Paolini wins one-on-one sprint with Vandenbergh in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Paolini wins one-on-one sprint with Vandenbergh in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

by Kyle Moore at 10:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Top two escape from successful ten-man group, Vandousselaere outkicks Thomas for third

Luca PaoliniLuca Paolini (Katusha) escaped a ten-man group with Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) with 25 kilometres to race in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, and the duo make it stick all the way to the line in Gent, where Paolini used his sprint to easily take down the tall Belgian. Vandenbergh still took a career result with second place.

Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) got a great result for his Belgian continental squad, winning the sprint out of the eight chasers for third.

The action heated up in its usual spot, with around 50 kilometres to race on the series of Belgian Hellingen that put riders to the test in the first big one-day race of the year. Notable about this year’s edition of Het Nieuwsblad was the small size of the group that eventually worked away. Ten men consolidated a lead after the peloton had split into several parts, and though a large peloton did eventually form behind, the leading group of ten, after it had reeled in the day’s early break, was gone for good.

Containing fast men Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Belisol), and Geraint Thomas (Sky Procycling), at least one of these three figured to factor in to the decision of the podium. But Vandenbergh got away on the cobbled section Lippehovenstraat, and Paolini was soon on him, and the duo began to ease away from the eight men behind them. Building a maximum lead of 40 seconds over the final 25 kilometres, they was able to outlast all the chasers on the bitterly cold day in Belgium.

Vandousselaere outsprinted Thomas for third, and Van Avermaet was fifth.

"I’m absolutely happy about this win," Paolini said afterward. "It’s a very important victory for me, for Katusha and for Russia, since today is Defender of the Fatherland Day [a type of Russian Veteran's Day - ed.]. I’m very pleased to give them another reason to celebrate. It was a special triumph for me in a very prestigious competition, one of the most beautiful Belgian classics races. I felt like I was in great condition despite the cold weather, and in the end I managed to win thanks to my experience. I have to thank the whole team, they worked great. In the morning we decided the strategy, and everything went as we planned. I wanted to follow the favorites, and thanks to my current condition, I managed to.”

The Belgian Classics season gets off to a frozen start:

Temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius greeted riders at the sign-in to the first big single-day race of the year. In spite of the cold, riders were eager to jump away when the flag dropped, and though multiple attacks were sprung in the opening kilometres, nothing could stick. Andreas Schillinger (NetApp-Endura) was one of the first to try, but it was his team-mate Zak Dempster who would find the successful move.

Will Clarke (Argos-Shimano), Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Seche Environnement), Julien Fouchard and Nico Sijmens (Cofidis), Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun), Jérôme Cousin (Europcar) and Dempster broke away after 30 kilometres and were soon joined by Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) and Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen). The peloton finally eased up after more than 35 kilometres of racing, and the bunch would eventually cover 46 in the first hour alone.

Once the main bunch shut down the power, the group of nine had five minutes in hand, though this would prove to be their maximum advantage. Gert Dockx (Lotto-Belisol) was the first crash victim, and the 24-year-old Belgian was soon loaded into an ambulance with a suspected broken collarbone. With the opening climbs of the Leberg, Berendries, Tenbosse, and Eikenmolen out of the way, Blanco began pitching into the chase, bringing the gap down closer to four minutes.

Over the Oude Steenweg and with 80km to race, the advantage of the leaders was under four minutes, with the Valkenberg up next. Over the top, the peloton stepped on the gas heading toward Ronse, cutting a minute off of their deficit over ten kilometres. The next climb was the Kruisberg, with 66km to race, and the breakaway was now just 2’15” in front of the peloton, which had riders scrambling to stay attached at the back. Over the next few kilometres, Cousin proved himself several times to be the strongest of the breakaway, and the Europcar rider accelerated to hit the top of the Kruisberg alone.

Attrition began in the break for the first time on the Kruisberg, as Lemoine and Clarke were unhitched and subsequently dropped back to the peloton. With seven now left at the front, Lemoine had an unceremonious exit from the peloton as well, sticking his front wheel too close to a ditch and toppling into it on his right side. Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) soon became another crash victim, this one at higher speeds, and leaving the young rider clutching his right wrist. With 60km to go, an IAM rider tested his legs off the front of the main bunch, but the attack was short-lived. In the break, numbers were reduced to six with the exit off the back of Bretagne’s Vachon.

Orica-GreenEdge and Blanco led proceedings into the Taainberg, but everyone stayed together over the top, with Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) and Yohan Offredo (FDJ) sticking their noses into the cold out front. These two helped keep the pace high over the Taaienberg, and while the split to the breakaway dropped under a minute, splits were occurring everywhere in the peloton.

Three divisions were evident in the peloton, and the groups remained separated through some narrow and winding roads off the descent of the climb. Omega Pharma-Quick Step, IAM, and BMC showed signs of wanting to push on, but they eased up as the first two splits on the road merged together. Importantly, this group, which was now around 25 or 30 riders, began to move quickly away from what had been the third split on the road. This larger group lost time to the selection ahead and would never factor in to the race going forward.

A small selection goes the distance:

With the breakaway splintering at the front, the new main bunch of 30 riders came off the Eikenberg with a growing advantage. Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) began to move away with Marco Bandiera (IAM), just as Bandiera’s team-mate Kristof Goddaert crashed hard at speed. Misreports of the fallen rider – he was initially thought to be Heinrich Haussler – were eventually uncovered as Haussler was later seen healthy at the front of a group. With 35 kilometres to the finish, the breakaway had split apart again, and Chavanel and Bandiera were rapidly closing in on them.

Eventually, four were left up front in Cousin, Fouchard, Sijmens, and Van Hecke, while Smukulis had fallen back to Chavanel and Bandiera, who were still moving forward. On the climb of the Varent, Chavanel and Bandiera had bridged to the leading quartet, while the climb spelled doom for Smukulis, so the four-man lead group had turned to six.

Meanwhile, behind, Van Avermaet had accelerated over the top of the Varent and kept the pace high, springing what would become the winning ten-man group. In the selection with Van Avermaet was Paolini, Vandenbergh, Vandousselaere, Roelandts, Thomas, Maarten Wynants (Blanco), and Egoitz Garcia (Cofidis). The anomaly that was Garcia – a Basque rider on a French team in a Belgian Classic – was a main aggressor in helping to pull the group away, as was Vandenbergh.

Ahead, Chavanel went into time trial mode and split up the exhausted group of early breakaway artists a final time, and though Cousin tried to hang on, Chavanel was soon on his own. The Van Avermaet group of ten quickly pulled themselves up to the original breakaway, when the Leberg hit, and the steepness got rid of Cousin, Van Hecke, and the Cofidis breakaway men for good. Over the top of the Leberg, Chavanel had 20 seconds on his nine new chasers, and it was 1’40” back to what was now the main peloton, which was being led by former Het Nieuwsblad winner Sebastian Langeveld and Orica-GreenEdge.

Chavanel seemed a bit unsure as to whether to attempt 40 kilometres on his own, and though he kept pushing into the Molenberg, Van Avermaet flew into the base of the next climb and had quickly pulled the group back to Chavanel. In the peloton, returning champion Sep Van Marcke (Blanco) accelerated into the Molenberg with Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Haussler, but the main bunch was facing a two minute disadvantage that would only get larger.

At the front, with Chavanel caught, it was ten men who were away for good: Garcia, Vandenbergh, Van Avermaet, Roelandts, Thomas, Vandousselaere, Paolini, Wynants, Bandiera, and Chavanel. Offredo attacked out of the peloton but was chased down, and the Frenchman was frustrated but a lack of cooperation in the peloton, though it was understandable with so many different teams represented in the breakaway, and FDJ not amongst it. With some of the leaders pausing to feed, Paolini tested his legs with 30km to race. Over more cobblestone sections, Garcia, Wynants, and Vandenbergh all put in long, hard turns to put the pain to the rest.

On the Lippehovenstraat, a relatively innocuous section of pavé, Vandenbergh moved forward, and with Paolini perhaps sensing some good timing, the two men got a small gap. Omega Pharma-Quick Step were the only team with multiple representatives in the group, so Chavanel sat at the back and let his lanky team-mate move away. With 25km to go, they were 15 seconds ahead, a gap that doubled over the next five kilometres. After the penultimate cobbled section, the Lange Munte, Paolini and Vandenbergh had pulled out 40 seconds, and though Van Avermaet and company eventually had it whittled down to 25 ticks, it seemed to be their final effort, and the gap was once again 40 seconds with less than 10km to go.

On the final section of cobbles, the Steenakker, Vandenbergh accelerated into and out of the rough stretch of road, but Paolini was glued to his wheel. The Italian was led into the final kilometer by the Belgian. With time to kill, the duo soft-pedaled under the one-kilometre banner, while Van Avermaet attacked the chasers looking for third.

Paolini ended up kicking early, but Vandenbergh was clearly exhausted, and though he put up a worthy fight, the superior sprinter was Paolini, who had plenty of time to sit up and savor the shivery victory. Vandousselaere also went long for third place, just managing to hold off Thomas for the final podium spot.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Ghent, Belgium (1.HC)

Elite men:

1, Luca Paolini (Katusha) 198.9 km in 4 hours 52 mins 15 secs
2, Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team)
3, Sven Vandousselaere (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise) at 1 min 13 secs
4, Geraint Thomas (Sky Procycling)
5, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team)
6, Marco Bandiera (IAM Cycling)
7, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team)
8, Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Belisol)
9, Maarten Wynants (Blanco Pro Cycling Team)
10, Egoitz Garcia Etxegibel (Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
11, Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) at 6 mins 27 secs
12, Manuel Belletti (Ag2R La Mondiale)
13, Jean-Pierre Drucker (Accent Jobs-Wanty)
14, Alexey Tsatevitch (Katusha)
15, Baptiste Planckaert (Crelan-Euphony)
16, Adrien Petit (Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
17, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling)
18, Sébastien Turgot (Team Europcar)
19, Heinrich Haussler (IAM Cycling)
20, Jack Bauer (Garmin-Sharp)
21, Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Katusha)
22, Martin Elmiger (IAM Cycling)
23, Bert De Backer (Team Argos-Shimano)
24, Maxime Vantomme (Crelan-Euphony)
25, Bertjan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
26, Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Katusha)
27, Gaetan Bille (Lotto Belisol)
28, Mickael Delage (FDJ)
29, Jean-Lou Paiani (Sojasun)
30, Kurt Hovelijnck (Crelan-Euphony)
31, Iljo Keisse (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team)
32, Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ)
33, Jens Keukeleire (Orica-GreenEdge)
34, Ian Stannard (Sky Procycling)
35, Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
36, Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
37, James Vanlandschoot (Accent Jobs-Wanty)
38, Yoann Offredo (FDJ)
39, Michael Schär (BMC Racing Team)
40, Egidijus Juodvalkis (Crelan-Euphony)
41, Markus Eichler (Team NetApp-Endura)
42, Arnaud Labbe (Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
43, Manuele Mori (Lampre-Merida)
44, Sebastian Langeveld (Orica-GreenEdge)
45, Danilo Wyss (BMC Racing Team)
46, Stijn Neirynck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
47, Daniel Oss (BMC Racing Team)
48, Tom Van Asbroeck (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
49, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team)
50, Benjamin Verraes (Accent Jobs-Wanty)
51, Vincent Jerome (Team Europcar)
52, Koen Barbe (Crelan-Euphony)
53, Luke Rowe (Sky Procycling)
54, Romain Zingle (Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
55, Ramon Sinkeldam (Team Argos-Shimano)
56, Maarten Tjallingii (Blanco Pro Cycling Team)
57, Mirko Selvaggi (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
58, Oscar Gatto (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia)
59, Ignatas Konovalovas (MTN-Qhubeka)
60, Frederik Willems (Lotto Belisol)
61, Gabriel Rasch (Sky Procycling)
62, Tim De Troyer (Accent Jobs-Wanty)
63, Sébastien Chavanel (Team Europcar)
64, Bernhard Eisel (Sky Procycling)
65, Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp)
66, Nico Sijmens (Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
67, Sebastien Rosseler (Garmin-Sharp)
68, Jonathan Breyne (Crelan-Euphony)
69, Klaas Lodewyck (BMC Racing Team)
70, Reto Hollenstein (IAM Cycling)
71, Julien Fouchard (Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
72, John Degenkolb (Team Argos-Shimano)
73, Anthony Geslin (FDJ)
74, Sep Vanmarcke (Blanco Pro Cycling Team)
75, Kevin Hulsmans (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia)
76, Mauro Finetto (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia)
77, Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing Team)
78, Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team)
79, Grega Bole (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
80, Lars Boom (Blanco Pro Cycling Team)
81, Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
82, Tim Declercq (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
83, Alexandre Pichot (Team Europcar)
84, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team)
85, Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
86, Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida)
87, Manuel Quinziato (BMC Racing Team)
88, Andreas Klier (Garmin-Sharp)
89, Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
90, Baden Cooke (Orica-GreenEdge)
91, Salvatore Puccio (Sky Procycling)
92, Zdenek Stybar (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team)
93, Mitchell Docker (Orica-GreenEdge)
94, Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
95, David Veilleux (Team Europcar)
96, William Bonnet (FDJ)
97, Damien Gaudin (Team Europcar)
98, Christopher Sutton (Sky Procycling)
99, Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team)
100, Debusschere Jens (Lotto Belisol)
101, Jacob L Rathe (Garmin-Sharp) at 8 mins 49 secs
102, Sébastien Hinault (IAM Cycling) at 12 mins 4 secs
103, Zakkari Dempster (Team NetApp-Endura)
104, Angelo Tulik (Team Europcar)
105, Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Baloise)
106, Blaz Jarc (Team NetApp-Endura)
107, Jerome Cousin (Team Europcar)
108, Gatis Smukulis (Katusha)
109, David Boucher (FDJ) at 13 mins 39 secs
110, Matt Brammeier (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
111, Andreas Stauff (MTN-Qhubeka)
112, Clinton Robert Avery (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
113, Roberto De Patre (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia)
114, Erick Rowsell (Team NetApp-Endura)
115, Andreas Schillinger (Team NetApp-Endura)
116, Johann Van Zyl (MTN-Qhubeka)
117, Bobbie Traksel (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
118, Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
119, Russell Downing (Team NetApp-Endura)
120, Jonathan Mcevoy (Team NetApp-Endura)
121, Gael Malacarne (Bretagne-Seche Environnement)
122, Pirmin Lang (IAM Cycling)
123, Paul Martens (Blanco Pro Cycling Team)
124, Mattia Cattaneo (Lampre-Merida)
125, Christophe Laborie (Sojasun)
126, Rony Martias (Sojasun)
127, Evaldas Siskevicius (Sojasun)
128, Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida)
129, Fumiyuki Beppu (Orica-GreenEdge)
130, Jean-Luc Delpech (Bretagne-Seche Environnement)
131, Steve Chainel (Ag2R La Mondiale)
132, Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2R La Mondiale)
133, Sébastien Minard (Ag2R La Mondiale)
134, Svein Tuft (Orica-GreenEdge)
135, Dominique Rollin (FDJ)
136, Martin Reimer (MTN-Qhubeka)
137, Jan Ghyselinck (Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
138, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha)
139, Rudiger Selig (Katusha)
140, Kristian Sbaragli (MTN-Qhubeka)
141, Davide Appollonio (Ag2R La Mondiale)
142, Elia Favilli (Lampre-Merida)
143, Davide Cimolai (Lampre-Merida)
144, Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team)
145, Alessandro Proni (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia)

Did not finish:

Jéröme Gilbert (Accent Jobs-Wanty)
Andy Cappelle (Accent Jobs-Wanty)
William Routley (Accent Jobs-Wanty)
Stefan Van Dijk (Accent Jobs-Wanty)
Hugo Houle (Ag2R La Mondiale)
Axel Domont (Ag2R La Mondiale)
Anthony Ravard (Ag2R La Mondiale)
Rick Flens (Blanco Pro Cycling Team)
Moreno Hofland (Blanco Pro Cycling Team)
Robert Thomas Wagner (Blanco Pro Cycling Team)
Arnaud Gerard (Bretagne-Seche Environnement)
Clément Koretzky (Bretagne-Seche Environnement)
Benjamin Le Montagner (Bretagne-Seche Environnement)
Geoffroy Lequatre (Bretagne-Seche Environnement)
Benoit Jarrier (Bretagne-Seche Environnement)
Florian Vachon (Bretagne-Seche Environnement)
Matthias Friedemann (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
Wang Yip Tang (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
Mart Ojavee (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
Ryan Roth (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
Kin San Wu (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
Florent Barle (Cofidis, Solutions Credits)
Sébastien Delfosse (Crelan-Euphony)
Frédéric Amorison (Crelan-Euphony)
Johan Le Bon (FDJ)
Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Sharp)
Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Sharp)
Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Sharp)
Kristof Goddaert (IAM Cycling)
Aleksejs Saramotins (IAM Cycling)
Alexander Porsev (Katusha)
Massimo Graziato (Lampre-Merida)
Luca Wackermann (Lampre-Merida)
Kenny Dehaes (Lotto Belisol)
Gert Dockx (Lotto Belisol)
Vicente Reynes Mimo (Lotto Belisol)
Marcel Sieberg (Lotto Belisol)
Ferekalsi Debesay Abrha (MTN-Qhubeka)
Youcef Reguigui (MTN-Qhubeka)
Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team)
Sam Bewley (Orica-GreenEdge)
Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge)
Maxime Daniel (Sojasun)
Jimmy Engoulvent (Sojasun)
Cyril Lemoine (Sojasun)
Albert Timmer (Team Argos-Shimano)
William Clarke (Team Argos-Shimano)
Roy Curvers (Team Argos-Shimano)
Luka Mezgec (Team Argos-Shimano)
Tom Stamsnijder (Team Argos-Shimano)
Paul Voss (Team NetApp-Endura)
Rafael Andriato (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia)
Luigi Miletta (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia)


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