Pozzato Takes E3 Preis Vlaanderen
Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) has scored his first victory in more than a year. The Italian, who last won at last year's Giro della Provincia di Grosseto, took a three-up sprint to win the 208-km E3 Preis Vlaanderen in 5:11:49. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) took second and third place, respectively.
The riders battled cold, wind, and rain as well as each other. At seven km, four men--Steve Chainel (Bouygues Telecom), David Boucher (Landbouwkrediet), Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil), and Jean Zen (Palmans)--escaped. By 68 km, the quartet had forged a seven-minute lead.
Silence and Cervelo began to chase, and Rabobank eventually joined in. On Berg Stene (133 km), the second of the race's 12 climbs, Chainel was dropped. Robbie McEwen (Katusha) and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) attacked from the peloton.
With 56 km left, Boonen attacked on the Taaienberg. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) joined the Belgian. This move was snuffed out, but eight km later, Flecha attacked. Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, and Stijn Devolder (all from Quick Step); Pozzato; Marcus Burghardt and Bernhard Eisel (both from Columbia); Hushovd, Jeremy Hunt, and Andreas Klier (all from Cervelo); Marco Bandiera (Lampre); Nick Nuyens and Sebastian Langeveld (both from Rabobank); Grega Bole (Amica Chips); and Iglinsky joined the Spaniard.
On Kwaremont, Devolder attacked. The Belgian passed Zen, who was one of two remaining escapees, and caught Westra. With 25 km left, Boonen countered on the Knokteberg, and Iglinsky and Pozzato joined him.
The break's lead grew from 0:16 with 20 km remaining to 0:32 with 15 km left. With six km remaining, the trio led the chasers by 0:45. Clearly, a break member would win.
In the last km, the break members' cooperation, which had been good, stopped. Iglinsky stayed in third wheel. With 500 m left, Boonen found himself leading.
Pozzato jumped Boonen on the left. Boonen fought hard, but Pozzato edged ahead of the Belgian for the win.
Boonen hugged Pozzato as the two approached the stage for the postrace interview. The Quick Step man said that he could not shift into his 11 but added that Pozzato "was better in the sprint." For his part, Pozzato said, "I am happy. I am sorry for him [Boonen] because we are great friends."
In the weeks to come, Boonen, Pozzato, and many of the riders who did battle today will do so in the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and other classics. How will they fare? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!