Ian Stannard wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images

In a hard-fought Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in typical wet and miserable Flandrian conditions Ian Stannard got Team Sky off to a great start to the classics season by outsprinting a frozen and exhausted Greg van Avermaet for the win.

It was an Omloop that had everything a cycling lover could hope for as the attacks and counter-attacks were flying already from the Taaienberg more or less. Sep Vanmarcke opened the race there and he never stopped showing his strength throughout the race but it was more clever and well-timed strikes that were going to decide the day.

Lars Boom, Niki Terpstra and Edvald Boasson Hagen formed a trio off the front after the Molenberg but Boom punctured and the two others doomed themselves with poor cooperation just as it looked like they might be the winning move. Instead the cards were reshuffled as a chase group connected from behind and soon Ian Stannard and Van Avermaet slipped off the front and established a good cooperation that even held off the chase from behind from Vanmarcke, Terpstra and Boasson Hagen. Going into Gent the two slowly pulled away and it looked like a certain sprint win for the normally faster BMC rider Van Avermaet. But once again it was proven that sprinting after a hard 200 km cobbled classic is never a straightforward affair as Stannard used a moments lack of attention to get a small gap on a frozen and worn-out Van Avermaet. From there he held the front as the BMC rider struggled and failed to find his normal sprint legs.

Stannard thereby won his greatest victory so far, bettering his podium in the gruesome conditions in Kuurne a few years ago. Boasson Hagen won the sprint among the chasers to give Team Sky two men on the podium. Could this be the start of the successful classics campaign that they have been looking for for years?

TOP 15:

1. GBR SKY Ian Stannard
2. BEL BMC Greg Van Avermaet
3. NOR SKY Edvald Boasson Hagen +10 sec
4. BEL BEL Sep Vanmarcke
5. NED OPQ Niki Terpstra
6. LUX WGG Jempy Drucker +30 sec
7. USA BMC Taylor Phinney
8. BEL GIA Dries Devenyns
9. ESP COF Egoitz Garcia
10. FRA FDJ Arnaud Démare
11. GBR SKY Luke Rowe
12. NED GRS Sebastian Langeveld
13. BEL LTB Jürgen Roelandts
14. BEL OPQ Stijn Vandenbergh
15. BEL TSV Zico Waeytens
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