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
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
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
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 Unibet.com 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
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
AND BURGHARDT WINS!!
MAAAAAAAAAARCUS BURGHARDT TOOK FIRST!
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
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:
1. MARCUS BURGHARDT (GER)
2. ROGER HAMMOND (GBR)
3. OSCAR FREIRE GOMEZ (SPA)
4. FRANCISCO VENTOSO (SPA)
5. CHRISTOPHE MENGIN (FRA)
6. ROBBIE MCEWEN (AUS)
7. MAX VAN HEESWIJK (HOL)
8. BADEN COOKE (AUS)
9. JOSE' JOAQUIN ROJAS (SPA)
10. ALEXANDRE USOV (BLR)
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.