By Andrew Hood
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (CSC) is one of those riders who can be counted on to work into breakaways and win.
He pulled off a stunning victory last year in stage 8 in the Giro d’Italia against Paolo Bettini in the rainbow jersey and George Hincapie as part of a huge, 18-rider move. In 2005, he has two major close calls, finishing second in Paris-Tours and second to Paolo Savoldelli in a stage in Lance Armstrong’s last Tour de France.
The 33-year-old Norwegian used all of his accumulated savvy Saturday to out-fox a six-man breakaway in the 51st E3 Prijs Vlaanderen in Belgium.
Arvesen attacked early with CSC teammate Lars Bak in the 203km race that’s a key warm-up event for next weekend’s Tour of Flanders.
Bak faded back while Arvesen latched on to a group that included David Kopp (Gerolsteiner), Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto), Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom), Janek Tombak (Cofidis) and Bernhard Eisel (High Road).
Despite a late-surge from four-time winner Tom Boonen (Quick Step), the leaders were clear over the Tiegemberg with 16km to go to duke it out for the win.
Kopp tried an early attack with 3km to go, but Arvesen came off a counter-attack from Van Avermaet, the highly touted Belgian sprinter, to spring free in the closing 300 meters. Kopp came through second with Van Avermaet third.
“We were right up there from the word go and Kurt ended up sitting in a break for about 175 kilometers,” said CSC’s sport director Scott Sunderland on the team’s web page. “Everyone in that break was worn out at the end, but Kurt had the legs and the tactical overview to win.”
Matti Breschel (CSC) led the main pack across the line at 1:20 back to take seventh with Boonen eighth.