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Van Petegem, Boonen among favorites girding for a frigid Het Volk

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon) are among the favorites in the traditional Belgian season-opener, the Omloop Het Volk, on Saturday. The 200km course between Ghent and Lokeren includes plenty of climbing along with 19km of cobbles, and forecasters are predicting unpleasant weather, perhaps even some snow. Last year’s edition was canceled due to heavy snow and bitter cold, but this time organizers guarantee that the race will come off regardless of the temperatures. Though it’s not included in the new UCI ProTour, Het Volk remains a monument for Flamands, the first

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By Agence France Presse

Peter Van Petegem celebrates his third win at Het Volk

Peter Van Petegem celebrates his third win at Het Volk

Photo: AFP (file)

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon) are among the favorites in the traditional Belgian season-opener, the Omloop Het Volk, on Saturday.

The 200km course between Ghent and Lokeren includes plenty of climbing along with 19km of cobbles, and forecasters are predicting unpleasant weather, perhaps even some snow.

Last year’s edition was canceled due to heavy snow and bitter cold, but this time organizers guarantee that the race will come off regardless of the temperatures.

Though it’s not included in the new UCI ProTour, Het Volk remains a monument for Flamands, the first large objective of their season.

“The opening weekend in our own country is always something special. I see in our team four or five candidates for the victory: Nick Nuyens, Servais Knaven, Kevin Hulsmans, myself and perhaps Paolo Bettini,” said Boonen.

As for three-time winner Van Petegem, he said he hoped for “a difficult race.”

“The ideal would be to form a small group toward the end and to be able to make the difference in the last section of pavé,” said Van Petegem.

The two squads will be watching each other, but keeping a wary eye out for challenges from other quarters, including Discovery Channel and T-Mobile.

“There are many other potential winners,” noted Boonen.

Teams and leaders for Het Volk
Quick Step Paolo Bettini (I); Tom Boonen (B); Kevin Hulsmans (B);Nick Nuyens (B); Servais Knaven (Nl)
Davitamon Peter Van Petegem (B); Tom Steels (B); Nico Mattan (B);Robbie McEwen (Aus)
CSC Jacob Piil (Dk); Lars Michaelsen (Dk); Kurt-Asle Arvesen (N)
Bouygues Laurent Brochard (F); Thomas Voeckler (F)
Cofidis Jimmy Casper (F); Thierry Marichal (B); Stuart O’Grady (Aus)
Crédit Agricole Laszlo Bodrogi (H); Thor Hushovd (N); DamienNazon (F)
Francaise des Jeux (Philippe Gilbert (B); Christophe Mengin (F)
T-Mobile Rolf Aldag (G); Serguei Ivanov (Rus); Steffen Wesemann (G)
Landbouwkrediet Glen D’Hollander (B); Ludo Dierckxsens (B)
Rabobank Steven De Jongh (Nl); Maarten den Bakker (Nl)
Discovery Channel George Hincapie (USA); Leif Hoste (B); BenoîtJoachim (Lux); Steijn Devolder (B)
MrBookmaker.com Geert Omloop (B); Stefan Van Dijck (Nl)
Chocolat Jacques Nico Eeckhout (B)
AG2R Jean-Patrick Nazon (F); Tomas Vaitkus (Lit)
Phonak Aurelien Clerc (Swi)
RAGT Sebastien Minard (F)
Agritubel Saulius Ruskis (Lit)
Wiesenhof, Barloworld, Shimano, LPR Dimitri Konyshev (Rus)
Navigators Christopher Baldwin (USA), Oleg Grishkine (Rus), Jeff Louder (USA), Kirk O’Bee (USA), David O’Loughlin (Irl), Ciaran Power (Irl), Mark Walters (Can), Phil Zajicek (USA)

Johan Museeuw winning Het Volk in 2003

Johan Museeuw winning Het Volk in 2003

Photo: AFP (file photo)

Recent Winners

1980 Joseph Bruyère (B)
1981 Jan Raas (Nl)
1982 Fons De Wolf (B)
1983 Fons De Wolf (B)
1984 Eddy Planckaert (B)
1985 Eddy Planckaert (B)
1986   – CANCELED
 1987 Teun Van Vliet (Nl)
1988 Ronny Van Holen (B)
1989 Etienne De Wilde (B)
1990 Johan Capiot (B)
1991 Andreas Kappes (G)
1992 Johan Capiot (B)
1993 Wilfried Nelissen (B)
1994 Wilfried Nelissen (B)
1995 Franco Ballerini (I)
1996 Tom Steels (B)
1997 Peter Van Petegem (B)
1998 Peter Van Petegem (B)
1999 Frank Vandenbroucke (B)
2000 Johan Museeuw (B)
2001 Michele Bartoli (I)
2002 Peter Van Petegem (B)
2003 Johan Museeuw (B)
2004 – CANCELED

 

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