By Brecht Decaluwé in Wevelgem
Wouter Weylandt was the man appointed by Team Quick Step for the bunch sprint. The blonde Belgian finished in third, but he couldn't overtake the early sprinting effort of the triple world champion [1999, 2001, 2004] Oscar Freire (Rabobank), who won the 70th edition of Gent-Wevelgem.
At the finish line in Wevelgem, Weylandt talked with Cyclingnews about how the sprint unfolded. "Our team helped to close down the gap with the leaders, and in the finale I had [Matteo] Tosatto who worked very hard to lead out the sprint for me. I was a bit further back than Freire and Clerc, sitting on the wheel of Zabel."
Freire started his sprint very early and manoeuvred from the left to the right. Weylandt came close in the final metres, but couldn't catch the Spanish sprinter or Swiss rider Aurélien Clerc (Bouygues Telecom), who finished second. "Actually, I wanted to start the sprint myself, but I was boxed in between Zabel and somebody else," said Weylandt. "I hope to get a rematch as soon as possible. One day I should be able to win this race."
The flamboyant Belgian wasn't too happy that he was unable to convert the team's work into a victory although he realized that there were would be more chances for him in the future. "Every sprinter will be pissed after a non-win, but if you see by whom I was beaten, then I shouldn't be ashamed. It was quite a big gap with Freire, so I can live with it," Weylandt said to Cyclingnews at the finish in Wevelgem.
On the famous Kemmelberg, with 37 kilometres to go, the peloton split into three groups, of which the last never made it back to the front of the race. "I was at the back of the second group on the Kemmelberg. The gap with the other peloton [the last group that didn't come back] was created right behind me. So, for once, I wasn't to blame," Weylandt laughed. "I knew the two groups would come back together after the climb."