Nuyens Takes Tour of Flanders 2011
Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) has won the Tour of Flanders 2011.
Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) has won the Tour of Flanders 2011. The 30-year-old Belgian took a three-up sprint to win the 256.3-km classic in 6:01:20. Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) took the runnerup spot, and defending champion Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) finished third.
Overcast but dry skies greeted the riders. The peloton's start was fast, with the bunch averaging 50 kph for the first two hours. After a number of abortive sallies, Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervelo), Jeremy Hunt (Sky), Stefan van Dijck (Veranda's Willems), Mitchell Docker (Skil-Shimano), and Sebastien Turgot (Europcar) went off of the front. At 80 km, the quintet led the bunch by six minutes.
A group of 15 riders, including Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank), Heinrich Haussler (Castelli-sponsored Team Garmin-Cervelo), Mark Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel (both from HTC-Highroad), Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky), and Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) formed a chase group. In the peloton, Leopard-Trek chased on behalf of Cancellara.
When the chase group was caught, Greipel attacked and took two others with him. The attacks and Leopard-Trek's pursuit cut the escapees' lead to three minutes.
On the Kruisberg, two minutes separated bunch and break. The peloton split on the day's next climb, the Knokteberg. On the Oude Kwaremont, Chavanel attacked. Ahead, Hunt and van Dijck were dropped.
Quick Step led the chase. Chavanel and Simon Clark (Astana) bridged up to Hammond, Docker, and Turgot. Eventually, Chavanel and Clark went clear.
On the Koppenberg, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) attacked, and Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Cancellara, and Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) joined him. At the summit, Gilbert caught the last members of the original break. Chavanel and Clark remained in the lead.
On the Taaienberg, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) attacked, and Boonen, Flecha, and Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) followed. World road race champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) chased down the move.
At the summit of the Eikenberg (190 km), Boasson Hagen attacked, and Lars Boom (Rabobank) joined him. Behind, Martin Mortensen (Leopard-Trek) paced the 50-strong lead group.
On the Molenberg, Flecha began to force the pace, with Cancellara, Boonen, and Hushovd following. Eventually, Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil) attacked and took Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank-SunGard), Van Avermaet, Mathew Hayman (Sky), and Tom Leezer (Rabobank) with him.
Hushovd paced the front group up the Haaghoek, and then Boonen counterattacked, taking Cancellara and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) with him. The trio surged past the Leukemans group, and then the defending champion dropped his companions. Cancellara caught Chavanel, who took his wheel. Behind, Leukemans, Boom, Boasson Hagen, Pozzato, Boonen, and Van Avermaet formed a chase group.
At first, the chasers' efforts appeared to be for naught. With 30 km left, Cancellara and Chavanel led the Boonen group by 0:50. However, BMC and then Vacansoleil began to chase, and with 0:16 left, the break led the bunch by 0:12.
Gilbert, Boonen, and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) caught Cancellara and Chavanel. Cancellara attacked, and initially only Boonen joined him. Boonen fell back, however, and Gilbert, Leukemans, and Ballan joined the world time trial champion.
On the Bosberg, the day's final climb, Gilbert attacked, and Leukemans joined him. With 10 km left, Gilbert led a group containing Cancellara, Ballan, Leukemans, Chavanel, and Staf Scheirlinckx (Veranda's Willems) by 0:12.
Nuyens, Boonen, and George Hincapie (BMC) joined the Cancellara group. After a number of attacks by other riders, Cancellara got clear. Chavanel and Nuyens joined him.
Boonen and Flecha led the chase. With one km left, Cancellara made his move on the race's last turn. Nuyens overtook Cancellara and fought off challenges by the Swiss star and by Chavanel to win.
The Belgian's victory is the biggest one of his career. He was quick to thank his teammates. "Thanks to Bjarne [Riis] and the whole team I was able to achieve this win," Nuyens said. They have believed in me right from the start and have given me peace to work and think about this great season goal. I'm truly happy to be able to pay back their trust like this."
This coming Sunday, many of the participants in the Tour of Flanders will tackle the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix. Who will prevail? Defending Paris-Roubaix champion Cancellara? Former Paris-Roubaix champion Boonen? World road race champion Hushovd? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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Click here for complete 2011 Tour of Flanders results.