By Anthony Tan
When you're up against seven members from the same team in a twenty-two man break, around the same number of world-class sprinters and you can't sprint, and you're 23 kilometres from the finish, there's only one thing to do. Attack!
"I can't sprint, the cobblestones are the same - they're not good for me - but you can make your own chances," said Naturino-Sapore di Mare's resident German, Stefan Cohnen, to Cyclingnews, who did exactly that in yesterday's Scheldeprijs Vlaanderen.
Asked if he was surprised how easily the early break came about no more than 20 kilometres into the race, Cohnen exclaimed: "Yeah, really easily! I didn't look back [at first], but when I did, I went, 'Oh - there's a break!' The race was too fast to look back," he laughed.
"We were going more than 50 kilometres [per hour] at the start; maybe after 70 kilometres, it was a little bit easier, but to begin with, you have to look out and make sure you're in the first [group]."
2006 marks the 23 year-old's fourth year as a professional, who began his career in 2003 with German squad Comnet-Senges, staying there for two seasons before riding for another German outfit, Team Lamonta, last year. To date, this lanky guy from the small town of Selfkant, Germany, situated near Sittard in the Netherlands (which explains his Dutch racing licence), has no major result to his name. But that almost changed on Wednesday.
For sixteen kilometres, Cohnen held off six Quick.Step men all swapping off at the front of the break until he was caught by a counter attack from Unibet.com's Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez with six kilometres to go, who met his own fate 1000 metres later. The rest of the story ended with a fairytale finish for Tom Boonen, but that was to be expected.
"I went alone, but Quick.Step is a really strong team - they had a big team in the front group!" he said, again laughing at the thought of actually pulling off a victory against such terrible odds.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm happy," Cohnen added about his performance, "but the cobblestone sections were too hard for me, and I gave my best. Next week is the Rund um Köln in Germany and I hope to go well there, because my legs are good."