Omloop Het Volk - 2003
By Karen Lambrecht and Podofdonny
On the Eikenberg
March 1st - the opening race of the Belgian cycling season: the Omloop Het Volk. For a lot of Belgian racers it’s the first important race on their agenda. First, here’s some practical information for those who want to visit the race:
For the first time, the start of the Omloop het Volk is in front of the Smak museum in Gent. It’s near the Citadelpark, where till last year the start of Gent-Wevelgem took place.
The start is at 11.30 CET.
The finish is in Lokeren, not so far from Gent and is expected at 16.30 CET.
km 37: Kluisberg (1,1 km à 6%)
km 44: côte de Trieu (1,1 km à 8%)
km 51: Vieux Quarémont (2,2 km à 4%)
km 59: Muziekbos (0,4 km à 4%)
km 84: mur de Grammont (0,8 km à 9%)
km 102: Valkenberg (0,4 km à 8%)
km 113: Eikenberg (1,2 km à 5%)
km 124: Leberg (0,6 km à 4 %)
km 129: Berendries (0,9 km à 5 %)
km 139: Molenberg (0,3 km à 10 %)
The favourites and outsiders:
Peter Van Petegem (winner in 1997, 1998 and 2002)
One of the top-favourites. He hasn’t shown very much, but that’s Van Petegem. His competitors saw that Peter is in good shape. An advantage for Peter: he doesn’t show himself till it’s the right moment. On Wednesday, he trained with his team Lotto-Domo and it went very well.
”For my part, if I know that, barring accident, I will be amongst the fifty riders who will be in the decisive final moments of the race, I remain reserved on my chances to go very far, or even win. Sometimes it is underestimated but this opening race is really very hard. It is very hard to get an opening.
Johan Museeuw (winner in 2000) - Quick Step-Davitamon - Latest news:
Always one of the favourites in the Belgian races. When the race will be very tough, he has a good chance. But when there’s a big group till the final, it’s difficult for him. Also Museeuw did a training session with his teammates (without Frank Vandenbroucke) on Wednesday.
Wilfried Peeters, the former faithful team-member of Museeuw, and now DS of the team, said:
"The team are not nervous prior to the start of the Belgian season. They know that they have prepared well. They will be in at the finish not only in Volk but in Kuurne-Brussels Kuurne too."
Regarding the recent injuries to VDB and Boonen:
"Tom’s fall on the last day of the Ruta del Sol caused an inflammation of the lymphatic ganglia. It appears to have settled now, on Tuesday Tom was treated by a chiropractor for two wedged dorsal vertebrae, which prevented him from having all his strength. That also seems to have responded to treatment. As for Frank, he is fine. However, our two strongest men at the minute are Bettini and Museeuw. Their form is by far the best in the team.”
Tom Steels (winner in 1996)
Tom has got the flu, which made it very difficult for him in the Tour of Rhodes. Now he’s feeling well, but is that enough? On the other hand, there’s no pressure from his team Landbouwkrediet-Colnago.
He has also suffering from the flu, but will start. We will see him, that’s for sure. He will attack, but win? The others won’t give him a chance to break away and in the sprint, there are riders like Steels who can do more.
Dario Pieri (Saeco)
In his new team Saeco (Pieri rode for Saeco, changed to Alessio and is now back), the sport directors expect a lot of him in the classic races. Pieri declared he would be more serious in his work. Last year, Pieri won in the E3 Prijs Harelbeke. But has he yet the good condition???
Baden Cooke (FDJeux.com)
He started the season 2003 very well (Tour Down Under, Tour Mediterranéen). If there’s a sprint, he has a very good chance.
Frank Høj (Team Fakta) (second last year)
Under no illusions of the task ahead -
"That second place last year means that I know I can win the race and it is very important. There is no one who can win Het Volk without really believing that one can. Of course your need to be in good shape and be able to fight against the pain.
But not less important is to know the race and be mentally balanced," said Frank Høj.
That means the veteran specialists who know the race best are having an advantage and Frank Høj tips Johan Museeuw and Peter Van Petegem as the biggest favourites.
"On the cobbled roads we can see that a shift of the success, to the younger generation, has not happened.
Luckily we have riders like Magnus Bäckstedt, Scott Sunderland and myself, who know the race and are the right shape to race it, so I believe we can make a good result."
Michel Vanhaecke (Palmans-Collstrop) (third last year)
Hilaire Van Der Schueren, DS of the Palmans-Collstrop team is being very cautious about his teams chances of success despite showing good form in early races, especially Roger Hammond.
"The team is going well but does not yet have super form. Consequently, one should not be deluded: the preparation has been good but it is too early to talk of a victory. But who knows?” Michel Van Haecke, interviewed during the week, claims he is not yet 100%...
Oscar Friere (Rabobank)
Foolish to dismiss the speedy Spaniard riding for a Classics team. However, Marc Wauters will miss
the race and DS Theo De Rooy has had to make some changes in his team for Het Volk and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. "I have many patients. Thus, I must also do without Robert Bartko,” he said.
The clearly out of date riders list on the official race website lists Rodriguez as riding. However some sources including the excellent and accurate Cycling4fans list this line up - Gianluca Bortolami - Gabriele Balducci - Romans Vainsteins - Massimo Apollonio - Mauro Gerosa - Marco Milesi - Mauro Radaello - Gianluca Sironi.
Apollonio replaces Rodriguez? Confirmed - Rodriguez has a fever and will miss the race.
Other favourites are: Jo Planckaert, Fabio Baldato, George Hincapie and Jaan Kirsipuu. And what to expect from Filippo Pozzato? (recently winner of the Trofeo Laigueglia and still very young). And Frank Vandenbroucke???
Peter van Petegem - Robbie Mc Ewen - Serge Baguet -Hans De Clercq
Leon van Bon - Glenn D’Hollander - Aart Vierhouten - Wim Van Sevenant
Andrey Kashechkin- Paolo Bettini - Davide Bramati - Tom Boonen -
Wilfried Cretskens - Nick Nuyens - Johan Museeuw - Frank Vandenbroucke
Tom Steels - Ludo Dierckxsens - Lorenzo Bernucci - Johan Verstrepen
Ludovic Capelle - Kurt Vanlandeghem - Claudio Luchinni - Tony Bracke
Andy De Smet - Fabien De Waele - Roger Hammond - Geert Omloop
Kristof Trouvé - Peter Wuyts - Hendrik Van Dyck - Michel Van Haecke
VLAANDEREN - T INTERIM:
Geoffrey Demeyere - Stijn Devolder - Jan Kuyckx - David Meys
Jehudi Schoonacker - James Van Landschoot - Ruud Verbakel - Jan Verstraeten
Raivis Belonvosciks - Dave Bruylandts - Johan Dekkers - Johan Coenen -
Sebastien Mattozza - Saulius Ruskys - Charles Guilbert - Geert Verheyen
Ronny Assez - Staf Scheirlinckx - Thierry Masschelein - David McKenzie
Jurgen Landrie - Scott Guyton - Jamie Drew - Björn Cornelissen
Rolf Aldag - Kai Hundertmarck - Andreas Kleir - David Kopp
Daniele Nardello - Dirk Reichl - Jan Schaffrath - Steffen Wesemann
Stefan Adamsson - Torsten Rund - Steffen Radochla - Christoph von Kleinsorgen - André Korff - Thorsten Wilhelms - Sven Teutenberg - Malte Urban
Robert Forster - René Haselbacher - Sebastian Lang - Volker Ordowski - Olaf Pollack - Torsten Schmidt - Steffen Weigold - Peter Wrolich
Peter Farazijn - Arnaud Coyot - Philippe Gaumont - Nico Mattan
Chris Peers - Jo Planckaert - Robert Sassone - Janek Tombak
Baden Cooke - Jacky Durand - Bernhard Eisel - Frédéric Guesdon
Christophe Mengin - Matthew Wilson - Bradley Wiggins - Carlos DaCruz
Eddy Seigneur - Yuriy Krivtsov - Jean-Patrick Nazon - Bruno Thibout
Sébastien Joly - Christophe Edaleine - David Lefèvre - Samuel Dumoulin
Stéphane Auge - Sébastien Hinault - Thor Hushovd - Lilian Jegou
Christopher Jenner - Marcus Ljunqvist - Stuart O’Grady - Corey Sweet
Jaan Kirsipuu - Christophe Agnolutto - Lauri Aus - Stéphane Berges
Andy Flickinger - Julien Laidoun - Erki Putsep - Mark Scanlon
Oscar Freire Gomez – Roy Sentjens - Jan Boven - Mathew Hayman
Robert Hunter - Bobbie Traksel - Maarten den Bakker - Kevin de Weert
Bert Hiemstra - Rik Reinerink - Gerben Löwik - Matthé Pronk
Bram Schmitz - Jan van Velzen - Remco van der Ven - Pieter Vries
U.S. POSTAL SERVICE presented by BERRY FLOOR.
Antonio Cruz - Viatcheslav Ekimov - George Hincapie - Joachim Benoit - XXXX - Pavel Padrnos - Max van Heeswijk - Matthew White
Geert van Bondt - Julian Dean - Tristan Hoffman - Paul van Hyfte
Nicolas Jalabert - XXXXX - Arvis Piziks - Adrea Tafi
Frank Hoj - Lars Ytting Bak - Allan Johansen - Magnus Backstedt
Scott Sunderland - Werner Riebenbauer - Allan Bo Andresen - Michael Skelde
Fabian Cancellara - Francesco Chiochi - XXXX - Kim Kirchen
Nicola Loda - Roberto Petito - Filippo Pozzato - Marco Zanotti
Fabio Baldato - Andrea Brognara - Stefano Casagranda - Davide Casarotto - Enrico Cassani - Ruggero Marzoli - Andrea Ferrigato - Alberto Vinale
Alessio Galletti - Antonio Bucciero - Paolo Fornaciari - Jörg Ludewig
Cristian Pepoli - Dario Pieri - Fabio Sacchi - Stefano Zanini
Rubens Bertogliati - Alessandro Cortinovis - XXXXX- Manuel Quinziato - Zbigniew Spruch - Maximilian Sciandri - Marco Serpellini - Jan Svorada
Gianluca Bortolami - Gabriele Balducci - Romans Vainsteins - . Massimo Apollonio - Mauro Gerosa - Marco Milesi - Mauro Radaello - Gianluca Sironi
Sources - team websites /race website and Cycling4all. Photos thanks to cyclingpictures.de.