What's Cool In Road Cycling

Navigators Postcard: Henk Gets Ghent

Vogels 2nd at Gent-Wevelgem (UCI 1.HC)

– Reported by Team Navigators – Tough to write the tale of today’s marvelous adventure. The story of the race is well documented on all the major cycling media sites, and you’ll watch it on OLN or see it up close and personal on the World Cycling
Productions film, so there is not much to add to the drama and heroics of the day’s race. Besides, the joy, jubilation, and emotion in the Navigators camp this evening must pale in comparison to the ecstasy of the citizens of Baghdad, so today’s report my take a little different spin.

Without question, the H.C. Gent Wevelgem is the most significant race that the team has contested to date, and was a major focus of the team’s trip to Europe. As a division 2 team, it was a great privilege to have the
opportunity to contest this event, and we are very grateful to Mr. Patrick Sercu and the organizing committee for having the confidence in the team’s
abilities, and extending the invitation. The team’s response to the opportunity has been admirable, and they guys have worked very hard bringing their preparation up to the level of expectation. The rewards of their efforts showed today, and in spite of the illness that has plagued several members the last few weeks, the boys were ready, and focused on the challenge ahead.

The plan from the beginning was to give full support to Henk Vogels, and try to get three or four guys in the lead group on the first pass of the Kemmelberg. Everyone’s energy was placed in putting Louder, Grichkine, Power, and Vogels near the front at the point we felt would be the critical period of the race. From that point, the goal would be to set Vogels up, and keep him in position to make the splits. The team worked well and when the hammer went down at about 90km, the four guys were in the front group. The first major split contained 27 riders, with Grichkine, Power, and Vogels in the group, and Louder just missing, and in the second echelon.
Mission accomplished as this front group would never be caught, and the final selections would all come from these riders. First Power worked to keep Grichkine and Vogels placed, and when his efforts cost him contact
with the leaders on the Kemmel, Grichkine took over the stewardship of his leader. The final assault of the Kemmel shot twelve riders clear, and Vogels was in with the leaders. Quickstep still had the numbers with
Knaven, Boonen, and Museeuw, but Vogels worked hard to help create a selection that eventually set up the 5 rider finishing group. A near perfect sprint came so close to victory, but Telekom’s Andreas Klier was in
superlative form, and his victory was not to be denied. As an added consolation, Grichkine won the sprint from the chase group finishing ahead of speedsters Hondo, Kirsipuu, and Cipollini.

The Gent Wevelgem event marks a new chapter in the development on the Navigators Cycling Team. To have the opportunity to participate in one of the world’s great cycling events, and to represent the sponsors who have
contributed so much to our growth is at the same time so rewarding, and humbling. Our appreciation for the incredible support the Navigators Insurance Group has given the team and our sport can never fully be
expressed in words, but it is our hope that we can continue to represent all of our supporters with bigger and better racing experiences for many years to come. For the moment, we applaud Henk and the team for a job very well done.

1) Andreas Klier (Telecom)
2) Henk Vogels (Navigators)
3) Tom Boonen (Quickstep)
13) Oleg Grichkine (Navigators)

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