Ian Stannard (Team Sky) went on to make it 2 victories in 2 years as he out-smarted 3 Etixx-QuickStep riders in the finale to take an emphatic victory at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had a promising start to their classics campaign despite some bad luck.
Matt Brammeier would represent our African team in the initial 8 rider break of the day. Matt was visibly the strongest rider in the move as they drove out a 5 minute gap over the peloton. With around 80km to go Team Sky brought the race to life and began the chase behind.
While the main field slowly got whittled down to just 40 riders by the 60km to go point, Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung were unfortunate to lose Jay Thomson to a crash. Tyler Farrar, Theo Bos and Edvald Boasson Hagen were still part of the select main group while Matt proceeded to force a split of 3 riders up the road.
Matt and his final 2 escapee partners unfortunately had to surrender at the 50km to go banner as Etixx-QuickStep and Lotto-Jumbo came to the fore. Just as this injection of pace was being inflicted upon the race, Tyler and Theo both punctured while Edvald was prominent at the front of the race, following the moves before he too punctured.
Eventually the 3 Etixx – QuickStep riders and Stannard jumped clear with a little under 40km to go. An uncooperative chase group of now only 20 odd riders saw the gap to the front runner’s balloon rather quickly. They would go on to decide the race with Stannard out-smarting the 3 riders from the Belgian squad. Behind them, 4 pursuers would cross the line before the main peloton sprinted in for 9th position. Edvald would be our top finisher just outside of the top 20.
Edvald Boasson Hagen – Rider
It was an okay day, I was feeling better than Oman at least and I was always at the front of the race. It was good to be back racing in Belgian. Unfortunately I got a flat at a bad moment but luckily I got back, there were few chances for me after that.
Matt Brammeier – Rider
We had a good group out front today with the right combination of teams, riders and a couple of strong guys. As soon we got in it I knew it was a good group and we could go quite far. As every climb went by I just tried to push on and make it to the next climb and make it as deep into the race as I could. I made it up to the Haaghoek and then I tried to do as much as I could for the guys but I got flat tyre there at the end which was a bit of bad luck. Maybe I could have done a few more pulls then but I would’ve exploded in the end anyway, so I am happy with my performance.
J.P. Heynderickx – Sports Director
We were in the race today and that was what asked of our guys in our meeting this morning. We needed to be in the break in the beginning and then present again in the final. In the break we had Matt, he was very strong there and made a very good move. Then in the final we were there with 4 riders but they all had flats at a bad moment. We were car 2 in the race and even still we had to take a wheel from the neutral service, which means we were at the very front of the race and is just bad luck. Tyler, Theo and Edvald all punctured at this bad moment. Jay was in very good shape and a key rider in our team but he crashed in the middle of the race. The good thing is we were there in the front and that is a good sign for the upcoming races. I believe in our team for these next races.