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90th Tour of Flanders - The Contenders
 
By Andy McGrath
Date: 4/1/2006
90th Tour of Flanders - The Contenders
 

90th Tour of Flanders The Contenders
The teams their strong men and contenders to face everyone's favorite for the win the Super Tom Boonen.

The Contenders
Look no further than last year’s winner and world champion Tom Boonen - Flanders and Quick Step expect nothing less than a second consecutive victory. Indeed, it will be interesting to see how the new “Lion of Flanders” handles the pressure as heavy favourite, but that hasn’t seemed to deter him yet. A great sprinter but still a powerful attacker, as long as Boonen can hang on to the leader, you would expect him to win any kind of sprint.


Super Man Tom Flying to  the finish          photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

Victory in this race is something which Belgian cycling’s golden boy values above all, and he has a fine team in support. If anything goes drastically and dramatically wrong for Boonen, who will be heavily marked, Quick Step are not short of options for a Plan B: Paolo Bettini, Nick Nuyens and Milan-San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato could all perform well.

The rivalry between Quick Step and Davitamon-Lotto has been well-publicised but, though it is largely a media creation, the Belgian pharmaceutical squad would like nothing more than to steal Boonen’s thunder on the biggest day of the Flandrian cycling calendar. Davitamon owner Marc Coucke is fanatical about Tour of Flanders victory, and his team could certainly threaten Quick Step. Veteran campaigner Peter van Petegem will be looking to prove that he has one more Flanders victory in him, while Leon van Bon and breakthrough boy Gert Steegmans will not be far behind him.


Allesandro Ballan attacks on the Poggio in Milan San Remo  Photo c. Lampre/Fondital

What a difference a year makes – around this time in 2005, Alessandro Ballan was just making a name for himself, enlivening the Three Days of De Panne and the Tour of Flanders with attacks. Finishing sixth, Lampre-Fondital’s Ballan has really broken into the mainstream this spring with an early season to rival anyone’s, winning the Trofeo Laigueglia, finishing second to Boonen in the GP E3-Harelbeke, third overall in Tirreno-Adriatico and eighth in Milan-San Remo. His attacking instincts seem to endear him more to the fans, and with a calculated, well-timed acceleration on the Tour of Flanders, even Tornado Tom may not be able to follow him.


Discovery early season strength...         photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

However, the squad with arguably the most strength in depth is not even Belgian. Discovery Channel have several riders on their roster who could trouble the top guns of Classics riding, and if they can combine their considerable talents into a tactical assault on Boonen and Co, it could produce a memorable victory. George Hincapie, as in previous years, should be in the thick of things, but Three Days of De Panne winners Leif Hoste and Stijn Devolder could be attacking dangers, as could Roger Hammond and the oldest man racing tomorrow, Viatchelsav Ekimov.

Second last year, sixth in 2004, Andreas Klier has stayed out of injury trouble so far this season, and will be leading the Magenta charge. Though former winner Steffen Wesemann will not be riding, Serguei Ivanov likes the bergs of Flanders and will be key support for twenty-nine year old Klier.


Petacchi and Zabel Celebrate             photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

The competition between Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi on Team Milram has been hyped, and it is likely to continue here, even in a race which is unlikely to finish in a sizeable bunch sprint. “Alejet” has said that he can do well in the cobbled Classics, but there has been no evidence to date of this. Meanwhile, the more experienced Zabel was fourth in 2005 and could do even better this time round, though the team polemics should be intriguing.

Team CSC, though lacking an injured Stuart O’Grady, could be dangerous with the noticeably in-form Karsten Kroon or Fabien Cancellara both potential leaders. Rabobank, another squad without their main man (Michael Boogerd), will be hoping that Erik Dekker or Juan-Antonio Flecha can fill in seamlessly with a fine result here. Flecha’s selfless hard work for Oscar Freire in the recent Brabantse Pijl certainly showed that he’s in good shape.

From the remaining ProTour teams, Gerolsteiner can call upon Frank Hoj and David Kopp as leaders, while Francaise des Jeux will be hoping Philippe Gilbert can show more of his Het Volk-winning form here. Undoubtedly, a Wallonian winner of Flandrian cycling’s greatest accolade would not be particularly popular with the public. Bernhard Eisel is also in great form. For the other French squads, Tomas Vaitkus (Ag2r Prevoyance), Anthony Geslin (Bouygues Telecom) Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) and Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis) will be hoping to do well.

The Spanish teams traditionally tend to struggle in the cobbled Classics: several of the riders “traditionally” climb off at the first feed zone. Still, hardened Canadian Charles Dionne and Francisco Ventoso will be trying to hang in there for Saunier Duval, while Liberty Seguros look to have unearthed a Classics talent in the form of Joaquin Rojas, who finished seventh at the Three Days of De Panne. Constantino Zaballa (Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Balears) is always good for an attack or three, though things look quite hopeless for them in terms of final results, as well as for Euskatel-Euskadi.

Of the smaller squads present thanks to wild cards, Nico Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques), Bert de Waele (Landbouwkrediet), Baden Cooke (Unibet.com), Roberto Petito, Fabio Baldato (Tenax) and Aart Vierhouten (Skil-Shimano) have all already proven themselves in semi-Classics this spring, and should finish highly. And I'm sure that many fans wouldn't mind seeing Franck Vandebroucke (Unibet.com) performing well here, firmly on the comeback trial.

90th Tour of Flanders Startlist
Quick Step/Innergetic
1 BOONEN Tom
2 BETTINI Paolo
3 CRETSKENS Wilfried
4 HULSMANS Kevin
5 KNAVEN Servais
6 NUYENS Nick
7 POZZATO Filippo
8 VAN IMPE Kevin

Davitamon/Lotto
• De Vocht Wim
• Dockx Bart
• Roesems Bert
• Steegmans Gert
• Van Bon Leon
• Van Petegem Peter
• Vansevenant Wim
• Vogels Henk

CSC Squad:
21 ARVESEN Kurt-Asle
22 BRESCHEL Matti *
23 CANCELLARA Fabian
23 JOHANSEN Allan
24 KROON Karsten
25 LJUNGQVIST Marcus
26 MICHAELSEN Lars
28 O'GRADY Stuart *

CAISSE D'EPARGNE-ILLES BALEARS
31 BERTHOU Eric
32 BRARD Florent
33 ERVITI Imanol
34 GARCIA ACOSTA José Vicente
35 JULIA CEGARRA Jose Cayetano
36 PORTAL Nicolas
37 REYNES MIMO Vicente
38 ZABALLA GUTIERREZ Constantino

EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI
41 ARANAGA AZKUNE Andoni
42 FERNANDEZ Koldo
43 GONZALEZ LARRANAGA Gorka
44 IRIZAR ARANBURU Markel
45 ISASI FLORES Inaki
46 MAYO Ivan
47 VERDUGO MARCOTEGUI Gorka
48 ZUBELDIA AGIRRE Haimar

LIBERTY SEGUROS - WÜRTH TEAM
51 ABELLAN OSSENBACH Carlos
51 ABELLAN OSSENBACH Carlos
52 BARREDO LLAMAZALES Carlos
53 DAVIS Allan
54 DE KORT Koen
55 KEMPS Aaron
56 ROJAS GIL Jose Joaquin
57 SANCHEZ PRADO Eladio
58 SANTOS MARTINEZ Ivan

SAUNIER DUVAL /PRODIR
61 DIONNE Charles
62 GOMEZ GOMEZ Angel
63 MAZUR Peter
64 MEIJAS LEAL Javier
65 OLSEN Aaron
66 VENTOSO ALBERDI Francisco José
67 ZARATE FERNANDEZ Carlos
68 BENITEZ ROMAN Jose Alberto

AG2R PREVOYANCE
71 MANGEL Laurent
72 DION Renaud
73 GADRET John
74 NAVAS CHICA David
75 NAZON Jean-Patrick
76 PÜTSEP Erki
77 USOV Alexandre
78 VAITKUS Tomas

BOUYGUES TELECOM
81 CHAVANEL Sébastien
82 FLICKINGER Andy
83 FLORENCIO CABRE Xavier
84 GENE Yohann
85 GESLIN Anthony
86 MARTIAS Rony
87 PINEAU Jérôme
88 RENIER Franck

COFIDIS
91 CASPER Jimmy
92 CHAVANEL Sylvain
93 COYOT Arnaud
94 MARICHAL Thierry
95 MINARD Sébastien
96 SCHEIRLINCKX Staf
97 VERBRUGGHE Rik
98 WIGGINS Bradley

CREDIT AGRICOLE
101 BODROGI Laszlo
102 DEAN Julian
102 DEAN Julian
103 ENGOULVENT Jimmy
104 HINAULT Sébastien
105 HUSHOVD Thor
106 LEMOINE Cyril
107 RENSHAW Mark
108 TALABARDON Yannick

FRANCAISE DES JEUX
111 AUGER Ludovic
112 DETILLOUX Christophe
113 EISEL Bernhard
114 GILBERT Philippe
114 GILBERT Philippe
115 GUESDON Frédéric
116 LARSSON Gustav Erik
117 MENGIN Christophe
118 MOUREY Francis

GEROLSTEINER
121 HAUSSLER Heinrich
122 HOJ Frank
123 KOPP David
124 KRAUSS Sven
125 LANG Sebastian
126 SCHUMACHER Stefan
127 WROLICH Peter
128 ZBERG Beat

T-MOBILE TEAM
131 BERNUCCI Lorenzo
132 BURGHARDT Marcus
133 GREIPEL André
134 IVANOV Serguei
135 KLIER Andreas
136 SCHMITZ Bram
137 SCHRECK Stephan
138 WESEMANN Steffen

LAMPRE/FONDITAL
141 BENNATI Daniele
142 BALLAN Alessandro
143 CORIONI Claudio
144 FORNACIARI Paolo
145 FRANZOI Enrico
146 LOOSLI David
147 NAPOLITANO Danilo
148 RIGHI Daniele

LIQUIGAS
151 ALBASINI Michael
152 COLLI Daniele
153 LODA Nicola
154 MILESI Marco
155 PAOLINI Luca
156 RIGHETTO Marco
157 ZANINI Stefano
158 BACKSTEDT Magnus

TEAM MILRAM
161 CADAMURO Simone
162 CELESTINO Mirko
163 DEN BAKKER Maarten
164 KNEES Christian
165 PETACCHI Alessandro
166 SACCHI Fabio
167 VELO Marco
168 ZABEL Erik

RABOBANK
171 FLECHA GIANNONI Juan Antonio
172 DEKKER Erik
173 BOVEN Jan
174 BOOGERD Michael
175 FREIRE GOMEZ Oscar
176 HORRILLO MUNOZ Pedro
177 POSTHUMA Joost
178 WAUTERS Marc

PHONAK HEARING SYSTEMS
181 CLERC Aurélien
182 ELMIGER Martin
183 GRABSCH Bert
184 GUIDI Fabrizio
185 MERCKX Axel
186 MOERENHOUT Koos
187 MURN Uros
188 RAST Grégory

DISCOVERY CHANNEL
191 BARRY Michael
192 DEVOLDER Stijn
193 EKIMOV Viatcheslav
194 GUSEV Vladimir
195 HAMMOND Roger
196 HINCAPIE George
197 HOSTE Leif
198 JOACHIM Benoît

CHOCOLADE JACQUES
201 BARBE Koen
202 D'HOLLANDER Glenn
203 EECKHOUT Niko
204 HOVELYNCK Kurt
205 RENDERS Jens
206 VEUCHELEN Frederik
207 WYNANTS Maarten
208 WILLEMS Frederik

LANDBOUWKREDIET/COLNAGO
211 AMORISON Frédéric
212 CAPPELLE Andy
213 CRIQUIELION Mathieu
214 DE WAELE Bert
215 HABEAUX Gregory
216 SIMON Jean-Paul
217 VANLANDSCHOOT James
218 VERSTREPEN Johan

UNIBET.COM
221 COOKE Baden
222 GARDEYN Gorik
223 HUNT Jeremy
224 OMLOOP Geert
225 THIJS Erwin
226 VANDENBROUCKE Frank
227 ZANOTTI Marco
228 BOUCHER David

TEAM TENAX SALMILANO
231 BALDATO Fabio
232 BOSISIO Gabriele
233 MCPARTLAND David
234 MURRO Christian
235 PEREZ ARANGO Marlon Alirio
236 PETITO Roberto
237 PIDGORNYY Ruslan
238 URAN Rigoberto

SKIL/SHIMANO
241 KANO Tomoya
242 MARTENS Paul
243 REINERINK Rik
244 ROOIJAKKERS Piet
245 TJALLINGII Maarten
246 VAN HUMMEL Kenny Robert
247 VIERHOUTEN Aart
248 WEISSINGER René

 
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