Der Ronde

As I have a bit of a thick head this morning, I’m going to live blog Flanders for a while. I shall probably go out for a bit but will come back for the finale. I’m using the feed here which the guys over on the bikeradar.com forums set me up with. So thanks!

Just keep hitting refresh for updates…

1131- Seems to be a nice club run type atmosphere at the moment! No breaks, Skil’s brilliantly named Bert De Backer tried it a few minutes ago but was reeled in. Climbs start in 30km or so.

1141- Garmin Directeur Johnny Weltz says in an understatement-of-the-century kind of a way that Svein Tuft is a “Tough boy”.

1148- Mainstay of PD Malcolm’s Pro Cycling Manager team Mirko Lorenzetto has unfortunately left hte race in an ambulance. Get well soon!

1202- Vincente Garcia Acosta hits the deck on the first of the climbs. One of the real drawbacks of the Pro Tour setup was that Spanish teams with no interest in racing end up the northern classics. Can anyone imagine, for example, there being much of a clamour within Euskaltel- Euskadi for riding cold, windswept, cobbled races?

1210- A whole load of riders having to dab a foot on one of the narrower cobbled sections just now. I love these moments! Hopefully there’ll be some of those ace shots of riders valiently running up the Kemmelberg later!

1221- Two riders out front now, building a nice gap. The big boys have clearly decided that these lads pose no threat and can be picked off later on. One of them is from Vacansoleil, teams like that live for these moments. Hours of TV coverage in the most important race on the Flemish calender. Chapeau!

1239- Looks like the chase has started as the lumbering beast of Quick Step begins to stir. Russian team and middle-eastern terrorists favourite Katusha also look to have a hand.

1246- The peloton still looks very cagey with 100km to go. Maybe this is the reult of a very open race this year. Despite the absence of Ballan and hte seeming lack of form from the mighty chin there are a number of top favourites in Boonen, Pozatto and Mr. Second Place Lief Hoste and some good outsiders like Hincapie, Gilbert, Flecha and Bennati. Also some good youngsters to watch too in Langeveld, Maaskant and Boassen-Hagen. Astana have sent an absolute dogs breakfast of a team though. Remember the one that “Supported” Contador at Paris-Nice? This one is even more anonymous.

1256- PD Malcolm curses a rider again! Flecha punctures before the 2km cobbled climb of Varentsraat. Seriously folks, whenever I tip, put money on or otherwise endorse a rider something bad happens.

1304- Eurosport showing a preprepared montage of winter sports stars falling over instead of their scheduled coverage. I know we all gripe about their scheduling but seriously can there ever be any excuse for not showing live sport that you advertise and replacing it instead with a montage? Grrr.

1312- Over the Kwaremont… And the splits are starting!

1319- Break caught, but the old 1-2 holds firm and Dan Lloyd has a go in a group of four. Can’t remember the last time a brit did anything in Flanders!

1320- Sylvain Chavenel is marking lloyds move, so wouldn’t expect it to get that far.

1323- That break is going nowhere… Lief Hoste in it as well going over the Koppenberg. Boonen, chasing hard, powers to the front of the pack. Either this is THE break or it’s doomed.

1328- Cancellara aka The Mighty Chin snaps a chain (powerrrrrrrr!) and flings his bike in a hedge. His day is done! Another great falls victim to the curse of PD Malcolm

1336- Boonen and Pozatto absolutely murdering the Peloton over the Taaienberg. Trying to force a selection. Wise man as PD Malcolm’s Daffodil Road Race write up proves, this is the tactic of true champions, ahem.

1346- Hoste making life difficult up front. But who’s glued to his wheel? Dan Lloyd. Back in the main bunch Haussler takes over setting the pace.

1354- Just looking at Hoste in the group… That man likes a Duvel doesn’t he? 50km to go!

1402- Roger Hammond marking Bernard Eisel as he looks to chase here. Cervelo playing the role you would expect to see Quick Step or Rabo fill here.

1406- Quinzato and Chavenel up the pace in the breakaway group. Hoste the only one to respond…

1408- Boonen, Devolder and Pozatto break over the same climb. Heating up!

1415- Boonen et al catch and pass the remnants of teh 6 man group, and are bearing down on Hoste and co. Meanwhile Nuyens, Gilbert and Martijn Maaskant are chasing hard. This race has, as they say, blown to pieces.

1423- Old man Guesdon of FDjeux and Mr. A. Nomynous of Astana attack. The bigger group looks like it’s pulled in the little favourites break, due to nobody accepting the responsibility of doing any work. Could leave the door open for a Gilbert or a Flecha.

1430- And, David Duffiled-esque here, the fact that Chavenel and Quinzato are still plugging away up front had completely escaped my notice. Still a large group behind them too.

1434- Devolder goes with Van Den Hoek of Topsport. marking everything, Quickstep. They’ve ridden this perfectly.

1440- The four have come together and are riding well as a group. Simon Spilak of PD Malcolms Pro-Cycling Manager squad Leads the chase. If Katusha want anything out of today they have to start pulling the bunch now.

1446- Devolder breaks them over the Murr! Chavanel regains Quinzato’s wheel over the top… Boonen chasing hard with Hoste for company behind.

1454- Over the Bosberg and Devolder looks to have this one sewn up! Boonen must know you can’t win every year and Pozzato’s insanely negative tactic of just doing whatever Tom does gets it’s just reward.

1508- Devolder wins! Hushovd takes a big knock in a crash in the finishing straight. Devolder climbs on the podium flanked by Patrick Lefevre, looking ever so dapper… Thanks guys, hope you enjoyed it.

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