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61st Omloop Het Volk (1.HC)
By Staff
Date: 2/26/2006
61st Omloop Het Volk (1.HC)

Francaise des Jeux's starlet Philippe Gilbert has won the 61st edition of the Omloop Het Volk, stealing a march on many of the more fancied riders for his best victory to date. With 20km to go, the Walloon rider, thought of to be more at home on the climbs of the Ardennes rather than on Flandrian cobbles, bridged a fifteen-second gap in a swirling headwind to the leading group that had formed earlier on the Molenberg, and made several accelerations to help forge a five-man leading group. Eight kilometres from the finish in Lokeren, Gilbert delivered the knockout punch. From here, the precociously-talented Belgian just rode away from the chasers. Behind him, Bert de Waele (Landoubwkrediet) also attacked for second thirty-seconds down, while veteran Dutch champion Leon van Bon (Davitamon-Lotto) outsprinted the relatively-unknown Koen Barbe (Chocolade Jacques) and HEW-Cyclassics Cup winner Filippo Pozzato (Quick Step) for third.
After the finish, a delighted Gilbert said: "This is the best victory of my young career." It's incredible. This morning I didn't feel 100 percent. I was a little bit ill these last few days but I was very motivated."

The early escape, going away after fourteen kilometres, involved Tim Klinger (Wiesenhof-Akud), Lloyd Mondory (Ag2r Prevoyance), Gregory Habeaux (Landbouwkrediet), Walter Beneteau (Bouygues Telecom), Stephen Schreck (T-Mobile), Cedric Coutouly (Agritubel), Michele Maccanti (Team LPR), Thierry Marichal (Cofidis), Ludovic Auger (Francaise des Jeux), Geert Omloop (, Ludovic Auger (Francaise des Jeux) and Quick step pair Kevin van Impe and Bram Tankink. Though the break was reeled in with 50km to left, Team LPR man Michele Maccanti had a remarkable ride, following the attacks and splits as the race favourites came by. Ultimately, the Italian finished tenth after having spent hours in the echapee du jour!

As one of the race's favourites, world champion Tom Boonen was heavily marked by his rivals, though he made several attempts to cross the gap. The Quick Step man sparked a chasing group with 25km to go, which also contained a lively Gert Steegmans, Thor Hushovd and Roger Hammond, but they could not get on level terms with the break; the group itself split in the last few kilometres, with Steegmans leading it in for sixth.
Boonen said: "I was good today. But for me it's difficult to win the Omloop Het Volk. With the flat finale the race is hard to control. I'm happy that Gilbert won and not Steegmans or Van Bon. They just rode to tire me out and so there was no cooperation. Gilbert is the deserving winner: he rode solo to the lead group and still did it."

1. Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux, Bel) 202 km 4u56'18" (gem: 40,904 km/u)
2. Bert De Waele (Landbouwkrediet, Bel) op 38"
3. Leon van Bon (Davitamon-Lotto, Ned) op 54"
4. Koen Barbe (Chocolade Jacques-TopSport, Bel)
5. Filippo Pozzato (Quick Step-Innergetic, Ita)
6. Gert Steegmans (Davitamon-Lotto, Bel) op 1'45"
7. Joost Posthuma (Rabobank, Ned)
8. Franck Renier (Bouygues Telecom, Fra)
9. Wim De Vocht (Davitamon-Lotto, Bel)
10. Michele Maccanti (Team LPR, Ita)
11. Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile, Zwi)
12. Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole, Noo) op 2'01"
13. Tom Boonen (Quick Step-Innergetic, Bel)
14. Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis, Bel)
15. Marc de Maar (Rabobank, Ned)
16. Roger Hammond (Discovery Channel, GBr)
17. Marco Serpellini (, Ita)
18. Andy Flickinger (Ag2r Prevoyance, Fra)
19. Mark Scanlon (Ag2r Prevoyance, Ier)
20. Gorik Gardeyn (, Bel) op 4'37"
21. Kurt Hovelynck (Chocolade Jacques-TopSport, Bel)
22. Mathew Hayman (Rabobank, Aus)
23. Guennadi Mikhailov (Discovery Channel, Rus)
24. Filip Meirhaeghe (Landbouwkrediet, Bel) op 5'17"
25. Maarten Tjallingii (Skil-Shimano, Ned)
26. Ralf Grabsch (Phonak, Dui)
27. Matti Breschel (Den) op 7'40"
28. Steffen Radochla (Dui)
29. Sébastien Hinault (Fra)
30. Marcus Burghardt (Dui)
31. Lars Michaelsen (Den)
32. Maarten den Bakker (Ned)
33. Aart Vierhouten (Ned)
34. James Vanlandschoot (Bel)
35. Frédéric Guesdon (Fra)
36. Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra)
37. Robby Meul (Bel)
38. Marcus Ljungqvist (Zwe)
39. Nicola Loda (Ita)
40. Xavier Florencio (Spa)
41. Pedro Horrillo (Spa)
42. Cedric Coutouly (Fra)
43. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hon)
44. Ronny Poelvoorde (Bel)
45. Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel)
46. Olivier Bonnaire (Fra)
47. Wilfried Cretskens (Bel)
48. Grégory Rast (Zwi)
49. Serguei Ivanov (Rus)
50. Arnaud Gerard (Fra)
51. Benoît Joachim (Lux)
52. Didier Rous (Fra)
53. Walter Beneteau (Fra)
54. Ludovic Auger (Fra)
55. Marco Milesi (Ita)
56. Johan Coenen (Bel)
57. Niko Eeckhout (Bel)
58. Marco Zanotti (Ita)
59. Marc Wauters (Bel)
60. Baden Cooke (Aus)
61. Maarten Wijnants (Bel)
62. Michael Albasini (Zwi)
63. Robbie McEwen (Aus)
64. Nico Mattan (Bel)
65. Glenn D'Hollander (Bel)
66. Leif Hoste (Bel)
67. Andreas Klier (Dui)
68. Christophe Mengin (Fra)
69. Mirko Celestino (Ita)
70. Aivaras Baranauskas (Lit)
71. Jimmy Casper (Fra)
72. Anthony Geslin (Fra)
73. Sébastien Minard (Fra)
74. Frederik Willems (Bel)
75. Arnaud Coyot (Fra)
76. Cyrille Monnerais (Fra)
77. Yannick Talabardon (Fra)
78. Frederik Veuchelen (Bel)
79. Paul Martens (Dui)
80. Tom Steels (Bel)
81. Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita)
82. Geert Omloop (Bel)
83. Thierry Marichal (Bel)
84. Mikhaylo Khalilov (Oek)
85. Stijn Devolder (Bel)
86. Jeremy Hunt (GBr)
87. Uros Murn (Slo)
88. Kevin Hulsmans (Bel)
89. Kevin Van Impe (Bel)
90. Nick Nuyens (Bel)
91. Peter Van Petegem (Bel)
92. Francis Mourey (Fra)

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