By Brecht Decaluwé in Wevelgem
Burghardt: "The biggest moment of my career"
Young Marcus Burghardt of T-Mobile naturally was delighted with his first win as a pro, which he scored today in Wevelgem. "This is the biggest moment of my career," the 23 year-old German said. Burghardt is now a hot prospect for all the classics, after finishing third in the E3-prijs Harelbeke as well. "In Harelbeke I had too much respect for Boonen and Cancellara. This time I showed just enough respect," Burghardt commented.
On Sunday Burghardt will be a favourite for the win again as he's shown he knows how to take on the cobbles. "Paris-Roubaix has a different character and is 60km longer, but I'm certainly motivated and I have loads of confidence. T-Mobile will be good in France as we also have Eisel who did well last year," Burghardt said.
Freire praised the German
Rabobank's Oscar Freire misjudged the situation in the finale when Burghardt attacked. "He [Burghardt] attacked at the right moment, he was too strong. Maybe I made a little mistake as I thought that Ventoso took him but it wasn't so. Then I tried myself but he was very strong - still this is not a bad result," Freire said about his third place.
Fellow countryman Francisco Ventoso was also in the winning breakaway, and the two helped each other - but in the end the German snatched the win. "As Spanish riders we talk, but you need good legs as well," Freire laughed. When asked about what was said between Ventoso and himself, the Spanish triple world champion said, "that wasn't very specific like: if we ride together it's better for us. But in the end we lost the race."
The race was marked by multiple crashes, taking out a lot of riders - especially the mass crash in the second descent of the Kemmelberg, which made for a lot of talk at the finish. But the Spaniard didn't have a negative word about the Kemmeldrama. "I don't know what happened as I was in the front. It's a dangerous part, maybe we need some more climbs before the hill. Anyway, it's even worse when it's raining," Freire said.
The winner of Milano-Sanremo explained it was part of the job. "Cycling is dangerous, in every race, every single day. There are more crashes than before as there is less difference between the riders. That's why everybody tries to be in the front," Freire explained and he offered a suggestion to the UCI and race organizers. "It's not normal that we ride here with 200 riders, it's better with maybe around 120 riders."
Freire is going very well this season but on Sunday he will not participate in the Hell of the North. "I prefer to watch it on TV," Freire laughed. "It's not a good race for me. Right now I will prepare for the Ardennes classics; there are some changed courses so I'll have to take a look at it."
Bernard Hinault always said he wouldn't race Paris-Roubaix until 1981, he did it once. Hinault came and won the pavé-classic, and in July that year he won his third Tour de France. "It true that if you don't go, you don't win. But I did it once as well in my first year as professional and I crashed. I prefer to do other races because if you crash you're out for a while. I'm healthy now and I prefer to avoid risks," Freire explained.
Ventoso: more than a sprinter
Five men stormed towards the finish line in the finale of Gent-Wevelgem 2007; T-Mobile had two men in there and managed to turn the numerical advantage into a win. The two Spanish riders in the group - Freire and Ventoso - decided to form a temporary coalition as well. The main surprise in the front group was Francisco Ventoso (or Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi if you want the full credentials of this Spanish sprinter), he finished fourth in Gent-Wevelgem. "I'm more than a sprinter because I can cope with these short climbs pretty well," he explained.
Ventoso twice led the peloton over the dreaded Kemmelberg and then launched an attack with Burghardt in an effort to come closer on the early breakaway riders. "On the Kemmel I felt I had strong legs and after that I opened the race," Ventoso said to Cyclingnews. Ventoso and Burghardt were caught by a big group with Boonen and McEwen, but when Freire attacked, both riders were there again.
The trio managed to bridge up towards the three leaders and after dropping Florent Brard the five weren't caught by the peloton. "I spoke with Oscar [Freire] to form a duo against T-Mobile," Ventoso said. Nevertheless this duo couldn't match the German power from Marcus Burghardt. "My legs said stop," Ventoso smiled.
During the Tour of Flanders, Ventoso was in the big bunch to hit the Muur van Geraardsbergen, eventually finishing at the back of the bunch in 71th place in Meerbeke. "Flanders was too long for me, my race was over on the Muur," Ventoso explained. "Anyway, I'm only 24 years old and with this experience I hope to do well within two years from now." The Spanish sprinter also talked about the Spanish revolution in the Spring Classics. "Ten years ago there was nobody here, but with guys like Freire and Flecha we're improving step by step," he added.