Time for a quick look at the teams before we get going with the big show. We've now seen the teams in the Omloop only on the cobbles since Kuurne (and Le Samyn) got snowed in. We've also seen them prepare in Nice & Tirreno as well as ride the weekend of Italian races in Tuscany and Rome although if we learned anything about the cobbles there I truly can't remember. Something about that Sagan kid being scary good perhaps?
1. OmegaPharma - Quick Step ( Last poll = 1st ➡ )
Clearly OPQS were all over the Omloop. Chavanel made the race as he has so many times before and they played card no 2, putting Vandenbergh in the winning move. Probably more heart than brain in the call to let him work in that move even when it was a 99% obviously hopeless move with Paolini there. But this way Vandenbergh got his day in the sun on a day when he was clearly flying and because of it he will no doubt be doubly useful later on for a Boonen that looked well on track for holy week. His MSR got aborted as he got too much ice in his crankypants but he looks and sounds exactly where he needs to be. Maybe not for the early races but by the Tour of Flanders he will be there. No reason not to keep them in the top spot.
2. BMC ( 2nd ➡ )
Van Avermaet did his job and was in on the action but beyond that they looked decidedly un-juggernauty at the Omloop. I do get the feeling that for a big team they are very anonymous and I have to wonder how strong the direction is behind these big names? Perhaps it's the fact that they have such big names with such big goals but they have to take a step up if they are to advance to a level as a team that matches the star-quality of their roster. Sanremo didn't really give many answers either really since the conditions were so special, it's hard to tell how much that influenced what we did see on the road. If we were to ignore the circumstances and just go by what we saw BMC might be in a bit of trouble. Gilbert tried his usual aggression but fell short and Thor faded (apparently tech-related though). They certainly didn't look like they'd dominate any monuments any time soon. Except for Phinney that is who looks like he could explode onto the scene in Flanders given any kind of chance.
3. Katusha ( 6th ⬆ )
Under-rated and forgotten no more. Paolini finally hit the right break and was in full control at OHN unlike last year when he was often chasing strongly just behind the winning moves. Their threat level in the eyes of the competition just went up a notch. Having a strong looking sprint threat in Kristoff doesn't hurt either.
4. Team Sky ( 3rd ⬇ )
Here's a team that did exactly what was expected at OHN. Thomas is up there just as his TDU form indicated, Edvald sat in the big group. Were they ever close to winning? Not really, the race unfolded in front of them and they didn't unleash some lethal attacks. It was...... dependable. Since then they retreated to their
Secret Volcano Lair Tenerife preparation camp opting for training and food poisoning rather than race miles and chest-colds and then if anything MSR just added to the confusion Is Stannard the man we should be looking to or results all of a sudden?
5. Cannondale ( 10th ⬆ )
Skipping the opening weekend we will have to draw some speculative conclusions from the past weeks of Peter Sagan DOMINATING EVERYTHING. Does it mean something? Does it mean he will win everything? Probably not but he should take comfort that his team did the job needed at MSR. They'll be a factor for sure.
6. Lotto-Belisol ( Not ranked ⬆ )
The name most mentioned on the eve of Het Nieuwsblad was probably Jurgen Roelandts after his stagewin earlier in Tour Med and he lived up to the hype but like Van Avermaet he came up just short. Not so strange hearing afterward how he froze his eyeballs in the process. If Greipel had raced on Sunday it could have been Lotto's most promising opening weekend in years. Bak then goes on to confirm in MSR that he is on form and things aren't looking too shabby for the next weeks. With constant rain too to cover the clownsuits in black rainjackets they may come out with their honor intact. And quite possibly with a win or two as well.
7. Team Blanco ( 7th ➡ )
Both Boom and Vanmarcke did the Belgian shoulder-shrugs and dismissed the Omloop as a bad day, no legs, not a primary target anyway. Wynants represented for the team but it was one of the reborn squad's more anonymous races so far this year. These are guys who are looking to win a monument though I bet, not just any races. Then Sep goes and becomes the annual Tirreno-victim, horribly disfiguring his knee by damaging some sort of phlegm-sack or whatever. Me, I look upon it as an sign of good things to come that his kneecap looked like Briek Schotte with a goiter in profile but others with a darker disposition might see a week off his bike as a death-blow to his chances? Anyways he's set to ride the E3 by the looks of it so we'll see how much it has set him back.
8. Garmin-Sharp ( 4th ⬇ )
If ever there was a team that looked Sepless in the Omloop, Garmin was it. Jokes aside though they were probably mainly looking for some promising signs from Nuyens and while he didn't look too bad he has since declared his poor form which may or may not be a result of a bad hip, a virus, malaria, vertigo, angina, ulcers or gout? It's unclear but unless he's playing possum it surely doesn't look like he will be of much use in Flanders. Looks like they will have to pin their hopes on Farrar bouncing back and getting some support from Bauer who looks ever impressive. All in for Scheldeprijs and Wevelgem?
9. Lampre-Merida ( Not ranked ⬆ )
Still the one-man show. Still relying on Pozzato to perform. Still waiting for him to grab a race by the neck. Still waiting for my eyes to adjust to the neo-fluoro shock. I wouldn't bet a single cent against Pippo getting two podium-places in the Monuments based on his form in the races so far. He is and remains a massive challenger. Expect Lampre to shoot up this ranking next time.
10. Europcar ( 5th ⬇ )
Nothing much to report here. Turgot looks on form yet again so let's see where that can lead. Tommy found some cameras on the road to Sanremo so he's happy and Gaudin went and won in Cholet Pays de Loire so he looks like a threat too. Will they win anything? Surely not.
(10 1/2) . Radioshack ( 13th ⬆ )
Spartacus. That is all.