Mighty Thor hammers Kopp and Petacchi
By Jeff Jones and Brecht Decaluwé in Wevelgem
After a very tense finish to the 68th Gent-Wevelgem, Norwegian Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) grabbed his second win of the season, beating David Kopp (Gerolsteiner) and Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) in a small bunch sprint. After a stage win in Tirreno-Adriatico, this is his second win in a ProTour event. "This is a big victory for me, my first classic," Hushovd said after the finish. "Winning green in the Tour de France is bigger. Still, winning a race like Gent-Wevelgem, a semi-classic, is big. I'm really happy."
Talking about the sprint, Hushovd admitted it was tight. "Yeah it was really close. He [Pozzato] did a really good attack. I choose to stay in the wheel of Petacchi. David Kopp started the sprint quite early and instinctively I decided to go with him. It proved to be the right decision as I passed him at the end."
The race did not split up until over the second ascent of the Kemmelberg with 40 km to go, when a group of 40 or so riders formed in front. Although Tom Boonen was not in it, preferring to save his legs for Sunday, Alessandro Petacchi certainly was - along with five Milram teammates. But things didn't go quite according to plan for Ale-Jet, as first Lars Michaelsen (CSC), then Bert Roesems (Davitamon), and finally Filippo Pozzato (Quick.Step) attacked and broke the rhythm of the train. In the end, it was Hushovd with the quickest legs in the headwind sprint ahead of Kopp and Petacchi.