Events

Meirhaeghe takes Mt. Ste. Anne and World Cup lead

The sun came out and the war of attrition started. Racers dropped indroves as the heat and dust claimed many. It even became a strategy forsome racers to simply outlast the others. The racers only gained some reliefin the finish area where the wind could cool them a bit. Only the toughmade it through.The toughest today was Filip Meirhaeghe (Specialized). He rode a magnificentrace finishing with a 2 minute and 13 second gap over Christophe Dupouey(Giant Global) in second. Merihaeghe was jubilant. "Already in the firstlap I felt that I was strong, but so were Dupouey and Sauser. Sauser

By Robert Jones, VeloNews Correspondent

Meirhaeghe

Meirhaeghe

Photo: Robert Jones

The sun came out and the war of attrition started. Racers dropped indroves as the heat and dust claimed many. It even became a strategy forsome racers to simply outlast the others. The racers only gained some reliefin the finish area where the wind could cool them a bit. Only the toughmade it through.The toughest today was Filip Meirhaeghe (Specialized). He rode a magnificentrace finishing with a 2 minute and 13 second gap over Christophe Dupouey(Giant Global) in second. Merihaeghe was jubilant. “Already in the firstlap I felt that I was strong, but so were Dupouey and Sauser. Sauser flatted,and then Dupouey was dropped, which surprised me because he was so strong.This is one of my favourite courses. In ’98 I finished 3rd at the Worldshere.”His win moved him into the World Cup lead, 40 points ahead of Bart Brentjens(Giant Global).The race started very fast, with a lead group containing Meirhaeghe,Christoph Sauser (Volvo-Cannondale), Christopher Dupouey (Giant Global),Roland Green (Trek-Volkswagen), Seamus McGrath (Haro-Lee Dungarees), LadoFumic (T-Mobile) and half a dozen others. Just behind and chasing was RyderHesjedal (Subaru-Gary Fisher).While some would fall off through attrition, others had mechanical problems.Sauser flatted and broke his chain, McGrath jammed his chain in the cogs(which required pulling the rear wheel out), and Green had his brakes loosenoff on the second lap and then flatted on the third.The front group was reduced to Meirhaeghe, Dupouey and Sauser, thenSauser flatted and Dupouey dropped back to Fumic, leaving the Belgian riderout in front alone. Dupouey and Fumic rode together until the final lap,when the French rider broke away to take second.Dupouey was very pleased with his result. “I felt very good today. Ithas been more than a year since I’ve felt this good. This is my best resultsince St. Wendel over a year ago. I made a tactical mistake in not followingMeirhaeghe more closely, but I was afraid that I was going to blow up soI rode a very secure race. It was very hot and dusty so it was hard tokeep a rhythm for the whole race.”Behind, Hesjedal and Julien Absalon (Motorex-Bianchi) were moving upthrough the field to claim fourth and fifth positions. They stayed togetheruntil the final lap, when Absalon, the Espoir world champion, was ableto drop Hesjedal.Hesjedal was happy, but not completely satisfied, to make the podium.”I just missed the group at the front. When they went into the woodsI was in a bad position. After that I just had to stay steady and playcatch up. I started picking up guys and then I came up (to the front) withRoel (Paulissen) to Bart (Brentjens) and Seamus (McGrath). I kept my pacesteady and shot through them up to (Julien) Absalon. I was riding strongbut he had more gas in the tank and he attacked on the last climb of thelast lap. After that I just protected my podium spot.”This Meirhaeghe’s first time in the leader jersey. How does it feel?”It’s great! I didn’t expect this before the start, but in the lasttwo laps when I heard the positions, I started to think about the possibility.”
 

Results

1. Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) Specialized 2:01:18

2. Christophe Dupuoey ((Fra) Giant at 2:14

3. Lado Fumic (Ger) Team T Moble 2:35

4. Julien Absalon (Fra) Bianchi 3:20

5. Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Gary Fisher 4:16

6. Roland Green (Can) Trek VW 5:05

7. Seamus McGrath (Can) Haro Lee-Dungarees 5:10

8. Roel Paulisson (Bel) Lanabau-RW 5:12

9. Kashi Leuchs (Nzl) Volvo-Cannondale 6:08

10. Bart Brentjens (Ned) Giant Global 6:54

Overall Standings

1. Meirhaeghe 515 points

2. Brentjens 475

3. Paulissen 455