De Jongh Scores Big At K-B-K!
Rabobank’s Stephen De Jongh has snared his finest career win after outwitting his breakaway partners in an 8-up sprint finish to the Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne semi-classic, run off in sunny but bitterly cold conditions this afternoon.
After yesterday’s scheduled Belgian season opener Het Volk was snowed off, the fans were desperate to see the stars in action, in this 2nd leg of the Vlaams Openingsweekend. The field obliged, boosted by the presence of most of the top names who’d stayed on to take part. K-B-K traditionally doesn’t quite have the stars of Het Volk, but they were all there today. QuickStep had practically a full Classics team, as did US Postal, Rabobank and Fassa Bortolo.
Early movers were CSC’s Michael Sandstod and young French neo-pro Alexandre Naulleau (Brioches), before USPS’s Benoit Joachim caught Naulleau and forged on alone. Robbie McEwen even noodled off the front of the peloton as the riders approached the Aussie’s adopted home of Everbeek.
Joachim lead the bunch by over 5 minutes and things looked good for USPS who had a strong-looking Hincapie and Van Heeswijk sitting comfortably in the main field, and they looked poised to do well once Joachim was swept up as race entered it’s final hour.
So, with 50 kms to go, we had a select group of 35 guys, including 5 QuickSteps, 4 USPS and a handful of Fassas and Rabo-boys, and they progressed away from the rest of the field. (Lotto-Domo missed out with McEwen and PVP not making the cut.)
Stijn Devolder did a cracking job for US Postal chasing moves, as did a not-on-top-form Johan Museew for QuickStep, as the front group began to splinter and reform under a series of moves. The key one which stuck came just as the leaders rolled over the line for the second of the 2 laps around the finishing circuit.
Chocalade Jacques’ Gerbin Lowik jumped away, joined by Stuey O’ Grady (Cofidis), Fassa’s Juan Antonio Flecha, MrBookmaker.com’s Geert Omloop and Jo Planckaert, Den Bakker and De Jongh (Rabobank) and Paolo Bettini (QuickStep).
This 8 pulled clear to fight out the win, with Den Bakker launching an attack to soften things up before setting up the sprint for De Jongh. Bettini tried to get by, but had to settle for holding off Lowik for second.
The rest of the leaders rolled in a few seconds later, with Boonen winning the dash for 9th.
57th Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne Results 188km
1 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank 5hrs 25’ 32”
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon same
3 Gerben Lowik (Ned) Chocolade Jacques same
4 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Cofidis same
5 Geert Omloop (Bel) MrBookmaker-Palmans same
6 Jo Planckaert (Bel) MrBookmaker-Palmans same
7 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo same
8 Maarten den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank same
9 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
10 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) USPS