram                               
64 Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator             
65 Markel Irizar (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                       
66 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - Highroad           
67 Matthew Goss (Aus) Team Saxo Bank                             
68 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team               
69 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Team Katusha                             
70 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                      
71 Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Vorarlberg - Corratec                    
72 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Columbia - Highroad                 
73 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Quick Step                              
74 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step                               
75 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test Team                           
76 Steven Cummings (GBr) Barloworld                              
77 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana                                 
78 Lieuwe Westra (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team              
79 Martin Müller (Ger) Team Milram                          10.48
80 Huub Duyn (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream                      12.32
81 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                
82 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française Des Jeux                        
83 Marlon Perez (Col) Caisse d'Epargne                      13.53
84 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) Rabobank                                 
85 Servais Knaven (Ned) Team Milram                              
86 Mathieu Drujon (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne                         
87 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas                                 
88 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator             
89 Bert De Backer (Bel) Skil-Shimano                             
90 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                    
91 Steven Cozza (USA) Garmin - Slipstream                        
92 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Team Saxo Bank                        
93 Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator             
94 Kevin Neirynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                
95 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank                             
96 Florent Brard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne               
97 Angel Gomez (Spa) Fuji-Servetto                               
98 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne            
99 Daryl Impey (RSA) Barloworld                                  
100 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas                                    
101 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator    
102 Mathieu Claude (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                   
103 Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil-Shimano                               
104 Jens Mouris (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team               
105 Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil-Shimano                          
106 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française Des Jeux                   
107 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream                 
108 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française Des Jeux                  
109 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team Saxo Bank                         
110 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank              
111 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram                              
112 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank                                
113 Rui Da Costa (Por) Caisse d'Epargne                          
114 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.                          
115 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne                          
116 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Fuji-Servetto                         
HD Gatis Smukulis (Lat) AG2R La Mondiale                    18.50
HD Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram                               
HD Stijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator           
HD Svein Tuft (Can) Garmin - Slipstream                     22.29
HD Philipp Ludescher (Aut) Vorarlberg - Corratec                 
HD Diego Caccia (Ita) Barloworld                                 
HD Silvère Ackermann (Swi) Vorarlberg - Corratec                 
HD Marcin Sapa (Pol) Lampre - N.G.C.                             
HD Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Lampre - N.G.C.                       
HD Aitor Galdos (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi                        
HD Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne         26.32