Ronde van Vlaanderen 2009
Stijn Devolder (Quick Step) repeated last year’s victory in almost identical style, soloing away in the final kilometres for his second consecutive win the Vlaanderens Mooiste. The 29-year-old Belgian dropped his breakaway companions on the penultimate climb of the day, the legendary cobbled Muur of Gramont, and from then on, he raced to glory on the roads toward the finish in Meerbeke. While crossing the line, Devolder gestured in honor of his recently deceased friend and fellow racer Frederik Nolf. “This is unbelievable. I’ve lived up to this race for so long and I encountered a lot of bad luck,” said Devolder. I worked hard with all the people that kept believing in me. I said I would win and I did it.” “It was very weird race. I was able to join [Tom] Boonen (Quick Step) and [Filippo] Pozzato (Team Katusha) after the Berendries, and then I pulled through toward the leaders. I recovered, and on the Muur, I played my last card,” said Devolder. “I’m planning to stay focused on this race during the next few years as the Ronde van Vlaanderen remains the most important race of the year for me,” said Devolder. An aggressive Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) anticipated the final sprint and escaped from the large chase group on the finishing straight to finish second. The bunch sprint was won by Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto). Pozzato and Martijn Maaskant (Garmin – Slipstream) followed to finish fourth and fifth. “I didn’t have the legs today,” said Haussler. “In the end I was going to ride for Thor, but he told me to attack, so I went.” After the race, favorite Boonen explained that racing for the victory wasn’t possible for the day since the other top favorite, Pozzato, wasn’t chasing any other wheel than his. “The shadow,” Boonen described Pozzato. “Everybody saw that we were killing each other. I couldn’t drop him, and he couldn’t drop me. When we attacked, we distanced everybody, but he didn’t want to continue. So for me, the door was closed, but it opened the door for Stijn and Sylvain (Chavenel).” “Boonen was the strongest, compliments to the Quick Step team,” said Pozzato.