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64th Gent-Wevelgem - 1.HC
Belgium, April 10, 2002
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Complete Live Report
Start time: 11:30 CEST
The race started from Gent's Citadelpark at 11:30 am in bright sunshine in cool, windy conditions. The riders will be battling the winds all day, especially around the coast, and this should considerably reduce the size of the bunch by the finish.
Despite Paris-Roubaix looming on Sunday, Gent-Wevelgem is also an important race for Hincapie. "I'm going to try and defend every race, but it's a big race," he said.
Looking forward to the rest of the classics: "I've never done Liege. But I feel strong and I don't see any reason why I should limit my potential in any of these races. I think I need to give it a chance and see what happens. My objective now is Paris-Roubaix and after that I need to look at the rest of the season. So definitely in the back of my mind the World Cup is an important objective as well."
"I feel not bad. I am still hurting everywhere. I have less pain on the bike than I have to walk. I can walk since last Sunday. Every day I go to [physiotherapist] Lieven Maesschalck in Lebbeke and he's doing everything for me to get on the bike."
It's very important for me that I'm here for Paris-Roubaix and the other classics. If I'm not here today it's finished for me for the classic season. I'm going to do everything now. On Monday I trained 180 kilometres. I feel the condition is not alright - I have some pain and now I hope to have a good race and we'll see."
Are you worried about the Kemmelberg, given what happened? "I will probably have a bad moment when I pass the Kemmelberg. If I pass the Kemmel then it's forgotten for ever. It's my fault I crashed on the Kemmel on the descent. There were the other guys before me."
" I think I've crossed the Kemmel 400 times without crashes. I don't have to think every time you pass the Kemmel you have to crash. I hope I will be quite well in Wevelgem tonight."
14:45 CEST - 144 km/63 km to go
The wind has kept the pace very high, with an average speed of over 46 km/h so far.
14:56 CEST - 148 km/59 km to go
15:03 CEST - 153 km/54 km to go
Cyclingnews spoke with Robbie McEwen (Lotto) this morning, who was a surprise late starter in this race. "I only found out I was racing since yesterday. I just feel like racing. I didn't race since MSR. I had 8 days off and then 9 days training. I've been watching the TV and saw that some of our guys have had a little bit of bad luck - a couple of guys out with crashes. We lost Andrei. I said if you need someone, give us a call. Yesterday they rang back and said 'come and have a race'.
" I'm not expecting too much. I'm not coming in and saying I'm a big favourite and feeling awesome. But I feel OK and I'll see how far I get. If the race is a bit controlled then maybe I'll hang in until the finish. With this much wind it's going to be hard."
15:09 CEST - 158 km/49 km to go
Hincapie has a flat, and will have to do a bit of work to get back on in this wind. Will Tom Boonen drop back to help him? He looks behind but stays in the leading group. Hincapie is chasing back on through the cars and will easily get them.
15:16 CEST - 163 km/44 km to go
15:22 CEST - 167 km/40 km to go
15:27 CEST - 170 km/37 km to go
The second and last ascent of the Kemmelberg is coming soon.
15:31 CEST - 172 km/39 km to go
Hincapie gets Rodriguez and Van Dijk over the top, looks behind to see where the rest are. Hvastija also bridges up and there are four leaders.
15:35 CEST - 174 km/33 km to go
Cipollini attacks! He bridges the gap into a very strong headwind to the Hincapie group. Robert Hunter chases too.
15:39 CEST - 178 km/29 km to go
15:44 CEST - 181 km/26 km to go
15:51 CEST - 185 km/22 km to go
15:59 CEST - 191 km/16 km to go
16:06 CEST - 194 km/13 km to go
The five leaders are riding to stay away though, and should keep working until the final couple of kilometres. Cipollini is certainly doing his fair share of work.
16:10 CEST - 199 km/8 km to go
Hincapie has a little dabble off the front, but is countered by Cipollini. Then Van Dijk has a go, but Rodriguez is right on him.
16:16 CEST - 202 km/5 km to go
Rodriguez sits at the back of the group, on Cipollini's wheel. He doesn't want to let it go! However, he rolls through for his turn with 4 km to go.
16:18 CEST - 204 km/3 km to go
They're racing through the streets of Wevelgem now with 2 kilometres to go, and none of these five riders can seem to get an advantage. Is it going to be Cipollini, or Rodriguez or Hincapie or ?
16:21 CEST - 206 km/1 km to go
16:23 CEST - 207 km/0 km to go
Hvastija winds it up, then Van Dijk attacks, but Cipollini gets it by over a bike length from Rodriguez and Hincapie. Van Dijk fourth and Hvastija fifth.
That's Cipollini's third win in Gent-Wevelgem, after his 1992 and 1993 wins. Congratulations on a well deserved victory.
1 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua e Sapone 4.39.00 (44.731 km/h) 2 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Domo-Farm Frites 3 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service 4 Hendrik Van Dyck (Bel) Palmans-Collstrop 5 Martin Hvastija (Slo) Alessio 0.10 6 Robert Hunter (RSA) Mapei-Quick Step 1.29 7 Tom Boonen (Bel) US Postal Service 8 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 9 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) CSC-Tiscali 10 Johan Museeuw (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites