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Record Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen - 2.1
Belgium, March 7-9, 2008
By Bjorn Haake
The three days of West Vlaanderen are typically a battle against the winds, blowing from the Channel across the western part of this Flemish region in Belgium. The race consists of three events that are combined to an overall classification. The races are marked by being fairly flat, but some of the dangers come from the cross winds and the cars that are parked on the side of the road. Sometimes, there are parking spaces between the road and the bike path, and some of the riders may choose to go on the bike path to get to the front on the narrow roads. This is often when crashes happen. Occasionally, the riders even will try to make it past the bunch by using the sidewalks and crashes into spectators are also not unheard of.
The first day sees the riders go from Kortrijk to Bellegem, over a distance of 176 kilometres. The profile is fairly flat, but there are few, nasty little uphills. They are called hellingen. But the very first one is actually a little more severe, the Tiegemberg. Although it is not a berg like you would encounter in the Tour de France, of course. After only 78 kilometres the riders will pass the start-finish area for the first time, but only 100 kilometres later can they go through for the fifth and final time. There are three intermediate sprints, at kilometre 17, 93 and 135.
The second day is called the Handzame Koerse. This has nothing to do with a handsome course, but Handzame is simply the name of the finishing town. The riders will reach it from Torhout, after having ridden a big loop of 181.8 kilometres. The peloton will start out with a small loop that goes through the finish area for the first time after only 13 kilometres. It is the spot for the first intermediate sprint. The other two are at kilometre 52, in Beernem/Lippensgoed and at kilometre 142, in Diksmuide. The profile of this race is completely flat. There are no hellingen involved, but a few little rises over bridges and the like. These may not sound like much, but combined with the wind they can often break up the race.
The final day, the Omloop der Vlaamse Ardennen, starts and ends in Ichtegem and goes over 185.7 kilometres. Intermediate sprints are at kilometre 32, 69 and 145. At the end the riders are awaited by a ten-kilometre loop, to be done four times.
Sprinters' chances for overall victory
Showing that sprinters can do well on this course, Jimmy Casper, now riding for Agritubel, took the GC last year. But he will not return to defend his 2007 title. His runner-up, Wouter Weylandt (Quick Step), though, is all ready to go one step higher on the podium. Lotto is coming with Robbie McEwen, but the form of the Aussie is unclear at the moment. He dropped out early of Het Volk and may still suffer from his crash injuries, sustained in Portugal. His race number 18, certainly leads to speculation that he is not fully in the swing of things yet.
Team High Road will try to leave it to Mark Cavendish to gain some victories for the team, but British rider Roger Hammond and the young Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen, along with New Zealander Greg Henderson, may have a shot at victory as well. Tony Martin is in his first year with the American team.
Astana will make sure to use this opportunity to show what they are made of. After their non-invites for several major races, they are looking for revenge on the smaller courses. With Swiss Michael Schär, they also have a very young talent in the line-up.
The French come with the teams AG2r - La Mondiale (Jean-Patrick Nazon), Française des Jeux (Arnaud Gérard and Sébastien Joly ) and Bouygues Telecom (Aurélien Clerc). German Team Milram lines up with Australian Brett Lancaster ready to sprint his way to the line.
Then of course there are the Belgian teams. Topsport Vlaanderen (Niko Eeckhout), Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner (Tom Steels, Andy Cappelle, Jan Kuyckx and Filip Meirhaeghe), Cycle Collstrop with Steffen Wesemann and Mitsubishi-Jartazi, which will bank on Dutchman Stefan Van Dijk for the sprints.
The foreigners are spearheaded by the American BMC Racing Team (Jackson Stewart), the Austrian teams Elk Haus - Simplon (Gerhard Trampusch) and Team Volksbank (Olaf Pollack). The field is completed by P3Transfer - Batavus, Willems Veranda's Continental Team, Rabobank Continental and the team with the longest name in the peloton – An Post - M. Donnelly - Grant Thornton - Sean Kelly Team.
Expect some Belgian wind but possibly a dry affair for three days of exciting racing.
Quick Step Silence - Lotto 1 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) 11 Francis De Greef (Bel) 2 Addy Engels (Ned) 12 Wim De Vocht (Bel) 3 Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukr) 13 Nick Gates (Aus) 4 Kevin Seeldraeyers (Bel) 14 Pieter Jacobs (Bel) 5 Leonardo Scarselli (Ita) 15 Olivier Kaisen (Bel) 6 Hubert Schwab (Swi) 16 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) 7 Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) 17 Geert Steurs (Bel) 18 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team High Road Astana 21 Michael Barry (Can) 31 Koen De Kort (Ned) 22 Mark Cavendish (GBr) 32 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) 23 Roger Hammond (GBr) 33 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) 24 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) 34 Berik Kupeshov (Kaz) 26 Gregory Henderson (NZl) 35 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) 27 Tony Martin (Ger) 36 Grégory Rast (Swi) 28 Frantisek Rabon (Cze) 37 Michael Schär (Swi) AG2r - La Mondiale Française des Jeux 41 Jean-Patrick Nazon (Fra) 51 Arnaud Gérard (Fra) 42 Cédric Pineau (Fra) 52 Jérôme Coppel (Fra) 43 Stéphane Poulhies (Fra) 53 Timothy Gudsell (NZl) 44 Christophe Riblon (Fra) 54 Sébastien Joly (Fra) 45 Nicolas Rousseau (Fra) 55 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) 46 Alexandre Usov (Blr) 56 Mathieu Ladagnous (Fra) 47 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) 57 Cyrille Monnerais (Fra) 48 Alexandr Pliuschin (Mda) 58 Anthony Roux (Fra) Bouygues Telecom Team Milram 61 Julien Belgy (Fra) 71 Luca Barla (Ita) 62 Damien Gaudin (Fra) 72 Brett Lancaster (Aus) 63 Yohann Gène (Fra) 73 Artur Gajek (Ger) 64 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) 74 Dennis Haueisen (Ger) 65 Arnaud Labbe (Fra) 75 Matej Jurco (Svk) 66 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) 76 Christian Kux (Ger) 67 Franck Renier (Fra) 77 Dominik Roels (Ger) 68 Erki Pütsep (Est) 78 Martin Velits (Svk) Topsport Vlaanderen Landbouwkrediet - Tönissteiner 81 Kenny De Haes (Bel) 91 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) 82 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) 92 David Boucher (Fra) 83 Koen Barbe (Bel) 93 Andy Cappelle (Bel) 84 Sven Renders (Bel) 94 Bert De Waele (Bel) 85 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) 95 Jan Kuyckx (Bel) 86 Evert Verbist (Bel) 96 Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) 87 Bart Vanheule (Bel) 97 Kevin Neirynck (Bel) 88 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) 98 Tom Steels (Bel) Cycle Collstrop Mitsubishi-Jartazi 101 Borut Bozic (Slo) 111 Vytautas Kaupas (Ltu) 102 Bastian Giling (Ned) 112 Sven Nevens (Bel) 103 David Kopp (Ger) 113 Maxime Vantomme (Bel) 104 Kenny Van Der Schueren (Bel) 114 Geert Omloop (Bel) 105 Marco Marcato (Ita) 115 Janek Tombak (Est) 106 Lucas Persson (Swe) 116 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) 107 Matthé Pronk (Ned) 117 Jarno Van Mingeroet (Bel) 108 Steffen Wesemann (Swi) 118 Geert Verheyen (Bel) BMC Racing Team Elk Haus - Simplon 121 David Galvin (USA) 131 Markus Eibegger (Aut) 122 Jose Garcia (Mex) 132 Daniel Schorn (Aut) 123 Martin Kohler (Swi) 133 Gerhard Trampusch (Aut) 124 Ian McKissick (USA) 134 Steffen Radochla (Ger) 125 Alexandre Moos (Swi) 135 Harald Starzengruber (Aut) 126 Jackson Stewart (USA) 136 Jochen Summer (Aut) 127 Mike Sayers (USA) 137 Björn Thurau (Ger) 128 Danilo Wyss (Swi) 138 Jan Valach (Svk) Team Volksbank P3Transfer - Batavus 141 Josef Benetseder (Aut) 151 Klaas Van Hage (Ned) 142 Harald Morscher (Aut) 152 Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) 143 Pascal Hungerbühler (Swi) 153 Jonas Ljungblad (Swe) 144 Peter Presslauer (Aut) 154 Wouter Mol (Ned) 145 Philipp Ludescher (Aut) 155 Bart Oegema (Ned) 146 Daniel Musiol (Ger) 156 Timothy Vangheel (Ned) 147 Olaf Pollack (Ger) 157 Bobbie Traksel (Ned) 148 René Weissinger (Ger) 158 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Willems Veranda's Continental Team Rabobank Continental 161 Kristof De Zutter (Bel) 171 Thomas Berkhout (Ned) 162 Stijn Ennekens (Bel) 172 Jetse Bol (Ned) 163 Jurgen François (Bel) 173 Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) 164 Dieter Cappelle (Bel) 174 Ricardo Van Der Velde (Ned) 165 Detlef Moerman (Bel) 175 Jos Van Emden (Ned) 166 Sjef De Wilde (Bel) 176 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) 167 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) 177 Boy Van Poppel (Ned) 168 Jurgen Van Loocke (Bel) 178 Coen Vermeltfoort (Ned) An Post - M. Donnelly - Grant Thornton - Sean Kelly Team 182 Benny De Schrooder (Bel) 183 Viktor Folkesson (Swe) 184 Kenny Lisabeth (Bel) 185 Daniel Lloyd (GBr) 186 Christian Müller (Ger) 187 Rieno Stofferis (Bel) 188 Frank Van Kuik (Bel)
Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen (Cat 2.3) 2007 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Unibet.com 2006 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques - Topsport 2005 Cancelled 2004 Robert Bartko (Ger) Rabobank 2003 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) Ag2r Guldensporentweedaagse (Cat 2.3/2.4) 2002 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 2001 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 2000 Servais Knaven (Ned) 1999 Wilfried Peeters (Bel) Omloop der Vlaamse Ardennen (Cat 1.4) 1998 Jesper Skippy (Den) 1997 Léon Van Bon (Ned) 1996 Wilfried Peeters (Bel) 1995 Johan Museeuw (Bel) 1994 Bo Hamburger (Den) 1993 Niko Eeckhout (Bel) 1992 Nico Verhoeven (Ned) 1991 Hendrik Redant (Bel) 1990 Dirk Demol (Bel) 1989 Luc Colijens (Bel) 1988 Michel Cornelisse (Ned) 1987 Franky Van Oyen (Bel) 1986 Josef Lieckens (Bel) 1985 Hans Daams (Ned) 1984 William Tackaert (Bel) 1983 Ludo Peeters (Bel) 1982 Dirk Heirweg (Bel) 1981 Fer-Dinand Van Den Haute (Bel) 1980 Johan Wellens (Bel) 1979 Piet Van Katwijk (Ned) 1978 Leo Van Thielen (Bel) 1977 Herman Beysens (Bel) 1976 Christian Debuysschere (Bel) 1975 (2) Patrick Sercu (Bel) 1974 Patrick Sercu (Bel) 1973 Frans Verbeeck (Bel) 1972 Tino Tabak (Ned) 1971 Eric Leman (Bel) 1969 Eric De Vlaeminck (Bel) 1968 Willy Vanneste (Bel) 1967 (2) Gustave Desmet (Bel) 1966 Noél Van Clooster (Bel) 1965 Bernard Van de Kerckhove (Bel) 1964 Julien Gaelens (Bel) 1963 Gustave Desmet (Bel) 1962 Gustave Van Vaerenbergh (Bel) 1961 Gabriel Borra (Bel) 1960 Florent Vanpollaert (Bel) 1959 Daniel Denys (Bel) 1958 Cyriel Vanbossel (Bel) 1957 Noél Foré (Bel) 1956 Frans Van Looveren (Bel) 1955 René Mertens (Bel) 1954 Maurice Blomme (Bel) 1953 Marcel Dierckens (Bel) 1952 Henri Van Kerckhove (Bel) 1951 Valeer Ollivier (Bel) 1950 Arseen Ryckaert (Bel) 1949 Norbert Callens (Bel) 1948 Raymond Impanis (Bel) 1947 Michel Remue (Bel) 1946 Joseph Sommers (Bel) 1945 Marcel Kint (Bel) Grote Prijs Westkredit/Omloop der Vlaamse Bergen 1944 (2) Joseph Moerenhout (Bel) 1943 Joseph Moerenhout (Bel) 1942 Prosper Depredomme (Bel) Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com