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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
The riders have just left Kuurne. The conditions a lot better than last year but they'll still be a huge factor in the race. It was dry, overcast but windy.
That wind will play havoc with the bunch. We spoke to Ian Stannard (Sky) who was third last year. He told us that the cross winds could be a factor right from the start and that if a group of twenty goes up the road they could easily decide the race.
At the moment the race is still together. We've had a few attacks off the front but nothing has stuck so far. Cofidis are the last team to try their luck.
The Cofidis chap has been reeled in but now Isaychev from Katusha has had a dig and he's got 20 seconds on the bunch. He'll want a bit of help...
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After 90 flat kilometres the hill zone shows up. The classic passages of the Oude Kwaremont, Kruisberg, Kanarieberg and the Tiegemberg should make the selection. After 166km two local laps between Kuurne and Kortrijk conclude the 193km long race on the long finishing straight in Kuurne and arrival time is expected to be around 4:30pm.
Lets have a scan through the morning news:
Gilbert has admitted that he wasn't strong enough yesterday. While there are some great quotes from Flecha on finishing second. And we've got some great coverage from James Huang who is at the Handmade Bike Show in the US. James will be over in Europe in the coming weeks, bringing you his usual awesome standard of tech coverage from the Classics.
And if you've got any opinions on today's race, predictions or if you're still talking about yesterday's great racing, then tweet me at http://twitter.com/dnlbenson
Susan here, jumping in for Dan who is having some technical problems.
Andrew Fenn of An Post-Sean Kelly is alone in the lead now, with a gap of 2:30.
We have a bit of a scandal here. There were four leaders: Edwig Cammaerts (Landbouwkrediet), Arnaud Coyot (Saur-Sojasun), Ramunas Navardauskas (Garmin-Cervelo) and Arnoud van Groen (Veranda's Willems-Accent) who had built up a lead over seven minutes. But they wer naught boys and ignored the red lights at a crossing – we assume, a train crossing – and were taken out of the race!
Apparently Fenn had originally been part of the lead group, but was unable to keep up with them. He had fallen back and was on his way back to the peloton when the four leaders were taken out of the race. Now he is alone in the lead, much to his surprise, we assume!
Looks like the 20-year-old Fenn won't have a long time in the spotlight, though. The peloton is rapidly approaching and the gap is down to only 35 seconds.
Fenn is no longer alone. He has been joined by Sander Armee and Matthieu Ladagnous, and they are holding on to the 35 second lead. Hold on for a second and we will catch their team names.
Armee is with Topsport Vlaanderen, and Ladagnous rides for FdJ.
We still have about 120 km to go, so no one is getting very concerned about anything yet.
Looks like the peloton has vetted the three escapees and deemed them harmless. The three have now built up a gap of 1:10.
Bobbie Traksel won this race last year, and must be disappointed at the relatively good weather today. “The worse the weather, the stronger I am,” he said.
We are at about the half-way mark now, and the gap is up to 2:55.
Getting back to Traksel and the 2010 race: If you will recall, only 26 riders finished the race last year, which was held in truly atrocious conditions.
1, 2, 3 and the blimp is up and running again. Thanks, Susan..
Who are these three riders? Fenn is all of 20 years old, and came up through the British Cycling Olympic Academy. He has a flock of track titles to his credit. He got serious about the road in 2008, winning the junrior Paris-Roubaix. Last year he won the national U-23 road title. This is his first year as a pro.
I talked to him in Manchester at the end of last year and he's got a good head on his shoulders. His move to Post is a brave one but if he keeps on track he should do well. He's got a one or two year contract, I can't remember but a move to Sky could one day be on the cards if he makes the grade.
Via the wonderful world of Twitter:
@etownem @dnlbenson , sorry, going to butt in @Eva_DP said that Joost (LEO) didnt start, but Im not sure of anyone else...
I'm not sure if Susan mentioned or not but Langeveld has pulled out of the race. After yesterday's exploits who can really blame him.
A bit more on the chaps in today's break:
Sandeer Armee is a 25-year-old Belgian, who turned pro in 2007 with the Continental tam Profel Ziegler. He has been with Topsport Vlaanderen for two seasons now. In 2009 he won the one-day race Gent-Ieper, and the fourth stage of the Tour de Bretagne.
We're around 10km or so from the first major climb of the day and the leaders have 3.25 on the peloton.
This morning we also talked to Marc Sergeant. He's got Greipel here today and apparently the German is feeling fresh, strong and in good spirits. If it comes down to a sprint then the German, along with Farrar will be in with a shout. It just depends on how many guys are still standing. If Eisel is there I wouldn't rule him out. He can sprint a bit and he seemed to be holding back yesterday.
tonydeebo @dnlbenson Do you think it's purely down to confidence riders seem to do well at the same races annually? Thinking of Flecha yesterday?
That's a good question. There are riders, especially Belgians, who love these roads, they train on them and it's the biggest day or weekend for them in the year. Looking at Flecha, he was the only established big hitter - no disrespect to Langeveld - to make the selection yesterday. Cancellara was in the press saying that if you're in form now then you've peaked too soon but Flecha was the defending champion and the race and conditions suited him.
I saw him at the Sky camp in January and he looked really strong, and really lean but he's the type of rider that can hold and maintain form for a decent amount of time.
Frenchman Ladagnous is 26, and also can point to an extensive track background. He has been with FdJ his entire road career, since 2006. He can boast of any numbr of top results on the track at both the national and international level. He has also showed he can be tops on the road too, winning a stage and overall title at La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in 209 and the same at the Four Days of Dunkirk in 2008.
The Frenchman is currently leading Fenn and Armee and they've got 3.45 over the bunch. The conditions are still holding, but there's still the wind to contend with.
A few attacks coming out of the bunch at the moment but nothing too dangerous has moved away yet.
Mirko Selvaggi has a dig and goes clear. First thing he does once he gets a gap is remove his arm warmers.
Behind Mirko Selvaggi AG2R send a rider up the road. The gap to the leaders has lost roughly forty seconds. It's Ravard from AG2R and he's caught Selvaggi. He moves to the front and immediately the pair start working.
Totally different scenes to last year when we say less than 30 riders finish. By this stage most of the field had already backed in.
Back in the bunch and Lotto and Katusha are controlling the pace.
Greipel and Ivanov are both near the front of the bunch as a Leopard Trek rider slides to the back of the peloton looking for his team car.
Meanwhile the three leader are onto the next climb, the Kruisberg.
This is great experience for Fenn but he's immediately put to the back and he's losing ground. He's lost nearly 50m.
The duo won't wait for him now so he's going to have to find the right pace and come back to them after the climb, if he can.
Sky and Leopard have now moved their men to the front of the peloton. What are Leopard doing? It's not like they've got Bennati here.
Lotto take up the charge now and Flecha moves into second wheel on the climb.
FDJ move up and Rollin sets the pace as the bunch head through the feed. A few riders are giving up and getting in team cars.
This is a very dangerous part of the race. Lotto lead over the climb, Flecha pulls over and the pace drops. It's the perfect time to attack and cause some confusion.
The gap to the leaders is 2.59 with Fenn somewhere in the middle and on his own.
So FDJ are leading the break and the bunch. Nice.
Maybe Rollin was just trying to keep out of trouble there when he did that turn on the front.
KerilMelo @dnlbenson From HTC Roulston can perform well repeating last year result, he looks like in better shape than Eisel.
Yeah, good point. I talked to Hayden this morning just before the start. He said he struggled with racing in the heat for so long and then coming back to Belgian and racing in the cold and rain. He said he was 'up for' today as well.
Two years ago Steven de Jongh won the 'donkey race'. These days the Dutch strong man is a director sport for Team Sky.
“As a previous winner I gave my inside info to the boys this morning,” De Jongh said. “In the race there's not much we can do. Without the race radio it's very hard to work. If a rider lifts his hand then you move up but you got no idea at all what he's going to be asking for. I don't know if the race jury does it in purpose but the info on the offical radio is of a very poor quality,” De Jongh said. When looking back to yesterday's race De Jongh was still angry. “For some reason we were not allowed to talk with Flecha in the last kilometres.”
Zahner from BMC takes a tumble. He's on his feet now and getting help from the doctor.
Key climb coming up, the Kwaremont.
Disaster for Devolder. Near the foot of the climb he has a problem with his bike and has to stop. Not sure but he may have come down too. it causes chaos behind with all the team cars getting jammed up.
Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaandere) and Matthieu Ladagnous are on the climb, the bunch coming back, they're 2.16 down.
Looks like Devolder did hit the ground back there. Meanwhile Boonen is near the front.
Onto the climb and Fenn is caught. Flecha puts the hammer down.
Devolder, way back , is working his way up through the groups.
Flecha has split the field and take two riders with him. Boonen is one of the riders.
Rabobank are chasing at the head of what's left of the bunch.
That third rider was in an earlier move so now it's Boonen and Flecha ripping the race apart. I think there's another Sky rider coming across though. It's Stannard.
Flecha looks back and sits up so Stannard can come to him. Two from Sky, Boonen and Selvaggi. The duo from earlier are still up the road but only have 1.31 on the foursome.
That's great riding from Sky. I thought that was EDH coming across but it was Stannard. Devolder, meanwhile , is working hard to come back to the main field. Rookie mistake from him, being so far back with a key climb coming up. That could cost him the race.
Garmin are at the front now. They've missed all the breaks today so they're going to have to pull this move back.
Stannard has a great history with this race. Third last year and third in 2004 in the U23 version.
70km to go now and Boonen and Flecha are chatting on the front now. They've got maybe 200m over the Garmin-led bunch.
Sander Armee (Topsport Vlaandere) and Matthieu Ladagnous (FdJ)
Mirco Selvaggi (Vacansoleil), Tom Boonen (Quick Step), Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) and Ian Stannard (Sky) at 1:30
Peloton at 1:50
The Boonen, Flecha group have 14 seconds on the peloton. They're still working hard though. Boonen takes a big pull and then calls Flecha through.
In the remains of the peloton Garmin-Cervélo is doing the work. They have fast man Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervélo) for a possible sprint finish. This morning Farrar – who resides in Ghent – said he was happy to be in Kuurne, but sad to have missed out on his 'home' race, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. “I'm Happy to be here although it's always hard as a Gentenaar not to be able to race in the Omloop. On the other hand I think if you see the race yesterday it wasn't a race for me. So maybe it was a good decision. We'll see how it goes,” Farrar said.
“It's never relaxed but that's part of the race. We received some tips and tricks from Peter Van Petegem but I can't tell those to you. I have to keep our secrets,” Farrar told Cyclingnews' Brecht Decaluwé this morning in Kuurne.
Hayman, voeckler and a few other riders have nipped off the front, another 4 riders are chasing.
Boonen and co have been brought back and Voeckler goes again.
The Frenchman had a few goes there but this one looks committed. A Katusha rider drags himself up to his wheel.
Last year's winner is struggling at the back of the main field now.
Ciolek has a problem with his bike and has to stop.
Thomas Voeckler is with Vantomme and HTC and Lotto are working at bringing things all back together.
Hoste was trying to make his way up to them but despite lots of help from a motorbike he didn't make it.
Voeckler and Vantomme have been joined by a group including Hayman
It's nearly over for the two at the head of the race. Their lead is down to just 22 seconds.
Armee is doing most of the work now as the Hayman group are just behind them. maybe a 100m gap.
Armee (Topsport Vlaandere) and Matthieu Ladagnous (FdJ)
Maxime Vantomme (Katusha) and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) at 0:10
Jürgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Martin Velits (HTC-Highroad), Sebastien Minard (AG2R), Mathew Hayman (Sky), Sergey Lagutin (Vacansoleil) at 0:35
Peloton at 1:18
The two leaders are waiting for the group behind. Lets see if they can sit in.
Quickstep, another team that's missed the move have moved to the front and take up the chase. The move ahead is full of talent and they've got a gap of 1.36.
Chavanel is leading the pursuit now as the leaders move onto the next climb, the Tiegemberg. After that, there's just one more climb before the finish.
A lot of Lotto riders still in the peloton. They've got a man up the road and presumably Greipel is still here as well.
The gap has come down by 6 seconds since Quickstep came to the front, with BMC and FDJ also joining in. There are maybe 30/40 riders left in the main peloton.
Correction BMC are leading a group that contains Devolder. They're roughly 100m back from the Boonen, Flecha, group.
Rabo and Quickstep in one group and FDJ, BMC and Devolder in another. That battle might be enough to ensure that the leaders are brought back before the finish.
50km to go and we've got three big groups out on the road.
Rabobank are going full gas now and even QuickStep are finding it hard to come through and work with them. The gap to the lead group has lost around 10 seconds but they've still got a healthy gap.
Ivanov is in the group with Devolder. Jimmy Casper too.
The leaders are now climbing. All in the gutter except for Hayman who moves into the centre of the road and takes on the cobbles.
The last climb now and the Devolder group are almost back. Attacks !
A sweeping left onto the climb and Rabobank launch a rider up the road.
Maarten Wynants and Wouter Weylandt move off the front together and the gap to the leaders is less than a minute.
The duo only have around 80m as Quickstep start to chase.
Garmin, who have missed all the moves today, are again forced to chase. We can assume that Farrar is still in the mix.
Those two riders have been brought back in, and they even manage a laugh and a joke before they're brought back. How nice.
So the gap is now down to 54 seconds and Van Summeren is doing a huge turn on the front.
Klemme takes a turn on the front now and the gap is down to 40 seconds. Bunch sprint?
Not all of the leaders are working and they're already looking at each other. The gap is now just 33 seconds.
The gap is down to just a handful of seconds.
Devolder has another problem and he's at the back calling for a team car, or possibly a taxi.
All back together. 37 km to go.
Well that's one way to take out the opposition. Devolder's team car almost pushes a rider over the curb. Luckily he's fine.
There's still a little bit of life left in the group actually and they've a 50m gap. Devolder makes it back to the bunch.
11 seconds for the break. The bunch are happy to just let them sit there.
Due to the lack of contact with the team cars the lack of race information puts the riders in awkward positions. Yesterday Tom Boonen, Thor Hushovd and Andreas Klier were spotted sharing information on the gap with the lead group, with open mouths and grins on their faces as a visible reaction. Boonen partly blamed the lack of earpieces on Sunday morning.
“Maybe with earpieces it would've been the same situation with the same sort of gambling. Of course, it's easier to react. By the time some make it to the front out of thirtieth position the race is ten minutes further. In both cases there still have to be riders who can save the situation. In hindsight I should've attacked myself on the Leberg,” Boonen said.
It's over. All back together.
FDJ make the first move but it's easily neutralized.
Cross winds coming into play here and there's a crash.
Hayman and Pardini go down. Typical, the bunch swing over to the other side of the road in the wind and there's a fall. both are okay and back up and on their bikes.
Lars Bak attacks now and he's got a pretty good gap.
30km to go and Bak is the lone leader now. Can't see it working but at least he's got a decent gap. The bunch are looking around at each other.
Bak has 19 seconds and it looks like the peloton aren't able or willing to react just yet. The Dane looks like he's pushing into a headwind though.
Bak has 26 seconds now. This is a pretty impressive move from the Dane. Last Danish winner, I think , was Sorensen in 96. I'm probably wrong though.
There's a counter attack of around 5 riders trying to chase but Bak is pressing on alone.
Bak has 24 seconds on the chasers and 36 seconds on the bunch. 25km to go.
Lotto are taking up the chase from the main field but the bunch aren't exactly going full gas here.
Bak looks back but he's still got a gap of 25 seconds to the chasers.
Voeckler is leading the peloton now and the Lotto riders have swung off. It looks like things are coming back together but never say never for the guys in the lead.
The peloton are coming back to the five riders but Bak is still leading the race with 23 seconds. 20km to go.
FDJ send another rider up the road, Engoulvent and he's joined by Proni.
Bak is digging deep but the gap is down to just 16 seconds now.
Hinault joins Engoulvent and Proni.
Bak takes a drink and sits up.
The three riders are going to go straight passed him.
Bak does his best though and is able to follow.
13 seconds is the gap.
Lotto leading the peloton now. Greipel, I can't see him but he must be in there.
17 seconds now so the lead is increasing slightly but the peloton still have plenty of time to catch the four at the head of the race.
Greipel already has a win this season but this is a really big test for him.
Over to Stephen now to take you through to the finish.
Where on the final finishing circuit now and it looks like it will be a very fast sprint finish.
Omega Pharma-Lotto, Team Sky and Garmin-Cervelo riders are leading the chase and are about to sweep up the late attackers.
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is also up there and will want to make up for a disappointing result yesterday.
The finish is slightly downhill and so will be a very fast finish.
Who is going to win the sprint? Greipel? Farrar? Boonen?
Omega Pharma-Lotto now back on the front of the peloton. The gap is just 100 metres.
The sprinters teams are ready to close it down and set up the sprint but nobody wants to go too early.
Crash in the bunch!
Three of the attackers have sat up but Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun) is carrying on.
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) is going across to him.
Boonen is going for it but the bunch can see him
Boonen is still powering away on the front with Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun)
It's a brave move but the bunch can see them. Team Sky leading the chase.
There are again riders switching between the crowd and the best line. Some hit the crowd and crash.
Boonen isn't giving up but the bunch is on them now.
It's a head wind in this section and the bunch catches Boonen and Jimmy Engoulvent (Saur-Sojasun). All together.
Sky riding for Boasson Hagen or Sutton. Flecha on the front giving it a big turn.
The peloton makes it through a long turn left. Here we go.
Sky leads it out with Boasson Hagen.
It's a hectic finish but CJ DSutton (Team Sky) gets it.
Sutton beats Hutarovich (FDJ), Andrei Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo).
Sutton is the first Australian to ever win Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
Sutton got a great lead out from Boasson Hagan.
Just like at Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, we got a surprise but very deserved winner. Team Sky finished second and third at Onloop but won well today.
As Belgian television pointed out, none of the top five today raced yesterday.
Sutton said: “I’m surprised I won. I felt good this morning and in the last few days. I told the guys I was up for it and so EdVald told me he’d do the sprint for me. The guys did a great job and I was confident I could do it.”
“I shouted ‘Go, go!’ at 500 metre to go and then waited and waited. I saw the 200 sign and so just kicked.”
That's the end of our live coverage from Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
There will be a gallery of photographs, a full report and rider interviews on Cyclingnews very soon.