In an exiting race CSC was superior in the tactical
games between the Danish team, Rabobank, Quickstep and Silence – Lotto. Rabobank had bad luck after they lost two riders
in the early part of the race. Marc de Maar broke his ellbow after a crash and Gerben Löwik crashed as well. Löwik broke his
pulse. Shortly after Löwik crashed nine riders broke off at kilomtre 35, among them: Quicksteps Gert Steegmans and CSC riders
Lars Bak and Kurt-Asle Arvesen. Shortly after that Silence – Lotto's 22 year old Greg Avermaet attacked, four riders
jumped with Avermaet and the group bridged-up the gap with the race leaders.
Steegmans was hammering his pedals at the Taaienberg,
giving his fellow escapees a hard time but the two times stage winner at this years Paris – Nice was over estimating
his own power as well. The advantage of the group was pending around five minutes in that phase of the race.
It was a very fast race. In the first three hours
of the race, the average speed was 45 kilometres per hour. Tom Boonen (Quickstep) won the four last editions of the race.
Boonen attacked in the last four editions at the Taaienberg and this time the former World Champion broke off again at the
famous Flemish hill. Using a big gear, 'Tornado Tom' dropped all riders of the chasing group at Taaienberg. Only Swiss CSC
rider Fabian Cancellara managed to jump to Boonen. The duo started the chase after they had dropped Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank),
Leif Hoste (Silence – Lotto) and other favourites.
In the front group Greg Avermaet accelerated at
the Oude Kwaremont, several riders were dropped after the effort of the 22 year old Silence – Lotto rider. Gert Steegmans
was dropped as well but managed to come back to the front group at the start of the Knokteberg climb. But not for long, after
Avermaet accelerated again, Steegmans was dropped again. It was at a bad momant for Quickstep. Just as Boonen came closer,
the Belgian Pro – Tour team had nobody at the front of the race anymore. Boonen was only thirty seconds behind the race
leaders at that moment. With 10 kilomtres to go Boonen knew he was caught in a CSC trap.
With 15 kilomtres to go another round of fireworks
in the leading group. At the Tiegemberg Arvesen and Avermaet attacked, behind them Fabian Cancellara tried to surprise Boonen
with a strong jump but Boonen managed to stay in his wheel. It was the battle of the giants, testing each other for next weeks
Tour of Flanders.
In the final kilometres a game of poker started.
Thomas Voeckler (Bouygues Telecom) was the first rider to attack but he didn't get away. David Kopp was the next one to break
off, the German Cycle Collstrop rider created a little gap and Avermaet tried to bridge-up to Kopp alone but didn't succeed.
Kurt-Asle Arvesen was the next one to get to Kopp. The 33 year old CSC rider caught Kopp in the final kilometre and won the
”This was a great victory. It turned out to
be a really tough race and although we attacked early on I managed to win it thanks to great tactics. I think we've built
up a fantastic team for the classics and we've really got the hang of working together as a team. Now we can definitely look
forward to next Sunday with our confidence boosted,” said Kurt Asle-Arvesen after his 15th triumph as a pro.
”I'm very pleased with our efforts out there
today. Not just because Kurt won a brilliant and well deserved victory but also because we managed to demonstrate the strength
and diversity of our team ahead of Ronde van Vlaanderen. We were right up there from the word go and Kurt ended up sitting
in a break for about 175 kilometers. Everyone in that break was worn out at the end but Kurt had the legs and the tactical
overview to win. Fabian and the rest of the team were really strong as well and we took advantage of the fact that we had
several good cards on our hands today. It all looks pretty great ahead of the oncoming races but of course the other big teams
are also hungry and rearing to go – no doubt about that!” said CSC sports director Scott Sunderland after the