Germany's Andreas Klier of Team Telekom has won on Wednesday the 204-km. Ghent-Wevelgem race, as he was the fastest in a 4-man sprint. Excellent Aussie Henk Vogels of Navigators took second ahead of Tom Boonen, who crashed right after the crossing the line as he hit a few photographers.
Italy's Alberto Ongarato, team-mate of unlucky Mario Cipollini (the Lion King mistook a turn and hit the ground, losing all of his hopes of a fourth win, earlier in the race, when he was part of the leading bunch) was fourth, while brave Servais Knaven, protaonist of solo breakaway atempt who started with 9 km. to go, and finished 7 kms. later, was fifth. Max Van Heeswijk of the USPS team, as well as Brit Roger Hammond, got into the final Top 10.
Mario Cipollini (Ita-Dve) has been disqualified because he threw 2 drink bottles at a motorbike driver.
Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel-Lan)and Paolo Bettini (Ita-Qsd) crashed early on in the race. Dierckxsens has broken his collar bone while Bettini also has a shoulder injury .
More bad luck for Quickstep; Tom Boonen hit a photographer following the race finish and crashed heavily. The young Belgian rider was taken by ambulance to hospital and therefore did not make the podium.
The 65th Ghent-Wevelgem saw Andreas Klier (Telekom) score an historic victory. The 27 year old Denderhouten (Flanders) resident, who had only one previous success in his pro career (GP Jef Scherens Leuven 2002) which started in 1996 with Team Nürnberger, gave a mighty morale boost to the Telekom team as he proved the faster than Vogels and Boonen in a tough three man sprint.
Not only did he become the first German ever to win the event, he also set the fastest ever time with a speed of 45.502 km/h.
Vogels, who has strong classic experience (he was tenth in Paris Roubaix 1997 and 7th in Gent Wevelgem 1998) gave the battling Navigators on Euro soil yet another great result as they find their feet in the European peloton. Quickstep and Boonen will not be so happy with their third placing, Bettini was injured early on in the race, Servais Knaven made the race move, and what joy they could have gained from the race evaporated when Boonen crashed into a photographer, although fortunately both he and Bettini are not too badly hurt.
The race burst into action with 120 km to the finish. 26 riders got into the break and along with last years winner Cipollini, Lombardi, Ongarato (Domina Vacanze-Elitron), Kirsipuu, Flickinger (Ag2r Prévoyance), Cancellara, Zanotti (Fassa Bortolo), Boonen, Cretskens, Knaven, Kasheckhin, Museeuw (Quick Step-Davitamon), Steels (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago), Eeckhout, Van Bon, Vierhouten (Lotto-Domo), Belohvosciks (Marlux-Wincor Nixdorf), Grishkine, Power, Vogels (Navigators), Hammond (Palmans-Collstrop), Hayman (Rabobank), Klier, Hondo, Kopp (Telekom) and Van Heeswijk (US Postal-Berry Floor) all had the legs and mental agility to make the break.
The escapees organized themselves well and started to look like they would be the race winning move. The famous Kemmelberg then once again proved to be the deciding factor in the race. The climb with its 800 meters of paving stones at 9 % split the leading group on the second ascent with 40 kilometres to go. A dozen riders gain an advantage on the climb: Lombardi, Ongarato, Cancellara, Belohvosciks, Vogels, Hammond, Boonen, Knaven, Museeuw, Hayman, Klier and Van Heeswijk.
Meanwhile, Mario Cipollini is left isolated from his team mates on the Kemmel mount, he falls on the descent then a motorbike gets too close. His reaction by throwing water bottles is, as Tom Steels would have told him, a recipe for disqualification.
10 km to the finish and Servais Knaven attacks. Four men start to chase the Quickstep rider down: Andreas Klier, Alberto Ongarato, Henk Vogels and Tom Boonen.
Knaven is caught with two thousand meters to go, and Andreas Klier, who has dreamed of winning a Belgium classic, sees his dream come true as he reaches the finish line first.
What they said
"Throughout the race I was watching out for the Quick step riders. When I first made the escapee group I was cautious at first because I thought Hondo might bridge the gap. Then I rode for myself. In the Sprint I waited for as long as possible because of the wind."
“I have won my race and my next target will be Scheldeprijs, Paris Roubaix will be fought over by the big guys, like Museeuw or Boonen."
"I had trouble to breathing, after the crash, which occurred after the finish. That worried me a great deal.
"Klier was super today, there was nothing anyone else could do."
”I have a good feeling regarding Paris Roubaix."
"If I was too close to Cipollini I apologize, but it is very dangerous to throw a full water bottle at that speed. He was very nervous, because of what happened earlier in the race."
"You have to put yourself in my position. I had fallen and was trying to catch the group in front and all I could hear was this honking behind me. When he overtook me I wasn't thinking."
1. Andreas Klier - Ger - Team Telekom - 04h29'00" (45.502 km/h)
2. Henk Vogels - Aus - Navigators Cycling Team - s.t.
3. Tom Boonen - Bel - Quick.Step-Davitamon - s.t.
4. Alberto Ongarato - Ita - Domina Vacanze-Elitron - at 09”
5. Servais Knaven - Hol - Quick.Step-Davitamon - at 18”
6. Raivis Belohvosciks - Lat - Marlux-Wincor-Nixdorf - at 43”
7. Johan Museeuw - Bel - Quick.Step-Davitamon - at 01'07
8. Roger Hammond - GBR - Palmans-Collstrop - s.t.
9. Max Van Heeswijk - Hol – U.S.P.S. - s.t.
10. Mathew Hayman - Aus - Rabobank - s.t.
11. Fabian Cancellara - Swi - Fassa Bortolo - s.t.
12. Giovanni Lombardi - Ita - Domina Vacanze-Elitron - s.t.
13. Oleg Grishkine - Rus - Navigators Cycling Team - at 03'58
14. Danilo Hondo - Ger - Team Telekom - at 03'59
15. Marco Zanotti - Ita - Fassa Bortolo - s.t.
16. Jaan Kirsipuu - Est - AG2R-Prévoyance - s.t.
17 Nico Eeckhout - Bel - Lotto-Domo - s.t.
18. Wilfried Cretskens - Bel - Quick.Step-Davitamon - s.t.
19. Andy Flickinger - Fra – AG2R-Prévoyance - s.t.
20. Andrey Kashechkin - Kaz - Quick.Step-Davitamon - at 04'00
21. Aart Vierhouten - Hol - Lotto-Domo - at 04'01
22. Leon Van Bon - Hol - Lotto-Domo - at 05'20
23. Juan Antonio Flecha - Spa - iBanesto.com - at 06'08
24. Staf Scheirlinckx - Bel - Flanders-IteamNova.com - at 06'11
25. Tom Steels - Bel - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago - at 06'16
26. Robbie McEwen - Aus - Lotto-Domo - s.t.
27. David Kopp - Ger - Team Telekom - s.t.
28. Stefan Van Dijk - Hol - Lotto-Domo - s.t.
29. Steven De Jongh - Hol - Rabobank - s.t.
30. Rudi Kemna - Hol - BankGiroLoterij Cycling Team - s.t.
31. Ludovic Capelle - Bel - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago - s.t.
32. Viatcheslav Ekimov - Rus - U.S.P.S. - s.t.
33. Ciaran Power - Irl - Navigators Cycling Team - s.t.
34. Nico Mattan - Bel - Cofidis-Le Crédit par Téléphone - s.t.
35. Serguei Ivanov - Rus - Fassa Bortolo - s.t.
36. Olaf Pollack - Ger - Gerolsteiner - s.t.
37. Julian Dean - NZl - Team CSC - s.t.
38. Oscar Freire Gomez - Spa - Rabobank - s.t.
39. Bram Tankink - Hol - Quick.Step-Davitamon - s.t.
40. José Gutierrez - Spa - iBanesto.com - s.t.
41. Bert Scheirlinckx - Bel - Flanders-IteamNova.com - s.t.
42. Karsten Kroon - Hol - Rabobank - s.t.
43. Chris Peers - Bel - Cofidis - s.t.
44. José Vicente Garcia Acosta - Spa - iBanesto.com - s.t.
46. Andrea Tafi - Ita - Team CSC - s.t.
47. Marc Wauters - Bel - Rabobank - s.t.
48. Lorenzo Bernucci - Ita - Landbouwkrediet-Colnago - s.t.
49. Jan Boven - Hol - Rabobank - at 06'30"
DSQ. Mario Cipollini - Ita - Domina Vacanze-Elitron - s.t.