De Waele surprises on the Cauberg
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

De Waele surprises on the Cauberg

by Jered Gruber at 4:51 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Amstel Gold Race

Overall, most would agree that Belgium has had a lackluster at best Spring Campaign...up until this past week. There have been bright spots (Keukeleire, Boonen, and others), solid placings (Boonen and Gilbert), and promising prospects giving glimpses to their potential (Van Marcke), but wins were scarce in the big races, nay, nonexistent. Then, finally, Sebastien Rosseler snapped the winless streak at the Brabantse Pijl, and today atop the Cauberg, Philippe Gilbert really put an end to the streak both for his country and his team, but a few spots behind him, another dependable Belgian was taking care of one of the best results of his lengthy career: 4th for the 34-year-old from the heart of West Flanders, Bert de Waele.

Landbouwkrediet's De Waele has achieved a number of solid successes and wins throughout his career. Wins at the GP Wallonie in 2007, Stage 4 of the Tour of Belgium in 2009, Chole-Pays de Loire in 2004, amongst some solid placings like 10th at last year's Ronde van Vlaanderen have made him a seasoned Belgian flahute, but not too terribly well known outside of Northern Europe. His 2010 campaign was already a solid one before today's 4th: 6th at the GP Pino Cerami. 2nd overall at the Tour du Haut Var with two third places in stages, along with four top 20's in the Belgian Classics: 13th at Het Nieuwsblad, 14th at Brabantse Pijl, 19th at Dwars door Vlaanderen, and 20th at the E3 Harelbeke. Those are results that no one can scoff at, but one could also be forgiven for not having noticed a single one of them.

De Waele's attack in the final 500 meters of today's Amstel Gold Race, however, shined a light on a rider that has spent a career trying to find his way into it. De Waele's move was a painful example of the difficulty in moving up from the back on a climb. His attack was at least ten seconds strong by the time he hit the front to have a go for glory.

"I had a good feeling all day. My attack on the Cauberg was not planned, but I wanted to play the surprise. I anticipated, and I think I made the best choice for me in the finale."

In the end, he provided an excellent leadout for Philippe Gilbert, but he managed to keep going without what should have been a likely melt down after the effort he had made. He was eventually passed by Canada's Ryder Hesjedal and Italy's Enrico Gasparotto, but on the line, 4th place was his, and a fabulous result for his aggression.

"Gilbert got right on my wheel, but when he went, I could not follow him. He was too strong. A podium finish was just not possible, but I'm not disappointed. It is certainly a good sign that I came in fourth. The longer climbs of the Fleche Wallonne and Liege will suit me even better."


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