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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

64th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad - 1.HC

Belgium, February 28, 2009

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Hushovd delivers in messy finale

By Bjorn Haake in Gent, Belgium

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Thor Hushovd gave the Cervélo TestTeam a strong start to the Classics season by taking a commanding victory in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The big Norwegian came out of a chasing group which caught two escapees, Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) and Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo), with only a few hundred metres to go. Kevyn Ista of Agritubel and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) rounded out the podium.

The winner had the advantage of a teammate in the breakaway, and did not imagine he would be the one to win. "This is unexpected, I thought Haussler would have it," Hushovd said. "I thought he and Langeveld had all the chances to sprint for victory." When the duo was caught, things were simple for Hushovd. "In the end, all I had to do was sprint."

The messy finale was overshadowed by a crash when Langeveld was caught and wanted to get out of the way. He moved to the left side of the road, blocking Filippo Pozzato (Katusha). Pozzato was at full speed, contesting for victory. The Italian went down, impeding Tom Boonen in the process.

Boonen almost went down, so was lucky he didn't crash. "On the other hand, I felt really strong and I could have been on the podium. I was in Hushovd's wheel when the crash happened." Boonen had to swerve around Pozzato. "I lost 30 metres and I had to re-start my sprint."

Pozzato also felt he had good chances of winning. "I was alongside Hushovd when I crashed." Pozzato suffered a hematoma on his left thigh. "I injured my left elbow, too – it hurts pretty badly."

Fair weather for Belgian opener

The race, held in unusually nice weather, started out with a five-man escape group of David Boucher (Landbouwkrediet), Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Cofidis), Jean Zen (Palmans), Guillaume Blot (Cofidis) and Wim De Vocht (Vacansoleil).

Blot, a neo-pro, enjoyed the day on the front, even though things didn't go all to plan. "I had to change my bike three times," he said. In the end he also was too tired. "I still don't have the physique for those races and I simply hit the wall. I will be going to bed a bit disappointed tonight." Blot said the headwind was tough but that "the course is beautiful."

A four-man group with Steven Caethoven (Agritubel), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) and Björn Thurau (Elk Haus) went after the five front runners, but ended up getting disqualified. The four went through a closed railroad crossing.

A disappointed Thurau didn't agree with the decision. "The lights had just started blinking. There was a bit of a dip beforehand and we were going 60 km/h. If you want to crash, yeah, then maybe you could stop."

Rabobank sets Taaienberg on fire

Sebastian Langveld (Rabobank)
Photo ©: ISPA
(Click for larger image)

Rabobank set the decisive move on the Taaienberg, with 55 kilometres left to race. After the tough climb four riders of the Dutch team emerged on the front – Nick Nuyens, Sebastian Langeveld, Juan Antonio Flecha and Joost Posthuma.

The gap never went past much more than a dozen seconds and about 15 km later the four were caught by a small group, with all the favourites assembled together. The move contained Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Leif Hoste, Gilbert, Greg Van Avermaet, Nuyens, Langeveld, Flecha, Posthuma, Bram Tankink, Haussler, Andreas Klier, Hushovd, Pozzato, Niki Terpstra, Martin Velits, Marcus Burghardt, Tomas Vaitkus, Kevyn Ista and Thomas Voeckler.

Gilbert made his his second move, but was unable to get away. After the Molenberg, the final climb of the day, the front group of five was finally brought back.

Gilbert explained later that one team really put the stamp on the race today. "Hushovd was impressive and Haussler was incredible. In fact the entire Cervélo was strong." But Gilbert said that his Silence-Lotto team was also up for the task. "The three protected riders were there and Hoste did a lot of work. Fourth place [for Greg van Avermaet] is not bad."
Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto)
Photo ©: ISPA
(Click for larger image)

An attack by Langeveld and Haussler set up the finale, with Hoste and Chavanel doing most of the work to close the gap. Chavanel explained his reasons for dedicating himself to Tom Boonen. "It was likely it would come down to a sprint and I there I have no chance." Chavanel was joking about his 'team time trial' on the front. "Really, going strong? I didn't place!" On a more a serious note he confirmed that he was on form. "Tomorrow we will ride to win. Our objective was to win one of the two races [Omloop and Kuurne - ed.]"

Chavanel's efforts paid off as the leading duo of Haussler and Langeveld was caught in the final few hundred metres. Despite a strong representation by the Rabobank squad, the Cervélo TestTeam seized control of the sprint, giving Hushovd a perfect lead-out and placing three of its riders into the top ten.

No Belgian Classic would be complete without crashes, and once again there were many. Tomas Vaitkus and Gerald Ciolek went down, neither in a talkative mood after their mishaps. Vaitkus's small finger on his left hand was pretty bloody. Alexandre Blain (Cofidis) also went down. "I crashed on the Paddestraat. I was comfortably riding in the middle of the road when another rider was trying to get back into the middle and cut in front of me."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by AFP Photo

Images by ISPA/www.ctm-images.com

Images by Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Tim Van Wichelen

Images by Florian and Susanne Schaaf/www.cyclingpictures.de

Images by Erik Van Breugel/www.cyclingmoments.com

Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net


1 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team                 4.47.45 (42.641 km/h)
2 Kevyn Ista (Bel) Agritubel                                  
3 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank                          
4 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Silence-Lotto                       
5 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad             
6 Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago           
7 Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team                       
8 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo Test Team                   
9 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram                             
10 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                                
11 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                
12 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank                                
13 David Boucher (Fra) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago              
14 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Rabobank                                 
15 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Silence-Lotto                       
16 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank                              
17 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step                          
18 Wim De Vocht (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team            
19 Romain Feillu (Fra) Agritubel                          0.45
20 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française Des Jeux                
21 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Silence-Lotto                           
22 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team Katusha                           
23 Baden Cooke (Aus) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team             
24 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago             
25 Johan Coenen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator          
26 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                       
27 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank                               
28 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervelo Test Team                      
29 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Skil-Shimano                           
30 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne             
31 Koen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago                 
32 Cédric Pineau (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                       
33 Gerben Löwik (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team            
34 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram                            
35 Michael Schär (Swi) Astana                                 
36 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank                        
37 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Team Katusha                       
38 Yoann Offredo (Fra) Française Des Jeux                     
39 Roy Curvers (Ned) Skil-Shimano                             
40 Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team         
41 Brice Feillu (Fra) Agritubel                               
42 James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Verandas Willems                 
43 Rony Martias (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                   
44 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Silence-Lotto                      
45 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Agritubel                           
46 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha                          
47 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago          
48 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream                 
49 Marc De Maar (Ned) Rabobank                                
50 Hayden Roulston (NZl) Cervelo Test Team                    
51 Ben Hermans (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator           
52 Mickael Delage (Fra) Silence-Lotto                         
53 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Française Des Jeux                   
54 Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago           
55 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom               
56 Christophe Laurent (Fra) Agritubel                         
57 Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Liquigas                            
58 Kevin Neirynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago             
59 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom               
60 Arnaud Labbe (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                   
61 Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervelo Test Team                      
62 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test Team                        
63 Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team       
64 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Skil-Shimano                          
65 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator      
66 Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil-Shimano                            
67 Kurt Hovelijnck (Bel) Quick Step                           
68 Frank Hoj (Den) Team Saxo Bank                             
69 Hervé Duclos-Lassalle (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne    
70 William Frischkorn (USA) Garmin - Slipstream               
71 Kilian Patour (Fra) Garmin - Slipstream                    
72 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française Des Jeux                     
73 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step                            
74 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas                               
75 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas                            
76 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team Saxo Bank                       
77 Murilo Fischer (Bra) Liquigas                              
78 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas                                  
79 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step                           
80 Maarten Wynants (Bel) Quick Step                           
81 Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quick Step                            
82 Bert De Backer (Bel) Skil-Shimano                          
83 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Quick Step                            
84 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas                              
85 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française Des Jeux                    
86 Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas                            
87 Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil-Shimano                             
88 Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil-Shimano                        
89 Leif Hoste (Bel) Silence-Lotto                         1.15
90 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank                        
91 Jean Zen (Fra) Palmans Cras                                
92 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha                     1.24
93 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française Des Jeux            1.30
94 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank                     1.35
95 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana                          1.41
96 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Astana                             1.52
97 Jonathan Hivert (Fra) Skil-Shimano                     1.57
98 Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank                       2.36
99 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Slipstream                 2.59
100 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Team Saxo Bank                3.34
101 Renaud Dion (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                    7.00
102 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française Des Jeux                
103 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad               
104 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Columbia - Highroad       
105 Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator         
106 Thomas Fothen (Ger) Team Milram                           
107 Maxime Vantomme (Bel) Team Katusha                        
108 Nikolay Trusov (Rus) Team Katusha                         
109 Bart Vanheule (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator        
110 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team     
111 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team Saxo Bank           
112 Leonardo Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne          
113 Guillaume Blot (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne          
114 Biel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                    12.32
115 Stefan Van Dijk (Ned) Verandas Willems                    
116 Stefan Rucker (Aut) ELK Haus                              
117 Matthias Brandle (Aut) ELK Haus                           
118 Dieter Cappelle (Bel) Palmans Cras                        
119 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Silence-Lotto                    
120 Vicente Reynes (Spa) Team Columbia - Highroad             
121 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Columbia - Highroad             
122 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Team Columbia - Highroad             
123 Matthias Friedemann (Ger) PSK Whirlpool - Author          
124 Martin Müller (Ger) Team Milram                           
125 Sébastien Delfosse (Bel) Landbouwkrediet - Colnago        
126 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale                     
127 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) Team Milram                           
128 Artur Gajek (Ger) Team Milram                             
129 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team        
130 Huub Duyn (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream                       
131 Timothy Vangheel (Bel) Palmans Cras                       
132 Sven Van Den Houte (Bel) Verandas Willems                 
133 Sven Renders (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator         
134 Mathieu Criquielion (Bel) Verandas Willems                
135 Oleksandr Kvachuk (Ukr) ISD                               
136 Sébastien Chavanel (Fra) Française Des Jeux               
137 Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervelo Test Team                  
138 Tom Vanbecelaere (Bel) Palmans Cras                       
139 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator      
140 Michael Friedman (USA) Garmin - Slipstream                
141 Romain Villa (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne            
142 Ian Stannard (GBr) ISD                                    
143 Frantisek Rabon (Cze) Team Columbia - Highroad            
144 Bolat Raimbekov (Kaz) Astana                              
DNF Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Silence-Lotto                    
DNF Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                  
DNF Stéphane Poulhies (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale                  
DNF Gatis Smukulis (Lat) AG2R La Mondiale                     
DNF Valeriy Dmitriyev (Kaz) Astana                            
DNF Berik Kupeshov (Kaz) Astana                               
DNF Sergey Renev (Kaz) Astana                                 
DNF Mathieu Claude (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                
DNF Franck Bouyer (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                 
DNF Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom                   
DNF Alexandre Blain (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne         
DNF Jean-Eudes Demaret (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne      
DNF Alexandre Usov (Blr) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne          
DNF Hans Dekkers (Ned) Garmin - Slipstream                    
DNF Christopher Sutton (Aus) Garmin - Slipstream              
DNF Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas                       
DNF Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank                         
DNF Gert Dockx (Bel) Team Columbia - Highroad                 
DNF Kenny Dehaes (Bel) Team Katusha                           
DNF Gert Steegmans (Bel) Team Katusha