|At the start 145 pro-racers, at the finishline one happy rider in person of Van Dijk and big disappointment in person of Rudie Kemna. The 35-year old sprinter of the Bankgiroloterijploeg came very close to his much desired jersey. Came close for the second time in a row, this time missed the national title with only half a millimeter. Kemna knew afterwards: "Coming out of the last corner, only a few hundreds of metres from the finishline I just did not have speed enough to beat Van Dijk."
Kemna's team Bankgiroloterij worked very hard during the race trying to place one of their riders in best position at the end. Rik Reinerink joined the first breakaway-group and gained a gap of over three minutes. In a later attempt youngster Thijs Al accompanied Karsten Kroon and Julien Smink, but this leading trio also did not make it to the end.
Rabobank decided that enough was enough and closed the gap, leaving fifteen riders of the team all up front in the last lap. All working to make Steven de Jongh succeed in a sprint. The in Belgium living rider is not able to pull it of and finishes 4th.
"I'm not exactly looking forward to race 200 kilometers in a hard race.", Erik Dekker thought out loud before the start. He uses this national championships too as trying to get as much racingkilometers in his legs as he will need to make a succes of this season so badly interrupted with the terrible fall in Milan-San Remo. He finishes the race, riding along together with his teammate and cyclocrosser Richard Groenendaal minutes after the firsts crossed the line. Dekker in his own way commented: "i sure hope a Dutch rider won...." One quick look before the race at the kissmisses made him decide: "For them I will try just a little bit harder...", showing he has not lost much in outsmarting.
In the breakaway-group with Karsten Kroon from Rabobank Lucky Bird Thijs Al thinks his teammate Kemna stands a better chance in the sprint and does not do much work.
The bunch is lead by his teammates of Bankgiroloterij and the gap is diminished really quickly.
While Rabobank did not have Maarten den Bakker at the start due to an injury, Bankgiroloterij had two extra supporters on their way back. Remco van der Ven (bad fall on the head an major concussion in the Tour of Belgium) and Vincent van der Kooy (knee injury and operation) did follow their colleagues hard work with great interest. Van der Ven started again doing some minor training. "I am glad I did not suffer from headaches after my concussion. After my fall in Belgium I staid in hospital for a day and was very glad teamdirector Johan Capiot brought me home on Sunday evening. Doctors forbid me to watch tele, but hey, I had to follow how my teammate Voskamp could win the Tour of Belgium, so I did ignore their advice and watched...
After some days of rest I showed some signs of addiction...I had to start riding the bike again. My body missed the trainign, the hard work and reacted with some signs. So I restarted and am improving every day. I hope to be back in racing end of July, but I try not to overdo anything or endanger my health."
During the race Remco van der Ven is joined by his teammate Vincent van der Kooy, who has had a knee-operation a few weeks ago. "I'm now back on the level of two hours trainin a day, two hours without pain. Doctors say with the operation and the removal of those little pieces in my knee the are allmost certain they solved my injury. Now all I have to do is regain my form. So I can together with Remco race in Japan in August, will be something like a broken-bone-flight, two injured people in a plane, right..., " Vincent laughs out loud. "Same as Remco I try not to overdo, but miss racing a lot. My goal is to be back in racing at the end of this month and hope to be able to race some bigger ones, otherwise this season is sort of over for me."
Another rider working his way up again is Rabobank youngster Bobbie Traksel. Enjoying highs with his win in Veenendaal-Veenendaal and his third place in Rund um den Flughafen Koeln-Bonn, he suffered some bad feelings after having to give up in the Tour of germany. He felt really dissapointed being not able to finish that race, but regained and started focussing in training to make the rest of tghe season a succes for him. Starting of at the nationals. "I'm feeling OK, feeling I regain my better level of form again. Have done some good weeks of training and now, after this championships, will race the Dutch national track championships (to build up speed...) and some other races like the Henk Vos Memorial at the 19th. of July and the SachsenTour at the end of this month."
Traksel keeps one eye at the world championships in October in Zolder, Belgium: "I checked out the course allready and am convinced they are not going to be able to leave me there behind in a race..."
When joing the three riders (Al, Kroon and Smink), Michael Boogerd is not happy. He shows some anger, discovering he is the only Rabobankrider present there. His anger reaches the ears of his teammates, who immediately show up in the lead. At that time it is clear no rider alone or a small group is able to stay away and all gamble on a mass-sprint. The next laps show a teamtrailperformance of Rabobank, with fifteen riders leading the bunch. Feeling improving by every kilometre he is racing, Erik Dekker is doing the major part of the work. At about 5 k. before the finishline he hands over to his teammates, working their but of for their sprinter Steven de Jongh.
With another one and a half k. to go, Rabobank loses the strings and Aart Vierhouten of Lotto takes over. He takes over at a moment which looks a bit early to launch his teammate Stefan van Dijk. But the red-haired sprinter has enough powered legs to beat his former teammate Kemna, leaving him with nothing but a silver medal. Sometimes its better to loose big than to not win so close....