Pozzato takes E3-Prijs Harelbeke
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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pozzato takes E3-Prijs Harelbeke

by VeloNation Press at 1:11 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics

Team Katusha's Filippo Pozzato today won the E3-Prijs in a 3-up sprint against Quick-Step's Tom Boonen and Astana's Maxim Iglinsky ending a period of more than a year without a win for the Italian.

"I feel sorry for Tom Boonen, but this victory means a lot to me," said a relieved Pozzato after the race.

On a typical Flemmish Spring day marked by wind and rain, a group of four riders went on an early break and gained a maximum advantage of around 7 minutes. The break contained Steve Chainel from Bouygues Telecom, David Boucher from Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, Jean Zen from Palmans - Cras and Lieuwe Westra from Vacansoleil. The combination of weather and a field of motivated teams had them back in the main group before the serious moves began.

In the 208km race known as the "Little Tour of Flanders", Team Quick-Step continued to show their dominance in the lead up to the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix. The Belgian team softened up the race using Stijn Devolder, last years Tour of Flanders winner, attacking on the famous Kwaremont climb. When Devolder couldn't stay away, team leader Tom Boonen took over putting in two searing attacks as he looked toward Flanders next Sunday.

Boonen's first attack was on the Taaienberg where only Cervélo's Thor Hushovd and Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha could follow. The move was absorbed by the pack after only a couple of kilometers, but when they were caught Flecha decided to try to go it alone with just under 50k to go eventually forming the group containing the days contenders.

Quick-Step had Boonen, Chavanel, and Devolder; Cervélo TestTeam had Hushovd, Hunt and Klier; Columbia - High Road had Burghardt, Eisel and Hincapie; Rabobank had Nuyens and Langeveld. That left Bole, Iglinsky, Bandiera, and Pozzato to look for opportunities while the other teams played tactics.

As the race got to the penultimate climb of the day, Boonen hit the gas on the Knokteberg with 25km to go splitting apart the race. Only his former teammate Pozzato could match the powerful Belgian up the climb. Astana's Iglinsky dangled off the back of the two leaders, and once he realized the race was going up the road, he was able to claw his way across to the duo.

As the kilometers counted down, the break was able to gain time as they worked together on the way toward the finish line in Harelbeke. Iglinsky, outgunned by the likes of Boonen and Pozzato, knew he could only win if he arrived at the line alone. With 2km to go he sat on wheels refusing to pull through. Boonen and Pozzato continued to take turns at the front anxiously waiting for the Kazakh to make his play for the line.

With 1km to go the break had 50 seconds in hand, and as they anticipated the move that never came from Iglinsky, Pozzato was able to work his way onto Boonen's wheel for the sprint. Pozzato followed Boonens initial surge and launched off of his wheel with a clean shot to the line - the Belgian's face clearly disappointed with the result as an elated Pozzato raised his hand ending his long win-less drought.

Pozzato said in an interview after the race, "I cannot beat Tom in a sprint, but after such a difficult course in the wind, I am also pretty fast."

This race showed an on form Boonen as the favorite for next weeks Tour of Flanders, and also showed us that Pozzato might have the form to fulfill his dream of winning the race.

There is a long list of consistent riders so far this year that might be in with a chance next Sunday including Flecha, Chavanel, Devloder, Hincapie, Eisel, Burghardt, Hushovd, Nuyens and Langeveld, all of which are looking sharp. Outsiders could be Milram's Niki Terpstra and Cervélo's Heinrich Haussler if he can regain his form.

In a Classics season that has seen two teams notably absent from the results, Katusha and Silence-Lotto, team Katusha director and former classics great Andrei Tchmil can now take a sigh of relief with this victory while Silence-Lotto's Leif Hoste and Philippe Gilbert will be under a lot of pressure to produce a big result next weekend.

Results from the E3-Prijs:
1. Filippo Pozzato - Team Katusha
2. Tom Boonen - Quick Step
3. Maxim Iglinskyi - Astana
4. Thor Hushovd - Cervélo TestTeam
5. Sylvain Chavanel - Quick Step
6. Stijn Devolder - Quick Step
7. Nick Nuyens - Rabobank
8. George Hincapie - Team Columbia - Highroad
9. Sebastian Langeveld - Rabobank
10. Marcus Burghardt - Team Columbia - Highroad


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