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E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Live Coverage Part 1
By Bart Hazen
Date: 3/28/2009
E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Live Coverage Part 1

E3 Prijs Vlaanderen - Live Coverage
Four ecapees up the road... the peloton isn't focused on the chase as 5 more counter the move to bridge

Welcome to the 52th edition of the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen. Another preparation race for the big clash next Sunday in the battle of Flanders, the Ronde van Vlaanderen. The race is 208 km long in distance and among the starters we have the winner of 2008 Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Saxobank) and the winner of the four editions before that Tom Boonen (Quick Step).

192 riders started in the early afternoon in Harelbeke. Daniele Righi (Lampre) and Tim Meeusen (Revor) didn't start. The first attack came after seven kilometers with Steve Chainel (Bbox), David Boucher (Landbouwkrediet), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and Jean Zen (Palmans).

After 20 km of racing the four leaders have a gap of 27 seconds on the first chaser Vytautas Kaupas (Revor) and 57 seconds on the bunch. Absentees in the race due to sickness, injuries etc. are World Champion Alessandro Ballan, Fabian Cancellara, Oscar Freire and Stuart O'Grady to name a few.

With 180 km to go the break of four has increased their gap to two minutes. Vytautas Kaupas is riding in no-mens land between the escapees and the bunch and is waiting for the bunch. The weather conditions are changing at the start the riders had sunny weather while at the moment they are threatened by hail and rain. With 170 km to go the gap is up to four minutes already.

The peloton lets  the break ride for without putting in much of a chase at the moment. The gap is up to seven minutes as they have covered the first 50 km of the race. After the cobblestone section of the Holle Weg the gap of the break is down to 6.47 coming from 7.20.The weather seems to become more badly with lots of wind coming up and dark clouds gathering together above the field. Due to the wind the bunch has split into three parts. A few kilometers later the bunch was regrouped.

With 132 km five riders are going on the counter attack for the four in front. The chasers are Matthew Goss (Team Saxo Bank), Angelo Furlan (Lampre - N.G.C.), Paul Voss (Team Milram), Mathew Hayman (Rabobank) and Joost Posthuma (Rabobank). With two riders from Rabobank in the chase group I'll think it's time for Quick Step and Silence-Lotto to hunt them down. In the meantime the bunch as split once again and the two bunches are seperated by twenty seconds.

124 km to go. The five chasers are reeled in by the bunch that once again has regrouped. The four leaders Steve Chainel (Bbox), David Boucher (Landbouwkrediet), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil) and Jean Zen (Palmans) are still seven minutes ahead.

113 km to go. The gap is still 6.30 for the four but the climbing zone is yet to come.

We joint the race live with 97 km to go,  the gap of Steve Chainel, David Boucher, Jean Zen and Lieuwe Westra is down to 4.17the first climbs still to come 12 climbs in total.  the gap is down to 4.00 with some counter attacks in the bunch.

The weather is still miserable with Rabobank coming to the front of the bunch.

Silence-Lotto is eager to have a good result today, as there season account is still not opened. The gap falls to 3.40 due to a counter attack of Aart Vierhouten (Vacansoleil).

1448 CEST - 90 km to go. the favorites for today are the same as in dwars door vlaanderen with Boonen, Devolder, Chavanel, Haussler, Klier, Hoste, Van Avermaet, Flecha, Nuyens and that the other classicsmen; we expect a battle of the giants between Boonen and Haussler.

1453 CEST - The gap is again up to 4.08. The quartet in  front to recap: Lieuwe Westra, Jean Zen, Steve Chainel and David Boucher show no signs of weakening.

The break has started the first climb of the day the La Houppe. Lieuwe Westra, the young Dutch rider and neo pro, is the big motor in the break. At the  front of the bunch which is not pushing it by the way,  we have Silence-Lotto, Columbia and Cervelo - Sebastian Lang of Lotto is leading the pace with Belgian Champion Jurgen Roelandst and Columbia's Marcel Sieberg following.

1502 CEST - 80 km to go: the gap 4:30, In front Chainel has problems on a cobblestone section. In the bunch a counter attack of Robbie McEwen (Katusha) and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) Chainel has dropped by his break mates.  Katusha hopes for Ivanov and Pozzato. Gert Steegmans isn't in good shape for the moment as he already dropped off the back of the bunch

75 km to go. McEwen and Hoogerland are 3.54 behind en the bunch 4.23 behind. Tom Boonen shares the record 4 wins with Cycling Legend Rik Van Looy one of the top classics men and sprinters of his day. Boonen will want the win after missing it last year, to  take the record.

1517 CEST - The bunch is still easy going, the lull before the for the storm I think... The riders are now on the Berg Stene. at least the bunch, the break is already a climb further on...  We have 70 km to go, in the back of the bunch more and more riders are dropping off.  Cervelo and Q-Step coming to the front;  Worlds Bronze medal Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) in front.

Our trio, Westra, Boucher and Zen the three escapees are now on the Boigneberg. The rain has topped, but the riders are making their way into a stiff wind over wet roads. Cervelo has taken the front and is setting  the pace.

Robbie McEwen and Johnny Hoogerland are still the two attackers trying to bridge to the leaders up front; no gap updates at the moment. 25 year old Hoogerland won the Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen a few weeks ago and had a strong U23 career.

The big teams are onfront now with Quick Step, Cervelo and Columbia-Highroad mixing it up. For the latter team we have team captains Marcus Burghardt and George Hincapie. The peloton is 5.15 down on the break. Flat tyre for Kasper Klostergaard (Saxo Bank).  Cervelo has a very strong team up there with Haussler, Hammond, Klier, Hushovd, Hunt and Roulston to name a few; in front of the bunch we see Klier and Roulston together with two riders of Quick Step.

1529 CEST - The break is now on the Eikenberg. Cervelo takes the lead with five riders now we see Jeremy Hunt, Hayden Roulston, Daniel Lloyd, Andreas Klier and Gabriel Rasch; Thor Hushovd and Heinrich Haussler are up there too. It's a sprint to the Eikenberg, Rabobank up there too. the pace goes up on the Eikenberg with Klier and Roulston doing the work Juan Antonio Flecha in third position now.

60 km to go, Devolder in the counter attack now with Juan Antonio Flecha and a Cervelo in his wheel, t. he others are back but Stijn is hammering his pedals. The Cervelo guy was new Papa Thor Hushovd - the gap down to 4.44.

The break is on the Stationsberg now. 660m with an average of 4,5 %... No news on McEwen and Hoogerland. In the peloton Maarten Tjallingii of Rabobank on the front setting the pace now. Time for the teams to start closing this gap. Again bad luck for Lotto. Flat tire for Roy Sentjens, this is no time for a flat tire. Flat tire in front for

Liquigas comes the front of affairs now with Italian Manuel Quinziato; Quinziato loves Belgium and looks to feel strong for the race today. The bunch has split into two parts again on the Stationsberg.  David Boucher, the bunch is about 40-50 riders strong.

Last years winner Kurt Asle Arvesen isnt in good shape as he rides in the second bunch the gap of the break is down to 4.00 on the bunch as the brave trio climbs Taaienberg a cobblestone climb of 500 meter and very steep. In the past the climb was always the point for Boonen to attack. In most of the the editions Boonen won, it came after a break with another companion; once with Klier, once with Cancellara and also once with Ballan... its a race that always pulls in the big guns.

1552 CEST - gap down to 3.40, Rabobank setting the pace now: Langeveld, Nuyens and Flecha hammering away; bad moment for Columbia with a flat for Burghardt just before the Taaienberg. Burghardt gets a wheel of Marcel Sieberg.

Its Boonen time as predicted - Boonen attacks, Cervelo chasing Boonen is alone and nobody following.. Boonen decides not to go solo and waits. He now gets the company of Flecha and a Cervelo rider. It's Thor Hushovd, Boonen, Flecha and Hushovd in the chase for the leaders; the bunch is not far behind. A chase group of at least about 15 riders are coming. The gap down to 3.10

In the meantime Boucher is back in front with Westra and Zen after his flat. News on McEwen and Hoogerland they are now caught by the Boonen group; the Boonen group is now about 15-20 riders strong. Correction, McEwen and Hoogerland not caught yet but about to get caught. More and more riders are rejoining the group Boonen, about 40 riders again. McEwen is caught. Hoogerland now gets company of Niki Terpstra (Milram).

In the Settimana Ciclista Internazionele Silence-Lotto opened its season account. Cadel Evans wins the final stage ahead of Cunego and Visconti. Cunego is the final winner.

50 km to go - gap 3:00. Terpstra and Hoogerland caught. so the situation Jean Zen, Lieuwe Westra and David Boucher in front with 3.00 on a large bunch. Attack of Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) gap down to 2.50

Manuel Quinziato in the counter too but he can't close down on Flecha They are now on the Oude Kruiskens another cobble climb Lieuwe Westra is the strongest in front as he gets rid of Boucher and Zen - Boucher and Zen are back with Westra but it doesnt go smoothly. gap down to 2.18 on Flecha

Our live coverage continues in Part 2

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