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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

 UCI codes explained

Belgian National Road Championships - CN

Vilvoorde, June 29, 2003

2002 Results   Results    Start List     Past winners

Preview

The Elite Men's Belgian Championships will be held this year in Vilvoorde, near Brussels, over 248.2 kilometres. Unlike many other European countries, the Belgian Championship is a one off event - there are no time trials during the week leading up to it, and no other road titles (women, U23 men, juniors) are decided at this time.

The parcours this year is a fairly standard flat lap of 14.2 km that has to be completed 17 times. The start/finish is on Indringingsweg, and the route crosses Brussels' ring road a couple of times and is technical enough to favour attacking riders. Attack will be the key for most, because if it finishes in a bunch sprint, then Tom Steels (Landbouwkrediet) has a chance of breaking Rik Van Steenbergen's record of three Belgian Championships. Steels won the race in 1997, 1998 and 2002, and is motivated to do well again, despite knowing that it is always somewhat of a lottery.

"Let's first see how the race will involve," he told Het Laatste Nieuws. "Of course I would like to be Belgian Champion again. I can do it, I'm sure of that. But I'm not doing it for the record, only because it's nice to achieve it."

Steels is still the best Belgian sprinter, "But that doesn't mean I'll win," he says. "There is always competition in the sprint. The only difference is that you can correct a small error in the Belgian Championship, which you can't permit yourself against Zabel, McEwen or Cipollini. But who says it's going to be a mass sprint on Sunday?"

Steels won the last stage of the Tour of Austria after five tough days. "The victory in Vienna was a welcome release. The good feeling came back in Austria, my head was clear again. If I knew that I had to take the bend in fifth position, I took it as the fifth. That's the Tom Steels of old."

If he wasn't a teammate, Ludovic Capelle would be Steels' main rival for the sprint. The winner in 2001 and runner up behind Steels last year, Capelle says that his condition is the same as this time last year. "If Steels and I are together in the finale, we'll be an ideal couple," said Capelle. "If there's a breakaway, I can be the fastest. If it is a mass sprint, I won't mind leading out Steels."

Johan Museeuw (Quick.Step-Davitamon) has won two Belgian Championships (1992, 1996), and although he is satisfied with this, he says "every new title is welcome."

"After the rainbow jersey, this tricolore jersey is the nicest," Museeuw was quoted in Het Nieuwsblad. "I'm proud of my nationality. Also the tricolore is even more important for big teams like Lotto-Domo, Palmans-Collstrop, Vlaanderen or Landbouwkrediet. The pressure is greater in their camps."

Museeuw said that he feels good after the Route du Sud, where he helped his young teammate Michael Rogers win. "With the birth of a great rider like Michael Rogers I had a new goal. I was the road captain. Aimless riding is no longer for me. So I made the tempo on the Peyresourde in the 40 man group. That made me satisfied, but it's no guarantee for the Belgian Championships."

Museeuw isn't sure how he'll race on Sunday, as he doesn't like it when the race breaks apart after 20 kilometres. "I'll decide on Sunday morning how I'll approach this tactically," he added. "Maybe I'll help Jurgen Van Goolen to the win. He's our upcoming man and he is ready for much more than long breakaways."

Quick.Step teammate Frank Vandenbroucke realises that his condition isn't good enough to win: "I would like to be Belgian Champion once, but it won't be this year. The only thing I can do is help the team: Museeuw and Van Goolen, they are doing well."

As for Van Goolen, he gives himself the same chance as anyone else. "90 percent of the riders think they can win on this parcours. But except for Steels and Capelle, everybody needs to attack and have a bit of luck to manage. Me too. In the first lap or in the last one, it doesn't matter."

World Cup leader Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) hasn't had a good build up, due to stomach problems that have forced him out of races. However, he has still been training. "Some days I was on the bike for more than six hours and on Wednesday and Thursday I did 350 km," he said. "I didn't peak for the Belgian Championship. But I don't say I'm don't have a chance. I'll go for it!" Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo) started the week with food poisoning in the Route du Sud, but has recovered now. "I don't know the parcours because I never trained there. I know there'll be a lot of bends and corners. A nervous race. That's why it is the most difficult race of the year. Everybody thinks he can win."

Merckx's teammate Rik Verbrugghe gives himself a small chance at the title. "The Belgian Championship is a big kermesse race and these are not my speciality. Concentration is needed from the start, because the race can already be decided after 20 km. If I want to keep Steels from a fourth title, I'll have to attack. If I'm feeling good, I'll be in an early breakaway. If not, I'll have to do it in the finale."

Nico Mattan (Cofidis) believes that a "top 10 is possible, but the victory is another story." Mattan has been suffering from sinusitis, making breathing hard, but he said that he'll do everything he can to be there.

Teammate Jo Planckaert reckons that "A Belgian title can make my season good. I trained very hard for it in the last few weeks. The ambition is there, winning is something else...it would be nice. I would be the first one in the family who is a professional Belgian Champion." [ed: surely something to include in 'The Planckaerts' TV show]. Rabobank's Marc Wauters will only have two of his trade teammates with him tomorrow, and that will make things more difficult. "I won't take responsibility, only wait and keep my eyes open. The experience will be important. If you are a pro for so long, you feel when something is going to happen."

Winner of stages in the Tour of Austria and the Circuito Montanes, Nico Sijmens (Vlaanderen) is considered an outside chance. "I'll have to watch to be in the right breakaway," he said, admitting he's only been on the bike for two days after Montanes after injuring his knee in the hotel.

Start List

Landbouwkrediet - Colnago           Quick Step - Davitamon
 
1 Tom Steels                        16 Frédéric Amorison
2 Tony Bracke                       17 Tom Boonen
3 Ludovic Capelle                   18 Wilfried Cretskens
4 Bert De Waele                     19 Kevin Hulsmans
5 Ludo Dierckxsens                  20 Johan Museeuw
6 Erik Lievens                      21 Nick Nuyens
7 Marc Streel                       22 Frank Vandenbroucke
8 Tom Stremersch                    23 Kurt Van De Wouwer
9 Kurt Van Landeghem                24 Jurgen Van Goolen
10 Wesley Van Speybroeck            25 Sven Vanthourenhout
11 Johan Verstrepen
12 Nico Weynants
 
Lotto - Domo                        Palmans - Collstrop
 
29 Serge Baguet                     48 Davy Commeyne
30 Christophe Brandt                49 Danny Daelman
31 Glenn D'hollander                50 Mario De Clercq
32 Hans De Clercq                   51 Thierry De Groote
33 Christophe Detilloux             52 Andy De Smet
34 Nico Eeckhout                    53 Fabien De Waele
35 Gorik Gardeyn                    54 Steve De Wolf
36 Leif Hoste                       55 Björn Leukemans
37 Thierry Marichal                 56 Geert Omloop
38 Axel Merckx                      57 Karl Pauwels
39 Gert Steegmans                   58 Frederik Penne
40 Kevin Van Impe                   59 Bert Roesems
41 Peter Van Petegem                60 Christoph Roodhooft
42 Wim Vansevenant                  61 Erwin Thijs
43 Ief Verbrugghe                   62 Kristof Trouve
44 Rik Verbrugghe                   63 Gert Vanderaerden
                                    64 Hendrik Van Dyck
                                    65 Michel Van Haecke
                                    66 Tom Vannoppen
                                    67 Peter Wuyts
 
Vlaanderen - T Interim              Flanders - Iteamnova
 
71 Kenny Belaey                     95 Ronny Assez
72 Ben Berden                       96 Youri Deliens
73 Arne Daelmans                    97 Geoffrey Gremelpont
74 Bart De Spiegelaere              98 Jurgen Landrie
75 Geoffrey Demeyere                99 Thierry Masschelein
76 Stijn Devolder                   100 Bert Scheirlinckx
77 Matthew Gilmore                  101 Staf Scheirlinckx
78 Steven Kleynen
79 Jan Kuyckx
80 David Meys
81 Jef Peeters
82 Jehudi Schoonacker
83 Nico Sijmens
84 Kevin Van Der Slagmolen
85 Jurgen Van De Walle
86 Wim Van Huffel
87 James Vanlandschoot
88 Wouter Van Mechelen
89 Ruud Verbakel
90 Jan Verstraeten
91 Frederik Willems
 
Marlux - Wincor Nixdorf             Team CSC
 
105 Dave Bruymandts                 118 Geert Van Bondt
106 Andy Cappelle                   119 Paul Van Hyfte
107 Johan Coenen
108 Geoffrey Coupe
109 Johan Dekkers
110 Steven De Neef
111 Patrick D'hont
112 Manu Lhoir
113 Sébastien Mattozza
114 Christophe Stevens
115 Geert Verheyen
 
Cofidis                             FDJeux.com
 
122 Peter Farazijn                  128 Philippe Gilbert
123 Nico Mattan
124 Chris Peers
125 Jo Planckaert
 
Team Telekom                        Rabobank
 
131 Mario Aerts                     137 Kevin De Weert
                                    138 Sven Nijs
                                    139 Marc Wauters
 
Spaar Select
 
142 Peter Van Santvliet
143 Erwin Vervecken
144 Bart Wellens

Past winners

2002 Tom Steels
2001 Ludovic Capelle
2000 Axel Merckx
1999 Ludo Dierckxsens 
1998 Tom Steels 
1997 Tom Steels