Nuyens makes his big break through

Cancellara, Chavanel out-foxed in Flanders

Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) pulled off a perfectly executed win at the Tour of Flanders, finally proving to his Belgian supporters that his second here in 2008 was no fluke.

The Belgian got away with Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) and Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) in the final five kilometres, took advantage of being in a decisive move and then beat them in the sprint to the line. Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) finished fourth at short distance.

Right after finishing Nuyens couldn't realize what he had just accomplished. "I'll need some time before it sinks in. It's special because I didn't have a great day and ran into a lot of bad luck," Nuyens said. "I know that I'm not the best rider of all, but I also know that if I have a good day, they have to take me into account."

In one of the most unpredictable editions of the Tour of Flanders in years, the action changed continuously. Cancellara tried an audacious attack some 60km from the finish and joined Chavanel who was already up the road since the Oude Kwaremont. Cancellara didn't get any help from Chavanel and suddenly he faded when approaching the famous Muur in Geraardsbergen. On the Kapelmuur they were caught by a group of race favourites and the race was wide open again.

"It showed that superman can have weak moments too. I had cramps," Cancellara said. "Probably I didn't drink enough. This was like a summer day in Flanders and everybody expected rain. I asked Sylvain to help me. If he helped me we could go to the finish line, but they played for Boonen."

In hindsight Chavanel regretted he didn't support last year's winner. "I'm sorry that I didn't work with him. I have a good sprint so I had my chances but we have Tom for the sprint," Chavanel said.

A group of twelve riders including previous winners Boonen, Cancellara and Ballan battled for the win on the flat roads towards Meerbeke. The attacks were flying around but when Cancellara went again within the final five kilometres only Chavanel and Nuyens were able to stay with him and the Saxo Bank rider played it perfectly. Cancellara lead out the sprint but Nuyens came through on the line, struggling to believe he had won.

"They say I'm good in that sort of stuff. There was a little bit of time to gamble in the sprint. I knew I could beat Cancellara but I was unsure about Chavanel," Nuyens said. "I was on a too small gear. I saw something blue on my right and for a brief moment a Hoste-scenario [Leif Hoste defeated by Alessandro Ballan in 2007] flashed through my head. When I shifted up I felt I had dash left and I think I rode a professional sprint."

In the sprint Chavanel had to hold his legs still twice but the French rider didn't blame his sprint rivals. "Cancellara started the sprint and I followed. I came back but had to stop once to move right. Then I come back but I have to stop again. That's when I knew it was over. I've never been so good for the Spring Classics. Finishing on the podium isn't bad," Chavanel stated.

The early action

The race was fast and aggressive from the start. Numerous riders tried to get in the early breakaway but the peloton didn't allow anything to get away, thus the average speed during the first hour reached almost 50km/h.

Eventually a group of five riders was allowed some distance: Mitchell Docker (Skil-Shimano), Stefan van Dijk (Veranda Willems-Accent), Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervélo), Sébastien Turgot (Europcar) and Jeremy Hunt (Sky). They built up a lead of almost eight minutes but the gap came down near Zwalm when several new attacks followed in the peloton.

When a sizable group of about twenty riders escaped the peloton, Cancellara's Leopard Trek teammates were forced to do the work in the peloton. The front group included Maarten Tjallingii, André Greipel, Bernard Eisel and Gert Steegmans but was brought back just before the fourth climb of the day, the Kaperij.

he five leaders only had three minutes left on the peloton at this point and the race was wide open. While heading to the important trio of climbs, the Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg, and Koppenberg, Jurgen Roelandts, Joost Posthuma plus BMC's Marcus Burghardt and Karsten Kroon all crashed, while world champion Thor Hushovd and Sep Vanmarcke punctured.

Chavanel anticipates the attacks

On the Oude Kwaremont Sylvain Chavanel accelerated away and quickly bridged up to Simon Clarke (Astana) who had moved clear of the peloton just before. The duo caught up with the remaining three leaders (Hammond, Van Dijk and Turgot) while heading to the Koppenberg. The peloton trailed by only half a minute on the leaders, thanks to a surge from Philippe Gilbert.

At the second feed zone after 185km, Chavanel and Clarke were the only riders left in front, with the first peloton trailing by just twenty seconds. Before the Taaienberg climb, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) attacked and his move was marked by Boonen, Langeveld and Flecha, but on the climb Hushovd brought the peloton back to the high-quality group of four.

Two riders then bridged up to the leaders: First Edvald Boasson Hagen sneaked away, then on the Eikenberg it was Lars Boom who then powered away from the peloton. For the second time Leopard Trek was forced to work and Martin Mortensen emptied his tank for Cancellara.

Former Paris-Roubaix winner Fréderic Guesdon (FDJ) accelerated on the pavé section of Mater and he was joined by Greg Van Avermaet and watchdogs Hayman and Leezer. On the Molenberg, where Boonen and Cancellara attacked last year, Chavanel went clear alone, with Boom and Boasson Hagen the closest chasers. Right after the Molenberg there was a tactical move from outsider Bjorn Leukemans who slipped away with Baden Cooke. However this duo caught with Hayman, Van Avermaet and Leezer.

Cancellara makes his move

The race amongst the favourites heated up with 45km to go on the cobbles of Haaghoek. Hushovd led the peloton but then suddenly Boonen blasted past the world champion. Cancellara and Pozzato followed him as the trio quickly passed Van Avermaet, Hayman, Leezer, Leukemans and Cooke.

On the Leberg climb, Cancellara took over and turned on the turbo, causing panic and pain behind. Only Boonen and Pozzato were able to go with him but then he accelerated again and blew them off his wheel. On the steepest part of the Leberg, Cancellara blasted past Boom and Boasson Hagen and was away alone.

Chavanel still had a 40 second gap on Cancellara, but he had already gained twenty seconds on the first chase group that included Boonen, Pozzato, Boasson Hagen, Van Avermaet, Leukemans and Boom. The race seemed over.

On the fifteenth climb of the day, the Valkenberg, Cancellara caught up with Chavanel while the first chasers were at 40 seconds. In between the Valkenberg and the climb of the Tenbosse, Cancellara increased the gap on the chasers to a minute while the BMC team tried to organise an impressive seven-rider chase.

At the top of the Tenbosse, four BMC riders were still in front and the gap was only ten seconds smaller. Cancellara didn't get any help from Chavanel but he managed to keep the peloton at a minute as the Geraardsbergen climb approached.

Cancellara cracks

The race seemed over but then the biggest turnaround in the history of the Tour of Flanders unfolded in just a few kilometres. All of a sudden the gap between Cancellara and Chavanel and the peloton plummeted. Cancellara seemed in trouble and lost his sparkle.

On the famous Muur in Geraardsbergen the pair were caught by an aggressive Gilbert, followed by Leukemans, Ballan and the rest of the peloton. Cancellara accelerated in the second half of the Muur to stay at the front but the race was suddenly wide open again where it is usually decided.

After the Muur, five men were leading the race: Cancellara, Gilbert, Ballan, Leukemans and Chavanel. At the foot of the last climb of the day, the Bosberg, Flecha, Nuyens, Boonen, Langeveld, Thomas, Hincapie and Staf Scheirlinckx bridged up too. On the Bosberg, Gilbert attacked while the group splintered.

Gilbert opened a small lead on the rest on the flat and fast road to the finish. But it was not to be and he was pulled back as Thomas did a lot of work to bring Flecha back to the first chase group. At eight kilometres from the finish, twelve men were battling for the win in the Ronde.

Cancellara decides the race

Attacks from Ballan, Nuyens, Thomas and Flecha were neutralized while Cancellara seemed to have recovered from his efforts. A move from Langeveld at four kilometres from the finish was neutralized by Ballan but then Cancellara managed to pull off one final attack that was only followed by Chavanel and Nuyens.

At two kilometres from the finish the trio had about ten seconds on the nine chasers. It was a breathtaking finish.

Inside the last kilometre, Boonen tried a counter-attack from but it was just a little too late. After the final corner, Cancellara started the sprint early to hold off Boonen. Nuyens took over but struggled to hold on until the line. Both Cancellara and Chavanel came back at him but both fell short and Nuyens hit the line first and began to celebrate.

Chavanel could only wave his arm in disappointment and anger, while Cancellara took a tired and disappointed third. Boonen finished fourth just a few metres behind. The chase group filled the top-ten a few seconds further back, while Farrar won the bunch sprint 1:24 behind Nuyens, the new hero of Flemish cycling.

Full Results
1Nick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank Sungard6:01:20 
2Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quickstep Cycling Team  
3Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard Trek  
4Tom Boonen (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team0:00:02 
5Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:00:05 
6George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team  
7Björn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
8Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
9Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
10Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling  
11Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling  
12Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team0:00:09 
13Tyler Farrar (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo0:01:24 
14Bernhard Eisel (Aut) HTC-Highroad  
15Dominique Rollin (Can) FDJ  
16Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre - ISD  
17Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
18Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team  
19Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
20Maarten Wynants (Bel) Rabobank Cycling Team  
21Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling  
22Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
23William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ  
24Sébastien Minard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
25Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
26Dennis Van Winden (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
27Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard  
28Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar  
29Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar  
30Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Saxo Bank Sungard  
31Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
32Gert Steegmans (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
33Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
34Lars Ytting Bak (Den) HTC-Highroad  
35Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Pro Team Astana  
36Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) FDJ  
37Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
38Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha Team  
39Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Katusha Team  
40Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling  
41Arnoud Van Groen (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
42Grégory Rast (Swi) Team RadioShack  
43Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha Team  
44Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team RadioShack  
45Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
46Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team0:02:37 
47Kristof Goddaert (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale0:04:29 
48Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
49Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
50Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling  
51Alexandre Pichot (Fra) Team Europcar  
52Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
53Thor Hushovd (Nor) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
54Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
55Stijn Devolder (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
56Leif Hoste (Bel) Katusha Team  
57Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team0:08:02 
58Gustav Larsson (Swe) Saxo Bank Sungard  
59Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
60Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
61Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
62Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:09:14 
63Robbie McEwen (Aus) Team RadioShack0:12:37 
64Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Pro Team Astana  
65Martin Velits (Svk) HTC-Highroad  
66Imanol Erviti Ollo (Spa) Movistar Team  
67Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
68Kevin Van Impe (Bel) Quickstep Cycling Team  
69Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Leopard Trek  
70Simon Clarke (Aus) Pro Team Astana  
71Kevin Ista (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne0:13:30 
72James Vanlandschoot (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent0:15:28 
73Geert Steurs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
74Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
75Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
76André Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
77Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
78Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar  
79Davy Commeyne (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
80Maxim Gourov (Kaz) Pro Team Astana  
81Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar  
82Geert Verheyen (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
83Jan Ghyselinck (Bel) HTC-Highroad  
84Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
85Jaroslaw Marycz (Pol) Saxo Bank Sungard  
86Steve Chainel (Fra) FDJ  
87Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard  
88Arnaud Labbe (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
89Pieter Jacobs (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
90Michael Mørkøv (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard  
91Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
92Bert De Backer (Bel) Skil - Shimano  
93Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Team RadioShack  
94John Degenkolb (Ger) HTC-Highroad  
95Kristijan Koren (Slo) Liquigas-Cannondale  
96Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
97Preben Van Hecke (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
98Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team  
99Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
100Koen De Kort (Ned) Skil - Shimano  
101Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Leopard Trek  
102Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
103Steve Houanard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
104Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team  
105Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Movistar Team  
106Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
107Nico Sijmens (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
108Roger Hammond (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
109Dominic Klemme (Ger) Leopard Trek  
110Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad  
111Ben Swift (GBr) Sky Procycling  
112Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil - Shimano  
113Andreas Klier (Ger) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
114David Boucher (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto0:17:51 
115Javier Francisco Aramendia Lorente (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
116Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
117Carlos Oyarzun (Chi) Movistar Team  
118Yuriy Krivtsov (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
119Bram Schmitz (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
120Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team RadioShack  
121Dominique Cornu (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
122Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
123Dmytro Krivtsov (Ukr) Lampre - ISD  
124Steven Van Vooren (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
125Romain Zingle (Bel) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
126Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar  
127Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Saxo Bank Sungard  
128Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Pro Team Astana  
129David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar  
130Romain Lemarchand (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
131Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Pro Team Astana  
132Martin Reimer (Ger) Skil - Shimano  
133Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
134Andreas Stauff (Ger) Quickstep Cycling Team  
135Ronan Van Zandbeek (Ned) Skil - Shimano  
DNFJoost Posthuma (Ned) Leopard Trek  
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Leopard Trek  
DNFMartin Mortensen (Den) Leopard Trek  
DNFWouter Weylandt (Bel) Leopard Trek  
DNFDaniel Lloyd (GBr) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
DNFSep Vanmarcke (Bel) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
DNFMatthew Wilson (Aus) Team Garmin-Cervelo  
DNFJens Mouris (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFFrederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFDavide Malacarne (Ita) Quickstep Cycling Team  
DNFAdam Blyth (GBr) Omega Pharma-Lotto  
DNFRick Flens (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
DNFCoen Vermeltfoort (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team  
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad  
DNFGatis Smukulis (Lat) HTC-Highroad  
DNFKarsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team  
DNFKurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor) Sky Procycling  
DNFJeremy Hunt (GBr) Sky Procycling  
DNFElia Viviani (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFTiziano Dall'antonia (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFJacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFEdward King (USA) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFAlan Marangoni (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFPeter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale  
DNFSébastien Rosseler (Bel) Team RadioShack  
DNFManuel Antonio Leal Cardoso (Por) Team RadioShack  
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team RadioShack  
DNFAnthony Ravard (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFAllan Davis (Aus) Pro Team Astana  
DNFMaxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Pro Team Astana  
DNFVladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha Team  
DNFAliaksandr Kuschynski (Blr) Katusha Team  
DNFMikhail Ignatyev (Rus) Katusha Team  
DNFGrega Bole (Slo) Lampre - ISD  
DNFVitaliy Buts (Ukr) Lampre - ISD  
DNFVitaliy Kondrut (Ukr) Lampre - ISD  
DNFSimon Spilak (Slo) Lampre - ISD  
DNFBalint Szeghalmi (Hun) Lampre - ISD  
DNFJesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFLuis Pasamontes Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFJonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFPierre Cazaux (Fra) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFMiguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFAlan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFDaniel Sesma (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFKoen Barbe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFBart Dockx (Bel) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFEgidijus Juodvalkis (Ltu) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFBobbie Traksel (Ned) Landbouwkrediet  
DNFStijn Neirynck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFPieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator  
DNFSteven Caethoven (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
DNFRob Goris (Bel) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
DNFStefan Van Dijk (Ned) Veranda's Willems - Accent  
DNFTristan Valentin (Fra) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne  
DNFOlivier Bonnaire (Fra) FDJ  
DNFMickael Delage (Fra) FDJ  
DNFAnthony Geslin (Fra) FDJ  
DNFMatthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ  
DNFRoy Curvers (Ned) Skil - Shimano  
DNFMitchell Docker (Aus) Skil - Shimano  
DNFRoger Kluge (Ger) Skil - Shimano  
DNFSébastien Chavanel (Fra) Team Europcar  

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