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Hel van het Mergelland - 1.5
Netherlands, April 6, 2002
Sweet victory for Corey
By Bert Saarloos*
Corey Sweet (Bankgiroloterij-Batavus) has reached a new highlight in his career as he sprinted to victory in the Hel van het Mergelland Saturday. After a breakaway of 182 kilometres the Aussie outsprinted Thierry De Groote (Palmans), Germ van der Burg (Bert Story-Piels) and Christian Poos (Marlux) to win the tough 1.5 race, containing thirty hills in Belgium and Holland.
The Hel van het Mergelland always starts with twenty kilometres on a broad, slightly climbing road into Belgium, always with the wind in the face. And there was a lot of wind this time. Ideal for a breakaway. At least, Corey Sweet (Bankgiroloterij), Thierry De Groote (Palmans), New-Zelander Bryce Shapley (DTS Zaandam, a Dutch elite team), German Michael Giebelmann (Wiesenhof) and Dutch amateur Edwin Wielink (Apac Eemland) thought like that.
"I thought that there might be a break of ten, fifteen riders. But we were only five. So I figured, well, the break won't last not more than thirty, forty kilometres."
Sweet was wrong. It became a hundred and eighty.
On the steep climb of La Clouse (35 km) the gap was 1'10". The pack had already split into two groups. Three riders managed to bridge the gap: local rider Tjarco Cuppens (Team Comnet), Luxembourg's champion Christian Poos (Marlux) and Germ van der Burg (Bert Story-Piels). In Neufchateau (75 km) the eight leaders had 2 minutes on solo chaser Peter Wuyts (Palmans), 2.5 minutes on the first peloton, 3.5 minutes on the second. The second peloton lost ground very rapidly and quit at the first passage of the finish in Eijsden.
Corey Sweet set the pace on most of the climbs (he also won the KOM prize). The first victim of his efforts was Bryce Shapley. He lost contact on the Camerigerberg (123 km). Shortly after, Giebelmann, Wielink and Cuppens followed and were swallowed by the pack. A group of fifteen riders split from the bunch, but there was no cohesion. The four leaders (Sweet, De Groote, Poos and Van der Burg) hardly lost ground.
With twenty kilometres to go, just before two local laps of 6 km's, the gap was still two minutes. It was clear now that the winner would be one of the four. Sweet was clearly the best sprinter of them on the slightly uphill cobbled finish in Eijsden.
"I had super legs today", Sweet said. "I thought of attacking on one the last hills, but it was too risky. The last twenty kilometres are flat, windy roads, I figured that's too far to do on your own. So I relied on my sprint."
*Bert Saarloos is a correspondent for Dagblad de Limburger
1 Corey Sweet (Aus) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 4.59.35 (38.173 km/h) 2 Thierry De Groote (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 3 Germ Van De Burg (Ned) Bert-Story-Piels Cycling Team 4 Christian Poos (Lux) Marlux Ville de Charleroi 0.04 5 Remco Van Der Ven (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 1.08 6 Tom Desmet (Bel) Marlux Ville de Charleroi 1.14 7 Bram Schmitz (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 1.50 8 Peter Wuyts (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 9 Jos Lucassen (Ned) AXA-VVZ-Professional Cycling Team 10 Michael Skelde (Den) Team Fakta 11 Mateusz Mroz (Pol) Mroz 12 Timo Scholz (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 13 Wim Van Huffel (Bel) Vlaanderen-Tinterim 14 Kees Jeurissen (Ned) Van Hemert Groep Cycling Team 1.54 15 Petr Bencik (Cze) Wüsterrot-ZVVZ 1.55 16 Andy Capelle (Bel) Marlux Ville de Charleroi 1.57 17 Michael Giebelmann (Ger) Team Wiesenhof 2.07 18 Remmert Wielinga (Ned) Navigators Cycling Team 2.13 19 Gerben Löwik (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 2.58 20 Björnar Vestöl (Nor) Team Fakta 21 Bart Voskamp (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 22 Wolfram Wiese (Ger) Team Comnet-Senges 23 Jan Van Velzen (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 3.45 24 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Vlaanderen-Tinterim 3.59 25 Tjarco Cuppens (Ned) Team Comnet-Senges 4.01 26 Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabo-Bank 4.04 27 Michiel Elijzen (Ned) Rabo-Bank 4.06 28 Edwin Wielink (Ned) Apac Eemland 4.10 29 Jeroen Boelen (Ned) Van Hemert Groep Cycling Team 4.23 30 Richard Slabbekoorn (Ned) v Vliet-Gazelle 31 Christian Lademann (Ger) Wüsterrot-ZVVZ 32 Marco Bos (Ned) Cycling Team Tegeltoko 33 Robin Van Der Pluijm (Ned) Bert-Story-Piels Cycling Team 34 Jacob Nielsen (Den) Glud & Marstrand Horsens 35 Jacob Moe Rasmussen (Den) Team Fakta 36 Theo Eltink (Ned) Rabo-Bank 37 Thijs Zonneveld (Ned) Cycling Team Tegeltoko 38 Folkert De Haan (Ned) Energiewacht NWVG 39 Bas Vandooren (Ned) Bankgiroloterij-Batavus 40 Kristoffer Ingeby (Swe) Marlux Ville de Charleroi 41 Burke Swindlehurst (USA) Navigators Cycling Team 4.27 42 Stefan Ganser (Ger) Team Comnet-Senges 4.28 43 Stefan Parinussa (Ger) Team Lamonta 44 Oliver Penney (GBr) Van Hemert Groep Cycling Team 45 Nils Heinis (Ned) RC Zugvogel 09 eV Aachen 4.31 46 Vincent Van Rijn (Ned) Wilton Cycling Team 47 Rudolf Wentzel (RSA) Vlaanderen-Tinterim 4.33 48 Nick Gates (Aus) Team Wiesenhof 4.35 49 Martin Van Steen (Ned) Van Hemert Groep Cycling Team 50 Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Rabo-Bank 5.28 51 Michal Precechtel (Cze) Wüsterrot-ZVVZ 6.14 Starters: 176 Finishers: 51 Courtesy of Dick Soepenberg
2001 Not held 2000 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Cologne 1999 (4) Raymond Meijs (Ned) Team Cologne 1998 (3) Raymond Meijs (Ned) Team Gerolsteiner 1997 (2) Raymond Meijs (Ned) Foreldorado Golff 1996 Lucien De Louw (Ned) Foreldorado Golff 1995 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Motorola 1994 John Van den Akker (Ned) Collstrop 1993 Erwin Thijs (BEL) Collstrop 1992 Martin Van Steen (Ned) Amateur 1991 Rob Compas (Ned) Amateur 1990 Raymond Meijs (Ned) Amateur Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com