I could write a long piece saying how great today’s race was, examining the form of the riders, the relative strength of each team and the impact of racing without radios. But that’s not the point.
Instead it was simply a fantastic race to watch. The 2011 Het Nieuwsblad was a 203km held in foul conditions and won by Sebastian Langeveld. He attacked with 50km to go, had Juan Antonio Flecha bridge across and then after over five hours of racing, it came down to this:
In fact this race came after a winter of doping scandals, imploding teams, proxy wars over race radios and more negative stories. To see two riders go head to head, mano a mano, is a timely demonstration of just how good this sport can be.
It wasn’t just the lead due. I was pleased to see promising Frenchman Yoann Offredo, even if he needs to learn that the head is as important as the legs. He will. It was also impressive to see HTC-High Road’s top rider was neo-pro John Degenkolb, proof that he can be so much more than a sprinter.
I watched the race online and took part in a live chat with the Pavé blog guys. We’ll be doing the same for the coverage of Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, the “revenge race” on Sunday. If you want to take part, visit Pavé when the TV images are up and running or keep an eye on The Inner Ring twitter feed for details.