Brabantse Pijl: "La Machine" strikes again!

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30.03.2008/ Sylvain Chavanel won todays Brabantse Pijl after a show of strenght by the Cofidis team. Chavanel finished off an attack started by his teammate Nick Nuyens. Its was Chavanels fourth win this season and the second in only five days.

© Sirotti
Sylvain Chavanel also took a stage at Paris - Nice(© Sirotti)

After the 'Flemish cycling week kicked off with yesterdays GP E3 Harelbeke, which was won by Kurt-Asle Arvesen, today the second race was on the menue: the 48th Brabantse Pijl. Todays race was won by Cofidis rider Sylvain Chavanel. "La Machine" is the first French rider to win this race, a marke that Chavanel also set five days ago by winning Dwars door Vlaanderen.

This years edition of the Brabantse Pijl started in the Belgian city of Leuven.  After the peloton started in the rain, three riders broke off: Wouter Mol (Fondas P3 Transfer), Ermano Capelli (Saunier Duval) and Ryamond Smith (Cycle Collstrop). The escapees had a solid lead but several teams started to organise the chase. Dutch rider Daan de Jonge tried to bridge-up to the breakaway group but the 23 year old was eventually catched by a new chasing group of four riders: Raul Alarcon (Saunier Duval), Kenny Van der Schueren (Cycle Collstrop), Mark Cassidy (Sean Kelly Team) and Berik Kupeshov (Astana).  De Jonge was dropped by the four chasers and the lead of the breakaway group was getting smaller and smaller.

Cofidis was leading the peloton,especially Belgian rider Kevin de Weert made a great effort to bring the bunch closer to the two groups before them.

Frederik Veuchelen (Topsport Vlaanderen) and Geert Steurs (Silence - Lotto) disturbed the work of Cofidis. Both riders jumped to the four men strong chasing group and took over the role of Cassidy and Kupeshov. The Irish and Kazack rider were dropped by the first chasing group. Francaise des Jeux rider Tom Stubbe attacked out of the pack as well and joined the first chasing group at the Bruineput climb.

The three men at the front felt their legs more and more and after Gerolsteiners Markus Zberg and Maarten Wijnants (Quickstep) joined the chasing group the gap was getting smaller and smaller. With 33 kilometres to go the first chasing group caught the escapees.

Cofidis was still leading the bunch and the French Pro - Tour team managed to catch the new breakaway group with only 26 kilometres to go. That wasn't enough for the French team. At the Bruineput climb (which had to be climbed more than once..) Nick Nuyens accellerated and his teammate Sylvain Chavanel and CSC rider Karsten Kroon were able to follow. Philippe Gilbert reacted on the other side of the road but the winner of this years Omloop Het Volk wasn't very lucky. Quickstep rider Carlos Barredo crashed in front of him and although Gilbert quickly stood up again he lost some time as he needed to replace his rear wheel.

Gilbert reached the bunch again and attacked one minute later. Gilbert showed an impressive performance and reached the chasing group. The Nuyens group was a chasing group again after his teammate Sylvain Chavanel attacked out of the group. Gilbert didn't like the situation and attacked again to chase Chavanel.

With one lap to go, Gilbert was only fiftheen seconds behind Chavanel. 

Frederik Willems (Liquigas) and Silence - Lottor rider Jurgen van den Broeck tried to bridge-up to Gilbert, guarded by Gilbert's teammate Tom Stubbe. During the chase Willems accellerated one more time and dropped Stubbe and Van den Broecke. Shortly after that Rabobank's Juan Antonio Flecha and Giovanni Viscomti (Quickstep) joined Willems and the three riders caught Gilbert.

The now four men chasing group did not manage to catch Chavanel. After stage wins in Etoille Besseges and Paris - Nice and Wednesdays first French victory at Dwars door Vlaanderen, the Cofidis captain won the race and can start dreaming of the Tour of Flanders. Philippe Gilbert attacked one more time and came in second. Flecha showed he is ready for the big fish as well. The Spanish rider came in third.

Results Brabantse Pijl 2008

1 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis              4.48.29
2 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Française des Jeux      0.38
3 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Rabobank
4 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Quick Step
5 Frederik Willems (Bel) Liquigas
6 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner                 1.00
7 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Barloworld
8 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Cofidis
9 Gregory Rast (Swi) Astana
10 Nico Sijmens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Tönissteiner

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