The Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was everything a Belgian Classic should be, with short steep cobbled climbs, cold temperatures and rain. All the riders finishing the race would have be feeling slightly battered by the elements after Saturdays race.
Ian Stannard (Sky) was the strongest rider on the day timing his efforts to perfection to take the victory at the opening classic of the year. Stannard and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) rode clear of a reduced lead group with 16km to go and managed to arrive at the finish together where the British rider got the better of the Belgian in a two up sprint.
In a race with 10 noted climbs and a number of cobbled sections, the early break of 8 riders had their weaknesses exposed when they were reeled in with still 50km to go. Omega Pharma – QuickStep was the team responsible for the majority of the early pace setting as they tried to set up the race for their leader, Tom Boonen.
With around 25km to go a dangerous move went off the front that included Lars Boom (Belkin), Edvald Boassen Hagen (SKY) and Nicki Terpstra (Omega Pharma – QuickStep). They were able to build up a lead of just under a minute before Boom punctured. This loss of fire power would see the BMC led chase group bring the race back together with 17km to go.
It was a tough day in the office for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung. Gerald Ciolek was the teams highest placed finisher in 27th position. With around 20km to go, the German was still in contention at the front of the race. After doing some work at the front of the race, Ciolek momentarily went to the back of the bunch. It was at this point where BMC put on the pressure and the group split, leaving Ciolek to chase from the 2nd group on the road with little help.
The Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung classic squad now turn its attention to La Samyn on Wednesday.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (Belgium) – (29 Feb/UCI 1.HC)
Gerald Ciolek (GER)
Ignatas Konovalovas (LTU)
Martin Reimer (GER)
Andy Stauff (GER)
Jaco Venter (RSA)
Jay Thomson (RSA)
Johann Van Zyl (RSA)
Kristian Sbaragli (ITA)