Posted by Editor on 02/29/04
Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne - Belgium
Steven De Jongh (Rabobank) has won the 188 kilometre Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, which became the Belgian season opener after the cancellation of Het Volk yesterday. Benoit Joachim (US Postal) took a long flyer, over five and a half minutes clear with 90 kilometres to go. The peloton began to slowly reel him in as the race started to go over climbs, and the gap dropped below three minutes after the Kwaremont.
It was on the Kwaremont climb that the initial selection was made, with approximately 35 riders getting away from the peloton, including Boonen, Zanini, Museeuw, Hulsman, Bettini (all Quick.Step), Cancellara, Vandenbroucke, Petito (Fassa Bortolo), Ivanov, Klier (Telekom), O'Grady (Cofidis) and Hincapie, Van Heeswijk, Devolder (US Postal-Berry Floor). This group quickly pulled away from the peloton, and caught Joachim with 56 kilometres remaining.
Once the gap was well established, the attacks began, with Geert Omloop (MrBookmaker-Palmans) particularly active. Quick.Step was aggressive in keeping everything together, but with 12 kilometres to go a group of 8 broke free. Hincapie chased hard, but US Postal had missed the boat. The group hovered some 15-20 seconds in front of the US Postal-led chasers, with De Jongh coming off the wheel of Omloop to take the win over Bettini. Boonen led home the chasers.
1 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon
3 Gerben Lowik (Ned) Chocolade Jacques
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis
5 Geert Omloop (Bel) MrBookmaker-Palmans
6 Jo Planckaert (Bel) MrBookmaker-Palmans
7 Juan Antonio Flecha (Esp) Fassa Bortolo
8 Maarten den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank
9 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
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