Be sure to catch the action live this weekend on Cycling.TV
-Reported by Muhammad Jaffer-
But this being Belgium, the question tugging at the back of everyone’s mind was how would van Petegem and Boonen ride – for or against each other? If they worked together Quick.Step would be a force to be reckoned with. There was one name missing; that of George Hincapie who’s out because of a broken wrist, but that allowed other names into the mix; 2006 K-B-K winner Nick Nuyens (now with Cofidis) got a shot against Boonen and van Petegem, there’s Pozzato who beat ‘em all at last year’s San Remo, but Belgian weather would not help him, then a shot from outside with Nico Mattan riding with DFL-CyclingNews, maybe even British hopeful Jeremy Hunt who’s on form at the moment, and back to Quick.Step – there is always the Steegmans option if Boonen and van Petegem fail.
An Early Assortment
The 62nd edition consisted of 10 climbs along 200km, and the moment the bell rang a couple of hopefuls attacked, but the peloton kept them within sight. Later on a group of eight riders started to a build up a lead; while Boonen kept on Gilbert’s wheel, when Gilbert temporarily put his foot on the gas. Jimmy Casper and Steffen Wesemann (’04 Flanders winner) attacked and started to close the gap on the leading group, but bad luck hit Wesemann in the face when he punctured with 85km to go, Casper was later joined by a Landbrouwkrediet rider but were both later caught on the final climb.
Speedster Steegmans and His Escapees
The break, including Jeremy Hunt, Gert Steegmans, Quinziato, van Summeren, Rosseler and Bernucci, hit a lead of 2mins at 82km. The eight riders made considerable progress with a 57secs lead at 91km to go, to 3mins1sec with 76km to go.
Then Rabobank took charge at 75km to go. With 67km to go van Heeswijk was dropped from the main group with a suspected puncture, and the lead was now down to 2mins35secs.
At 50km to go, the Peloton stepped on the gas and the lead plummeted to 36seconds at 49km to go, and 6km later their lead went poof. The breakaway was too much for Steegmans as he was spotted with the cars at 30km to go.
Roesems and Giling
Bastian Giling attacked with 37km to go and built up a lead of 12 seconds over 3km. The PEZ-Fave Bert Roesems (Predictor) with help of Zanotti (who was later dropped) managed to reach Giling… whose lead was meaningless when Roesems reached him at 30km. Around 9km later Giling was dropped and Roesems went solo, cranking it up as only a national TT champ can. Bert’s lead looked strong for the next several kms, but in the end he couldn’t hold off the group of chasers.
Gilbert started to get things moving with around 25km to go; as he breaks away with a group with Matthew Hayman and De Jongh. They caught Giling soon after he was dropped. Meanwhile Roesems had built a lead over 20secs
Disaster struck at 19km as Gilbert goes down and finds it hard at first to get back on track. He is then caught by a group of riders 20 strong (Boonen amongst them), who catch his former group.
16km – Boonen moves to the front for the first time but Gilbert quickly follows him sensing the danger, and his group closes down Roesems’ lead and reels him in at 14km, he tries to attack again but it comes to nothing, as a group consisting of Gilbert, O’Grady, Flecha and Boonen break away. Gilbert soon gets dropped.
From here on in it was fast and furious – with the race changing almost every km…
13km: The ‘Spanalian’ attack – Flecha and O’Grady attack! Leaving Boonen in their wake!
12km – Boonen attempts to catch them, but he is burning and by no means finding it easy and gets caught, it looked as though Boonen had left it too late, but had he?
10km – O’Grady shows incredible form, and looked certain to win and drop Flecha. Pozzato, Nick Nuyens, Baden Cooke and Boonen go out to chase the Spanalian duo, but Cooke is really suffering and doesn’t look as though he could contribute.
8km – O’Grady and Flecha have a 10 second lead ahead of the Aussie-Belgian chasers.
6km – 9 seconds, could they do it?
4km – 14 seconds; maybe not? Cooke is suffering hard.
2km – 16 seconds
The Penultimate kilometre – Baden Cooke cracks and is dropped. Then with the finish line within reach and O’Grady and Flecha in sight, Nuyens attacks.
DISASTER NO.2: SPANALIAN FOOLISHNESS!
O’Grady and Flecha can’t make their mind about what to do! They are slowing down and Nuyens, Boonen and Pozzato are catching up!
Remember Milan-San Remo…
Pozzato senses the chance and comes storming up the flank leaving Boonen his slipstream. Pozzato followed by Boonen caught Nuyens, Flecha and O’Grady; and was in the clear with 500m to go! But Boonen didn’t quite have the legs to catch Flecha and had to settle for 3rd. O’Grady on the other hand, surprisingly only managed 5th especially after he looked so strong and was on form after the ToC. But where was Gilbert? He could be found a bit of a way back, after a bit of bad luck etc.
Moral: Learn from the past to implement in the present, and prepare for the future.
Results: Het Volk 2007
1. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Liquigas 4.59.04
2. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank
3. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep-Innergetic
4. Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis
5. Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Team CSC
6. Baden Cooke (Aus) Unibet.com
7. Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Unibet.com
8. Stefan Van Dijck (Ned) Wiesenhof-Felt
9. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Predictor-Lotto
10. Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quickstep-Innergetic
- Stay tuned to PEZ for more pics and Ed Hood’s roadside reports –