Thomas Voeckler takes a rainy Brabantse Pijl alone
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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thomas Voeckler takes a rainy Brabantse Pijl alone

by Ben Atkins at 11:47 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Brabantse Pijl
French Tour hero attacks with 32km to go and holds off a disorganised chase group

thomas voecklerThe irrepressible Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) finally took his first victory of 2012, in a rainy edition of Brabantse Pijl, after attacking alone with 32km to go and soloing to the finish. The former French champion quickly caught and passed Daniel Schorn (NetApp), the sole survivor of a three-man race-long breakaway, and managed to hold off the attentions of a seven-man chase group that was unable to organise itself into a cohesive chase.

“I'm very happy,” said Voeckler afterwards. “This circuit is very tiring. I didn’t mean to go alone but it happened like that.

“I expected that the group to catch me but I gave it my all and it paid off,” he added.

The chase group of Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol), Alex Howes (Garmin-Barracuda), Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank), Oscar Freire (Katusha) and Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) was just a few seconds behind Voeckler as he attacked, but with no cooperation the hero of last year’s Tour de France was able to build a lead of more than a minute as he crossed the line with just one lap of the 12.8km finishing circuit remaining.

His advantage continued to grow in the closing kilometres, despite Fabio Duarte (Colombia-Deportes) managing to bridge across to, then attack the chase group. The Colombian was chased down by Freire and Serry in the final kilometre however, with the three-time World champion - and three-time Brabantse Pijl winner between 2005 and 2007 - easily winning the sprint for third.

The cobbles of the north begin to give way to the hills of the south

The 196km race would take place mostly in Flanders, but would pass intermittently into Walloon Brabant and the French-speaking half of the country; explaining its also officially being known as of Flèche Brabaçonne. With it’s hilly profile, the race marked the shift between the Cobbled Classics of Flanders and northern France, and the hilly ‘Ardennes’ ones of the Wallonia and southern Netherlands; with some cobbles in the finishing circuit however, particularly on the climb of Hertstraat, the course offered something to both the hardmen of the north, and the climbers of the south.

The peloton set off from the start in Leuven, stone’s throw from the country’s capital, Brussels, under sunny skies, but the good weather was not to last long, and gave way to heavy rain before too long.

After early solo attempts from Schorn, and Marco Bandiera (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), an unsuccessful move from Mathieu Sprick (Argos-Shimano), Matthias Brändle (NetApp) and Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), and another solo jump from William Clark (Champion System), Schorn finally managed to get away with Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Artem Ovechkin (RusVelo) after 32km. The three riders were immediately able to build a lead over the peloton, which stretched to 5’08” by the 63km point.

As the trio entered the hill zone in the middle of the course’s long loop, its advantage began to fall a little. On the Alsemberg, where the race took in a small loop before retracing its steps back towards the finishing circuit at Overijse. It was down to 3’45” at the race’s halfway point, as BMC Racing and Rabobank took control of the peloton.

With 75km the sun began to come out again, with the gap down to 2’50”, and as they entered the finishing circuit with 63km to go it was 2’06”; as the Hagaard climb began, Ovechkin was unable to go with his two companions and was left behind.

BMC Racing starts to assert itself with the defending champion

BMC Racing increased the pace on the climb two minutes behind, putting a number of riders in trouble at the back of the peloton, with Andy Schleck (RadioShackNissan) among those to lose contact; the Luxembourg rider had crashed on a roundabout shortly before, and was clearly not happy in the conditions.

2011 winner Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) began to show himself on the Hertstraat, along with Van Avermaet, as Luis León Sánchez (Rabobank) saw his race effectively end with a puncture on the cobbled surface.

As the front of the peloton began to split, Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Gerald Ciolek and Devenyns began to lift the pace on behalf of Jérôme Pineau. Gilbert led on to the IJskelderlaan however, but he was countered by Devenyns, then Pineau attacked and forced a small gap as he crested the top.

On the descent however, the Frenchman suffered possibly the first bit of bad luck experienced by Omega Pharma-Quick Step this spring, and he slid off on a wet corner. A group of four riders, made up of Voeckler, Michael Matthews (Rabobank), Howes and Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) promptly jumped clear.

Schorn escaped Belkov on the Schavei, and was ten seconds clear of the Russian as he crossed the line with four laps and 51km to go. The group of four was 1’30” behind Schorn as it crossed the line, with Devenyns leading the rest over just ten seconds later; they were soon caught, and Gilbert, Van Avermaet and Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) all began to assert themselves but were unable to get clear.

Kévin Reza (Europcar) attacked and managed to get away alone. Ciolek led a group in pursuit of the lone Frenchman, but found himself sliding off on the vey same corner that had claimed Pineau; Elia Favilli (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) continued alone, but was passed by an attack from Sprick.

The break is almost over so Voeckler starts a new one

Across the line with three laps to go, Schorn’s lead was down to exactly a minute over Reza, who was quickly catching Belkov. Sprick was just 20 seconds behind Reza, with the peloton another ten seconds behind him.

Federico Canuti (Liquigas-Cannondale) began to wind up the pace of the decimated peloton and made short work of catching both Favilli and Reza early in the lap. The group of no more than 30 riders was gaining on Belkov now and, with 32km to go it had cut Schorn’s lead to a minute.

The climbers all came forward on the Hertstraat once more, with Jan Bakelandts (RadioShack-Nissan) leading the way. Voeckler attacked again over the top though, and got a few seconds clear.

The Frenchman was pursued by Van Avermaet, Devenyns, Vanendert, Howes, Ten Dam, Oscar Freire and Pieter Serry. Most of the big teams were represented, and the break appeared to be decisive; Liquigas-Cannondale was a notable absentee, but the Italian team’s ambitions were effectively ended when the corner that had taken down Pineau and Ciolek also claimed Sagan.

On the Schavei with 27km to go, Voeckler caught and passed Schorn; the exhausted Austrian was soon also pulled back by the chasers, but he managed to hang on to them. The hero of last year’s Tour de France crossed the line with two laps to go 23 seconds clear of the eight-man chasing group, and the peloton was a further 24 seconds behind.

With eight riders present, the chase group was apparently too large to cooperate properly and Voeckler’s lead was beginning to grow. With 22km to go it was up to 42 seconds, although the peloton was also drifting backwards with nobody willing to chase.

On the Hertstraat for the penultimate time, with Voeckler 47 seconds clear, an injection of pace from Howes managed to shed Schorn, but made little progress on Voeckler, who was making all sorts of facial expressions to the camera bikes up ahead. With 15km to go, the Frenchman’s lead rose to more than a minute, as the peloton began to close in on the seven chasers.

One lap to go and still nobody’s chasing Voeckler

As he took the bell with just 12.8km to go, Voeckler’s advantage was up to 1’10”; Fabio Duarte (Colombia-Deportes) tried to bridge across, as the peloton was less than 30 seconds behind the chase group now.

Occasionally one of the seven-man chase group would accelerate, but there was still no cohesion and the pace soon fizzled out. This lack of real pace saw Duarte join with 10km to go; the peloton was still hovering at around 30 seconds back, but there were enough teammates of those up ahead to prevent the gap from closing.

The rain began to fall heavily again now, but Voeckler had a minute and a half’s lead with less than half a lap to go. Devenyns tried to escape the chase group shortly after the top of the Hertstraat, but his half-hearted effort was soon closed down. Only a crash could stop Voeckler now, but - following the IJskelderlaan - he was heading towards the corner that had claimed Pineau, Ciolek and Sagan, and the rain had made the dried roads wet again. As the chasers neared the top of the climb Duarte attacked and got away.

With plenty of time in hand Voeckler could afford to take his time, tiptoeing around the treacherous, sweeping corners of the descent, and thankfully Duarte and the rest of the group were equally careful. Howes escaped them as they hit the bottom however, chasing the second spot on the podium; Voeckler had the top step sewn up now though, and shook hands with directeur sportif Jean-Rene Bernadeau in the team car as he began the final climb of the Schavei.

Theatrical to the end, Voeckler blew kisses to the crowd, then puffed his cheeks to the finish line photographers as he crossed the line to take his first victory of the season.

Behind him, the chasers had caught Howes, and Freire and Serry were closing on on Duarte. The duo caught the Colombian as he hit the finishing straight and the three-time World champion made short work of the sprint for second.


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De Brabantse Pijl - La Flèche Brabançonne (1.HC) Results: Leuven to Overijse (194.9km)

  Click on the arrowsat the top of the column to sort the race results.
Country Result Name Team Time
fra FRA 1 Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) 04:49:07
esp ESP 2 Oscar Gomez Freire (Katusha Team) 00:01:11
bel BEL 3 Pieter Serry (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) s.t.
col COL 4 Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia - Coldeportes) 00:01:14
bel BEL 5 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) 00:01:17
usa USA 6 Alex Howes (Team Garmin - Barracuda) s.t.
bel BEL 7 Jelle Vanendert (Lotto - Belisol Team) s.t.
bel BEL 8 Dries Devenyns (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) s.t.
ned NED 9 Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank Cycling Team) 00:01:27
aus AUS 10 Michael Matthews (Rabobank Cycling Team) 00:01:54
can CAN 11 Ryan Anderson (Spidertech Powered By C10) 00:01:56
bel BEL 12 Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team) 00:01:58
ita ITA 13 Elia Favilli (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia) s.t.
fra FRA 14 Christophe Le Mevel (Team Garmin - Barracuda) s.t.
bel BEL 15 Davy Commeijne (Landbouwkrediet - Euphony) s.t.
bel BEL 16 Jan Bakelants (RadioShack - Nissan) s.t.
bel BEL 17 Bert De Waele (Landbouwkrediet - Euphony) s.t.
bel BEL 18 Maxime Vantomme (Katusha Team) s.t.
bel BEL 19 Laurens De Vreese (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) s.t.
ned NED 20 Thomas Dekker (Team Garmin - Barracuda) s.t.
por POR 21 Nelson Oliveira (RadioShack - Nissan) s.t.
fra FRA 22 Sébastien Turgot (Europcar) s.t.
aho AHO 23 Marc De Maar (UnitedHealthcare Presented By Maxxis) s.t.
fra FRA 24 Matthieu Sprick (Argos-Shimano) s.t.
pol POL 25 Michal Golas (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) s.t.
bel BEL 26 Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) s.t.
bel BEL 27 Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team) s.t.
rus RUS 28 Pavel Brutt (Katusha Team) s.t.
esp ESP 29 Jordi Simón (Andalucia - Caja Granada) 00:02:09
ned NED 30 Brian Bulgac (Lotto - Belisol Team) 00:02:19
fra FRA 31 Thierry Hupond (Argos-Shimano) s.t.
col COL 32 Johan Esteban Cháves Rubio (Colombia - Coldeportes) s.t.
ned NED 33 Dirk Bellemakers (Landbouwkrediet - Euphony) s.t.
uzb UZB 34 Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team) 00:02:23
esp ESP 35 Jose Vicente Toribio (Andalucia - Caja Granada) 00:02:42
bel BEL 36 Ben Hermans (RadioShack - Nissan) 00:03:11
pol POL 37 Bartosz Huzarski (Team NetApp) s.t.
ita ITA 38 Manuele Boaro (Team Saxo Bank) 00:04:02
fra FRA 39 Yann Huguet (Argos-Shimano) s.t.
col COL 40 Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Colombia - Coldeportes) 00:04:47
irl IRL 41 Philip Deignan (UnitedHealthcare Presented By Maxxis) 00:05:11
aus AUS 42 Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare Presented By Maxxis) 00:05:30
ita ITA 43 Federico Canuti (Liquigas - Cannondale) s.t.
fra FRA 44 Jérome Pineau (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) 00:05:53
gbr GBR DNF Adam Blythe (BMC Racing Team)  
rus RUS DNF Alexander Mironov (Team Rusvelo)  
rus RUS DNF Alexey Tsatevitch (Katusha Team)  
fra FRA DNF Amaël Moinard (BMC Racing Team)  
ita ITA DNF Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)  
sui SUI DNF Andreas Dietziker (Team NetApp)  
lux LUX DNF Andy Schleck (RadioShack - Nissan)  
fra FRA DNF Angelo Tulik (Europcar)  
esp ESP DNF Antonio Cabello Baena (Andalucia - Caja Granada)  
rus RUS DNF Artem Ovechkin (Team Rusvelo)  
bel BEL DNF Arthur Vanoverberghe (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)  
usa USA DNF Benjamin King (RadioShack - Nissan)  
ger GER DNF Bjorn Thurau (Europcar)  
ned NED DNF Boy Van Poppel (UnitedHealthcare Presented By Maxxis)  
usa USA DNF Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare Presented By Maxxis)  
den DEN DNF Brian Vandborg (Spidertech Powered By C10)  
usa USA DNF Caleb Fairly (Spidertech Powered By C10)  
aus AUS DNF Cameron Wurf (Champion System)  
ita ITA DNF Cesare Benedetti (Team NetApp)  
usa USA DNF Chris Jones (UnitedHealthcare Presented By Maxxis)  
fra FRA DNF Christophe Kern (Europcar)  
den DEN DNF Christopher Juul-jensen (Team Saxo Bank)  
usa USA DNF Craig Lewis (Champion System)  
aut AUT DNF Daniel Schorn (Team NetApp)  
ita ITA DNF Daniele Ratto (Liquigas - Cannondale)  
sui SUI DNF Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing Team)  
can CAN DNF David Boily (Spidertech Powered By C10)  
aus AUS DNF David Tanner (Team Saxo Bank)  
bel BEL DNF Dennis Vanendert (Lotto - Belisol Team)  
rus RUS DNF Dmitry Kozontchuk (Team Rusvelo)  
ltu LTU DNF Egidijus Juodvalkis (Landbouwkrediet - Euphony)  
bel BEL DNF Eliot Lietaer (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)  
esp ESP DNF Eloy Ruiz Pinto (Andalucia - Caja Granada)  
MEX DNF Flavio De Luna (Spidertech Powered By C10)  
ita ITA DNF Francesco Failli (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)  
bel BEL DNF Frédéric Amorison (Landbouwkrediet - Euphony)  
lat LAT DNF Gatis Smukulis (Katusha Team)  
ger GER DNF Gerald Ciolek (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)  
bel BEL DNF Gert Dockx (Lotto - Belisol Team)  
bel BEL DNF Gianni Meersman (Lotto - Belisol Team)  
bel BEL DNF Gilles Devillers (Landbouwkrediet - Euphony)  
fra FRA DNF Giovanni Bernaudeau (Europcar)  
bel BEL DNF Gregory Habeaux ( – Willems Veranda’s)  
esp ESP DNF Gustavo Cesar Veloso (Andalucia - Caja Granada)  
bel BEL DNF Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)  
rus RUS DNF Ivan Rovny (Team Rusvelo)  
pol POL DNF Jacek Morajko (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)  
bel BEL DNF James Vanlandschoot ( – Willems Veranda’s)  
cze CZE DNF Jan Barta (Team NetApp)  
rsa RSA DNF Jay Robert Thomson (UnitedHealthcare Presented By Maxxis)  
col COL DNF Jeffry Johan Romero (Colombia - Coldeportes)  
bel BEL DNF Jens Debusschere (Lotto - Belisol Team)  
bel BEL DNF Jerome Baugnies (Team NetApp)  
nzl NZL DNF Jesse Sergent (RadioShack - Nissan)  
esp ESP DNF Jesus Rosendo Prado (Andalucia - Caja Granada)  
esp ESP DNF Joan Horrach Rippoll (Katusha Team)  
ger GER DNF Johannes Frohlinger (Argos-Shimano)  
ned NED DNF Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)  
aus AUS DNF Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare Presented By Maxxis)  
ned NED DNF Joost Posthuma (RadioShack - Nissan)  
ned NED DNF Jos Van Emden (Rabobank Cycling Team)  
arg ARG DNF Juan Jose Haedo (Team Saxo Bank)  
esp ESP DNF Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Andalucia - Caja Granada)  
col COL DNF Juan Pablo Forero Carreno (Colombia - Coldeportes)  
col COL DNF Juan Pablo Suarez (Colombia - Coldeportes)  
bel BEL DNF Julien Vermote (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)  
svk SVK DNF Juraj Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale)  
bel BEL DNF Jurgen Van De Walle (Lotto - Belisol Team)  
bel BEL DNF Jurgen Van Goolen ( – Willems Veranda’s)  
bel BEL DNF Kenny Dehaes (Lotto - Belisol Team)  
can CAN DNF Keven Lacombe (Spidertech Powered By C10)  
bel BEL DNF Kevin Hulsmans (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)  
fra FRA DNF Kevin Reza (Europcar)  
bel BEL DNF Kevyn Ista ( – Willems Veranda’s)  
chn CHN DNF Kin San Wu (Champion System)  
bel BEL DNF Klaas Lodewyck (BMC Racing Team)  
esp ESP DNF Koldo Fernández De Larrea (Team Garmin - Barracuda)  
chn CHN DNF Kun Jiang (Champion System)  
ned NED DNF Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team)  
lux LUX DNF Laurent Didier (RadioShack - Nissan)  
usa USA DNF Lucas Euser (Spidertech Powered By C10)  
arg ARG DNF Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Team Saxo Bank)  
esp ESP DNF Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (Rabobank Cycling Team)  
pol POL DNF Maciej Paterski (Liquigas - Cannondale)  
ita ITA DNF Marco Bandiera (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)  
ned NED DNF Martijn Keizer (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)  
ned NED DNF Martijn Maaskant (Team Garmin - Barracuda)  
svk SVK DNF Martin Velits (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)  
ita ITA DNF Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)  
aut AUT DNF Matthias Brandle (Team NetApp)  
den DEN DNF Matti Breschel (Rabobank Cycling Team)  
rus RUS DNF Maxim Belkov (Katusha Team)  
ned NED DNF Michel Kreder (Team Garmin - Barracuda)  
MAL DNF Muhamad Adiq Husaine Othman (Champion System)  
rus RUS DNF Nikita Eskov (Team Rusvelo)  
ukr UKR DNF Oleg Chuzhda ( – Willems Veranda’s)  
esp ESP DNF Pablo Lechuga Rodriguez (Andalucia - Caja Granada)  
ger GER DNF Paul Martens (Rabobank Cycling Team)  
chn CHN DNF Pengda Jiao (Champion System)  
svk SVK DNF Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale)  
ita ITA DNF Pier Paolo De Negri (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)  
bel BEL DNF Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)  
ned NED DNF Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)  
bel BEL DNF Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)  
tun TUN DNF Rafaa Chtioui (Europcar)  
isr ISR DNF Ran Margaliot (Team Saxo Bank)  
ned NED DNF Reinier Honig (Landbouwkrediet - Euphony)  
ned NED DNF Rob Ruijgh (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)  
ita ITA DNF Roberto De Patre (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)  
col COL DNF Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Colombia - Coldeportes)  
bel BEL DNF Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator)  
bel BEL DNF Sebastien Delfosse (Landbouwkrediet - Euphony)  
bel BEL DNF Sebastien Rosseler (Team Garmin - Barracuda)  
rus RUS DNF Sergey Klimov (Team Rusvelo)  
ger GER DNF Simon Geschke (Argos-Shimano)  
can CAN DNF Simon Lambert-lemay (Spidertech Powered By C10)  
bel BEL DNF Staf Scheirlinckx ( – Willems Veranda’s)  
ned NED DNF Stef Clement (Rabobank Cycling Team)  
ned NED DNF Stefan Van Dijk ( – Willems Veranda’s)  
ita ITA DNF Stefano Agostini (Liquigas - Cannondale)  
jpn JPN DNF Takashi Miyazawa (Team Saxo Bank)  
fra FRA DNF Thomas Bonnin (Argos-Shimano)  
fra FRA DNF Thomas Damuseau (Argos-Shimano)  
bel BEL DNF Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)  
usa USA DNF Thomas Peterson (Team Garmin - Barracuda)  
usa USA DNF Timothy Duggan (Liquigas - Cannondale)  
swe SWE DNF Tobias Ludvigsson (Argos-Shimano)  
den DEN DNF Troels Ronning Vinther (Team Saxo Bank)  
col COL DNF Victor Hugo Pena (Colombia - Coldeportes)  
rus RUS DNF Victor Manakov (Team Rusvelo)  
aus AUS DNF William Clarke (Champion System)  
bel BEL DNF Wim De Vocht ( – Willems Veranda’s)  
esp ESP DNF Xavier Florencio (Katusha Team)  
chn CHN DNF Xu Gang (Champion System)  
bel BEL DNF Yannick Eijssen (BMC Racing Team)  

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