Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

69th Gent-Wevelgem - PT

Belgium, April 11, 2007

Live report

Live commentary by Gregor Brown in Wevelgem

14:31 CEST   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the Gent-Wevelgem. In the 69th running of this Semi-Classic there is partly-cloudy temperatures, and, of course, there is wind on the coast.

The coastal winds often help shape this race before the final two bergs, the Monteberg and Kemmelberg (both covered twice).

14:31 CEST   
Early escape of Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne), Christophe Mengin (Française Des Jeux) and Roger Hammond (T-Mobile) which built up 7'35 by the time they reached the coast in Oostende, at kilometre 65. The trio went clear around kilometre 44, near Gistel.

14:33 CEST    127km/80km to go
The trio now have seven minutes but continue to work well together. The peloton is flying along behind the escape; the sprint teams will want to bring the race back before the first go of the Monteberg.

14:36 CEST   
This morning, there were doping controls for DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed, Crédit Agricole, Gerolsteiner, Skil-Shimano and Wiesenhof-Felt, all of the teams' riders were declared fit to start the race.

14:37 CEST   
Kevin Hulsmans (Quickstep-Innergetic), who turned 29 years-old today, abandoned early in the race. Maybe early celebrations? No, it turns out he was feeling dizzy during the race.

On the sign-in stage the crowd singed the Happy Birthday song to him.

14:43 CEST    133km/74km to go
Gerolsteiner and Milram are active at the front of the peloton. The boys are taking up every metre of the road, including the little cycling paths on both sides of this road.

Sources in Belgium say that it is always windy on the coast but that today, 'it is not that windy.' This could mean that the trio will caught earlier than normal and then we might see another escape go free before the bergs.

14:44 CEST    135km/72km to go
Thor Hushovd just had a front flat but he quickly rejoins.

14:47 CEST    137km/70km to go
Big Hushovd is now rejoining the peloton. His teammate paced him back on.

14:47 CEST   
"My form is not as good as last year but I think I can do well because it is not as difficult as Flanders," said 2006 winner Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) at the start.

14:52 CEST    141km/66km to go
The riders are positioning for the first climb of the Monteberg. The pace has really lifted here.

14:53 CEST   
"If the race arrives in a sprint we will try with Koldo Fernández," said Iban Mayoz (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in Deinze. "Some of the other riders, myself included, will try to go into an escape.

"The fans in Belgium are great. In the Basque country we have great fans but here they are so much more enthusiastic."

14:56 CEST   
T-Mobile really did well to get Hammond in the escape. This situation eases the pressure on the team and will allow it to save its strength for leading out Eisel if the race comes to a sprint.

14:56 CEST    144km/63km to go
The race is on the Vidaignberg.

14:57 CEST   
"Paolini crashed two times in Ronde but he still managed to get third, so he is in good form," said Liquigas General Manager Roberto Amadio at the start in Deinze. "He did the best he could do given the situation. We are all happy for him, it is a good result.

"For today we also have Filippo Pozzato. He has always done well in this race and we think it is more adapted for him. While, Paolini, we will see how the race unfolds; obliviously he is good form too.

"Pozzato will try his chances in an escape, maybe something that forms on the Kemmel, because for a sprint against riders like Petacchi, Boonen and Hushovd it can be difficult. While Paolini will try his chances in the sprint."

15:00 CEST    146km/61km to go
Servais Knaven (T-Mobile) just hit the deck! He came down hard on his backside, and he is now gathering himself on the side of the road.

15:01 CEST    147km/60km to go
The escape is on the Monteberg.

Hammond is working smoothly, as too is the French Champ Brard. The three are trading pulls equally.

15:04 CEST    148km/59km to go
Allan Johansen (Team CSC) just went off the left side of the road, and about three metres down in the trench. He has climbed back up to the road and is pointing towards many different objects as the purpose to his crash. He really took a tumble!

15:04 CEST    149km/58km to go
The escape has now hit the Kemmel, the steepest point here is 18.7% gradient. Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne) is leading the three.

15:07 CEST   
"If we arrive all together than we will be working for Petacchi. It will be all for him, he is going well, and last year he finished on the podium," said Alessandro Petacchi's teammate Volodymyr Dyudya. "It is my second year as a professional but only my first year here at these big races.

"The fans here are really excited and I really like their enthusiasm."

This was in contrast to what Alessandro Cortinovis (Milram) said. He noted that the team's riders have free cards to play, to try their own chances.

15:08 CEST    152km/55km to go
Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) crashed in the shuffle leading to the Kemmel.

The peloton has now hit the Kemmelberg. Unibet is leading the chase.

15:08 CEST   
The climb is 530m in length, and all of that is Belgian pavé.

15:10 CEST   
Every rider is rocking-n-rolling here. Their heads are really bobbing. A Saunier Duval rider led over the top, with Boonen in about fourth.

15:10 CEST   
A huge crash on the downside of the Kemmel!

Looks like a Unibet and a Cofidis rider...

15:12 CEST   
It was Jimmy Casper (Unibet.com), Luke Roberts (CSC) and Tyler Farrar (Cofidis), who lives in Gent. Also involved was Wim De Vocht (Predictor-Lotto).

15:12 CEST   

15:14 CEST   
Casper really ground his face on the cobbles. The right-side is dripping with blood; really nasty looking images here in the Gent-Wevelgem.

15:16 CEST    156km/51km to go
The crash has really split up the back part of the chase and some of the riders won't rejoin, and we hope that the riders who have crashed will be fine. As the race develops we will give you updates on Casper, etc.

15:18 CEST   
That was Ventoso of Saunier who led the peloton over the Kemmel.

15:19 CEST   
"Today, I hope that [Francisco José] Ventoso will have his chance. He has really good condition and I think he is very motivated for this race," said Saunier Duval DS Pietro Algeri at the start in Deinze. "We also have Luciano Pagliarini, so our objective is to have one of them in the first group."

15:20 CEST   
Wilfried Cretskens (Quickstep-Innergetic), Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) and Andy Cappelle (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner) were also involved in the downhill crash on the Kemmel.

15:22 CEST    160km/47km to go
Oscar Freire is showing himself on the front. He has helped the lead to be pulled back to 2.51. There has been a small move of five formed with the Spaniard.

Meanwhile, Casper is being carried off on a stretcher.

15:25 CEST    162km/45km to go
Graeme Brown (Rabobank) is back in the caravan getting his shoes adjusted.

David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) has put in an attack from the peloton, trying to join the Freire group.

15:28 CEST    164km/43km to go
Dmitriy Muravyev (Astana) and David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) have formed a small move.

"I finished nicely in Flanders, I was not surprised at all. Last year I was here with a small team and then I learned that I can do well in the Northern Classics," said Muravyev at the start.

15:30 CEST    166km/41km to go
Milram is revving up its engine on the front of the peloton, which is now 2'19" behind. The escape looks doomed.

15:31 CEST   
Wilfried Cretskens (Quickstep-Innergetic) abandons the race in an ambulance. He was involved in that Kemmel crash.

15:32 CEST   
Quick-Step has lent a hand to Milram.

"We have a few guys for the sprint but it is not always a sprint in Wevelgem," said Rabobank's Mathew Hayman. "Oscar had a tough race on Sunday but he will do well today.

"The race on Sunday [Ronde - ed.] was fast. I spent 15 km pretty much on the last wheel, just trying to hold on. Maybe it did not look like much was happening but the race was really flying.

"Today, wait and see. After the second time over the Kemmel we will evaluate the situation. My ideal scenario would be to lead-out the sprint for a win by Freire, Heeswijk or Brown; also Flecha is going strong."

15:34 CEST    168km/39km to go
David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) and Dmitriy Muravyev (Astana) keep holding their own over the peloton but their gap is only 30 seconds. It does not look promising.

Please send in your emails to the address below to predict today's winner.

15:36 CEST    169km/38km to go
The front trio has it the Kemmel for the second and last time. Hammond is currently at the back and his head is bobbing. What a TOUGH climb. The cobbles are really bad on this climb, and even worse on the descent.

It is really hard to keep your wheels going straight.

15:38 CEST   
The peloton is on the Kemmel.

Again it is Ventoso leading the affairs. Right there with the Spaniard is Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile).

15:39 CEST    171km/36km to go
But now it is the tricky descent again! The riders will have heard what happened on the first go and they will be a little bit more nervous this time around.


15:41 CEST   
Aart Vierhouten (Skil-Shimano), Mathew Hayman (Rabobank) and Fabio Sacchi (Milram) are involved.

15:43 CEST   
This is really nasty. The crashes will help the front trio stay free; the three riders are currently at just over a minute, 1'11".

Every year it is like this on the Kemmel. Does this hill belong in a modern race?

15:44 CEST   
Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) was involved. Milram, without Sacchi and Petacchi, will have to re-focus its strategy.

15:47 CEST    175km/32km to go
Another small move has formed off the main peloton. There are about ten riders here, including O'Grady. This is the type of move that could stay away to the finish.

The remainder of the race is flat and will be an all-out effort by the riders.

The trio still has 1'10"

15:49 CEST    179km/28km to go
Gregory Rast (Astana), Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile), Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC), Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic) and Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) are all in this move. This looks like the winning move.

15:53 CEST    181km/26km to go
Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) have struck-out on their own. The race seems to be really shaping up here.

15:55 CEST    182km/25km to go
Oscar Freire (Rabobank), Francisco José Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) join the original three. Two French, two Spanish, a German and a Brit. Ventoso looks really strong but he will need to dose his efforts.

15:58 CEST   
Weather conditions are great, about 16°C and partly-cloudy. The roadside is farmland and is really green even though there has not been much rain this spring in Belgium.

16:00 CEST    184km/23km to go
Wouter Weylandt (Quickstep-Innergetic) is tapping out an infernal rhythm for his teammate Boonen. This is really exciting here. They are trying to join the six up front, who now have 17". The wind is starting to take its toll.

16:04 CEST   
A few years ago the riders refused to ride the Kemmelberg in the Three Days of De Panne. From that point forward the climb was not included in the race.

16:06 CEST    189km/18km to go
There are two T-Mobile's in this escape. It is likely Hammond will be ordered to work for Marcus Burghardt. The six has 25".

16:09 CEST    192km/15km to go
The other four riders will start to rely on the two T-Mobile men to make the majority of the pace.

One problem is that none of the five riders will want to take Oscar Freire into a sprint situation. He is by far the fastest man in this move.

They have 31" over the chase.

16:11 CEST    193km/14km to go
Kevin Van Impe (Quickstep-Innergetic) is doing huge pulls for Boonen. While Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) is moving about the chase to find his teammates' wheels.

The last three kilometres of this races is dead straight.

16:13 CEST    196km/11km to go
Freire is doing his share of work in the front six. He wants to see this move make it clear to the finish in Wevelgem. If they get caught now it will be bad news for the Spaniard because he has used a lot of his energy.

16:16 CEST    198km/9km to go
The ideal situation for the riders is to attack Freire with about five kilometres to go, then get a smaller move of three, where a rider like Ventoso could have a chance of sprinting to a win.

Freire knows this and he will watch all of his competitors closely. Oscar Cat looks to be on one of those days, the same type of form that gave him the win in Milano-Sanremo.

16:20 CEST    200km/7km to go
Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) is leading Hammond on the front move of six. They have 41" over the chase. CSC is on the front. It is working for Juan José Haedo, who beat Petacchi the other day in Germany.

16:21 CEST   
Burghardt continues to lead. He pulls off and Hammond does a huge pull. Then comes Ventoso, Freire and Mengin

16:22 CEST   
French Champ Florent Brard (Caisse d'Epargne) was dropped some time ago, at 14 kilometres to go.

16:23 CEST    203km/4km to go
Hammond leads under the 4K bridge. Soon we should see an attack, maybe by Ventoso?

16:24 CEST    203.5km/3.5km to go
Ventoso is looking about. He is at the back with Freire and Mengin.

16:24 CEST   
The pace is at 46km/h.

16:25 CEST    205km/2km to go
Burghardt does a pull and comes to the back. Hammond leads with Freire on his wheel, then Mengin and Ventoso.

16:26 CEST    205.5km/1.5km to go
The five have 21"; they should stay clear.

16:27 CEST    206km/1km to go
Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) attacks. Freire is chasing with Hammond on his wheel. This is perfect team work by T-Mobile.

16:28 CEST   
Burghardt is going to win.

16:28 CEST   
The young German wins, then Hammond and Freire.

16:32 CEST   
Burghardt and Hammond really played the team card to perfection. When the German went up the road Freire, the fastest sprinter, had to chase it down. Hammond jumped on the Spaniard's wheel in case his teammate was caught. Burghardt stayed free and won his biggest win to date.

Robbie McEwen easily took the sprint for sixth.

16:39 CEST   
Thanks for joining Cyclingnews for live coverage of the Gent-Wevelgem. Please read our full report, which will be posted soon.

Provisional Results

1 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile
2 Roger Hammond (GBr) T-Mobile
3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
4 Francisco José Ventoso (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir
5 Christophe Mengin (Fra) Française Des Jeux
6 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
7 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Rabobank