Burghardt Wins Gent-Wevelgem
Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile) has won Gent-Wevelgem. The 23-year-old German took a five-man sprint to win the 207-km classic in 4:52:14. Burghardt?s teammate Roger Hammond finished second, and Oscar Freire (Rabobank) took third.
From the start, the racing was aggressive. Wouter Van Mechelen (Landbouwkrediet) escaped after four km, but the peloton reeled him in quickly. A flurry of attacks ensued. At about 38 km, French champion Florent Brard (Caisse d?Epargne), Christophe Mengin (Francaise des Jeux), and
In the peloton, alarm bells rang. The chase began, and by the time the race reached the Kemmelberg, the bunch had taken 5:50 out of the break. During the first ascent and the first descent of the climb, crashes occurred. Ten riders, including Freire, Kevin Van Impe (Quick Step), and Bjorn Leukemans (Predictor), lit out after the break, but the Milram-led bunch reeled them in.
On the second ascent of the Kemmelberg, the break led the bunch by about 2:00. On the descent, another crash occurred. Burghardt and Francisco Jose Ventoso (Saunier Duval) attacked, and Gregory Rast and Igor Abakoumov (both from Astana), Robbie McEwen (Predictor), Joaquin Rojas Gil and Nick Nuyens (both from Cofidis), Stuart O?Grady (CSC), Tom Boonen and Wouter Weylandt (both from Quick Step), Freire, Eric Baumann (T-Mobile), and Baden Cooke (Unibet.com) joined the pair. With 30 km remaining, the chasers were 1:00 behind the break.
Freire attacked, and Ventoso and Burghardt joined the three-time world champion. When the three approached the leaders, Ventoso bridged up to them. Burghardt pulled Freire up to the group to bolster T-Mobile?s presence in it.
With 16 km remaining, the leading sextet led the peloton by about 1:30. Quick Step and CSC led the pursuit. Brard was dropped, but his erstwhile companions extended their lead over the bunch to 0:45.
The two T-Mobile men and Freire drove the break. In the last five km, Ventoso began skipping turns. With a few hundred m remaining, Burghardt made his move. Freire set out after the German, with
Many of the riders at Gent-Wevelgem will see each other this Sunday at Paris-Roubaix. Who will triumph? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!