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2002 Gent-

Sinclair Imports
Competitive Cyclist

65th Gent-Wevelgem - 1.HC

Belgium, April 9, 2003

2002 Results    Preview    Past winners    

A mid-week sprinter's classic

By Tim Maloney, European editor

Click for larger image
Mario Cipollini
Photo © AFP

With a new start in Deinze's Grote Markt for 2003, Gent-Wevelgem is a mid-week 204 km sprinter's classic, and always a great place for the speed merchants in the pro peloton to strut their stuff between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. And who better to strut to a possible 4th win but World Champ Mario Cipollini (Domina Cacanze-Elitron), who won last year in fine style from two Americans, Fred Rodriguez and 2001 winner George Hincapie.

But both Rodriguez and Hincapie will be absent this year (Rodriguez's Vini Caldirola-Sidermec team was not invited, and Hincapie is out of the 2003 classics with a respiratory virus), but that doesn't mean that Cipo will have a cakewalk to victory. 10 years ago, Cipo was looking for back to back wins in Gent-Wevelgem. Now with a decade on top as the world's number one sprinter, a powerful team behind him and the rainbow jersey on his back, it's hard not to see Cipo on top again in Gent-Wevelgem on Wednesday.

Click for larger image
The break
Photo © AFP

Runner up at Gent-Wevelgem in 2000 and third in 2001, Tour of Flanders winner Peter Van Petegem (Lotto-Domo) will not be racing Gent-Wevelgem this year, preferring to concentrate on next Sunday's Paris-Roubaix. That will put Lotto-Domo's focus on Australian Robbie McEwen, as he's proven he's one of the few riders who can beat Mega Mario in a sprint. Two-time G-W winner Tom Steels (Landbouwkredeit-Colnago) used to be able to make the same claim. Steels skipped Flanders to be ready for the midweek classic and he's is looking for a breakthrough win this season. Fassa Bortolo's Alessandro Petacchi could also be a threat to Cipo. The other classy Tuscan sprinter wants to kick-start his season with a Belgian victory.

Click for larger image
Cipollini wins
Photo © AFP

Other possible candidates for the winner's bouquet could be the always dangerous Oscar Freire (Rabobank), USPS-Berry Floor's Max van Heeswijk, Team CSC's Kickin' Kiwi Julian Dean, awesome Aussie Baden Cooke and Telekom's Erik Zabel.

With cool, sunny weather predicted and an easterly wind, the first half of Wednesday's Gent-Wevelgem will speed west through Johan Museeuw's home town of Gistel, out to the coast at Oostende, then south along the North Sea until De Panne after 90km, when the parcours will turn east. The strong wind will hit the riders on the left shoulder and doubtless provoke numerous echelons as the parcours twists and turns towards the finish in Wevelgem. Once in the heart of West Flanders, the peloton will have to climb the tough cobbles of the Kemmelberg twice, then head back to the finish in Wevelgem.

Cyclingnews will be covering the race live from 14:00 CEST/8:00 EDT/5:00 PDT/22:00 AEST.

Past winners

2002  Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua e Sapone         207 kms in 4.39.00 (44.731 km/h)
2001  George Hincapie (USA) U.S. Postal Service    215 kms in 5.00.50
2000  Geert van Bondt (Bel) Farm Frites            214 kms in 5.01.03
1999  Tom Steels (Bel) Mapei-Quick Step            208 kms in 5.15.53
1998  Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Mapei-Bricobi      208 kms in 5.21.21
1997  Philippe Gaumont (Fra)
1996  Tom Steels (Bel)
1995  Lars Michaelsen (Den)
1994  Wilfried Peeters (Bel)
1993  Mario Cipollini (Ita)
1992  Mario Cipollini (Ita)
1991  Djamolidine Abduschaparov (Usb)
1990  Herman Frison (Bel)
1989  Gerrit Solleveld (Ned)
1988  Sean Kelly (Ire)
1987  Teun Van Vliet (Ned)
1986  Guido Bontempi (Ita)
1985  Eric Vanderaerden (Bel)
1984  Guido Bontempi (Ita)
1983  Teun Van Vliet (Ned)
1982  Frank Hoste (Bel)
1981  Jan Raas (Ned)
1980  Henk Lubberding (Ned)
1979  Francesco Moser (Ita)
1978  Ferdinand Van den Haute (Bel)
1977  Bernard Hinault (Fra)
1976  Freddy Maertens (Bel)
1975  Freddy Maertens (Bel)
1974  Barry Hoban (GB)
1973  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1972  Roger Swerts (Bel)
1971  Georges Pintens (Bel)
1970  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1969  Willy Vekenmans (Bel)
1968  Walter Godefroot (Bel)
1967  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1966  Herman Vanspringel (Bel)
1965  Noél De Pauw (Bel)
1964  Jacques Anquetil (Fra)
1963  Benoni Beheyt (Bel)
1962  Rik Van Looy (Bel)
1961  Frans Aerenhouts (Bel)
1960  Frans Aerenhouts (Bel)
1959  Leon Van Daele (Bel)
1958  Noél Fore (Bel)
1957  Rik Van Looy (Bel)
1956  Rik Van Looy (Bel)
1955  Alberic Schotte (Bel)
1954  Rolf Graf (Swi)
1953  Raymond Impanis (Bel)
1952  Raymond Impanis (Bel)
1951  André Rossel (Bel)
1950  Alberic Schotte (Bel)
1949  Marcel Kint (Bel)
1948  Valeré Ollivier (Bel)
1947  Maurice Desempelaere (Bel)
1946  Ernest Sterckx (Bel)
1945  Robert Van Eenaeme (Bel)
1939  André Declerck (Bel)
1938  Hubert Godart (Bel)
1937  Robert Van Eenaeme (Bel)
1936  Robert Van Eenaeme (Bel)
1935  Albert Debreitere (Bel)
1934  Gustave Van Belle (Bel)

Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com

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