Hammond denied by Eeckhout

Roger Hammond is outsprinted by Chocolade Jacques' Nico Eeckhout in Dwars door Vlaanderen, but the F

Roger Hammond is outsprinted by Chocolade Jacques’ Nico Eeckhout in Dwars door Vlaanderen, but the F

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM Roger Hammond was denied a first win in his new Discovery Channel colours when he lost out in the sprint to Chocolade Jacques’ Nico Eeckhout in the sprint that decided Dwars door Vlaanderen in Waregem today. A 14-rider group went clear on the climbs of the Knokteberg, and Eeckhout, winner of the race back in 2001, was always a likely winner once Tom Boonen and Peter van Petegem had been dropped from this group after a series of late attacks in which Hammond and Davitamon’s Nico Mattan were prominent. With George Hincapie and Stijn Devolder also in good form, the omens are good for Discovery just 10 days away from the Tour of Flanders. Although a question mark still hangs over the form of team leader Lance Armstrong for ‘de Ronde’, world champion Oscar Freire said on Spanish radio today that the American team is one of the strongest in the peloton at the moment, together with Quick Step and Fassa Bortolo. “Hincapie is very good just now, he is going to Flanders to win,” said the world champion, who is hoping that a good performance on April 3 will put him back into leading position in the ProTour ahead of Alessandro Petacchi, who is not riding Flanders. Freire added: “You never know what to expect from Armstrong. I think that if he rides he will be there to win. But Hincapie is certainly one of the big favourites.” 1 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-T Interim 190km in 2 Roger Hammond (GB) Discovery Channel 3 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Acqua e Sapone 4 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) T-Mobile 5 Baden Cooke (Aus) Franaise des Jeux 6 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick Step 7 Aart Vierhouten (Hol) Davitamon-Lotto 8 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank 9 Nico Mattan (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 10 Alexandre Usov (Blr) Ag2r