By VeloNews Interactive
U.S. criterium champion Kirk O’Bee (Navigators) augmented his European palmares on Friday with a victory in Belgium’s G.P. Pino Cerami.
As team director Ed Beamon described it, the 192km course featured a tough opening circuit of 128km with several sections of pavé, some climbing, “and more wind than Thor could muster on a bad hair day.”
It then segued into four laps on a 16km circuit that included two climbs, the second a 15 percent grade on pavé.
An early break of nearly 30 riders moved forward in the strong cross winds, but never gained more than a minute, and was reabsorbed as the field tackled the first of the finishing circuits. Another group of 14 took off on the steep brick climb, with Navigators represented by O’Bee and Chris Baldwin, but while Lotto-Adecco had a man in the move – Glenn D’Hollander – team leader Serge Baquet had missed out, and the team launched a chase with three laps to go.
With his team slashing the gap from a minute to 20 seconds, Baquet bridged to the leaders on the second-to-last trip up the pavé, just as D’Hollander was falling back, and the break began jockeying for position as the pursuit faded.
With 12km to go, Dave Bruylandts (Domo-Farm Frites) attacked, O’Bee marked the move, and the two built a gap of 20 seconds as Baldwin monitored the remnants of the break.
Bruylandts tried a long shot, from a kilometer out, but O’Bee was right on his wheel and came around with 300 meters remaining to win. Baquet was best of the rest, at third, while Baldwin rolled in 10th.
“This has been an awesome trip,” said O’Bee, who also won the Grand Prix Cycliste de la Ville de Rennes on April 7, ahead of teammates Vassily Davidenko in second and Ciaran Power and Oleg Grichkin in fourth and fifth.
“The team is riding great, and I’ve been feeling pretty strong.”
G.P. Pino Cerami Saint Ghislain,
Belgium. April 12, 2002
1.Kirk O’Bee (USA), Navigators;
2. Dave Bruylandts (B), Domo-Farm Frites;
3. Serge Baguet (B), Lotto-Adecco;
4. Mauro Zanetti (I) Alessio;
5. Paolo Bossoni (I), Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola;
6. Ludovic Auger (F), Big Mat-Auber 93;
7. Zbigniev Piatek (Pol), MROZ;
8. Marcus Ljungqvist (Swi) Team Fakta;
9. Andrej Hauptman (Slo), Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola;
10. Chris Baldwin (USA), Navigators