Stijn Devolder has taken his second straight win in the Tour of Flanders. Just like in 2008, the Quick Step rider soloed to victory to make it two wins out of two in his country?s biggest bike race.
Devolder attacked on the Mur de Geraardsbergen after powering across with another Belgian, Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) to a breakaway group of two riders, containing his team-mate Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step).
When he attacked Chavanel kept control of the chase group, allowing Devolder to open up a gap of 59 seconds by the finish.
German Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo) repeated his second place in Milan-San Remo with a late sprint, whilst Belgian Philippe Gilbert led in the bunch for third.
Top favourites Tom Boonen and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) effectively cancelled each other out, allowing Devolder and other contenders to have a better chance of getting away.
In a carbon copy of 2008, Devolder?s late solo attack simply found no answer from his rivals. After breaking aweay on the Geraardsbergen, he time trialled it over the last challenge of the day, the Bosberg, and stayed away to the finish.
For Quick Step, Devolder?s win is their fourth triumph in their home race in five years and second back-to-back victory in Flanders.
Strategically the home side played it brilliantly. Chavanel acted as watchdog for Devolder, chasing down any moves behind, whilst in the main bunch, Boonen took care of Pozzato, arguably the strongest rider on the day.
The most active British rider of the 2009 Tour of Flanders was Daniel Lloyd (Cervelo), who rode superbly in an late seven-man break that formed just before the Koppenberg and only collapsed with less than 45 kilometres to go. Roger Hammond (Cervélo) had an impressive race as well: he attacked on the Leburg and still had the strength to take thirteenth in the final bunch sprint.
Tour of Flanders 2009
1. Stijn Devolder (Bel) Quick Step 261km in 6-01-04
2. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervélo at 59 secs.
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Silence-Lotto
4. Martijn Maaskant (Hol) Garmin
5. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha
6. Matti Breschel (Den) Saxo Bank
7. Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Columbia-Highroad
8. Bjorn Leukemans (Bel) Vacansoleil
9. Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2R
10. Bert De Waele (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
13. Roger Hammond (GB) Cervélo all same time
45. Dan Lloyd (GB) Cervélo at 5min 38sec
75. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervélo at 6min 45sec
76. Steve Cummings (GB) Barloworld same time
Riders hit the Molenberg
Podium: Heinrich Haussler (second), Stijn Devolder (winner), Philippe Gilbert (third)
Tour of Flanders 2009 photo gallery, by Graham Watson>>
Stijn Devolder: Rider Profile
Roger Hammond’s bike stolen in Belgium
2009 Tour of Flanders preview
Cycling Weekly’s rider profiles