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64th Dwars Door Vlaanderen - Live Coverage Part 1
 
By Bart Hazen
Date: 3/25/2009
64th Dwars Door Vlaanderen - Live Coverage Part 1
 

64th Dwars Door Vlaanderen - Live
A perfect Spring Day in Belgium with wind and rain... 9 riders have escaped the bonds of the peloton and are on the attack.

64th Dwars Door Vlaanderen - Across Flanders 200km
Welcome to our live coverage of the 64th edition of the Belgian semi-classic, Dwars door Vlaanderen. The first race in Belgian as preparation for the Tour de Flanders (April 5). After this race the riders will line-up for the E3 Prijs, Brabantse Pijl and the Driedaagse de Panne in Koksijde.

193 riders started the race this afternoon. There was one non-starter with Australian Zakkari Dempster (CC Bourgas). The big favorites of today's race are Tom Boonen and Last year's winner Sylvain Chavanel (both Quick Step). Chavanel seems to have a little cold so we will see how it has affects his shape.

The race was won by Sylvain Chavanel last year with Tom Boonen the victor in 2007; both are on the start list for the UCI Europe tour event; only this year the duo are on the Quick Step team together, led by D.S. Wilfried Peeters. Also at the start are 2006 winner Frederik Veuchelen on the new team Vacansoleil and  Katusha's Robbie McEwen 2003 winner. o with,Niki Eckhout and Baden Cooke we have six former winners in the race today

Other favorites or semi favorites for today's race are Stijn Devolder (Quick Step), Nick Nuyens (Rabobank), Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank), Martin Elmiger (Ag2r), Greg van Avermaet (Silence), Jurgen Roelandts (Silence), Leif Hoste (Silence), Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank), Bernhard Eisel (Columbia), Filippo Pozzato, Robbie McEwen and Gert Steegmans (Katusha), Roger Hammond, Heinrich Haussler, Jeremy Hunt and Andreas Klier (Cervelo) and Nico Eeckhout (An Post-Sean Kelly).

The first attack of the day came from Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil) and Matthias Frank (BMC). The two didn't get much space and were reeled in very fast. The pace in the beginning of the race was very high.

The next attack came from thirteen riders namely Kevin Van Impe (Quick-Step), Sebastian Lang (Silence-Lotto), Bernhard Eisel, Frantisek Rabon (Columbia), Arthur Gajek (Milram), Matthew Hayman, Jos Van Emden (Rabobank), Andreas Klier (Cervélo), Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil), Steve Houanard (Skil), Martin Kohler (BMC), Niko Eeckhout (Sean Kelly) and Jean Zen (Palmans). With 150 km to go their gap was already up to 35 seconds.

With 130 km to go the gap is still around the 30 seconds. In front Hayman had to drop after a flat tire. The race is threatened by lots of rain, rain and rain. It is a tough day in the saddle for the guys. In the final the riders have to do two local laps of 15 km with in each lap the climb of the Holsberg.

We have now 9 leaders. Three more riders have been dropped with Sebastian Lang (Mechanical), Jean Zen and Martin Kohler The nine have a lead of 2.09 on the split bunch with 79 km to go; the weather is terrible with rain and wind. Welcome to another perfect Spring day in Belgium.  We reported earlier the riders did the Oude Kwaremont already but they will enter that climb in 6km

So recapping the situation: we have nine leaders with Kevin Van Impe (Quick-Step), Bernhard Eisel, Frantisek Rabon (Columbia), Arthur Gajek (Milram), Jos Van Emden (Rabobank), Andreas Klier (Cervélo), Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil), Steve Houanard (Skil) and Nico Eeckhout (An Post)

The bunch at 2.11as the several bunches are regrouping. Belgian favorite Greg van Avermaet had a mechanical on one of the previous climbs and is still chasing. He is almost back in the bunch with the help of Sebastian Lang who was part of the break initially Gert Steegmans is in Van Avermaet his wheel. Steegmans is struggling this year to find his former excellent form. Kurt Asle Arvesen has not his best day either as he just dropped off the bunch

74 km to go the gap 1:59 - At the front of the bunch we see Rabobank and Quick Step. Van Avermaet , Steegmans, Elmiger and some others are now back in the bunch; they catch on and a flat tire for another Silence rider now Staf Scheirlinckx off the back.

it seems the devil is playing with the Belgian team. They have a world class team on paper but the team isn't in the flow yet and haven't had  a victory this season. and that's got to be nerving them.

70 km to go and the gap of the nine down to 1:39 The break is now entering the Oude Kwaremont; the climb is 1,1 km long in distance and has parts of 11% - Frantisek Rabon, Steve Houanard and another rider are dropping off the break; Jens Mouris slips off the back of the break too.

Quick Step is increasing the pace in the bunch with Stijn Devolder. the break is now on the Kalkhoveberg; Devolder, Chavanel and Marcus Burghardt in the chase now. The break has 48 seconds on the group Devolder, Matti Breschel just dropped off the back of the peloton. More riders are bridging up to the group Devolder, the gap is down to 38 seconds

They are now entering the Paterberg, Houanard and Mouris are back in the break after they were dropped on the Kwaremont - Six chasers with Devolder, Boonen, Chavanel, Roelandts, Haussler and Burghardt. It's so wet that some riders have to walk on the cobbles of the Paterberg. It is a "heroic" day... the stuff of legends out there today.

1503 CEST - Leif Hoste is trying to bridge across to the chase group Devolder, Boonen, no easy trick. Van Impe, Eisel, Gajek, Klier and Eeckhout are the riders remaining in the break. Rabobank was impressive towards the Kwaremont but they are nowhere at the moment. The gap of the five leaders on the chasers with Boonen is 19 seconds.

60 km to go - a bunch led by Rabobank is following at about 35 seconds from the break. The break and the group Boonen is together, we have a big break now:

The break is Kevin Van Impe (Quick-Step), Bernhard Eisel (Columbia), Arthur Gajek (Milram), Jos Van Emden (Rabobank), Andreas Klier (Cervélo), Jens Mouris (Vacansoleil), Steve Houanard (Skil), Nico Eeckhout (An Post), Stijn Devolder, Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Jurgen Roelandts (Silence), Marcus Burghardt (Columbia) and Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo)  The 14 leaders have a lead of 40 seconds on the chasing bunch.

1512 CEST - the gap down to 32 seconds, The 14 raiders are now entering the Cote de Trieu. Houanard and Mouris are dropping off the break. Logical as the two have already dropped a few times on the previous climbs. The bunch is coming closer with the work of Rabobank and Vacansoleil - 24 seconds the gap. Gajek off the back of the break too.

53 km to go - Nick Nuyens on the counter attack, 20 seconds to bridge for the Rabo Belgian. 11 leaders left in front , at 35 seconds we have Nuyens and a 40 seconds the first part of the bunch or what's left of it at this point. It looks absolutely miserable out there with the wind and rain. Nuyens has been caught, Rabobank is still at the front pounding out the chase.

1523 CEST - Gap 45 seconds with 48 km to go. the riders are now on the tree lined climb Het Vossenhol. Quick Step has four riders in the break and are dominating the race; Another Quick Step rider Kevin de Weert is perfectly controlling the chase to react on each counter attack. I think the winner of the 2009 Dwars door Vlaanderen is one of the 11 in front.

With Boonen, Chavanel and Eeckhout we have three former winners in front; and all dangerous for this years win. What can Columbia do with fastmen Eisel and classic specialist Marcus "the cooper" Burghardt? Cervelo can count on their man in form, Heinrich Haussler. He is eager to win after losing Milano-SanRemo by a few millimeters. Belgian champion Jurgen Roelandts is fast too, he can break the ice for Silence/Lotto  and could win today, it would be the first season win for the team then.

1535 CEST - Rabobank and Vacansoleil are leading the chase in the bunch now.

Live Coverage continues in Part 2

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