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69th Gent - Wevelgem Preview
By Staff
Date: 4/9/2007
69th Gent - Wevelgem Preview

by Alicia Hopkins

69th Edition - Gent-Wevelgem 210km

Gent-Wevelgem was first held in 1934, and the route will take the riders twice over the difficult cobbled climb of the Kemmelberg where key splits in the peloton occur. Traditionally, Gent-Wevelgem is a sprinter's race with such notable winners as Thor Hushovd (2006), Tom Boonen (2004), and three- time champion Mario Cipollini (1992, 1993, and 2002). The record number of wins at Gent-Wevelgem is three, held by four professionals which include the following: Robert Van Eenaeme (1936,1937, and 1945), Rik Van Looy (1956, 1957,  and 1962), Eddy Merckx (1967, 1970, and 1973), and the most recent triplet winner, afore mentioned Mario Cipollini.

The Favorites
When considering that out of the 68 times the race has taken place, 44 of those have been won by a Belgian, it would be logical to factor in Tom Boonen and Gert Steegmans both of the Belgian based Quickstep squad as possible winners.

 The race obviously has had other nations represented on the podium, and 2007 will prove to be no exception given the strength exhibited this season by Lampre-Fondital's Daniele Bennati with five stage victories and the overall winner of two points jersey competitions.

Additionally Liquigas' Luca Paolini and Pippo Pozzato (4th during last year's edition) are out to reach to the top-step of the podium keeping Liquigas on it's winning ways since the start of the season.

Saunier-Duval's Francisco Ventoso is also a threat to be considered after winning three stages and the points competition jersey at  Castilla y Leon. Furthermore, one can never discount Milram's Alessandro Petacchi, or Unibet's Baden Cooke and Jimmy Casper.

Other riders to look for in the final sprint are Rabobank's Oscar Freire who has two massive victories this season with Milan San Remo and Brabanste Pijl and Graeme Brown, Gerolsteiner's Robert Förster and Thomas Fothen, AG2R-Prevoyance's Jean-Patrick Nazon, FDJeux's Classics powerhouse Phillipe Gilbert, Discovery Channel's Tomas Vaitkus, and Cofidis' Nick Nuyens. Riders that may also play a factor in the finale that may be considered dark horses include, Cofidis' Tyler Farrar, Skil-Shimano's Kenny Van Hummel, and CSC's J.J. Haedo.  

Honor Roll
2006 THOR HUSHOVD (Norway) David Kopp (Dui) Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)
2005 NICO MATTAN (Bel) Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Daniele Bennati (Ita)
2004 TOM BOONEN (Bel) Magnus Backstedt (Zwe) Jaan Kirsipuu (Est)
2003 ANDREAS KLIER (Dui) Henk Vogels (Aus) Tom Boonen (Bel)
2002 MARIO CIPOLLINI (Ita) Fred Rodriguez (USA) George Hincapie (USA)
2001 GEORGE HINCAPIE (USA) Leon Van Bon (Ned) Peter Van Petegem (Bel)
2000 GEERT VAN BONDT (Bel) Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Johan Museeuw (Bel)
1999 TOM STEELS (Bel) Zbigniew Spruch (Pol) Tristan Hoffman (Ned)
1998 FRANK VANDENBROUCKE (Bel) Lars Michaelsen (Den) Nico Mattan (Bel)
1997 PHILIPPE GAUMONT (Fra) Andrei Tchmill (Ukr) Johan Capiot (Bel)
1996 TOM STEELS (Bel) Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Fabio Baldato (Ita)
1995 LARS MICHAELSEN (Den) Maurizzio Fondriest (Ita) Luc Roosen (Bel)
1994 WILFRIED PEETERS (Bel) Franco Ballerini (Ita) Johan Museeuw (Bel)
1993 MARIO CIPOLLINI (Ita) Eric Vanderaerden (Bel) Djamolidine Abdouzhaparov (Uzb)
1992 MARIO CIPOLLINI (Ita) (2) Johan Capiot (Bel) Adriano Baffi (Ita)
1991 DZAMOLIDINE ABDUZHAPAROV (Uzb) Mario Cipollini (Ita) Olaf Ludwig (Dui)
1990 HERMAN FRISON (Bel) Johan Museeuw (Bel) Franco Ballerini (Ita)
1989 GERRIT SOLLEVELD (Ned) Sean Yates (GBR) Rolf Sörensen (Den)
1988 SEAN KELLY (Irl) Gianni Bugno (Ita) Ron Kiefel (USA)
1987 TEUN VAN VLIET (Ned) Etienne De Wilde (Bel) Herman Frison (Bel)
1986 GUIDO BONTEMPI (Ita) Toine Poels (Ned) Jean-Marie Wampers (Bel)
1985 ERIC VANDERAERDEN (Bel) Phil Anderson (Aus) Rudy Dhaenens (Bel)
1984 GUIDO BONTEMPI (Ita) Eric Vanderaerden (Bel) Pierino Gavazzi (Ita)
1983 LEO VAN VLIET (Ned) Jan Raas (Ned) Frank Hoste (Bel)
1982 FRANK HOSTE (Bel) Erik Van Haerens (Bel) Fons De Wolf (Bel)
1981 JAN RAAS (Ned) Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) Fons De Wolf (Bel)
1980 HENK LUBBERDING (Ned) Fons De Wolf (Bel) Piet Van Katwijk (Ned)
1979 FRANCESCO MOSER (Ita) Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) Jan Raas (Ned)
1978 FERDI VANDENHAUTE (Bel) Walter Planckaert (Bel) Franscesco Moser (Ita)
1977 BERNARD HINAULT (Fra) Vittorio Algeri (Ita) Piet Van Katwijk (Ned)
1976 FREDDY MAERTENS (Bel) Rik van Linden (Bel) Frans Verbeeck (Bel)
1975 FREDDY MAERTENS (Bel) Frans Verbeeck (Bel) Rik van Linden
1974 BARRY HOBAN (GBR) Eddy Merckx (Bel) Roger De Vlaeminck
1973 EDDY MERCKX (Bel) Frans Verbeeck (Bel) Walter Planckaert (Bel)
1972 ROGER SWERTS (Bel) (1) Felice Gimondi (Ita) Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1971 GEORGES PINTENS (Bel) Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) Gerben Karstens (Ned)
1970 EDDY MERCKX (Bel) Willy Vekemans (Bel) Walter Godefroot (Bel)
1969 WILLY VEKEMANS (Bel) Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) Eddy De Vlaeminck (Bel)
1968 WALTER GODEFROOT (Bel) Willy Vanneste (Bel) Felice Gimondi (Ita)
1967 EDDY MERCKX (Bel) Jan Janssen (Ned) Edward Sels (Bel)
1966 HERMAN VAN SPRINGEL (Bel) Noël Van Clooster (Bel) Palle Lykke Jensen (Den)
1965 NOEL DE PAUW (Bel) Bernard Van De Kerckhove (Bel) Gilbert Desmet (Bel)
1964 JACQUES ANQUETIL (Fra) Yvon Molenaers (Bel) Rik Van Looy (Bel)
1963 BENONI BEHEYT (Bel) Tom Simpson (GBR) Michel van Aerde (Bel)
1962 RIK VAN LOOY (Bel) Frans Schoubben (Bel) Armand Desmet (Bel)
1961 FRANS AERENHOUTS (Bel) Raymond Impanis (Bel) Yvon Molenaers (Bel)
1960 FRANS AERENHOUTS (Bel) Frans De Mulder (Bel) Jozef Planckaert (Bel)
1959 LEON VAN DAELE (Bel) Joseph Hoevenaers (Bel) Jacques Anquetil (Fra)
1958 NOEL FORE (Bel) Rik Van Looy (Bel) Fred De Bruyne (Bel)
1957 RIK VAN LOOY(Bel) André Noyelle (Bel) Lucien Matthijs (Bel)
1956 RIK VAN LOOY (Bel) Richard Van Genechten (Bel) Désiré Keteleers (Bel)
1955 BRIEK SCHOTTE (Bel) Désiré Keteleers (Bel) Raymond Impanis (Bel)
1954 ROLF GRAF (Zwi) Ferdi Kübler (Zwi) Ernest Sterckx (Bel)
1953 RAYMOND IMPANIS (Bel) Wim Van Est (Ned) Germain Derijcke (Bel)
1952 RAYMOND IMPANIS (Bel) Maurice Blomme (Bel) Alois De Hertog (Bel)
1951 ANDRE ROSSEEL (Bel) Raffael Jonkheere (Bel) L. Van Brabant (Bel)
1950 BRIEK SCHOTTE (Bel) André Decin (Bel) André Declerck (Bel)
1949 MARCEL KINT (Bel) André Deklerck (Bel) André Decin (Bel)
1948 VALERE OLLIVIER (Bel) Albert Ramon (Bel) Hilaire Couveur (Bel)
1947 MAURICE DESIMPELAERE (Bel) R. Beyens (Bel) Lucien Vlaemynck (Bel)
1946 ERNEST STERCKX (Bel) Maurice Desimpelaere (Bel) Michel Remue (Bel)
1945 ROBERT VAN EENAEME (Bel) Maurice van Herzele (Bel) André Declerck (Bel)
1939 ANDRE DECLERCK (Bel) F. Van Hellemont (Bel) A. Van Laecke (Bel)
1938 HUBERT GODART (Bel) E. Delathouwer (Bel) F. Van Cauwenbergh (Bel)
1937 ROBERT VAN EENAEME (Bel) Albert Ritserveldt (Bel) A. Hallaert (Bel)
1936 ROBERT VAN EENAEME (Bel) Joseph Somers (Bel) G. Denys (Bel)
1935 ALBERT DEPREITRE (Bel) Jérôme Dufromont (Bel) L. Catrysse (Bel)
1934 GUSTAVE VAN BELLE (Bel) M. Vandenberghe (Bel) Jérôme Dufromont (Bel)

History of Ghent  

Ghent in 1775

Until the 13th century Ghent was the biggest city in Europe after Paris; it was bigger than London, Cologne or Moscow., and within the city walls lived up to 65,000 people. Today, the belfry and the towers of the Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas' Church are just a few examples of the skyline of the period.  During the late 16th and the 17th century the city was devastated because of the Religious wars.

At one time, Ghent was a Calvinistic republic, but eventually the Spanish army reinstated Catholicism. The wars ended the role of Ghent as a center of international importance. In the 18th and 19th century Ghent the textile industry flourished again in Ghent. Lieven Bauwens, who introduced the first mechanical weaving machine on the European continent after he smuggled the plans out of England in 1800.

Ghent was also the site of the signing of the Treaty of Ghent  which formally ended the "War of 1812" between Great Britain and the United States of America  After the battle of Waterloo , Ghent became a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands for 15 years. During this period, Ghent established its' University (1817) , and the Ghent-Terneuzen a new connection to the sea (1824–27). After the Belgian Revolution, the first Belgian trade-union originated in Ghent, and in 1913 there was a World exhibition, and in Saint-Pieters railway station, was completed in 1912.

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