By Andrew Hood
Dutch rider Steven De Jongh (Rabobank) was fastest in an eight-up sprint to win Sunday’s cold and blustery Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne race in Belgian.
De Jongh, winner of last year’s GP E3-Harelbeke, nipped Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) and Gerben Loewik (Chocolade Jacques) a day after snow forced the cancellation of Saturday’s Het Volk.
Thirty-eight riders jumped off the front as the peloton split coming over the Old Kwaremont climb as U.S. Postal’s George Hincapie and Max Van Heeswijk set a blistering pace. Quick Step was well-placed and controlled the lead group coming into the final circuit when eight riders attacked hard with 10km to go.
Postal missed the move and tried in vain to get back in time for the sprint. De Jongh got some help from teammate Maarten Den Bakker to win ahead of Bettini while Tom Boonen (Quick Step) led the chasers coming through just ahead of Van Heeswijk at nine seconds back.
Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne (UCI 1.2)
1. Steven De Jongh (Ned), Rabobank, 188km in 4:39:10
2. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step
3. Gerben Lowik (Ned), Chocolade Jacques
4. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), Cofidis
5. Geert Omloop (Bel), Mr Bookmakers – all same time
French fastest in Almería
French riders Jerome Pineau and Thomas Voeckler swept to victory for their Brioches la Boulangere team Sunday in the Clasica de Almeria in Spain.
The pair pulled away from the main pack and held off new U.S. Postal Service recruit Benjamin Noval to take the victory. Noval, who rode well in last week’s Tour of the Algarve in Lance Armstrong’s season debut, came through third at 13 seconds back.
19th Clasica de Almeria (UCI 1.3)
1. Jerome Pineau (F), Boulangere, 187km in 4:50:37
2. Thomas Voeckler (F), Boulanger, same time
3. Benjamin Noval (Sp), USPS, at 0:13
4. Julio Lopez (Sp), Relax Bodysol, at 0:15
5. Bjorn Leukemans (Bel), Mr Bookmakers, at 0:29
Cofidis 1-2 in Lugano, Navigators on the move
Cofidis finished 1-2 in Sunday’s GP Lugano race in Switzerland as last year’s winner, David Moncoutie, stepped aside to let teammate Frederic Bessy take the honors.
The two Cofidis riders, along with Vladimir Miholjevic (Alessio-Bianchi), pulled away over the hilly 160km course in the southern reaches of Switzerland near the Italian border. Marcus Zberg (Gerolsteiner) led a chase group through at 34 seconds back to take fourth.
The race was held on the 1996 world championship course with 10 laps over the 16km course. Navigators Insurance put four riders – Chris Baldwin, Kirk O’Bee, David McKenzie and Mark Walters – into the front group after three laps.
O’Bee played his hand in a seven-man breakaway that built up a gap of more than two minutes midway through the race, but Saeco led a chase with only four laps remaining to bring the gap down to 50 seconds.
Three from the original break were joined by the French duo and Ruben Lobato (Saunier Duval) on the final lap as the chase group and lead break splintered. O’Bee came through with a group of four, the team reported.
GP Lugano (UCI 1.3)
1. Frederic Bessy (F), Cofidis, 160km in 4:22:40
2. David Moncoutie (F), Cofidis
3. Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro), Alessio-Bianchi – all same time
4. Marcus Zberg (Swi), Gerolsteiner, at 0:34
5. Ruben Lobato (Sp), Saunier Duval, at s.t.