What's Cool In Road Cycling

K-B-K ’11: Sutton Surprise In Kuurne Sprint!

What a big win for the young Aussie Chris Sutton, finishing off some sterling team work for Team Sky. He left some big names trailing in his wake as Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne came down to a bunch sprint. How did it play out? Like this …

Day two of the Belgian opening weekend, and it’s a nicer day than yesterday – dry, overcast and windy as opposed to wet, overcast and windy. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be an easier day for the riders as they hit the cobbles and climbs again for a near-200km jaunt through the Belgian countryside.

The An Post-Sean Kelly rider Andy Fenn is off alone with a two minutes plus lead. How did he get there? By getting dropped from the five-man break earlier and finding himself alone once his erstwhile buddies had got themselves expelled from the race for nipping past a red light at a railway crossing. It’s not cool and it’s just dangerous, kids. A slap on the wrist to Navardauskas (Garmin-Cervelo), Van Groen (Verandas-Willems), Coyot (Saur-Sojasun) and Cammaerts of Landbouwkrediet.

Fenn gets picked up by Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ) and Sander Armee of Topsport-Vlaanderen – not even half-distance and they build the lead back up again.

Over the Kruisberg, Fenn is dropped, and by the Kwaremont, the front duo have about two and a quarter minutes.

Boom! Flecha (Team Sky) and QuickStep’s two-time Kuurne winner Tom Boonen light it up and the field is in tears. Garmin-Cervelo haul it together after a fashion, and there’s a lot of attacking and reforming as the Tiegemberg climb looms on the horizon.

Rabobank and QuickStep are showing their strength as they send men up the road and then chase. There’s a nine-man group including Jimmy Casper and Sergei Ivanov but their gap isn’t big enough at this stage to threaten to stay clear.

45kms left and Maarten Wynants of Rabobank has a go, taking Wouter Weylandt (Leopard-Trek) with him; they don’t get far and the Dutchman lays a consolatory pat on Weylandt’s back.

40kms just heading out of Waregem and the lead is now a snip under 50 seconds.

It’s QuickStep’s blue/white/red and the surprisingly intimidating Leopard-Trek black at the head of the peloton as they slice-and-dice the leaders’ gap.

Lars Ytting Bak put in a fine solo move to open up the finale.

35kms to race and it’s coming back together … the nine are looking over their shoulders as they enter Desselgem and it’s just 11” of an advantage. 34kms, and it’s all back together. Happy families.

32kms to race, and after all his hard work of the last day-and-a-half, Matt Hayman ends up on the tarmac, but he’s up and off in short order.

28kms of suffering left and Denmark’s Lars Ytting Bak is off alone for HTC-Columbia. He gets 25 seconds before Skil-Shimano try to get a chase going.

20kms to go – it’s 24” back to the second group as Acqua & Sapone’s Alessandro Proni and Saur’s Jimmy Engoulvent try to escape the peloton. Sebastien Hinault (Ag2r) joins them and they’re now three vs the peloton and three vs Lars Bak who is still ploughing on.

Bak’s move was followed by a more promising break headed up by recent Ruta del Sol prologue winner, Jimmy Engoulvent of FDJ.

They’re on the Dane with 17 clicks to go and he calmly slips onto the back of the line. Omega Pharma-Lotto must fancy Andre Greipel’s chances as they are now leading the peloton as it streams through a tight left-hander, with six riders sitting right behind Team Sky’s Norwegian hardman Kurt-Asle Arvesen.

The front four lead over the finish line for the third and final lap of the closing ciruit around Kuurne and Kortrijk. The ‘laatste ronde’ is 13kms and the gap on the line is 12 seconds.

Arvesen is doing a monstrous turn on the front so Edvald Boasson Hagen must be feeling good for Team Sky. Skil-Shimano are hovering near the front; so, too, the dark green of Thomas Voeckler’s Europcar squad.

10 kilometres from home, and Arvesen has decided Lotto aren’t going fast enough so he takes it up again and the gap to the leaders falls to ‘touching distance’ – seven seconds.

Early spring sunshine spears down the side streets and lights up the break and the peloton as they flicker down the road. The main field is a fat, menacing arrow as it masses behind the escapees.

The sprint favorites are all still in it: Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo), Tom Boonen (QuickStep), Boasson Hagen (Team Sky).

Tom Boonen goes for it with six kilometers to go!

Six kilometers now – Engoulvent tries it alone and the other three leaders are struggling to get him as he round the corner! Behind … Boonen! The Belgian flies off the front, “a la Cancellara” as the French commentators shout. Not sure ‘Tommeke’ will be happy with that comparison but he’s up to Engoulvent in a flash!

Four to go and Rabo’s Tom Leezer has some rider/fan interface of the painful kind as the peloton goes askew on a roundabout.

Two kms left – the peloton is on Boonen/Engoulvent, but Jimmy’s not having it and goes again!

It doesn’t work and Team Sky sweep past. Under the red kite now and it’s flat out for the line.

Sutton takes the win for Sky making it a stellar weekend for Brailsford’s Boys – 2nd by Flecha on Saturday at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, 1st today in Kuurne.

Team Sky lead it out and everyone’s looking for Boasson Hagen but it’s CJ Sutton coming up on the barriers who gets it just from Yaheni Hutarovich of FDJ and Andre Greipel. A fantastic weekend for Team Sky, and Rupert Murdoch, if he’s bothered, will be noting that his dollars have pulled in a lot of air time on rival broadcasters and nailed a win, a second and a third in the weekend’s two Belgian races. Good value for money.

Congrats to Chris Sutton – the Classics are go! Keep it Pez for the best coverage!

Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne 2011, 193 kms
1 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Team Sky 4 hrs 39’ 39”
2 Yaheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ
3Andre Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto
4 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Cervelo
5 Jonas Van Genechten (Bel) Wallonie Bruxelles-Credit Agricole
6 Sebastien Chavanel (Fra) Europcar
7 Anthony Ravard (Fra) Ag2r
8 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
9 Adrien Petit (Fra) Cofidis
10 Kristof Goddaert (Bel) Ag2r all same time

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