By Brecht Decaluwé in Kuurne
By beating Dutch compatriot Sebastian Langeveld in a two-man sprint, Steven De Jongh (Quick Step), the 34 year-old rider from Alkmaar, grabbed his second victory in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, a race that traditionally offers a chance of glory to the teams that did not fare so well one day earlier in the arguably more prestigious event, Omloop Het Volk.
In Belgium's big opening weekend of racing in 2008, Quick Step was left behind on Saturday as a dominant Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) took out the opening race, but it bounced back with a great team performance on Sunday. One year earlier, the team did the same with a victory from Tom Boonen in Kuurne after a lesser day in the Omloop.
The Belgian team dominated the 2008 Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne by putting seven riders – minus world champion Paolo Bettini who crashed out after 9km – deep into the finale. Domestiques Jurgen Van De Walle, Maarten Wynants, Matteo Tosatto and also De Jongh worked hard to create a selection before the local laps around Kuurne. The big guns in the group left fighting for the victory contained Tom Boonen, Belgian champion Stijn Devolder and Gert Steegmans, all with Quick Step.
All had their chances to win, especially since Devolder and Steegmans reacted to every attack, while Boonen was prepared for a bunch sprint. "I was surprised nobody attacked until the final lap," De Jongh said of the finale. "We had done a lot of work in front and were getting tired. The other guys couldn't react to every move and especially when Leif Hoste (Silence - Lotto) and Steegmans went it was close."
Eventually, it was the canny Dutchman, De Jongh who took the lucky number as he sat on Rabobank rider, Sebastian Langeveld, when the latter attacked in the last of three local laps. "I sat on his wheel," De Jongh smiled, "so what could I do but follow." Langeveld seemingly didn't mind too much and continued his strong effort off the front, and going into the final kilometre it was clear the duo would be sprinting for the victory.
To read the full KBK winner's story, click here.