To go forward you must know where you have been.
Race notes and updated comments from the race ten years ago, a look at the career of Wilfried Nelissen and what was George Hincapie doing then?
Omloop Het Volk 1993
Snow has twice been the cause of the cancellation of the race. In 1960 the weather probably denied the tragic figure of Seamus Elliot of taking his second victory, and in 1986 Eddy Planckaert was denied a possible hat trick of victories due to blizzard conditions.
Snow was blowing in the strong winds as the riders signed on. Although the expected blizzard did not take place the strong wind did play its role in the race.
Duclos-Lasalle (Z team), Brochard (Castorama), Nico Verhoeven (Histor), Skibby (TVM) and Edwig van Hooydonck (WordPerfect) made the move of the day, and started to gain ground on the peloton.
Their lead rose to around a minute and alarm bells started ringing in the peloton to see such a group pulling away.
The GB/MG team started chasing with Johan Museeuw doing great turns at the front, clearly working hard for Mario Cipollini.
Such is the nature of racing that as soon as the GB boys had pulled back the break, Peter Post’s Histor team , took over at the front. With the Histor team controlling the race for Wilfried Nelissen it was a little surprising to see Ekimov (Histor) try a long range solo effort. Museeuw (GB/MG), despite his earlier efforts, was the first to respond and closed down the errant Russian
Everything now seemed set for a sprint finish and the peloton was strung out in a long line. The TVM boys were working for last year's winner Capiot, WordPerfect, VanderAerden, Histor were well represented and Casorama were also near the front.
A TV motorcycle then threw the race into chaos!
Whilst filming the string of riders near the front a TV motorbike crashed bringing down Ekimov and Marc Madiot, and throwing the sprinters well laid plans into confusion. Museeuw, Nelissen, Sergeant (Histor) and Delion (Castorama) and Capiot were at the head of affairs and avoided the carnage behind and the five men seemed to have been gifted the race winning move.
However, Nelissen had been forced to change bikes after a fall on the Muur van Geraardsbergen earlier in the race. He did not fancy sprinting on an unfamiliar bike (not to mention the presence of Museeuw and Capiot amongst the five men) and while the other 4 were still evaluating the situation Nelisson took off down the road.
Behind the peloton had quickly reorganised and chased back ,capturing the 4 escapees. Wilfried Nelissen, however, managed to stay away (just) and Olaf Ludwig took second place ahead of VanderAerden.
1. Wilfried Nelissen (Histor,) 5h 11'00" (avg. 38.91 km/h)
2. Olaf Ludwig (Telekom,) 8"
3. Eric VanderAerden (Wordperfect,) st
4. Mario Declercq (Lotto,) st
5. Johan Capiot (TVM,) st
6. Mario Cipollini (GM/MG,) st
7. Frankie Andreu (Motorola,) st
8. Kai Hundertmarck (Motorola,) st
9. Laurent Brochard (Castorama,) st
10. Thierry Gouvenou (Gan,) st
Five years Later
27.06.98 - The Belgian Wilfried Nelissen (Palmans) has retired from cycling.
Nelissen suffered a dreadful accident two years ago during the Gent Wevelgem race in April 1996. Nelissen apparently crashed alone into an arrangement of concrete bollards at the roadside, fracturing his femur and nose, and double fracturing his tibia. The injuries were so severe that the Lotto sprinter, currently the Belgian road champion, lost two litres of blood and underwent emergency surgery at Ghent University.
From the consequences of these serious injuries, Nelissen suffers still today and came to the conviction that he would never be competitive on a professional level again.
The career of Nelissen is one of the more tragic in cycle racing history.
In 1991 "Willie" began his professional career at the Weinmann team. He soon became one of the fastest men around. 1993 and 1994 he won the Omloop Het Volk and in 1994 and 1995 he was Belgian National Road champion. 1993 he won the 2nd stage of the Tour de France into Vannes and wore the yellow jersey for three days.
Omloop Het Volk / Kuurne Brussels Kuurne 1994
The Motorola Report
Het Volk, the season opener in Belgium, rarely escapes the clutches of a Belgian winner and this year proved no exception. Last year's winner Wilfried Nelissen held off a heated challenge from Djamolodine Abdoujaparov over the
last few meters to win.
So heated was the Uzbeks challenge that it warranted his disqualification from
the race. He had tried to pin the little Belgian sprinter against the barriers
in the finishing straight, which is a highly illegal and dangerous move.
Motorola may have a good new find in George Hincapie, the 20 year New Yorker,
who was at the head of affairs for most of the race until there was a general
regrouping in the closing kilometers.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne
Sunday's race finished as if by tradition with a pack sprint which went to
popular Belgian Johan Museeuw. Once again Hincapie was a major animator of the
race and still managed to take thirteenth place. On a sadder note Nelissen who
had won the previous day crashed heavily and fractured his collar bone.
..... Paul Sherwen reporting
Het Volk (Gent-Gent) 1994
1st Wilfried Nelissen Novemail Belgium 4hr 48'00"
2nd Frederic Moncassin WordPerfect France s.t.
3rd Andreas Kappes Trident Germany s.t.
4th Johan Museeuw GB MG Boys Belgium s.t.
21st George Hinacpie Motorola USA s.t.
Kuurne Brussels Kuurne
1st Johan Museeuw GB MG Boys Belgium 5hr 02'20"
2nd Johan Capiot TVM Belgium s.t.
3rd Olaf Ludwig Telekom Germany s.t.
13th George Hinacpie Motorola USA s.t.
So while the young George Hincapie made a remarkable debut onto the European scene Wilfried Nelissen again found success immediately followed by injury.
Still Wilfried Nelissen made it to the Tour de France. His appearance in the race would become one of the most famous tv clips of the Tour de France's history.
The mass sprint finish in Armentieres saw a devastating crash. A policeman stepped out from the barriers to take a photo - Nelisson crashed into him with horrific results, especially for Laurent Jalabert who never contested a massed sprint again in his career.
The Reuters News Report
ARMENTIERES, France, July 3 (Reuter) - A row erupted between local officials and Tour de France directors after a spectacular crash involving a policeman in which two riders were badly injured at the finish of the first
stage on Sunday.
Belgian Wilfried Nelissen was taken to hospital with concussion after crashing into a policeman during a high-speed sprint just 50 metres from the finish in the Northern town of Armentieres.
About 10 riders fell, including Frenchman Laurent Jalabert, who was taken to hospital with head injuries, broken teeth and possible facial bone fractures,
medical sources said.
"The policeman had his hand over his eyes, possibly taking a picture," said Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc. "Nelissen was not looking but he apparently did not make a mistake. It was the policeman's behaviour which
caused the crash."
The policeman was standing beside a barrier and facing the riders when Nelissen, who was in a fast sprint with his head down, struck him at about 65 kmph (40 mph).
"Police should stand between the barriers and he was in the wrong place," Leblanc said.
On the comeback trail, with a Saint Christopher medal firmly affixed to his bike, Nelison seemed to be well on the mend.
Then that dreadful accident in the Ghent Wevelgem race in 1996.
His wife was distraught...
Anja was in tears after seeing her husband in
hospital. "As far as I'm concerned," she said, "he should never get back on a bike again. If he told me that he was going to stop cycling, I'd be happy. I admit that there are crashes in this sport but why is he so often among the victims? And why is it so serious each time?"
Anja continued: "Wilfried said he wanted to stop completely, but Walter [Planckaert, his former directeur sportif] convinced him he shouldn't decide so quickly. Wilfried [now says he] would still like to take his
chance on another season."
Nelissen’s determination to continue saw him join the small Palmans team.
Things did not go well -
An early report stated - “He is finding training on his own extremely hard but has managed a few outings, but
rarely more than 40km. Recently Nelissen, who now rides for the small
Belgian Palmans team, was encouraged by his friend Johan Capiot to go
out training wiith him on their native Limburg roads, but soon found
himself dropped by the TVM rider.”
Never able to recover from his injuries Wilfried Nelissen will be forever remembered for the crash into Armentieres in the Tour de France.
A surprising number of riders are still mentioned in this article are active in the peloton -
Laurent Brochard - now riding for AG2R - won the Tour of Poland last year - will win a race or two this year.
Johan Museeuw - now a Lion - often forgotten that he once rode with Cipo...
Mario Cipollini - a cub with Museeuw in 1993 - another lion 2003!
Ekimov - still riding up near the front - remarkable -
Kai Hundertmarck 10 victories and a solid rider for Telekom since 1995 -
George Hincapie “Motorola may have a good new find in 20 year old George Hincapie” --Paul Sherwin 1994.