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63rd Dwars door Vlaanderen - 1.1

Belgium, March 26, 2008

2007 Results    Results    Past winners

Chavanel strongest on debut in cold Flanders

By Brecht Decaluwé and Bjorn Haake in Waregem

Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis), 28 wins the 63rd Dwars door Vlaanderen
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

It has taken 63 editions before Dwars door Vlaanderen found a French winner, and it turned out to be the colourful Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone). The promising rider from the Poitou-Charentes region featured in a three-man break with Allan Johansen (Team CSC) and Martin Elmiger (AG2R La Mondiale), 30 km from the finish in Waregem.

"I pulled off a grand numéro," Chavanel claimed right after the finish. "The fact that I started in this race has to do with a bet that I started with the directeur sportif. I wanted to prove that I can do well in Flanders and wanted to reinforce the team."

"I came here to learn about the roads and the climbs," said the Frenchman. "On the wheel of Nick Nuyens I went full out on a climb, and from then on we were in the attack until the finish.

"Next week I'll be back for the Tour of Flanders," he added.

Sylvain Chavanel "I came here to learn about the roads and the climbs"
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Chavanel hinted that he is keen on making the most of his Flemish form with a good performance in the Spring Classic as well.

"I have to thank my team-mates who were extremely helpful today," said Chavanel. "Tristan Valentin gave me his rear wheel when I punctured and I know that Nick Nuyens did an amazing job in the background to neutralise every attack [in the break]."

As the lead trio were being reeled in by a chase group of eight riders, Chavanel jumped away and tried to stay away solo. The chasers, which included Chavanel's team-mate Nuyens, did all they could to catch the Frenchman, at the same time holding off the peloton where Astana tried to arrange a bunch sprint.

While balancing on the slippery cobbles near Waregem, 28 year-old Chavanel withstood the chase group's charge as its cooperation fell by the wayside, enabling the Frenchman to grab his third victory of the season after stage wins in Paris-Nice and the Tour Méditerranéen.

In-form Dutchman Steven De Jongh (Quick Step) and Belgian veteran Nico Eeckhout (Topsport Vlaanderen) sprinted to the remaining podium spots, almost half a minute behind Chavanel. It was an impressive finish for Eeckhout, the 37 year-old who finished second in last year's race.

"Not everybody was cooperating in the chase, so I quickly realised that the bird had flown," said Eeckhout. "Nuyens did a perfect job for his team-mate in front and spoiled the organisation. I didn't have a super day but my experience helped me to get a good result."

The peloton's bunch sprint – where Team Astana persistently had tried to bring the breakaway back – was won by Tomas Vaitkus (Astana), who held off Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) and Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step) for 13th place.

"Chavanel is the deserved winner," said De Jongh to Sporza. "My legs are still feeling good and I could join a good group. I've noticed that Nuyens is going much better than during the Belgian opening weekend."

Race favourites Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) fired some shots during the race, but decided to keep their guns quiet during the finale. The duo are likely saving some powder for the all important Spring Classics that commence with next week's Ronde van Vlaanderen.

How it unfolded

The peloton departed from the Grote Markt, the big market square in Roeselare, at 11:40 under a cloudy sky, with no sign of the snow that had hit the area the previous days. It wasn't even raining when the peloton set in motion.

The race started out fast and the first 20 kilometres were raced at 51.5 km/h. Mark Renshaw (Crédit Agricole) was the first rider of the day to abandon, a little over 30 kilometres into the event. It took 75 kilometres and the Kattenberg to get the first serious break of the day. Four riders escaped the peloton, including 2006 winner Frederik Veuchelen (Topsport Vlaanderen). He was joined by Matthew Goss (Team CSC), Geert Omloop (Mitsubishi-Jartazi) and Floris Goesinnen (Skil-Shimano).

'Rambo' Eeckhout (Topsport Vlaanderen) finished third for the day.
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

At the halfway point the break had a gap of one minute and the average speed was around 45 km/h. Gert Steegmans crashed out of the race at the Valkenburg. At the Eikenberg a bigger group of around two dozen caught up with the quartet at the front. By the time the leaders got to the Oude Kwaremont, with 72 kilometres to go, Staf Scheirlinckx, the only Cofidis rider in the front group, took over the lead work from Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), who had paced the group up the first part of the climb.

As Scheirlinckx set the pace, his team-mates Nick Nuyens and Sylvain Chavanel were still trying to catch up behind. Unlike in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, the Kwaremont climb ended halfway from the top before the riders turned left off the steep grade. The peloton was about half a minute back, but Nuyens and Chavanel managed to get up to the front a couple of kilometres later.

Wim Botman (P3Transfer - Batavus) had some trouble with the narrow roads. Before the Kwaremont he already made a little detour through the grass, but stayed on his bike. On the flat part after the Oude Kwaremont he went down for good on a right hand turn. The road had gotten slippery, as it just had started to rain again right before the Paterberg.

The front group split up and an initial move of six riders swelled to eight, consisting of Dmitriy Muravyev (Astana), Staf Scheirlinckx and Nick Nuyens (Cofidis), Martin Elmiger (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Frederik Willems (Liquigas), Frédéric Amorison (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner), Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) and Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto). They quickly gained half a minute over the chasers.

The front group hit the Paterberg with full speed, riding up in the gutter. With 69 kilometres to go, the peloton was led by Wouter Weylandt for the Quick Step team. Under his guidance there was a split. As some of the riders at the back of the peloton had to walk up the final metres of the Paterberg, the front part of the main peloton, including Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara, set off in hot pursuit of the two leading groups.

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) kept his gun quiet for the finale
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Those two leading groups almost merged, but right when they were about to go together the next climb, the cote du Trieu, meant another attack by Nuyens and the merge never materialised.

At the climb of the Vossenhol, with 50 kilometres to go, CSC went to the front of the peloton and Cancellara attacked. Boonen was quick to be on his wheel. The duo took Allan Johansen (Team CSC), Sylvain Chavanel (Cofidis) and Andreas Klier (High Road) with them, while Bert De Waele (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner) had to catch up by himself.

The front of the race became an elite group of 14 riders when the l Boonen/Cancellara group caught up with the leaders, and immediately Van Avermaet and Nuyens attacked, but were quickly brought back. The gap to the peloton was never much more than 20 seconds.

With 39 kilometres to go Boonen attacked the Nokerenberg strongly, using the sidewalk to avoid the cobbles. The peloton was led by Française des Jeux, which had missed the break. Gianni Meersman and Frédéric Guesdon accelerated over the top of the Nokerenberg, with Gregory Rast (Astana) and Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto) in tow as the wind shattered the peloton into small echelons.

On a freeway overpass, Johansen and Elmiger attacked the leading group, taking Chavanel with them. The lead between the front group and the peloton was still just under 20 seconds.

When the leaders reached the flamme rouge for the first time, they still had to do two laps of 15 kilometres, and Boonen, Cancellara and the rest of the second group sat up and waited for the peloton. The lead for the front trio was 16 seconds as riders in the peloton began to bundle up under the relentless cold rain which had begun to fall. With less than 30 kilometres to go, it was Terpstra who once again tried to bridge to the front group which had extended its lead to 25 seconds as they hit the pavé of the Heerlegemstraat. On that stretch, Cancellara lost contact with the peloton.

The front trio hit the Holstraat climb, 22 kilometres before the finish, with a lead of over half a minute. Andreas Klier (High Road), Steven De Jongh (Quick Step) and Gorik Gardeyn (Silence-Lotto) countered and took Nuyens and Guennadi Mikhailov (Mitsubishi-Jartazi) with them. With 19 kilometres to go Jos Posthuma, Murilo Fischer (Liquigas) and Roy Sentjens (Silence-Lotto) caught up with the first chase group, giving them the numbers.

With only 16 kilometres to go, Astana had to go to the front of the peloton, as they were the ones who missed the move. As they went through the finish area, with a final lap of 15 kilometres to go, the chase group was 23 seconds back, while the peloton was already pointing at 54 seconds.

As the breakaway hit the Heerlegemstraat for the last time, the lead was down to 12 seconds. About nine kilometres from the finish Chavanel was worried that the group would get caught. He attacked and left Elmiger and Johansen behind. The Frenchman soloed home for the win and even the rain had ceased to make for a nice victory celebration.

Steven De Jongh (Quick Step) won the sprint of the chase group ahead of Nico Eeckhout (Topsport Vlaanderen).


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

Images by Bjorn Haake/

Images by Brecht Decaluwé/

Results - 200km

1 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                 4.32.27 (44.04 km/h)
2 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quick Step                                            0.28
3 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                                         
4 Andreas Klier (Ger) Team High Road                                              
5 Allan Johansen (Den) Team CSC                                                   
6 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Silence - Lotto                                             
7 Martin Elmiger (Swi) AG2R - La Mondiale                                         
8 Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus) Mitsubishi-Jartazi                                     
9 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank                                                   
10 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                            
11 Murilo Fischer (Bra) Liquigas                                                  
12 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram                                            0.32
13 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Astana                                                 0.44
14 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Silence - Lotto                                            
15 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step                                               
16 Markus Eichler (Ger) Team Milram                                               
17 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Mitsubishi-Jartazi                                       
18 Matti Breschel (Den) Team CSC                                                  
19 Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                                 
20 Michael Reihs (Den) Team Designa Køkken                                        
21 André Greipel (Ger) Team High Road                                             
22 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Willems Veranda's Continental Team                      
23 Kenny De Haes (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                                        
24 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) P3Transfer - Batavus                                     
25 Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) P3Transfer - Batavus                                    
26 Kevin Neirynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner                            
27 Yoann Offredo (Fra) Française des Jeux                                         
28 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) An Post - M: Donnelly - Grant Thornton - Sean Kelly Team    
29 Kurt Hovelynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                                       
30 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi                                   
31 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Silence - Lotto                                             
32 Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner                          
33 Matthé Pronk (Ned) Cycle Collstrop                                             
34 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team CSC                                                 
35 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Team High Road                                       
36 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Crédit Agricole                                        
37 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                                                    
38 Andy Cappelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner                             
39 Gerben Löwik (Ned) Rabobank                                                    
40 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Crédit Agricole                                         
41 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick Step                                            
42 Tony Martin (Ger) Team High Road                                               
43 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Silence - Lotto                                         
44 Roger Hammond (GBr) Team High Road                                             
45 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Crédit Agricole                                              
46 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank                                                   
47 René Joergensen (Den) Team Designa Køkken                                      
48 David Boucher (Fra) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner                             
49 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                      
50 Martin Velits (Svk) Team Milram                                                
51 Bastian Giling (Ned) Cycle Collstrop                                           
52 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Team CSC                                               
53 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Silence - Lotto                                             
54 Marc De Maar (Ned) Rabobank                                                    
55 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Cycle Collstrop                                           
56 Michael Schär (Swi) Astana                                                     
57 Stephan Schreck (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                             
58 Steffen Wesemann (Swi) Cycle Collstrop                                         
59 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team CSC                                      
60 Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                            
61 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step                                                
62 Tristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis - Le Crédit par Téléphone                       
63 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R - La Mondiale                                     
64 Borut Bozic (Slo) Cycle Collstrop                                              
65 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas                                                  
66 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi                                        
67 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank                                                    
68 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team High Road                                            
69 Koen Barbe (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                                           
70 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team High Road                                            
71 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Française des Jeux                                       
72 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française des Jeux                                      
73 Yannick Talabardon (Fra) Crédit Agricole                                       
74 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence - Lotto                                        
75 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick Step                                                
76 Grégory Rast (Swi) Astana                                                      
77 Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner                             
78 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner                         
79 Marco Marcato (Ita) Cycle Collstrop                                            
80 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Astana                                                    
81 Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas                                                
82 Renaud Dion (Fra) AG2R - La Mondiale                                       1.32
83 David Kopp (Ger) Cycle Collstrop                                           2.03
84 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana                                              2.17
85 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Crédit Agricole                                            
86 Sven Renders (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                                     3.03

Past winners

Dwars Door Vlaanderen/A Travers la Belgique

2007 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep - Innergetic  
2006 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport Vlaanderen
2005 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim
2004 Ludovic Capelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
2003 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo
2002 Baden Cooke (Aus)
2001 Nico Eeckhout (Bel)
2000 Tristan Hoffman (Ned)
1999 (2) Johan Museeuw (Bel)
1998 Tom Steels (Bel)
1997 Andrej Tchmil (Mda)
1996 Tristan Hoffman (Ned)
1995 (2) Jelle Nijdam (Ned)
1994 Carlo Bomans (Bel)
1993 Johan Museeuw (Bel)
1992 Olaf Ludwig (Ger)
1991 (2) Eric Vanderaerden (Bel)
1990 Edwig Van Hooydonck (Bel)
1989 Dirk De Wolf (Bel)
1988 (2) Eddy Planckaert (Bel)
1987 Jelle Nijdam (Bel)
1986 Eric Vanderaerden (Bel)
1985 Eddy Planckaert (Bel)
1984 (2) Walter Planckaert (Bel)
1983 Etienne De Wilde (Bel)
1982 Jan Raas (Ned)
1981 Frank Hoste (Bel)
1980 Johan Van der Meer (Bel)
1979 Gustave Van Roosbroeck (Bel)
1978 Adri Schipper (Ned)
1977 Walter Planckaert (Bel)
1976 Willy Planckaert (Bel)
1975 Cees Priem (Ned)
1974 Louis Verreydt (Bel)
1973 Roger Loysch (Bel)
1972 Marc Demeyer (Bel)
1970 (2) Daniel Van Ryckegem (Bel)
1969 Eric Leman (Bel)
1968 (2) Walter Godefroot (Bel)
1967 Daniel Van Ryckegem (Bel)
1966 Walter Godefroot (Bel)

Dwars door Belgie

1965 Albert Hermans (Bel)
1964 Piet Van Est (Ned)
1963 Clément Roman (Bel)
1962 Martin Van Geneugden (Bel)
1961 Maurice Meuleman (Bel)
1960 Arthur Decabooter (Bel)
1959 Roger Baens (Bel)
1958 André Vlayen (Bel)
1957 Noél Fore (Bel)
1956 Lucien Demunster (Bel)
1955 (2) Alberic Schotte (Bel)
1954 Germain Derijcke (Bel)
1953 Alberic Schotte (Bel)
1952 André Maelbrancke (Bel)
1951 (2) Raymond Impanis (Bel)
1950 (2) André Rosseel (Bel)
1949 Raymond Impanis (Bel)
1948 André Rosseel (Bel)
1947 Albert Sercu (Bel)
1946 Maurice Desimplaere (Bel)
1945 b) Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)
1945 a) Joseph Somers (Bel)

Past winners by Mario Stiehl,