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La 24ème Charly Gaul - September 1st, 2013 - Echternach


La Charly Gaul 2013 has seen more participants than ever and for the third year in a row, the level of over 1000 riders has been reached. In fact, they were more than 1.300 to cross the start line on the market place in Echternach. Despite some crashes with more or less minor injuries, the 24th edition has thus been a huge success, with some more or less known winners. In the women's race, Nathalie Lamborelle and Ingrid Haas were on top of the podium for the second time already, after 2009 and 2012 respectively, whereas the winners in the men's categories, Quentin Mélon and Jacques Schuit have never been up there before, even thought they came pretty close in the past.

More folks than ever at the 24th edition More folks than ever at the 24th edition

With 1288 officially registered starters on the market place in Echternach, the 2013 edition was by far the most popular ever on both distances: they were 1043 in 2012 and 1100 in 2009, best year so far. Under very good weather conditions, 461 riders, about a third of them all and over 100 more than in the previous year, lined up for the long course of 160 kilometres, whereas 827 riders chose for the 100 kilometer race. In 2012, they were "only" 692, which was the highest score until then. The women also were well represented in Echternach this year with 60 riders (they were 43 in 2012 and 44 in 2009). 20 of them opted for the difficult long course of 160 km, while 40 female starters lined up for the "small" Charly Gaul on course B.

Youngest rider of La 24ème Charly Gaul was Rik Carier. Eventually, at just 14 years of age, he barely fulfilled the participation conditions, but nevertheless showed an incredible performance. The young rider from Luxemburg was 142nd of the 100 km course, at more than 33 km/h average speed. There were only around 20 riders of less than 19 years of age in this race, while only three of them were brave enough to tackle the 160 kilometres: Tom Scheerer was 257th in the overall classification at 17 years of age, a quarter of an hour ahead of the two Larry brothers. Just like last year, José Cambrai was the most experienced rider in the race with 75 years of age. The Belgian from Libramont took less than 4 hours to ride the 100 kilometres, meaning an average speed above 25 km/h. A fantastic ride! In fact, the older categories were better represented than the younger ones in Echternach since there were more than 50 riders above 60 years of age on the "small" course and 20 on the long course, where Andre Zijlmans won the category I at an average speed above 32 km/h.
Special guest: Claudio Chiappucci Special guest: Claudio Chiappucci
Another huge performance: at 72 years of age, the most experienced rider in the 160 km race, German Hubert Klüber, finished the race in 13th position in his category and 373th overall.

Special guest on Septemer 1st in Echternach was Claudio Chiappucci. The former winner of Milano - San Remo and the Klasika San Sebastion, who finished both the Tour de France and the Giro on the podium, has followed the invitation of the organizers since he is a special fan of Charly Gaul, but also of cyclosport-races. In order to keep his body in shape, the Italian lines up in several Gran Fondos through the year and was supposed to apply for the long 160 km course. But recent knee problems forced him to lower his expectations and he thus signed-in for the smaller distance. In June, the former yellow jersey of the Tour de France ususally participates in the race decicated to his own name, La Claudio Chiappucci in France's Armay-le-Duc (Bourgogne), not so far away from Luxembourg though. Less known and visible, but nevertheless stars of our own Charly Gaul are Yves Lehnert and Nico Thoma. Lehnert finished the course of 160 kilometres in 363th position and Thoma in 451th place. Both of them have completed their 24th Charly Gaul and didn't miss a single edition since the creation of the event, in 1990.

As usual, most of the contenders came from Benelux countries, more the 70 % of them, but for the first time in years, the home riders were not in the majority: 419 Belgians on the two distances won the prize ahead of 300 from Luxemburg and 167 French riders. 20 countries in total were represented in Echternach (23 last year) with the usual supects: Dutch, Danish, Portuguese, German, Spanish or English citizens lined up next to people from more exotic destinations like the US, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Kenya or Slovenia. Coming from Wien, Jürgen Mitterhuber was maybe the one who has travelled the longest way to Echternach for the 24th Charly Gaul.

Concerning the course, there were not too many new things in this 2013 edition, although
côte d'Oberglabach côte d'Oberglabach
the trip to the Alzette valley near Cruchten and the climb of Oberglabach on the return, haven't been on the menu of La Charly Gaul for a while. It was in 2003 that the terrible climb with gradients up to 17 % was for the last time on the course, with riders complaining about the steepness of the slopes. Next to Oberglabach, the climb of Mont-Saint-Nicolas with 313 metres of change in altitude, was the biggest challenge in the race, but only for the long distance. The beginning of the course was already difficult, with the climbs of Michelshof and Reuland as of the beginning, before it headed north to the separation point in Ermsdorf. The riders from course A continued towards Vianden and Hoscheid, before taking the long and traditionnal downhill in Bastendorf and heading back to the common part with the B-riders via the climb of Broderbour, known for having played a decisive role in the 2011 National Road Championships. After the trip to the Alzette valley, the return to Echternach passed through the well-known climb of Consdorf and the "Little Switzerland" of Luxembourg. The final part of the course was hilly with the last climb of the day, a new one in Osweiler with gradients up to 10 %, being about 15 kilometres away from the finish line. All in all, the course seemed quite a bit more difficult than last year on paper, but as Pascal Triebel quoted after the race "A Charly Gaul is never difficult enough".

Report from the race A

It was 9 o'clock in the morning when the 461 crossed the start line for 160 difficult kilometres, cheered among others by the mayor of Echternach, Mr. Theo Thiry, and Claudio Chiappucchi waiting for his own departure, later in the morning. As of the beginning, the 4,5 kilometres at an average gradient of 4,5 % of the first climb made a selection and divided the peloton in smaller group, a good thing for the security of the riders for sure. They were abount 200 staying in the lead with somme of them being in offensive mood: Peter Enckels was the first one to attack but on top of the climb, two riders
Two early leaders: Adriansens and Volkmann Two early leaders: Adriansens and Volkmann
were riding a few metres ahead of the peloton. A few kilometres later, Jens Volkmann and Bob Adriansens had increased their advantage to nearly a minute on Bart Huybrechts and a few seconds more on a peloton that was supposed to react soon.

Because the two leaders certainly were among the main favourites of the race: the Dutch rider, Adriansens, has already participated in several Charly Gaul events and finished two times inside the Top 10 in Echternach, in 2010 and 2011. Last year, he also managed a 15th place on top of the incredibly difficult Monte Bondone, at the Gran Fonro Charly Gaul in Trento. German Jen Volkmann, on the other hand, was multiple German champion and four times World Champion in the Masters categories in the past, between 2007 and 2013, and he is an excellent time-trialist. But on the long flat part between Larochette and Reisdorf, the two of them had a difficult position compared to a big peloton. Shortly after the climb of Hoesdorf, they were caught by a group of eight riders before a bigger group also bridged up to the leaders.

They were still about thirty at the top of the long, long climb of Mont-St-Nicolas, among them several of the pre-race favourites: former winners Philippe Herman (2006) and Enzo Mezzapesa (dwon in 1997 already)
Big leading group Big leading group
but alos some Top 10 finishers of the last few years: Christian Poos, 2nd in last year's race, Pascal Triebel, third in 2008, Antoine Guyot, Peter Enckels, Michael Ossieur, Bob Adriansens and Anthony Spysschaert, all of them at the first positions in 2010, Nick Verwimp and Michel Heydens, 4th and 5th in 2009 or Jacques Schuit, 15th twelve months ago. Other riders at the front were Quentin Borcy, 2nd of the Grand-prix François Faber in 2011 and a fourth Luxemburger named Kim Wirtz. Behind them, another group of 35 including amongst others Benn Wurth from LC Kayl were not far away, but never managed to bridge up again.

On the next climbs, Wahlhausen, Merscheid and Broderbour, the front groups splitted and reformed again, they were 7 at one moment in the lead, but shortly after the junction with the riders from course B at kilometre 88, they were 15 still in contention, including Poos and Triebel from Luxemburg, plus nine Belgians, two French, two German as well as Dutch rider Jacques Schuit. They had an increasing gap on the second group containing Herman, Mezzapesa, Van den Berg and about 15 more Belgians. The riders from the 160 kilometre course were now mixed together with some bigger pelotons of the 100 kilometre course: Tactics were getting difficult and the race was impossible to control.

In the final part of the race, there was another selection in the leading group: 7 riders remained at the front and they were current German Master champion Jens Volkmann and his team-mate Marek Maluszczak, former European champion in the same category, past winner of the Grand-prix François Faber and the Grand-prix OST-Manufaktur Christian Poos, Quentin Borcy from the Veranda Willems team,
Jacques Schuit wins ahead of Michel Heydens Jacques Schuit wins ahead of Michel Heydens
former Dutch amateur champion Jacques Schuit, who was in the Top 10 this year at the legendary races Les Trois Ballons and Transalp Tour, Michel Heydens, who has won the Ronde Gaumaise this year as well Anthony Spysschaert, another Belgian who is often well placed at cyclosport-races in the region. Behind them, a group with Triebel and Adrianssens was loosing more and more ground.

Despite several attacks on the last kilometres, the victory was decided in a sprint between the 7 riders on the market place, where Jacques Schuit was one bike length ahead of Belgian Michel Heydens. Christian Poos was in third position a few metres behind, followed in this order by Spysschaert, Maluszczak and Borcy, mixed up with some riders of the smaller distance. Volkmann finished in seventh position a few seconds behind the first group, while Pascal Triebel took 8th place at one minute, leading the next chasers Coopman and Estaban Talloen, who is 20 years younger than evergreen Triebel. Schuit, Heydens and Spiesschaert were first in their respective categories, together with Enzo Mezzapesa (24th), Andre Zijlman (181st) and Tom Scheerer (257th).

The women's race was alos decided in a sprint, defending champion Ingrid Haast taking the win for the second year in a row ahead of Manuela Freund, Anne Stein-Kirch and
20 ladies at the start of La Charly Gaul A 20 ladies at teh start of La Charly Gaul A
Raimonda Winkeler. The four of them arrived in Echternach inside a small group of 15 male riders, taking positions 200, 201, 202 and 203 in the scrathc rankings, three quarters of an hour late on the overall winner and at nearly 32 km/h average speed.

German rider Freund didn't start the race very well and after 20 kilometres, she was off the pace in a third bigger group and already a few minutes behind the leaders, together with former winner on the smaller distance, Sandra Huberty. Another past winner of the race, Verena Engel, was a little bit ahead, while several of the girls had managed to hold on to the good group of 200 male riders, or were riding just behind like Anne Stein-Kirch or Marit Jalink of the Dutch Gaul.nl group.

In the climb of Oberglabach, Ingrid Haast, Stein-Kirch and young Karine Pap-Jager were riding together in the lead just ahead of Raimonda Winkeler and Verena Engel, while Manuela Freund had moved up quite a bit after a long chase, but was still more than a minute behind the five others. Quite fortunately for the German, there was a larger regroupement shortly after the climb and she was finally able to bridge up to the top female contenders in the race, providing a final with plenty of suspense. While Pap-Jager and Engel were dropped in the final part of the race, the victory was decided between the four other riders:
Podium in the women's race: Freund, Haast and Stein-Kirch Podium in the women's race: Freund, Haast and Stein-Kirch

Ingrid Haast, defending champion of La Charly Gaul and winner of the Ventoux time-trial climb in 2012, was together with Raimonda Winkeler, who had finished in third place twelve months ago and was near to the Top 10 in her category in the legendary La Marmotte this year. Next to the two Dutch women, two German riders were in contention: Manuela Freund, who won amont others her category this year in the cyclosport-races of Frankfurt (Eschborn), Bochum (Sparkassen Giro) and Göttingen (Tour d'Energie) as well as Anne Stein-Kirch, multiple European and World Champion in the masters categories. After a difficult sprint, in which participated also several male contenders, Ingrid Haast had one bike length advantage on Freund and Stein-Kirch. She eventually joins Verena Engel in the select club of two times winners of the "big" Charly Gaul, one unit behind Sione Jonstra who won three times in all.

Report from the B-race

More than an hour after the contenders of the A-race, Claudio Chiappucchi and over 800 other riders started for their course of 100 kilometres, with the same difficult opening kilometres than their colleagues: côte de Michelshof as of the start and then, a little bit later, the côte de Reuland. The pace was high on the first climb and the best riders climbed on the big ring, breaking away from the others.
break of 4 in the 100 km race break of 4 in the 100 km race
The peloton splitted up, of course, and there were still around one leaders when they tackled the climb of Ermsdorf after 25 kilometres.

Four riders broke away soon after that: Luxemburg's multi-task athlet Paul Bentner, France's Damien Montinet, who was 6th last year and certainly one of the pre-race faovourites, as well as Belgium's Ludovic Brochart and Georges Hauterat. After around 30 kilometres of race, in Stegen, the four of them had thirty seconds lead on a first peloton of 50 men but a few kilometres later, with the tandem côte de Scheierhaff and côte d'Oberglabach showing up at the horizon, Bentner, Montinet, Brochart and Hauterat were still in sight of their chasers.

After the climb of Scheierhaff, Georges Hauterat was the first to tackle the 17 % gradient of Oberglabach, alone and a few seconds ahead of Brochart and Montinet.
Partial regropement after Oberglabach Partial regroupement after Oberglabach
While Bentner had been dropped and Montinet was to be a little later, French rider Miguel Gil bridged up to the two chasers, followed by Jéròme Lafourte and Rinaldo Nolentini, still a few seconds behind the leader. At the top of the climb, Hauterat was about 50 metres ahead of Nolentini, Gil, Brochart and Montinet, but others followed closely in small groups.

But there was a regroupement after the climb and some 40 riders stayed in the lead, including Steve Decloux, defending champion of La Charly Gaul, another former winner named Jean-Michel Thimister, together with Damien Montinet, Gilles Stevens and Lex Reichling, all of them having finished inside the Top 10 twelve months ago, Jérôme Lafourte, third in 2009, Genseric Andreoli, who was already third on the long distance, some Belgians with famous names like Nijs, Schumacher, Rahier or someone called Bart De Wever as well as Luxemburg's Patrick Rauen, Fabio Emili, Jérôme Even, Luis Nelson, Paul Bentner and Michel Hubsch. Behind them, a long way behind, another group contained Claudio Chiappucci and Nathalie Lamborelle, the first lady in the race.

In the final part of the race, the front groupe splitted up again, leaving 13, then 8 and finally, after a crash in the last downhill, seven riders in contention for the vin: a triathlete from Eupen, Andy Mertens, a former rider from VC Ardennes and Pesant-Club de Liège, Ludovic Brochard, a rider with a nearly famous name, Rinaldo Nolentini, two team-mates, Quentin Mélon and Jéròme Lafourt, who has already won a stage
Quentin Mélon wins La Charly Gaul B Quentin Mélon wins La Charly Gaul B
in the Tour de l'Ain, a cyclo-sport stage race that takes place at the same time than the pro-event, as well as Miguel Gil from Thionville and Michel Hübsch of Tooltime Preizerdaul, only Luxemburger in this select leading group. There were several attacks on the last kilometres of the race and one of them prooved to be the right move. Quentin Mélon accelerated with the Basilika of Echternach in sight and was able to hold a small lead until the end. Mélon took the victory by crossing the finish line 4 seconds ahead of his team-mate Jéròme Lafourte, who was faster than Rinaldo Nolentini and Michel Hubsch in the last straight line. Gil, Brochard and Mertens finished in positions 5, 6 and 7, while the very offensive riding Georges Hauterat won the sprint for 8th place, 2 minutes behind the winner. A third group has finished another minute late, while another peloton of about 30 rider arrived at 7 minutes, with Claudio Chiappucci taking 47th place in this group.

Just behind the fromer stage winner at the Tour de France and the Giro, Nathalie Lamborelle finished first of the women's race, with more than 10 minutes advantage on last year's winner Catherine Delfosse. In the first part of the course, four girls were ahead of all the others and left them behind by getting inside a good group in the first climb, right after the start: multiple Luxemburg champion Nathalie Lamborelle, who won the Charly Gaul in 2009, Catherine Delfosse, multiple Belgian MTB champion as well as Belgian Jessy Beelen and Luxemburg's Carmen Coljon.
Nathalie Lamborelle wins the women's race Nathalie Lamborelle wins the women's race
In the climbs of Scheierhaff and Oberglabach, the race took its toll: at the top of the second of the two ascents, Lamborelle rode with Claudio Chiappucci and ten other male contenders in around 50th position overall, already one minute and a half ahead of Catherine Delfosse. Coljon and Beelen had lost even more time and were more than four minutes late, followed closely by Belgian Rita Zinnen and Luxembourg's Michelle Krippler, who finished in second place last year. The positions were quite fixed by now, but the gaps increased even more until the finish in Echternach. On the market place, Nathalie Lamborelle won the women's competition by taking a nice 62nd place overall, 7 minutes late on the male winner and in the same group than Chiapucci, at an average speed of more than 34 km/h. Catherine Delfosse arrived ten minutes later in 175th position overall, just une minute and about 20 places ahead of Carmen Coljon, third in the ladie's result list. After a bad start, French rider Delphine Jouin showed a very strong second part of the race and moved up to fourth in the end, ahead of Zinnen, Krippler and Beelen.











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