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52nd E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - 1.HC

Belgium, March 28, 2009

Full live report

Live commentary by Bjorn Haake

Hello and welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the Spring Classics, today from the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen over 208km. It is one of the simplest recipes – take gusty winds, heavy rain showers and lots of warn-out cobbles and you have the ingredients for a classic race. To that you add some 200 motivated riders who don't mind to race in shorts in cold conditions and equally motivated Belgian cycling fans and voilà, your Saturday is saved.

14:33 CET    95km/113km to go
Currently we have a lead group of four riders, with Steve Chainel (BBox Bouygues Télécom), David Boucher (Landbouwkrediet - Colnago), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) and Jean Zen (Palmans Cras). They are a good six minutes ahead of the peloton.

14:37 CET    112km/96km to go
Westra takes off his west, as currently there is no rain. We will have to slightly correct the km to go to 96 and the gap to 4:13

14:41 CET   
A bit of chaos right now in the peloton. No wonder, as they are going through the feed zone. The soigneurs hold out the white musettes on the right hand side of the road. The riders try to make it over and grab the bags, hang them over their shoulders and get the goodies out.

14:43 CET    116km/92km to go
It means slowing down the peloton a bit, but the gap reduces anyway. The bunch has to pay attention, as a small divider on the left hand side of the road is a potential crash zone. Fortunately a policeman secures the scene, but what happens in regular traffic? Seems this unmotivated divider is rather useless...

14:46 CET   
Attack by an Vacansoleil ride!

The bunch follows, which is bad news for one of the BBox riders near the front He is still trying to sort out his food, but with the elevated pace he has some trouble to keep the bag upright.

There goes a power bar... We hope he won't miss it later.

14:49 CET   
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team Saxo Bank) wears Tom Boonen's number, so to speak Boonen was the race four times in a row, from 2004 to 2007. Last year Arvesen won the race ahead of David Kopp (yes, the rider caught doping with the other kind of coke, although he says his drink was spiked).

14:50 CET   
Marcus Burghardt (Columbia-Highroad) told Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown that "I think that there are some important points in the race. As a team we have to be up front on those points. We have lot of possibilities in the race with George Hincapie and Bernhard Eisel.

"The race is very important for the Tour of Flanders because you can find out where you stand and it acts as preparation. Prior to Flanders, I will head home – no De Panne – and then come back.

The riders lined up in dry conditions, but intermittent showers made it a true classic so far
Photo ©: Gregor Brown
(Click for larger image)

14:52 CET    122km/86km to go
The sun comes out a bit! Still, all riders have arm warmers and Chainel even has a wind break on. It's not very aerodynamic, but it sure is warm.

14:57 CET   
Now there is a rider who admits lacking a bit. Ivan Dominguez (Fuji-Servetto) has mostly raced in the US so far. He spoke to Brown before the start. "I have no experience at all on the the pavé and I don't really like the rain. I will get a lot of practice in the next days: E3 Prijs, Brabantse Pijl, De Panne and Flanders!"

We can see how a Cuban wouldn't like the rain... but hopefully Dominguez will be OK today and make it through the Belgian races in one piece.

15:00 CET   
The gap is going up again, climbing back to more than four minutes. The peloton has slowed down, taking the whole road, chatting and drinking. Marcel Sieberg (Team Columbia-Highroad) takes a sip from his bottle, while Jurgen Roelandts (Silence-Lotto) rides in second position, his Belgian champ jersey standing out.

We see Haussler near the front too, smiling. The young Aussie-German has all reasons to smile, as his form points towards a very good Ronde van Vlaanderen.

15:00 CET   

Current situation

  • Steve Chainel (BBox Bouygues Telecom), David Boucher (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and Jean Zen (Palmans-Cras)
  • Peloton at 4:48

15:04 CET    128km/80km to go
The bunch is on the La Houppe climb, the first helling of the day. It has a max of 10%

The peloton is going fast, except for Gatis Smukulis (AG2R-La Mondiale). He has a mechanical and has to stop near the top.

Quite a few people pout to see the peloton.

15:05 CET   
The break is on a section of cobbles, four and a half minutes ahead of the peloton.

In the latter Robbie McEwen and a Vacansoleil have shot out of the bunch, riding some 80m ahead.

15:06 CET   
McEwen has opted for some black knee warmers. The temperatures aren't quite Australian-like yet.

15:08 CET    131km/77km to go
McEwen is accompanied by Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil). The two are still just ahead of the bunch. Does McEwen need camera time?

15:08 CET   
They are now rolling over the Kaperij, a 370m long cobble stone section. The riders actually cast shadows!

15:10 CET   
Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) clarified his mid-week race to Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown. "On Wednesday at Dwars door Vlaanderen, I did not pull out, it was the team that decided to pull out. Serguei Ivanov's day was done and the team decided to, but I was going alone fine.

"Today will be one for Serguei Ivanov and me, we will decide out on the course how it goes and what we want to do. This race is good for Flanders because all the final climbs are here and it comes only one week away. I will also race De Panne, but in a relaxed manner."

15:12 CET   
Half a dozen spectators watch the bunch go by, then immediately run to their cars, likely to catch them at another spot. It is easy with the race weaving back and forth in the same general region.

15:13 CET    134km/74km to go
Chainel had trouble earlier to keep the pace and he is now gone from the front group, as they tackle the second climb of the day, the Berg Stene, with a max of 17%

Current situation

  • David Boucher (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and Jean Zen (Palmans-Cras)
  • Steve Chainel (BBox Bouygues Telecom)
  • Peloton at 4:48

15:15 CET   
The peloton has a different problem on the narrow road. A sharp right slows down the front guys and the backend of the peloton comes to a screeching halt, with one rider having to unclip and losing his balance a bit. He catches himself with his left foot ... in a bit of mud, yikes.

15:17 CET    136km/72km to go
Sieberg is still near the front and sucking down a power gel.

The sun is gone again and the peloton rides through a few puddles. A Liquigas rider is near the front and we wonder how ling his sparkling green outfit will still be green or sparkling.

15:19 CET   
The peloton rides over the top of the Berg Stene. A Quick Step rider is near the front – Kevin van Impe, the winner of Dwars door Vlaanderen.

Sylvain Chavanel is also near the front, actually he is now off the front, but just by a mere metre. No attack yet from the Frenchman.

15:20 CET   
Another rider near the front is George Hincapie (Columbia-Highroad). He told Brown before the race about his favourite part of the season.

"It feels good to be back in Belgium. These next races are obviously very important to me. ... Today we will see what happens with Bernhard Eisel, Marcus Burghardt and me. We are the protected riders and we think to be in the finale with the favourites."

George Hincapie's favourite part of the season has arrived
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

15:21 CET   
The 1000-metre long Boigneberg is next for the three leaders. Still no cobbles on a climb and with a max of 12% it is not undoable.

15:25 CET    141km/67km to go
Another stop for the peloton as the small country roads just can't hold such a large peloton.

McEwen and Hoogerland are still off the front, apparently, but we have no information about the time gaps right now. It should be a good minute.

15:27 CET   
More chaos in the bunch. An Astana rider went into the green part on the left hand side, while a Cervélo rider is stopping, radio-ing for help. He has a mechanical.

15:28 CET   
Tom Boonen has joined his Quick Steppies at the front. He told Brown that his season is starting now. "E3 is the first really big appointment for me. ... The team is good, but there are some other teams that are also good. We have to see how the race evolves and what other teams are in the finale. It will not only be Quick Step, I am sure of that. We will watch for Cervélo, Rabobank with Flecha and Highroad with Hincapie."

15:29 CET   
The break hits the Eikenberg. Finally some uphill cobbles. 1000m long and an average of 5%.

On the back, Skil has some trouble, with Koen de Kort receiving a wheel from a teammate.

Heinrich Haussler was challenging Quick Step on Wednesday. What will happen today?
Photo ©: Tim Van Wichelen
(Click for larger image)

15:30 CET   
Cervélo has hit the front of the race. Once again, the new team means business. They have five riders on the front. Since the road is narrow, only take the front, with one behind. The other teams see black from the back

15:34 CET   
Cervélo's Klier hits the Eikenberg first, getting pretty close to the TV moto.

Hincapie and Burghardt are near the front. Flecha is there and Chavanel. All the favourites are still close together.

15:35 CET    146km/62km to go
Two Germans on the front at the Eikenberg, Klier is followed by Burghardt.

Current situation

  • David Boucher (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and Jean Zen (Palmans-Cras)
  • Steve Chainel (BBox Bouygues Telecom)
  • Robbie McEwen (Team Katusha) and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) at 3.40
  • Peloton at 5.01

15:36 CET   
Devolder shoots off the front, accelerating hard. This is close to the top, but still he creates a small gap with Flecha and a Cervélo rider.

15:38 CET    148km/60km to go
The peloton catches up shortly after the top, though.

But it was a first test. The speed is flat out, with the peloton single-file. The gap to the front has dropped below the five-minute mark again.

15:39 CET   
The leaders are on the Stationsberg. Only 750m in length and only a little more than 3% avg. But it has cobbles....

15:40 CET    149km/59km to go
Roy Sentjens (Silence-Lotto) has a flat. He gets a wheel from teammate Sebastian Lang.

15:41 CET   
Murilo Fischer (Liquigas) told Brown about today's race. "I am doing well today; this is my second time in Belgium after racing Het Volk at the end of last month. I will start to get used to the rhythm and the nervousness of these races in Belgium. Today, with the climbs, it is a little Flanders. But Ronde is more nervous and more important – there are the bigger named riders there.

"To win is always the principle objective. We want to be a part of the race, up at front and finish with the most riders possible. We have a young team with Oss, Guarnieri, Bodnar, and then the experienced ones like Franzoi, Quinziato and me. The young can learn from us how to race in Belgium."

15:42 CET   
The acceleration over the flat part after the Eikenberg has reduced the peloton to some 50-60 riders.

They hit the Stationsberg and may shed more riders after this one.

15:44 CET   
That's what these races are - elimination races. Who can hang on the longest.

Not this kid, who tries to run alongside the group of favourites. No chance against a Van-Impe led peloton.

Frédéric Guesdon (Française des Jeux) crashes on the cobbles, on the right hand side of the road. Not really clear what happened but it looks painful.. He slowly gets up and gets going again.

15:45 CET   
Boucher in the front also has a flat. He has to stop, while the other two go on.

It looks as McEwen and Hoogerland are back in the sight of the peloton.

15:46 CET   
Cervélo and Rabobank are w near the front of the bunch.

Four minutes further up, Westra and Zen are going up the Taaienberg.

15:47 CET    153km/55km to go
The Taaienberg is cobbled and there are trees, so it is often slippery. But it has one advantage - a nice smooth gutter! The front two take advantage of it and the spectators are nice enough to leave some room.

15:49 CET   
Bad luck for Burghardt, he has a flat. He gets a quick change from the yellow... no, not Mavic support, but his own teammate, Sieberg.

15:49 CET   
The bunch hits the Taaienberg and Boonen storms away right at the bottom!!!

15:50 CET   
He still has a west on and a cap under his helmet, labouring up in the gutter. He has about 70m on the Cervélos and Rabos behind

15:50 CET    155km/53km to go
The gutter gets muddy at the top and eventually Boonen has enough of cyclo-cross and jumps back on the cobbles.

15:51 CET   
It looks as Hushovd and Flecha have caught up with Boonen

15:52 CET   
Flecha and Hushovd check back to see what is happening behind. The pace slows down as Boonen drops into third place behind the others.

Boucher reaches the leaders again, after his mechanical is fixed. But that sure cost him some strength.

15:53 CET   
McEwen and Hoogerland are about to be caught by the Boonen group.

The latter group has grown, as Niki Terpstra (Milram) has joined.

15:55 CET   
Several other riders have also reached the Boonen group.

Terpstra has attacked the Boonen group. He reaches McEwen, who waits for the others, and Hoogerland.

15:56 CET    158km/50km to go
Hoogerland and Terpstra have a brief conversation. Looks like they said "What the heck, let's go!!!" And off they are.

15:57 CET   
But behind the peloton has regrouped and Hoogerland and Terpstra realise it's not worth it. The front group is now about 25-30 strong.

Chavanel attacks!

15:58 CET   
But the Quick Step rider is quickly reached by Flecha, the eternal attacker. Chava drops back, while Flecha keeps going.

The roads are wet but is hasn't rained in a bit.

The fields are very green, though, indicating that rain isn't uncommon here.

16:01 CET   
Flecha has to take a very sharp left in the wet conditions, but he manages OK. So does the group behind.

Manuel Quinziato goes after Flecha. He is not very familiar with the Belgian roads and wants to go straight when he is supposed to make a right.

In the last moment he realises the police moto is in the middle of the road for a reason and swings right. That was close.

16:02 CET   
The leaders hit the Oude Kruiskens, at an average of 6%. Of the 1000m uphill, 900m are cobbled

Current situation

  • David Boucher (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and Jean Zen (Palmans-Cras)
  • Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank)
  • Peloton at 2:18

16:04 CET   
Quinziato has decided to go back to the bunch and rely on the Belgians to give him the right directions, rather than following Flecha from afar.

16:05 CET   
The bunch has also mastered the old Kruiskens climb.

They are on the main road, riding in the bike lane (on the left hand side). The pace is high, it is single-file time again.

16:07 CET   
Flecha is about half a minute ahead of the peloton, but he will lose a lot of energy, with the group behind still pretty large, around 30 riders.

But it forces the others to work and Rabobank can save Sebastian Langeveld and Nick Nuyens for later attacks.

Current situation

  • David Boucher (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and Jean Zen (Palmans-Cras)
  • Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) at 1:43
  • Peloton at 2:17

16:09 CET   
The riders have left the main road and go through the typical meandering small country roads. It is a rolling hill area and the front group looks like it could do with a flatter section now.

16:10 CET   
Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto) talked to Brown before the start. He has finished second a couple of times in the Ronde and wants to finally win it. "For the moment the season is not so good, for the team and for me, but it is getting better. So far I have not had any nice results. Okay I was sick and I had a little bit of bad luck, but I hope that changes from now on.

"I will not save myself [for the Ronde]. A race like today's is not just for preparation, it is an important and nice race."

16:10 CET   
The good news for Lotto is that Cadel Evans has a stage in the Coppi e Bartali today.

16:12 CET    168km/40km to go
The good news for Flecha is that he is getting closer to the front group, the bad news is: So is the group behind and at a faster rate. Flecha has only 20 secs.

Cervélo has taken over the front

16:14 CET   
Flecha checks back and also gets some instructions over the radio.

He will be caught soon. Gabriel Rasch (Cervélo TestTeam) drops his chain. He has to chase back

16:15 CET   
The Paterberg! Another beast. It also has a gutter (on the left) that the riders can use. But they will have to jump out halfway up.

16:15 CET   
The Paterberg averages 12.5% and has max of 2%

Flecha is about 100m ahead of the bunch

16:16 CET   
Westra was the first over the top of the front group

It is Boonen again on the attack, reducing the gap to Flecha, who labours hard in the gutter

16:17 CET   
Flecha hits the top. Boonen is four secs back

The others are coming over the top one by one.

16:18 CET   
Jeremy Hunt is one of the last riders going over the top. He is not exactly flying and we can't blame him. The Paterberg is a real toughy. He comes right before the Koppenberg in the Ronde next week. That'll soften up the legs.

16:19 CET   
About 15 riders have come together now. Eisel is on the front.

16:19 CET   
Eisel talks to Devolder, apparently exchanging some cross-team tactics...

16:21 CET   
The front group is still about 20 riders strong. Some of the riders include: Andreas Klier (Cervélo TestTeam), Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam), Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam), Tom Boonen (Quick Step)Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), Nick Nuyens (Rabobank), Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank), Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank), Bernhard Eisel (Team Columbia-High Road), Marco Bandiera (Lampre-NGC)

16:21 CET    173km/35km to go
Westra is still by himself on the front, hitting the Kwaremont

16:23 CET   
It looks like Roelandts has abandoned.

The front group has increased in size even more, but now over the Kwaremont it'll shrink down again. There is only so many times the dropped riders can catch back over the descents and flats.

16:24 CET   
Rabobank and Quick Step control the group. They are halfway up, in the small town centre where lots of people cheer the riders on.

Devolder attacks again!

16:24 CET   
Devolder gets a gap and passes Zen, the rider dropped from the break.

16:26 CET   
Pozzato is also in the group. The field has strung out again, the last rider on the front will get caught soon

16:27 CET   
Devolder has reached the main road. A rider on a training ride tries to keep up for a little bit

16:27 CET   
Crash! A Cervélo rider has gone down hard

16:27 CET   
Devolder catches the leader, Westra

16:28 CET   
Boonen sits up. He can relax for now

16:29 CET   
Rabobank on the other hand is now taking over the work with three men.

Behind Columbia also does a TT. Burghardt and Hincapie lead the group behind

16:30 CET    177km/31km to go
They make the catch, not it is all about catching the leading duo, which takes a sweeping right at full speed.

16:32 CET   
One of the Columbia-Highroad riders was actually Eisel.

The leaders have about 150m on the Rabobank-led chasers. Another large group is trying to make a comeback

16:35 CET   
The group contains the following riders: Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Juan Antonio Flecha, Sebastian Langeveld, Nick Nuyens and Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank), Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha), Edvald Boasson Hagen and George Hincapie (Team Columbia-Highroad), Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Sébastien Chavanel (Française des Jeux)

So it was neither Eisel nor Burghardt. But we have two Chavanels, at least.

16:35 CET   
There are also no less than four Rabobank riders.

16:37 CET   
Westra is back in the main group, and it looks as if Devolder is caught as well.

Yes, Sylvain Chavanel is the next to go, over this little incline.

16:39 CET   
Hincapie has come back to the group, but it is very stretched out, with little gaps every few riders. That makes it really hard to get back to the front.

Boonen is the next to attack!

Pozzato takes his wheel.

16:39 CET   
Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto) is having a hard time keeping up, as the road still goes up.

16:40 CET   
Boonen and Pozzato have a gap now, with Iglinskiy trying to follow

16:42 CET   
The group is still close by, but Pozzato is also pitching in. Iglinskiy catches them

Current situation

  • Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana), Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha)
  • Sebastian Langeveld and Nick Nuyens (Rabobank), George Hincapie (Team Columbia-High Road) and Marcus Burghardt (Team Columbia-High Road), Sylvain Chavanel and Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) and Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam)

16:45 CET    188km/20km to go
We have a clearer picture now, with a group of three ahead: Boonen, Pozzato and Iglinsky. They are near the Schelde canal.

16:46 CET   
17 secs behind is a group of seven: Nuyens and Langeveld for Rabo, Hincapie and Burghardt for Columbia, Hushovd and Quick Step has Devolder and Chavanel

16:47 CET   
The lead trio hits a 2km long cobble section. That hurts!

16:48 CET   
The roads is dry, though. Despite the threatening clouds, maybe they are lucky and get home without another shower

16:48 CET   
The leaders have enough of the cobbles and switch over to the bike path.

16:50 CET   
Chavanel realises that his teammate Boonen is lonely on the front, so he takes off in pursuit

16:52 CET   
But apparently either he was asked to stop that or has decided it is not worth it. He sits up and is back in the chase group right when the cobble section is over.

A group behind is still trying to get back. Eisel makes a hard effort to get back to the second group, but he is still some 15secs behind with Johann Offredo (Française des Jeux)

16:52 CET    192km/16km to go
The lead group extends its lead, now 30 secs

16:54 CET   
The leaders hit the last climb, the Tiegemberg. No cobbles, but some teenagers that run along side. That looks more dangerous than a few cobbles!

16:55 CET    194km/14km to go
The Tiegemberg is 1,4km long and averages 6%. The max is 9%

Hincapie leads the group. He has dark shades on and we hope he can still see the road. It has gotten pretty dark again in Belgium as the next set of clouds rushes through. But the weather still holds.

The trio keeps extending its lead, now at 47 secs.

Current situation

  • Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana), Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha)
  • Sebastian Langeveld and Nick Nuyens (Rabobank), George Hincapie (Team Columbia-High Road) and Marcus Burghardt (Team Columbia-High Road), Sylvain Chavanel and Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) and Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) at 0.47
  • Johann Offredo (Française des Jeux), Bernhard Eisel (Team Columbia-High Road) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) at 1.10

16:58 CET   
Boonen makes an impatient gesture to Iglinskiy to move through. The Astana rider slowly moves up to Boonen's right.

Boonen does most of the work. His DS may not like it. He pulls alongside Boonen and offers some advice.

16:59 CET   
Next to get some tips is Pozzato, who continues to check out his competitors from behind a bit.

16:59 CET   
Three time's a charm, so Iglinskiy is also visited by his team car. The gap is now at 41 secs.

17:01 CET   
Pozzato is out of the saddle, sitting in third spot again, while Boonen is leading. Pozzato's bike sure could use a wash.

The three switch through now well. Pozzato is on the front.

17:02 CET    199km/9km to go
Everything points to an exciting showdown between Pozzato and Boonen. Iglinskiy looks a bit spent, but maybe he can surprise the other two and profit from a tactical block of the other two.

17:03 CET   
Despite the other group having more manpower the gap stays around three quarters of a minute. With only nine km to go this should be in the bag for the podium.

17:04 CET   
A divider comes up. Several policemen wave their yellow flags, indicating to the tired riders there is a dangerous spot.

The fans use the divider as the grand stand.

17:06 CET   
Hmmm, Boonen zips up his jersey. A little early, but maybe he is just getting cold, as it is still a tad windy.

However, the tough Belgian has no gloves, unlike his two companions who have full finger gloves.

17:07 CET    202km/6km to go
It is a 'team' pursuit, with the smaller team having the upper hand. The gap is still 46 secs, with six km to go.

17:08 CET    203km/5km to go
The leaders ride over a bridge. It is starting to rain.... they were so close to the finish...

The front trio passes the 5km to go sign

17:09 CET   
Boonen flicks his left arm, indicating to Pozzato he has had enough at the front and wants the Italian to come through.

17:10 CET   
After his turn Pozzato stretches a bit. You can get stiff after a long day in the saddle, riding through the cold and wet Belgium.

17:12 CET    205km/3km to go
The group behind has given up, the lead is almost a minute.

Boonen fiddles with his shoes, but he won't be able to tighten his straps, with his (once white) shoe covers on top.

17:12 CET    206km/2km to go
The leaders pass the 2km to go sign, shortly after the chasers pass the three to go sign...

17:13 CET   
They are still pulling three in the front, no gambling just get.

Who will take this year's E3 Prijs?

17:13 CET   
Boonen looks at Pozzato, checking out the Italian

17:14 CET    207km/1km to go
Iglinskiy stays in the back for now.

Pozzato leads them through the one km to go sign

17:14 CET   
Pozzato would like Boonen to take over, but the Belgian politely declines.

17:15 CET   
The games have begun. Boonen is forced into first position

17:15 CET   
Boonen is on the right, next to the barrier, looking nervous

17:15 CET   
Pozzato is the first to go!

17:16 CET   
Boonen responds, both giving it all

17:16 CET   
This is tight!

17:16 CET   
Iglinskiy holds his own!!!

17:16 CET   
The three are side by side, but Pozzato slightly ahead

17:16 CET   
Pozzato takes it!!!

17:17 CET   
Boonen is a close second, Iglinsky comes in third

17:48 CET   
Haussler and Hoste were almost three minutes back.

If today is an indicator we can really look forward to the Ronde van Vlaanderen in one week.

We will of course bring you all the live action. Until then, keep joining us in our forums.

See you next week!

Provisional results

1 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
3 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervélo TestTeam