By Andrew Hood
Danes celebrated cycling during its most important weekend of racing in fine fashion, with national riders Frank Hoj (fatka) winning Saturday’s GP S.A.T.S. and Jakob Piil (CSC) taking the big win in Sunday’s CSC Classic.
The two Danish powerhouses dominated both races, the most important one-day races on the Danish cycling calendar. The only things bigger are the Danish national championships and the Tour of Denmark.
Saturday’s race took the peloton over gravel and dirt roads around Herning, the hometown for 1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis. But it was fatka’s Hoj that stole the show while Riis’s charges in red suffered more ill-timed punctures.
Hoj attacked with 20km to go and roared to his first victory in three years in a race that’s called Denmark’s Paris-Roubaix.
“This feels damn good,” said the popular Hoj. “We wanted to win this race so badly, but I never expected to have the legs I did. This race is hard and the cross-winds can take it out of you, but I kept pushing and pushing.”
CSC was hoping for the win for Andrea Tafi, who suffered four punctures and a crash but still finished fifth at the real Paris-Roubaix. Tafi wanted to deliver the big win for Riis, but punctured twice just as Hoj was getting away.
Riis got some back in Sunday’s CSC Classic, the highest-rated one-day race in Denmark as Piil scored the fourth consecutive win for the team in the race.
Piil was part of 12 riders who pulled away just 10 kilometers into the race over the rolling hills around Aarhus, a bustling college town and port city. Team fatka’s Jorgen Bo Petersen attacked with about 60 kilometers to go to trim the lead group to just five riders, which included Petersen and Sunderland from fatka, Piil and Thomas Bruun Eriksen from Team CSC and Goren Jensen from Glud & Marstrand Horsens.
Bruun and Petersen tried to attack in the final five circuits in downtown Aarhus, but the duel came down to the more experienced Piil and Sunderland. Piil used his solid sprinting strength to shoot ahead of Sunderland to score his first win of the 2003 season.
“I hope this win will give me a push forward. I’ve been riding extremely badly all year and I hope this is a turning point for me,” Piil said. “Every year I try to hit the form for the spring classics and it usually doesn’t succeed. I usually hit the form after May 1, so it might be like that again.”
CSC Classic (UCI 1.2), 163km
1. Jakob Piil, CSC
2. Scott Sunderland, Team fatka
3. Jorgen Bo Petersen, Team fatka
4. Thomas Bruun Eriksen, CSC
5. Goren Jensen, Glud & Marstrand Horsens