For many of us, the cycling season started today with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the first of the Flanders Classics. It was a clear, cold, windy day that culminated in a break of five duking it out at the finish. The eternal second Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) was second no more when he handily outsprinted world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) for a win that was a long time coming. Tiejs Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) rounded out the podium.
Rider of the Race
Sporting the harlequinesque look of one brown, one cyan sleeve, young Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) went away in the first break early in today’s race and while all of his fellow early breakers eventually got swallowed up by the peloton, he stayed out in front, jumping from break to break. In the end, he was with a strong group of four (Sagan, Luke Rowe, Tiejs Benoot and winner GVA) but, cooked though he looked, he kept his cool in the final few hundred metres with a peloton bearing down, just 3 seconds behind him, to finish 5th.
It was a solo win for the World Champion in a spinetingling final today! What?! Who?! World Champion Lizzie Armitstead took off about 5km out to take a magnificent win (no curse of the rainbow stripes here, folks!). And here are the highlights of that race. I’m not sure why broadcasters think that showing live footage of the final 5km of an exciting race when the other race was just toodling along would enrage cycling fans. Just to be clear: Broadcasters, it wouldn’t enrage anyone. It would make you very popular.
With the five-man break up the road, riding away with the race, Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) decided to take matters into his own hands and set off from the peloton to chase it down – he wanted some of the action! Well, he got action that he wasn’t looking for when he went into a power slide just under the 25km mark. Luckily he was unhurt but he was quickly absorbed into the peloton. The man has heart though – he finished 9th.
Hang on! Say what?!
1 No Tom Boonen attack on the Boonenberg. Wait just one damn second … does this mean we have to start calling it the Taaienberg again?
2 No Etixx rider in the final top 10. Is the Strongest Classics team in the History of the World™ just a mirage this year?
3 Give me a head of hair, long beautiful hair – flow it, show it!
And here is your highlights reel …
1 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) 4:54:12
2 Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) s/t
3 Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) s/t
4 Luke Rowe (Team Sky) s/t
5 Alexis Gougeard (Ag2r) 0:06
Links: official race website
Header image: Omloop 2016 podium: Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet, Tiejs Benoot. (©BENOIT DOPPAGNE/AFP/Getty Images)