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Devolder repeats win in Flanders

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Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) won his second Ronde in a row

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) won his second Ronde in a row (Image credit: AFP)
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The peloton sets out

The peloton sets out (Image credit: AFP)
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The canals of Brugge.

The canals of Brugge. (Image credit: Gregor Brown)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam)

Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) (Image credit: Gregor Brown)
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Devolder was happy

Devolder was happy (Image credit: AFP)
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The peloton sets out on its journey through Vlaanderen

The peloton sets out on its journey through Vlaanderen (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Devolder repeated his win from 2008

Devolder repeated his win from 2008 (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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He dedicated his victory to Friederik Nolf, who died in February.

He dedicated his victory to Friederik Nolf, who died in February. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Devolder with his prize

Devolder with his prize (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Devolder was happy to have won again.

Devolder was happy to have won again. (Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Sébastien Portal (Cofidis) was leading the peloton in Gent.

Sébastien Portal (Cofidis) was leading the peloton in Gent. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Maarten Wynants has to work early for his Quick Step team.

Maarten Wynants has to work early for his Quick Step team. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Robert Hunter (Barloworld) hides in the peloton.

Robert Hunter (Barloworld) hides in the peloton. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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The bunch took a sharp right after what is usually the finish line in the Omloop – or the Tour de France stages.

The bunch took a sharp right after what is usually the finish line in the Omloop – or the Tour de France stages. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Sébastien Hinault (AG2R La Mondiale) keeps warm on a day that would actually pass as acceptable (for most Belgians anyway...)

Sébastien Hinault (AG2R La Mondiale) keeps warm on a day that would actually pass as acceptable (for most Belgians anyway...) (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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George Hincapie and Edvald Boasson Hagen ride in the bunch for Columbia-Highroad.

George Hincapie and Edvald Boasson Hagen ride in the bunch for Columbia-Highroad. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Marcus Burghardt (Columbia-Highroad) is saving energy for the moment in the back of the bunch.

Marcus Burghardt (Columbia-Highroad) is saving energy for the moment in the back of the bunch. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse d'Epargne) was a bit delayed but he has plenty of time to make up for it.

Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse d'Epargne) was a bit delayed but he has plenty of time to make up for it. (Image credit: Bjorn Haake/Cyclingnews.com)
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This Quick Step jersey wasn't popular with the UCI before the start of the race.

This Quick Step jersey wasn't popular with the UCI before the start of the race. (Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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Team Quick Step proceeds to the sign in.

Team Quick Step proceeds to the sign in. (Image credit: Brecht Decaluwé/Cyclingnews)
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The canals of Brugge.

The canals of Brugge. (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Riders head to the sign in.

Riders head to the sign in. (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam)

Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Diego Caccia (Barloworld)

Diego Caccia (Barloworld) (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Patrick Lefevere could be happy with his team.

Patrick Lefevere could be happy with his team. (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha) shadowed Tom Boonen but missed the race-winning move.

Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha) shadowed Tom Boonen but missed the race-winning move. (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) had a good race over the dusty Flandrian roads.

Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) had a good race over the dusty Flandrian roads. (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Steven Cozza (Garmin - Slipstream) was on the attack today.

Steven Cozza (Garmin - Slipstream) was on the attack today. (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam)

Roger Hammond (Cervélo TestTeam) (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) finished second

Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) finished second (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Haussler said he was happy as he didn't have the legs today for more.

Haussler said he was happy as he didn't have the legs today for more. (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Haussler can look forward to future races and he will surely win one soon.

Haussler can look forward to future races and he will surely win one soon. (Image credit: Gregor Brown/Cyclingnews.com)
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Always lots of people Molenberg.

Always lots of people Molenberg. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The peloton passes over the Molenberg which was the first climb of the day.

The peloton passes over the Molenberg which was the first climb of the day. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Cervélo set the pace on the Oude Kwaremont.

Cervélo set the pace on the Oude Kwaremont. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Karsten Kroon (Team Saxo Bank) on the Kwaremont.

Karsten Kroon (Team Saxo Bank) on the Kwaremont. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Hincapie pedals up on the Kwaremont.

Hincapie pedals up on the Kwaremont. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Dmitriy Muravyev (Astana) takes a spill on the Oude Kwaremont.

Dmitriy Muravyev (Astana) takes a spill on the Oude Kwaremont. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The bunch passes through on the Oude Kwaremont.

The bunch passes through on the Oude Kwaremont. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Boonen on the steep Paterberg

Boonen on the steep Paterberg (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Hincapie close to the top of the Paterberg.

Hincapie close to the top of the Paterberg. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Chavanel reaches the top of the Paterberg.

Chavanel reaches the top of the Paterberg. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Haussler on the Paterberg

Haussler on the Paterberg (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Defending champion Devolder had to cross the Paterberg as well – no exceptions.

Defending champion Devolder had to cross the Paterberg as well – no exceptions. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Hincapie on the Taaienberg

Hincapie on the Taaienberg (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Boonen and Pozzato at the end of the Taaienberg.

Boonen and Pozzato at the end of the Taaienberg. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Pozzato on the attacked hard several times and here it was at the Berendries.

Pozzato on the attacked hard several times and here it was at the Berendries. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Devolder jumps after Boonen and Pozzato on the Berendries.

Devolder jumps after Boonen and Pozzato on the Berendries. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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George Hincapie (Team Columbia - Highroad) shoulder to shoulder with Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank).

George Hincapie (Team Columbia - Highroad) shoulder to shoulder with Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank). (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) showed he is a serious contender for the Ronde.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) showed he is a serious contender for the Ronde. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) tries to glimpse to the top.

Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) tries to glimpse to the top. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Devolder on his way to victory.

Devolder on his way to victory. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Number one becomes number one once again.

Number one becomes number one once again. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Gilbert powers to the Muur's top with Boonen behind.

Gilbert powers to the Muur's top with Boonen behind. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) on his decisive attack at the Muur van Geraardsbergen.

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) on his decisive attack at the Muur van Geraardsbergen. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Devolder close to the chapel on the top.

Devolder close to the chapel on the top. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Martijn Maaskant (Garmin) on the Muur

Martijn Maaskant (Garmin) on the Muur (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Marcus Burghardt (Team Columbia - Highroad) powers up the Muur.

Marcus Burghardt (Team Columbia - Highroad) powers up the Muur. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto) on the Muur

Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto) on the Muur (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Bert de Waele (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) rides up the Muur with Leif Hoste.

Bert de Waele (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) rides up the Muur with Leif Hoste. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) fights on the Muur.

Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) fights on the Muur. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Tom Boonen (Quick Step) once again shadowed by Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha).

Tom Boonen (Quick Step) once again shadowed by Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha). (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Devolder attacks on the steepest part of the Muur de Grammont.

Devolder attacks on the steepest part of the Muur de Grammont. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Devolder gets away from Quinziato

Devolder gets away from Quinziato (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The Italian fights but the Muur is steep

The Italian fights but the Muur is steep (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) motors up the Muur van Geraardsbergen

Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) motors up the Muur van Geraardsbergen (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Devolder celebrates his victory

Devolder celebrates his victory (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The Belgian took off and finished solo

The Belgian took off and finished solo (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) slipped out of the chase group

Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) slipped out of the chase group (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Haussler made it across the line just ahead of the guys sprinting behind

Haussler made it across the line just ahead of the guys sprinting behind (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) sprinted onto the podium

Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) sprinted onto the podium (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Gilbert gave Silence-Lotto something to smile.

Gilbert gave Silence-Lotto something to smile. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Haussler finished second like in Milano-Sanremo.

Haussler finished second like in Milano-Sanremo. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) in his retro shirt on the podium.

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) in his retro shirt on the podium. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Devolder waves the flowers

Devolder waves the flowers (Image credit: Sirotti)
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The podium from left to right: Haussler (second), Devolder and Gilbert.

The podium from left to right: Haussler (second), Devolder and Gilbert. (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) rode his heart out for the team.

Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) rode his heart out for the team. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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George Hincapie (Team Columbia - Highroad) after the race

George Hincapie (Team Columbia - Highroad) after the race (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha) said that Boonen was the strongest but the Quick Step team could pick its winner...

Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha) said that Boonen was the strongest but the Quick Step team could pick its winner... (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) did a great race but in the end he was not rewarded.

Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) did a great race but in the end he was not rewarded. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Quinziato is interviewed by Alessandra Di Stefano from RAI

Quinziato is interviewed by Alessandra Di Stefano from RAI (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Quinziato could be happy with his race.

Quinziato could be happy with his race. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) did better than expected.

Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) did better than expected. (Image credit: James Huang/Cyclingnews)
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Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) powers away on the last climb of the day, the Bosberg.

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) powers away on the last climb of the day, the Bosberg. (Image credit: Tim Van Wichelen)
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The chasing group with Preben Vanhecke, Manuel Quinziato and Sylvain Chavanel.

The chasing group with Preben Vanhecke, Manuel Quinziato and Sylvain Chavanel. (Image credit: Tim Van Wichelen)
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Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) ws out of contention today, finishing 30th.

Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) ws out of contention today, finishing 30th. (Image credit: Tim Van Wichelen)
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Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) in his usual attacking mode.

Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) in his usual attacking mode. (Image credit: Tim Van Wichelen)
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Tom Boonen and Filippo Pozzato were always set to duel in Flanders.

Tom Boonen and Filippo Pozzato were always set to duel in Flanders. (Image credit: Tim Van Wichelen)
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George Hincapie and Marcus Burghardt keep it together for Columbia-Highroad.

George Hincapie and Marcus Burghardt keep it together for Columbia-Highroad. (Image credit: Tim Van Wichelen)

93rd Ronde van Vlaanderen - ProT

Belgium, April 5, 2009

By Brecht Decaluwé in Meerbeke

Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) repeated last year's victory in almost identical style, soloing away in the final kilometres for his second consecutive win the Vlaanderens Mooiste. The 29-year-old Belgian dropped his breakaway companions on the penultimate climb of the day, the legendary cobbled Muur of Gramont, and from then on, he raced to glory on the roads toward the finish in Meerbeke. While crossing the line, Devolder gestured in honor of his recently deceased friend and fellow racer Frederik Nolf.

"This is unbelievable. I've lived up to this race for so long and I encountered a lot of bad luck," said Devolder. I worked hard with all the people that kept believing in me. I said I would win and I did it."

"It was very weird race. I was able to join [Tom] Boonen (Quick Step) and [Filippo] Pozzato (Team Katusha) after the Berendries, and then I pulled through toward the leaders. I recovered, and on the Muur, I played my last card," said Devolder.

"I'm planning to stay focused on this race during the next few years as the Ronde van Vlaanderen remains the most important race of the year for me," said Devolder.

An aggressive Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) anticipated the final sprint and escaped from the large chase group on the finishing straight to finish second. The bunch sprint was won by Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto). Pozzato and Martijn Maaskant (Garmin - Slipstream) followed to finish fourth and fifth.

"I didn't have the legs today," said Haussler. "In the end I was going to ride for Thor, but he told me to attack, so I went."

After the race, favorite Boonen explained that racing for the victory wasn't possible for the day since the other top favorite, Pozzato, wasn't chasing any other wheel than his.

"The shadow," Boonen described Pozzato. "Everybody saw that we were killing each other. I couldn't drop him, and he couldn't drop me. When we attacked, we distanced everybody, but he didn't want to continue. So for me, the door was closed, but it opened the door for Stijn and Sylvain (Chavenel)."

"Boonen was the strongest, compliments to the Quick Step team," said Pozzato.

Fast start out of Brugge

Shortly after leaving the packed "Grote Markt" in medieval-like Brugge at 10:00 am, it was clear that many teams had ordered their riders to get into the classic, early break. As a results, the average speed during the first three hours was extremely high.

When approaching the first of the sixteen hellingen, the Molenberg, the peloton was riding ten minutes ahead of the fastest schedule. As a result, it took 125 kilometres before the first breakaway group was established, and it included just four riders: Wim De Vocht (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas), Sebastien Turgot (Bbox Bouygues Telecom) and Filip Meirhaeghe (Landbouwkrediet - Colnago).

Finale starts on Paterberg

Cervélo TestTeam showed its global strength as they lined up with five guys in front of the peloton approaching the Oude Kwaremont. The long, cobbled climb didn't appear to provide the expected spectacle at the front, but in fact, the action happened further back, where a tough selection separated the peloton into two groups.

Cervélo led the first part of the peloton toward the short, but extremely steep and cobbled Paterberg, and that's where the race exploded. About twenty riders distanced the rest, but clearly the favorites were still hesitating whether to go on or not.

Six men anticipated the Koppenberg and jumped away toward the two riders who were still left off the front. Right after the Kwaremont, Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto), Frederic Guesdon (Française Des Jeux), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo Test Team) and Marco Bandiera (Lampre - N.G.C.) drove the chase.

Boonen vs. Pozzato, part one: Koppenberg

Favorites Boonen and Pozzato engaged in a scrimmage of sorts on the legendary Koppenberg. The two riders hammered up the cobbles, shoulder to shoulder. Meanwhile, Team Saxo Bank 's Fabian Cancellara's chances for the day ended when he broke his chain. First, he walked up the rest of the hill, then he turned around and rode halfway back down to collect his chain, which he hung around his neck as a sort of souvenir.

Eight kilometres later, the two jumped away from the peloton thanks to an acceleration from Boonen.

Only seventeen riders were able to bridge up with them before the eighth helling, the Eikenberg. That's also where early attacker De Vocht got dropped from the front, reducing the leader's group to seven riders. A group of about twenty riders joined the Boonen group, and on the Varent, a new climb, the peloton took it easy.

Going into the Leberg, the tenth climb of the day, the gap from the seven leaders grew to more than one minute.

Boonen vs. Pozzato, part two: Berendries

Upon reaching the Berendries, Chavanel, Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) and Hoste dropped their four breakaway companions, but one minute later Pozzato copied the attack he had launched during the Driedaagse De Panne-Koksijde earlier this week. Boonen was glued to his wheel, and defending Flanders champion Devolder bridged up a little later.

The three chasers steamed towards the leaders, picked up Bandiera, and with 36 kilometers to go, right after the Valkenberg (climb number 12), they joined the front trio. This seven-man lead group didn't stay together for long as Quinziato sneaked away together with Chavanel.

Quick Step left the chasing initiative to the other riders and as a result, a small peloton gathered half a minute behind the two leaders on the steep Tenbosse street. Just past this climb, Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen - Mercator) anticipated the next climb and jumped away from the peloton.

Quinziato and Chavanel arrived at the fourteenth climb, the Eikenmolen, with forty seconds on the reduced peloton.

The Muur: Devolder again

Devolder attacked the leader's group on the packed, legendary Muur of Gramont, with Quinziato and Chavanel unable to respond. In the peloton, Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) started the debate on the Muur, but Hoste took over with Boonen and Pozzato on his wheel.

Van Hecke bridged back up with Quinziato and Chavanel, but this trio soon trailed by half a minute the unleashed Devolder. The front group, including Boonen, followed at one minute behind Devolder.

The relative positions of the lead racers remained the same over the Bosberg despite efforts from Flecha and Gilbert in the peloton. Devolder was unstoppable and gathered up to one minute over the three chasers as he approached the Meerbeke.

Behind a celebrating Devolder, the chasing trio was reeled in by the peloton that would sprint for second place. Haussler anticipated the group's sprint and launched off the front to capture second place.

A serious crash ruined the chances of riders like Greg Van Avermaet (Silence-Lotto) and Gregory Rast (Astana). Gilbert captured third place ahead of Pozzato and Maaskant.

Video of the race's end

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