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69th Ghent-Wevelgem Live Coverage
By Fabio
Date: 4/11/2007
69th Ghent-Wevelgem Live Coverage

A journey of 207 km. through streets cobbled and narrow in the North of Belgium. And a good opportunity for sprinters to make a new addition to their palmares.

Hi everyone, welcome to our live coverage of the 2007 Ghent-Wevelgem, a well-known single-day Classic that reaches its 69th edition today. The race 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, Ghent-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. You can read more about the event, the current edition and the town of Ghent, in our 69th Gent-Wevelgem Preview by Alicia Hopkins. The race Start List can be found HERE.

1330 CEST We join the race in progress with three riders in the breakaway: Florent Brard (Fra - Caisse d'Epargne), Roger Hammond (GBR - T-Mobile Team) and Christophe Mengin (Fra - Française Des Jeux) rode clear of the pack about 38 km. into the race and quickly opened up a solid gap over the peloton. The two Frenchmen and the Brit were leading the bunch by a good 07 minutes and 25 seconds at the latest time check.

1344 CEST The three frontrunners are making further, significant gains over the bunch, as their lead ballooned to 09'05" by the next time check (km. 85 / 122k to go). Still, the finishing line is so far away, and the sprinter's teams will have all the time they need to put in a serious chase of Hammond, Brard and Mengin. Unfortunately (for him) Daniele Bennati wouldn't take advantage of any successful chase of the escapees: the Lampre-Fondital sprinting sensation from Italy, who taught AleJet Petacchi a few lessons in early season races, is unfit and consequently didn't take the start line today. The Chinese rider Fang Xu was at the start line instead, but his adventure on GW roads didn't last longer than 38 kilometres: the man fell at km. 20, and the consequences of such accident forced him to drop out of the race a few km. later.

1354 CEST 100 km. gone / 107 km to go, and Hammond/Mengin/Brard's advantage over the field has gone up to an impressive eleven minutes.

1408 CEST The peloton finally reacted and started their pursuit of the lead trio. Chasing efforts quickly began to bear fruit as the gap to Hammond, Mengin and Brard dropped to 09'50" by the km. 109 check (e.g. with 98k left).

1422 CEST We get back to Belgian roads, where the pack is making more and more gains on Hammond, Brard and Mengin, whose advantage got cut down to 08'45" in the last ten kilometres. The finishing line is 88 km. away for the three fugitives.

1433 CEST Back to Belgium again, with 79k of the Ghent-Welvelgem race yet to be covered. Christophe Mengin, Florent Brard and Roger Hammond are working well with each other, but their advantage over the (now) hard chasing field dropped to under seven minutes. It's 05'45" at the moment. No particular teams have taken over the chase though, as we see jerseys from many a good different squads taking turns at the front of the pack.

1447 CEST Mission accomplished: a team-mate of his easily drove Thor Hushovd back to the wheels of the field. The gap stays around five minutes and 45 seconds with 68 kilometres left. The 29 year old from Grimstad, Norway defends his victory of last year at the race today fans will be watching to see if Thor can create the same thunder he did last year at the finish.

1452 CEST Predictor-Lotto and Astana still rule the chase group at Gent-Wevelgem. They brought the gap to Brard, Mengin and Hammond, who are taking in the Rodelberg "wall", further down to five minutes and as many seconds at the 65 km-to-go check. In the meantime a couple more riders punctured, and amongst them were Sven Krauss of the Gerolsteiner team and France's Engoulvent. And - that's bad news for Discovery Channel - their appointed sprinter Tomas Vaitkus reportedly pulled out of the race. Even worse news came for Servais Knaven of T-Mobile, that badly hit the tarmac a while ago.

1500 CEST 60 km to go at Ghent-Wevelgem: frontrunners Florent Brard (Fra - Caisse d'Epargne), Roger Hammond (GBR - T-Mobile Team) and Christophe Mengin (Fra - Française Des Jeux) reached Loker town, but had their lead over the peloton cut down to 04'25".

1504 CEST OOooooops, another rider hit the tarmac. Well, in fact he fell on the grass alongside the road. It's the Danish Champion Allan Johansen of Team CSC. Brard, Mengin and Hammond are climbing the cobbled Kemmel for the first time. Their advantage over the field went under the four-minute mark with 56 left. And in the meantime, Haussler of Gerolsteiner added his name to the list of riders that fell in the last few minutes.

1508 CEST The peloton also hit the cobbled roads of the Kemmelberg. They're about to make it to the top of such Muur, trailing the lead trio by 03 minutes and 40 seconds with 55k to go for the breakaway. The race drew a huge number of Belgian (just Belgian?) fans atop the ascent. A rider of the team "spectacularly" fell in the cobbled descent, he's still on the ground, thankfully no other riders coming ran over him. But unfortunately the guy is bleeding. The man is reportedly Jimmy Casper. And ... even more riders just fell there: Cretskens, Haussler (again), Lotto's De Woucht. Also Tyler Farrar did; the Cofidis youngster from the U.S. has got a bleeding knee.

1516 CEST The peloton is now recovering from the "drama" we just got while coming down the Kemmelberg. The combination of pile-ups in the descent and some attacks splintered the bunch. Brard, Mengin and Hammond lead their nearest chasers by 03'13" with the finish line fifty kilometres away. Tom Boonen has lost two precious team-mates already: Kevin Hulsmans, that pulled out early into the race, and Wilfried Cretskens, one of the (main) victims of the Kemmelberg downhill drama.

1526 CEST At Ghent-Wevelgem a nine-strong first chase group formed containing, amongst others, Filippo Pozzato, Oscar Freire, Frederic Guesdon and Kevin Van Impe. Their gap to the three-man breakaway is a good 02'10" with 44k to go. Muravyev (Kaz - Astana) and Kopp (Ger - Gerolsteiner) also rode away from the main peloton and set off in pursuit of the first chase group.

1535 CEST Muravyev and Kopp weren't given green light from the field for a long time; the two guys are about to be pulled back into the bunch. The Kazakh gave up first, while the waterboy from Germany is getting some more TV exposure. Brard, Hammond and Mengin hold onto a lead of some two mins. as they hit the Kemmelberg cobbled roads for the second time with 38 km to go. Guesdon punctured.

1537 CEST It looks Like Florent Brard had a hard time staying with his two breakaway companions on the Kemmelberg, whose slopes now welcome the peloton. Kopp has been caught too, and before him was also the Freire/Pozzato/Van Impe group of course.

1540 CEST AAARGH ... some more riders fell in the cobbled descent, basically similar things occurred the first time the pack made it to the Kammelberg descent. It sounds like a war bulletin today. Fabio Sacchi (Milram) was one of the victims of this new dramatic situation. The Italian might have even broken his collarbone.

1545 CEST 32k to go - we have three guys in the lead, a new first chase group with Fran Ventoso (Saunier) and Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) trailing by 01'15" and the splintered peloton some 20 seconds behind. Well, what's left of the bunch. In fact it's the "war bulletins" that are stealing the spotlight in this race. And thankfully the cobbled roads are not that wet today, or it could be far worse ...

1548 CEST Injured riders from the "second drama" at the Kemmelberg are being assisted, while a dozen more guys join Ventoso and the German in the first chase group. More names as soon as we get them ...

Brard, Mengin and Hammond hold a slender lead of 54 secs with 28k to go. Their adventure is going to come to an end soon.

1553 CEST Back to Belgium: the peloton chased down the first chasers, but Freire, Ventoso and Burghardt attacked again. The three leaders are just twenty secs ahead. Btw, also Alessandro Petacchi added his name to the list of Ghent-Wevelgem's DNFers.

1554 CEST MENGIN, BRARD and HAMMOND were caught by the other trio featuring FREIRE, VENTOSO and BURGHARDT. We got six men in the lead with 25k to go. But the Lotto-led peloton is on their heels, chasing hard and trailing the front sextet by just 15 seconds.

1558 CEST - And the gap is coming down again: ten seconds with 24 kilometres remaining, despite some cooperation inside the breakaway group, But Brard, Hammond and Mengin can't be of much help anymore after all efforts they've sustained thus far, you know.

Another race going today is the Circuit de la Sarthe, which just finished the second stage. The report is here.

1602 CEST - And back to Belgium, where the chase group is not making gains on the 6-man front group. Quite the opposite we'd dare to say, with Francisco José Ventoso (Spa - Saunier Duval-Prodir), Oscar Freire (Spa - Rabobank), Marcus Burghardt (Ger - T-Mobile Team), Christophe Mengin (Fra - Française Des Jeux) Roger Hammond (GBR - T-Mobile Team) and Florent Brard (Fra - Caisse D'Epargne) keeping a 15-second lead with 18k to go.

To nobody's surprise, it's Tom Boonen's Quickstep teammates that are leading the chase. A bit more surprising is the fact that all six frontrunners look like they have legs still good enough to work well together. And to bring the advantage up to a good 25"!

1608 CEST - Florent Brard just couldn't stay clear any longer. The Frenchman got dropped and the breakaway is currently down to five men only. Still, the gap doesn't stop growing: it was up to 31 seconds with the finish line 15 kilometres away.

1612 CEST And in Belgium ... the gap is going up and up again: despite efforts from QuickStep Freire, Ventoso, Burghardt ("bronze medallist" at RVV this past Sunday), Hammond and Mengin extended their advantage to FIFTY-ONE seconds 11 km from the line.

1615 CEST - Still 51 seconds, but one thousand metres less to be covered; just 10k to go now. And Freire's chances to add Ghent-Wevelgem to the list of his triumphal riders are getting more solid. Even if there's a certain Fabian Cancellara driving the chase now ...

1617 CEST - Efforts from the Swiss time machine to turn back the clock are having some impact, as the gap finally started to come down: 44 seconds with 8 km to go. Will it prove enough for the Fab Five up front to succeed?

1619 CEST - A few waterboys joined Cancellara and some Quick Step guy at the front of the peloton. Freire, Ventoso, Burghardt, Hammond and Mengin saw their lead cut down to a mere 35 seconds with the line "only" 6,000 metres away.

1621 CEST - But wait ... the Swiss Time Machine has stopped working, and the gap immediately got back to its growing antics: 41 seconds with 4.5k to go!

1622 CEST - Now there's just 4 km left. Chances for the Fab Five to make it to the line are growing exponentially! And in a short time we might even see someone from the breakaway trying to ride clear of Freire.

1625 CEST - 2,000 metres to go. The gap is 24". Barring a catastrophe the pack is not going to catch them at all! That's for sure now.

1626 CEST - Burghardt attacks the breakaway. Ventoso follows his move, but not enough. The German has made the gap!

1627 CEST - Freire takes over the chase to Burghardt, but Hammond sits on his wheel. Good teamwork from T-Mobile. 100M to go ...50m


Hammond second!
What a day for the Magenta guys. Freire third, Ventoso 4th, Mengin in 5th place! And Robbie McEwen winning the bunch sprint for sixth place at some ten seconds. But we suppose the Aussie is not that satisfied with such a "victory".

1630 CEST - Burghardt made a smart and timely move in the last few hundred metres. He attacked from behind, Ventoso proved incapable of covering his move and when Freire set off in pursuit, it was just too late ... To add insult to injury (for the opposition), Roger Hammond sealed his IMMENSE ride today by pipping Freire on the line for second place. The MSR winner had to be content with the lowest step of the podium.

1637 CEST - Here's the Top 10 Results of the 2007 Ghent-Wevelgem:


That's all for our Ghent-Wevelgem live coverage. But our live tickers continue with the Tour of the Basque Country: we'll be following the last part of today's stage in a moment.

Detailed results will follow. We hope you enjoyed our coverage. Thanks for tuning in.

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