After 11 years as a professional, Bobbie Traksel (Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team) locked down the biggest win of his career as he out paced Rick Flens (Rabobank) and Ian Stannard (Sky Professional Cycling Team) to win the 63rd edition of Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne in Belgium on Sunday.
In classically brutal Belgian weather conditions, the 28-year-old Dutchman had instigated what would turn out to be a long, but incredibly worthwhile breakaway as the race approached its first significant hills.
Traksel escaped after some two hours of racing, first in the company of his teammate Arnaud van Groen, then alone following the Kruisberg (110km). Chasing behind was a small group including Jeremy Hunt, Brett Lancaster, Dominique Rollin and Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam), Jurgen Roelandts and Leif Hoste (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Maarten Tjallingii, Rick Flens and Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank), Sebastien Rosseler and Gregory Rast (RadioShack), Ian Stannard (Sky) and Davy Commeyne (Landbouwcredit-Colnago).
Just before the Oude Kwaremont (121km), Stannard went in the counterattack. After the Oude Kwaremont, Stannard and Flens linked up with Traksel, to create a three-man leading group. Word came through that the loop towards the Cote de Trieu was cancelled due to the strong winds, a decision that made the race 20 kilometres shorter.
Cervélo appeared the only team who wanted to work as the leader’s advantage reached a minute and a half. Suddenly, Hunt, Hayden Roulston and Hushovd gapped their companions without any noticeable acceleration, quickly taking half a minute on the rest. Then a third Cervélo rider, Dominique Rollin, attacked the second chasing group. He eventually caught Hushovd, while Hunt cracked and stopped and Roulston went onto finish fourth.
With the race now almost certain to be decided by the three men up front, Flens was the first to flex his muscles. With nine kilometres to ride, the Dutchman scampered away but was quickly reeled in by Stannard, who countered with a move of his own. As Flens and Stannard parried one another, Traksel was able to observe the movements. Another move by Flens was shut down by the Vacansoleil rider, who seemed determined to face a sprint finish.
With just over 1000 metres to race Stannard once again took off, but as that move failed it was clear Traksel’s wish would come to fruition. The Dutchman made the opportunity count as he drove away from Flens and Stannard to seal the biggest win of his career. Flens was the next to finish, while Stannard secured Sky’s second podium result of the weekend.
|1 Bobbie Traksel (Ned|Vacansoleil)|
|2 Rick Flens (Ned|Rabobank)|
|3 Ian Stannard (GBr|Team Sky)|
|4 Hayden Roulston (NZl|HTC-Columbia)|
|5 Dominique Rollin (Can|Cervelo)|
|6 Thor Hushovd (Nor|Cervelo)|
For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.