Museeuw and Quick Step Dominate Omloop Het Volk
The Lion of Flanders and his pride have dominated the 2003 Omloop Het Volk.
The Lion of Flanders and his pride have dominated the 2003 Omloop Het Volk. Johan Museuuw surged away from Max van Heeswijk (U.S. Postal Service) and Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) in the last six km to win the 200-km Belgian season opener in 5:01:15. Van Heeswijk outsprinted Bettini for second place at 0:14.
The racing did not begin early. At 12 km, Tony Bracke (Landbouwkrediet), Kristof Trouve (Palmans), Christophe Agnolutto (Ag2r), and Jacky Durand (La Francaise des Jeux.com) sallied off of the front. The bunch paid little attention to the break, and the quartet forged an 8:43 lead by 92 km. Shortly thereafter, Agnolutto was dropped.
At 84 km, Quick Step began to chase. The Belgian squad's pressure reduced the peloton to about 50 riders. Continued pressure over the next 40 km brought the bunch within 3:00 of the break.
With 65 km left, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) attacked; his teammates Bettini, Museeuw, and Frank Vandenbroucke joined him, as did Filippo Pozzato (Fassa Bortolo), Bernhard Eisel (La Francaise des Jeux.com), and Peter Farazijn (Cofidis). Eisel punctured and was dropped, while Van Heeswijk joined the group on the Molenberg, the day's last climb.
The seven chasers caught and dropped the three escapees with 52 km left. Eighteen km later, Bettini began Quick Step's attacks. He and his teammates continued attacking until Bettini, Museeuw, and Van Heeswijk got clear with 23 km remaining.
With six km left, Museeuw attacked. Van Heeswijk chased, but the Lion of Flanders tried again one km later. Van Heeswijk could not close the gap, and Museeuw soloed home.
Museeuw's victory was as much a team triumph as it was a personal one. Four of the first five riders--Museeuw in first, Bettini in third, Vandenbroucke in fourth, and Boonen in fifth--were Quick Step men. When Quick Step put four riders into the winning break of seven, it was obvious that the Belgian team would produce the winner. And so it did!
Where will the Quick Step men strike next? The Tour of Flanders? Paris-Roubaix? Gent-Wevelgem? And who among them will strike next? Museeuw? Bettini? Vandenbroucke? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!