US Postal bow out with another win
A fabulous era came to a fitting end yesterday when Max Van Heeswijk won the last race of the Belgia
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE US Postal sprinter Max Van Heeswijk brought the curtain down not only on a good season for him personally but on Belgian cycling as a whole when he won the GP Cloture in Putte-Kapellen yesterday. It was Van Heeswijk’s 13th win of the season and was an appropriate way for the US Postal brand to bow out of the sport in Europe. The victory gave the Dutchman two more wins than team-mate Lance Armstrong, and capped Postal’s most successful season in terms of victories, as it won 33 internationally ranked races. “It was a surprise result for all of us today, as Max wasn’t feeling that great having suffered during Paris-Tours just a few days ago,” said Postal’s assistant DS Laurenzo Lapage. “I asked him halfway through the race how he felt, and he said he was getting better and better. It was important for him and for all of us to win our last race for the Postal Service. Also for Max, now he can go into the winter relaxed.” Van Heeswijk’s team-mate Stijn Devolder worked hard for the Dutchman in the final kilometres as nearly 30 riders prepared for a sprint finish. Devolder maintained a high speed to discourage any final attacks and van Heeswijk was able to take the sprint from race favourite Steven de Jongh of Rabobank. “Finishing the season with a win in the last race of the year is a very nice way to finish,” said team manager Johan Bruyneel. “Especially as this was one of our most successful seasons in terms of wins and with Lance winning his sixth Tour de France. “Last year was a great year as well, winning both the Tour and the Vuelta, but this year we won many races with many different riders during the whole year – from February to October. We have definitely proved we have a very deep team, and this is contrary to what others may say that we are focused on the Tour only. I don’t agree with that as we have been performing and winning the whole year.” Of van Heeswijk, Bruyneel added: “For Max, this was his best season by far. If he had had some luck in the spring, he would have won a big race as well, but for the team, he has shown his value to us all year long. It’s good to have a rider like that on the team, knowing when you go to a race you have a good possibility to win.” Meanwhile, Frank Vandenbroucke’s fledgling career with MrBookmaker.com hit its first snag when the former Fassa Bortolo rider did not make it to the start of the GP Cloture. A broken down car was cited as the reason for Vandenbroucke’s non-appearance.