Belgian rider breaks away on the Muur to delight home fans

History repeated itself in the Tour of Flanders today when for the second year running Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) broke away in the final kilometres to take the win. Afterwards Devolder, not unnaturally said that he would continue to concentrate on this race in the future too.

Devolder's team mate and fellow countryman, Tom Boonen was the last man to take back to back wins back in 2005 and 2006 but today he and the other pre-race favourite Filippo Pozzato (Team Katusha) effectively cancelled each other out, each marking every move the other made. Boonen though was always near the front and the focus on him made things easier for Devolder and Sylvain Chavanel. At one point in the closing stages of the race three of the seven riders in the leading group were from Quick Step.

In the shakedown on the Muur a four man group made of up of Devolder, and Chavanel (Quickstep) Qunziato, and Preben Van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercartor) held the lead Devolder then attacked on the climb and to the fury of Quinziato, but surely not his surprise, Chavanel declined to work to bring him back and Van Heck had already been dropped, although he then caught and passed Chavanel and Qunziato before the trio finally came together for the final kilometres when at one point it looked like Quick Step could be on for a one-two.

See the decisive break here + action from all the climbs (you will need Windows Media Player)

Devolder made good his escape and with 5km to go was a minute up on his pursuers and barring a mechanical the race was his. The drama however did not finish with Devolder crossing the line. In the final approach the chasing Chavanel-Quinziato-Van Heck groups was swept up by the peloton and it all shaped up for a sprint for second place. Anticipating this Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo Test Team) attacked at the death to take second place, behind him his team mate Thor Hushovd veered across the road taking out an Astana rider which resulted in an almighty crash. Phillippe Gilbert picked up the pieces to take third place and ensure there were two Belgian riders on the podium much to the home fans' delight.

Women's Tour of Flanders

Nicole Cooke was fourth in the women's race behind  Ina Teutenberg of Team Columbia-Highroad who won in a sprint finish from  Kirsten Wild (Cervelo TestTeam) and  Emma Johansson (Red Sun Cycling Team). Up until the final kilometre it had looked like Marianne Vos (DSB Bank - LTO) would claim back to back world cup wins with a solo break, but the chasing group proved too fast and swept her up on the final bend.

2009 Tour of Flanders Top 10
1 Stijn Devolder Quick Step (Bel) 6:01:04 (43.455 km/h)
2 Heinrich Haussler Cervelo Test Team (Ger) 0.59
3 Philippe Gilbert Silence-Lotto (Bel)
4 Martijn Maaskant Garmin - Slipstream (Ned)
5 Filippo Pozzato Team Katusha (Ita)
6 Matti Breschel Team Saxo Bank (Den)
7 Marcus Burghardt Team Columbia - Highroad (Ger)
8 Bjorn Leukemans Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team (Bel)
9 Martin Elmiger AG2R La Mondiale (Swi)
10 Bert De Waele Landbouwkrediet - Colnago (Bel)

Selected others
13 Roger Hammond Cervelo Test Team (GBR)
20 Tom Boonen Quick Step (Bel)
31 Sylvain Chavanel Quick Step (Fra) 1:08
32 Manuel Quinziato Liquigas (Ita) 1:11
34 George Hincapie Team Columbia - Highroad (USA) 1:44
45 Daniel Lloyd Cervelo Test Team (GBR) 5:38
75 Jeremy Hunt Cervelo Test Team (GBR) 6:45
76 Steven Cummings Barloworld (GBR) 

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.