Gilbert takes Het Volk in Merckx style

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01.03.2008/ Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux) won todays Omloop Het Volk today. Gilbert started a furious attack with 50 kilometres to go and was never seen again.

© Cyclingheroes
Philippe Gilbert during his furious solo ride (© Cyclingheroes)

Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux) already won the Omloop Het Volk in 2006 after a solo ride but this time he broke off with 50 kilometres to go. Nick Nuyens (Cofodis) came in second and Norwegian rider Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) completed the podium.

Silence - Lotto's Robbie McEwen had to abandone the race after only 20 kilometres and shortly after that Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), David Boucher (Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner), Michael Friedman (Slipstream Chipotle - H30), Sébastien Minard (Cofidis), Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Arnaud Gerard (Française des Jeux) broke away. The breakaway of the day was born and had a maximum lead of almost 8 minutes.

Quickstep controlled the race and was always at the front of the bunch. The Belgian Pro - Tour squad started wih a stong team with riders like Tom Boonen, Paolo Bettini, Stijn Devolder and Gert Steegmans. Quickstep accelerated before the bunch arrived at the Kruisberg and Bettini and Devolder rode full gas on that cobble stone climb.

The Cofidis team came to the front as well and the French team and Stijn devolder demolished the peloton. Only 30 riders were in the first main group.

With 50 kilometres to go Phillipe Gilbert attacked at the Eikenberg. Nobody was able or willing to follow the 25 year old Belgian rider.

Meanwhile the early breakaway group fall apart as more and more riders were dropped. Only Krivtsov and Minard were left of the original front group. Gilbert catched one after the other during his impressive solo ride.  The winner of two stages at this years Vuelta a Mallorca was chased by a group with Leif Hoste (Silence - Lotto), Nick Nuyens (Cofidis), Fabian Cancellara (CSC) and Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole).

As Gilbert picked up his teammate Gerard (who was part of the eary breakaway group), Gerard gave all he had one more time to bring Gilbert to the two race leaders. On the 2600 metres long cobblestone section De Lange Munte Gilbert dropped Krivtsov and Minard.

Behind Gilbert the Nuyens group rode full gas to catch Gilbert but the Francaise des Jeux rider rode like Eddy Merckx in his best days. Gilbert arrived solo in Gent and won the traditional Belgian opener Omloop Het Volk.
Gilber was really happy with his second victory at Het Volk. Gilbert said: "This is the most beautiful day of my life." The race winner added: "I had incredible legs today and I could capitalise on that today. It was a very strange race. In the beginning it was all very nervous. But I noticed very early that I was stronger as the others."
Gilbert continued by saying: "I took off at the Eikenberg and did not look back to anybody. As I was still riding alone after 10 kilometres, I only thought: I have to pedal as strong as I can until the finish."
Nick Nuyens came in second and could have lost the race after he decided not to follow Gilbert as he was thinking Gilbert took off to early. Nuyens said: "I think I was the best of the rest. I was in Gilberts wheel when he took off. He rode really fast. I don't know if I would have been able to follow, but I decided not to do it."
Nuyens continued: "The finish was still far away and with the storm. The others thought it was to early as well. I also didn't understand what Quickstep was doing. But if you can do this, you proof that you are the best. My respect goes to Gilbert, the best rider won today."

Quickstep dominated the race for a long time but did not play a role in the final part of the race. Stijn Devolder said: "After the Kruisberg only Tom Boonen, Kevin Hulsmans and me were left in the main group. We hesitated and then a group took off. We didn't jump with them and were not able to catch them again.
Quickstep sports director Wilfried Peeters said: We want to dominate the final and we didn't succeed. Of course we are dissapointed. Maybe we were to agressive at the Kruisberg."
According to Rabobank's sports director Erik Dekker, the Dutch team rode the as planned until the Kruisberg. Dekker praised Phillipe Gilbert and said the strongest rider had won. Dekker said: "My general mood is dominated by disappointment. We arrived at the start with more ambition than this, but every rider has his explanation as to why he could not do it. Some were just not good enough, and, even though I do not want to make excuses, sometimes we just experienced bad luck. Gerben and Bram kept up with the pace, but then were hindered by that crash."

Tankink was the best Rabo-man in the 'extremely pesky and difficult' - according to Dekker - race. "He had to come from a long way, but nearly managed to join that pursuit group." The same goes for Langeveld. "But, I am not quite sure why he did not make it."

Allan Johansen (CSC) tried to grap the second spot but was cathed by Nuyens and Hushhovd. CSC Sports Director Lars Michaelsen said: "The whole team did really well. I was actually quite impressed by how fit they all were. And great to see Allan Johansen still going strong."

"We got through the day without any accidents – the only mishap was when Matti Breschel damaged his bike. That was unfortunate because he was having a really good day before that, which is was all the others said as well after the race was over. Too bad of course, but also encouraging for him with the immediate future in mind," concluded Michaelsen.
Tomorrow the second Belgian race will take place. We will publish a race report of Kuurne - Brussels - Kuurne.

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Picture gallery: Omloop Het Volk, March 1, 2008 (3 pages)

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Race reports

Results Omloop Het Volk 2008
1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux                    4.55.25 (40.417 km/h)
2 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis                                       0.58
3 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole                              1.06
4 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) Ag2r-La Mondiale                              
5 Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Liquigas                             1.12
6 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Agritubel                                1.13
7 Leif Hoste (Bel) Silence-Lotto                                     
8 Allan Johansen (Den) Team CSC                                   1.16
9 Jan Kuyckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                   1.53
10 Arnaud Gerard (Fra) Française des Jeux                            
11 Sébastien Minard (Fra) Cofidis                                    
12 Michael Friedman (USA) Slipstream Chipotle - H30               1.58
13 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team CSC                               2.07
14 Markus Eichler (Ger) Team Milram                               4.26
15 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Silence-Lotto                         4.31
16 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step                               4.37
17 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                   
18 Murilo Fischer (Bra) Liquigas                                     
19 Anders Lund (Den) Team CSC                                        
20 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Silence-Lotto                                  
21 Steven Caethoven (Bel) Agritubel                                  
22 Floris Goesinnen (Ned) Skil-Shimano                               
23 Kevin Ista (Bel) Agritubel                                     4.49
24 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Willems Veranda's Continental Team         
25 Koen Barbé (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                              
26 Geert Verheyen (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi                           
27 Ralf Grabsch (Ger) Team Milram                                    
28 Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner               
29 Loyd Mondory (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale                               
30 Huub Duyn (Ned) Slipstream Chipotle - H30                         
31 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana                                     
32 Christophe Laurent (Fra) Slipstream Chipotle - H30                
33 Andy Cappelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                  
34 Kevin Neirynck (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                 
35 William Bonnet (Fra) Crédit Agricole                              
36 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis                                    
37 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Crédit Agricole                              
38 Mathieu Ladagnous (Fra) Française des Jeux                        
39 Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                 6.32
40 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Quick Step                               
41 Kurt Hovelynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                          
42 Steffen Wesemann (Swi) Cycle Collstrop                            
43 Mathieu Criquielion (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi                      
44 Stijn Ennekens (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team           
45 Roger Hammond (GBr) High Road                                     
46 Michael Schär (Swi) Astana                                        
47 Evert Verbist (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                           
48 Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Liquigas                                     
49 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Agritubel                                      
50 Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                        
51 Emilien-Benoît Berges (Fra) Agritubel                             
52 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Cofidis                                   
53 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Silence-Lotto                              
54 Arnaud Labbe (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                               
55 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2r-La Mondiale                             
56 Jason Donald (USA) Slipstream Chipotle - H30                      
57 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Crédit Agricole                               
58 Gerben Löwik (Ned) Rabobank                                       
59 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Crédit Agricole                           
60 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank                                      
61 Martin Müller (Swi) Team Milram                                   
62 Enrico Poitschke (Ger) Team Milram                                
63 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Ag2r-La Mondiale                       6.35
64 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française des Jeux                         
65 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas                                     
66 Joost Posthuma (Ned) Rabobank                                     
67 Mickaël Delage (Fra) Française des Jeux                           
68 Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus) Mitsubishi-Jartazi                       
69 Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step                                   
70 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Astana                                       
71 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Silence-Lotto                                 
72 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                             
73 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Quick Step                                  
74 Kevin De Weert (Bel) Cofidis                                      
75 David Boucher (Fra) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                  
76 Lars Bak (Den) Team CSC                                           
77 Frank Hoj (Den) Cofidis                                           
78 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank                                
79 Tom Stubbe (Bel) Française des Jeux                               
80 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Française des Jeux                          
81 Gregory Rast (Swi) Astana                                         
82 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Silence-Lotto                            
83 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Cofidis                                      
84 Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas                                   
85 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                                       
86 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram                                   
87 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank                                    6.38
88 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank                                
89 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Quick Step                                   
90 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step                                    
91 Koen De Kort (Ned) Astana                                      6.51
92 Kenny Van Braeckel (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team    6.54
93 Steven Cozza (USA) Slipstream Chipotle - H30                      
94 Dieter Cappelle (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team          
95 Marco Marcato (Ita) Cycle Collstrop                               
96 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Cycle Collstrop                              
97 Tomas Buchacek (Cze) PSK Whirlpool-Author                         
98 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Bouygues Telecom                             
99 Sven Nevens (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi                              
100 Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                          
101 Tom Steels (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner                    
102 Robert Wagner (Ger) Skil-Shimano                                 
103 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                
104 Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank                                      
105 Bart Vanheule (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                          
106 Mathieu Heijboer (Ned) Cofidis                                   
107 Erki Pütsep (Est) Bouygues Telecom                               
108 Jarno Van Mingeroet (Bel) Mitsubishi-Jartazi                     
109 Vytautas Kaupas (Ltu) Mitsubishi-Jartazi                      9.12
110 Jens Mouris (Ned) Mitsubishi-Jartazi                             
111 Renaud Dion (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale                           12.33
112 Harald Starzengruber (Aut) Elk Haus-Simplon                      
113 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                     
114 Jimmy Engoulvent (Fra) Crédit Agricole                       15.10
115 Servais Knaven (Ned) High Road                                   
116 Martin Velits (Svk) Team Milram                                  
117 Rony Martias (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                              
118 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas                                  
119 Stéphane Poulhiès (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale                         
120 Sven Renders (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen                       18.19
121 Sjef De Wilde (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team           
122 Jochen Summer (Aut) Elk Haus-Simplon                             
123 Steffen Radochla (Ger) Elk Haus-Simplon                          
124 Vicente Reynes (Spa) High Road                                   
125 Daniel Musiol (Ger) Team Volksbank                               
126 Fabien Bacquet (Bel) Skil-Shimano                                
127 Tyler Farrar (USA) Slipstream Chipotle - H30                     
128 Leopold König (Cze) PSK Whirlpool-Author                         
129 Vincent Jérôme (Fra) Bouygues Telecom                            
130 Aaron Kemps (Aus) Astana                                         
131 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Skil-Shimano                                
132 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) High Road                                   
133 Sebastian Siedler (Ger) Skil-Shimano                             
134 Matti Breschel (Den) Team CSC                                    
135 Albert Timmer (Ned) Skil-Shimano                                 
136 Kristof De Zutter (Bel) Willems Veranda's Continental Team       
137 Lucas Persson (Swe) Cycle Collstrop                              
138 Carlo Westphal (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                
139 Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe) Team CSC                                 
140 Marc De Maar (Ned) Rabobank                                      
141 Thomas Fothen (Ger) Gerolsteiner                                 
142 David Kopp (Ger) Cycle Collstrop                                 
143 André Greipel (Ger) High Road

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