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The Moment The Race Was Won: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Ian Stannard took on three riders from a rival team, cracking them one by one on the road to Gent before it was Niki Terpstra’s time to get done over in the sprint.

The locals call triumphing in a race overwinning, a term that ought to be used in English to describe Stannard’s success.

The early break went with only seven riders. It had quality with 21 year old Aléxis Gougeard plus two established rouleurs in Albert Timmer and Matt Brammeier and as the race went on this trio were the last to hold out as Team Sky set the pace with Bradley Wiggins, born in Ghent, leading over the cobbles to the sound of angry farmers waving black flags from idle tractors.

Cycling is a traditional sport: Spring starts in Belgium with Tom Boonen’s customary attack on the Taaienberg. Off he went, lining up the bunch in the gutter behind with one absentee, Sep Vanmarcke punctured and was being paced by back his team. The acceleration up the climb continued afterwards and if Vanmarcke got a lift back from his team mates the bunch had been split.

Cycling is a mechanical sport: Sep Vanmarcke looked at ease on the Haaghoek pavé, a sadist dishing it out to everyone but only for him to suffer a puncture. It was just after this on the Leberg climb that Tom Boonen, Stijn Vandenbergh and Niki Terpstra rode away with Ian Stannard for company. There were 40km to go, a long way but a good time to get going. As OPQS the team have used these tactics before, a committed escape like this leaves the others floundering. Put yourself in the position of BMC, Lotto-Jumbo or Lotto-Soudal: are you even capable of bringing back those four riders? If you can, you will do all the work just so a rival team can stuff you in the next phase. There was no big team chase and in response Sep Vanmarcke tried to do it all by himself, dragging Greg Van Avermaet and Zdeněk Štybar with him.

Cycling is a team sport: Vanmarcke’s chase efforts, aided by GVA, were enormous and you could see the strain on the lead four who had to work to stay away, Stannard was grimacing as he held on over the Molenberg. This effort ensured the gap was maintained as they rode to Gent, a three man rotation with Stannard sat on the back like a giant saddlebag. It’s testimony to the brawn and bulk of these riders at Terpstra (1m85/74kg – 6ft1/163lbs) looked like the small guy. The bigger optical illusion was to see it as one Sky rider trumping three Etixx-Quickstep riders, as if this was an astonishing triumph against the odds. It was a fine demolition job but this wasn’t an equal contest, the Quicksteppers were cooked riding on the front for 40km while Stannard was as fresh as could be. This isn’t a criticism of Stannard as he was fully entitled to sit on the back, simply that by the time things got tactical on the approach to Gent the Briton was clearly friskier than the others. Etixx-Quickstep appeared to pre-empt this by placing Boonen on Stannard’s wheel.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Tactical Interlude: What to do if you if you’re up the road and outnumbered by a rival team? You can sit tight and sprint for a podium place knowing you’ll probably get attacked and there’s no shame in that. But better to anticipate those attacks: wait for someone to go, let them get a small gap then hit it hard and ride across. Hopefully one of your rivals won’t stand the pace and you’ll hook up with a motivated rider.

With the front four certain to dispute the finish they left it late to start playing tactical cards. With 4km to go Terpstra accelerated forcing Stannard to chase and as soon as Stannard caught up Boonen launched a proper attack but this wasn’t vintage Tommeke, if it was he would have sat tight for the sprint. Stannard reeled him with the bridge over the E40 offering enough vertical gain to slow Boonen. As expected, Terpstra replied with a proper attack but this time something strange happened, Vandenbergh was the one leading the chase. Were two team mates really chasing each other? It looked like it. Take a look at the image below to see the body language of Vandenbergh.

Just as it came back together Stannard took off. Vandenbergh did a turn and it was game over. He wasn’t the only one in trouble, as Terpstra chased Boonen hanging back, he got to within two seconds but cracked, his head nodding like a donkey. Now Stannard’s odds went to 50-50 as they rode into Gent. Terpsta, a trackie too, led out the sprint but like last year Stannard used his power on the incline to the line to win.

Etixx-Quickstep held four aces in the final phase of the race: they had three men up the road and the chasing group behind was being policed by Štybar, a smooth rider any day but looking even more at ease as he sat on the chasing GVA and Vanmarcke tandem. How did they drop all four cards? Ideally they would have used Vandenbergh to drive the break, send Terpstra up the road and if Stannard chased, used Tom Boonen to win the sprint. But all three where tired while Stannard was fresher. I’m still mystified by Vandenbergh’s chase.

The Verdict: a thrilling race for the final 50km. Etixx-Quickstep blew the race apart on the Leberg and only Ian Stannard could follow the trio. There was a lull in the action as the front group established its lead but the lull left you wondering how Etixx-Quickstep would play their cards. Vandenbergh’s pursuit of Terpsta stands out as a strange move but as they went into Gent it was like a scene from Rambo with Stannard blasting his rivals away one by one until he was only left with Terpsta.

Stannard’s win makes him the ninth rider to win back-to-back Omloops but as ever this is a great race to win but often the winner has peaked too early. Today Stannard won by clever riding rather than brute force so his supporters should be optimistic for the spring classics.

Etixx-Quickstep had a bad day and so did Sep Vanmarcke; let’s not dwell on what could have been but imagine for a moment he too had made the cut with Stannard? If you thought Greg Van Avermaet had a nasty surprise when he came down for breakfast and read the newspapers, the Belgian squad is going to find unpleasant commentary tomorrow. The pressure on Mark Cavendish to deliver in Kuurne is huge.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Caro Saturday, 28 February 2015, 6:56 pm

    Excellent commentary – as usual 🙂

  • SeeingElvis Saturday, 28 February 2015, 6:59 pm

    Great racing, but Vandenbergh certainly has some explaining to do. You knew Terpstra would have a go when Boonen got reeled in, but what the heck was Vandenbergh thinking? I think Tom wanted to win in swashbuckling solo style but did not have that last bit. I’m sure he wishes he sat in in hindsight. I figured the Etixx boys would be going off like popcorn, one after the other until Stannard chased one too many attacks and could not hold the wheel.
    Easily said from the armchair, of course. Obviously, they were all on the rivet and cross-eyed.

    Thanks for the great and timely review.

  • BC Saturday, 28 February 2015, 7:02 pm

    Stannard played the game to perfection. The only thing he had to do in the final 5 km was to immediately chase down any attacker. Easier said than done. That Stannard managed to see of the ET-QS riders one after another was truly superb.

    I get a little lost with the radio debate, but am I correct in thinking the radios were absent from this race. If they were, what an exciting almost uncontrolled event transpired.

    • KB Saturday, 28 February 2015, 7:21 pm

      Correct, no race radios; only in WT races.

      In the finale, the EQS and Sky team cars were allowed up to the lead group to convey race and tactical information. In post-race interviews Boonen and Terpstra said they had no information on time gaps from motorcycles or signs in the last 35km.

  • Worzel Saturday, 28 February 2015, 7:04 pm

    Great review and a cracking start to the Spring season. Maybe not necessarily vintage racing but a gritty win by a true hard man, befitting the locale in which the race is run. Tiredness obviously played a massive part, but also clarity of thought by Stannard (undoubtedly aided by the comparatively easy run in that he had had).

  • matt Saturday, 28 February 2015, 7:05 pm

    I thought as soon as the 4 man break went that Stannard would put in a brave- if not doomed effort. That victory was something else. What made it even better was the Sporza commentators surprise and I think delight in what happened even though their home team rider(s) lost.

    • Adam Saturday, 28 February 2015, 8:22 pm

      Patrick Lefevre wasn’t quite so gracious in defeat:

      “Stannard did what he had to do. Then again, I think that a rider from his calibre from that team should share the work until the gap was 40 seconds. He played it hard but tomorrow or next week it’s another race, then we can play that game. Stannard was team leader today. A team leader that was on the wheels for 40 kilometres. A rider of his level, a team leader, doesn’t stay on the wheels for 40 kilometres.”

      • BC Saturday, 28 February 2015, 8:44 pm

        Boohoo. Lefevre’s ungracious interpretation of Standard’s well judged tactical win makes the victory all the more sweet. Stannard did everything that was required of him. With the benefit of hindsight, Stannard had the correct tactic EX-QS got it all wrong.

        • Larry T. Sunday, 1 March 2015, 8:24 am

          +1 If the situation was reversed I find it hard to believe Lefevre wouldn’t be praising the smart tactics of his man vs a trio of SKY guys. Seems like Roadracing 101…”OK guys, there are three of you and just one of me. If you think I’m going to be taking pulls, you must have skipped class on the day they taught racing tactics. I’ll just sit on the back here and leave it to the three of you to try to get rid of me.”

      • Andrew Monday, 2 March 2015, 11:55 am

        Lefevre is talking rubbish and he knows it. There was no onus on Stannard to do anything. No one expected him to win. He could only disadvantage himself further by putting in more effort than was needed to stay with the 3 Etixx riders. Its bad form from Lefevre that he can’t be more of a man about it, own up to a bad loss from his three guys and move on.

        • The Inner Ring Monday, 2 March 2015, 2:01 pm

          Lefevere’s words have the action of turning him into the receipt of criticism rather leaving his three riders to face the wrath of the media / public / Twitter etc.

          As long as he soaks up the blame it won’t get to Boonen and Co. as much.

  • Tom Saturday, 28 February 2015, 7:12 pm

    The way Stannard brought back Boonen in last few k’s was something new and amazing at the same time. Couldn’t do any better. And Etixx made some mistakes for sure, Terpstra shouldn’t ever lead out Stannard for so long and Vandenbergh shouldn’t ever try to bridge to Tersptra/Boonen when they attack.

  • Hamish Saturday, 28 February 2015, 7:15 pm

    Slightly out of context – but I’ll see from your responses if it is a poor question.

    What the the UCI doing in regards to the decision on allowing disc breaks in UCI sanctioned races? Now we have reached the cobbled classics will this years riders still be on bikes from pre-disc break era? Bike manufactures must be sweeting over UCI to allow them in to push sales. Just need an update.

  • paddydunne Saturday, 28 February 2015, 7:16 pm

    Most excelent work.Their is something about the written word that is magical when you can see the pictures as you read. Had the early ticker on then got wrapped up in work. Looking forward to seeing the race unfold on the tellybox tonight. IS is one strong guy. Good luck for him in the rest of the Classics

  • Rick R. Saturday, 28 February 2015, 8:04 pm

    Excellent review. Stannard was a monster today and very motivated. I still think Tommeke should have shadowed Stannard after the final split with 10k to go. VDB and Terpstra should have taken turns popping off the front, making Stannard use up valuable matches.

    On another note: What about digital signs placed at significant km markers (i.e. 20, 10, 5, 3) to give splits?

  • Adam Saturday, 28 February 2015, 8:07 pm

    What a finish! I just watched the final kilometres again on Youtube and it’s tantalising how close Tom Boonen is to catching on to Stannard’s attack. You have to wonder how it might have turned out if he could have closed that last couple of metres to Terpstra and sat in the wheels for the run in.

    On such small margins are races won and lost! Great work by Stannard.

  • Andy Saturday, 28 February 2015, 8:07 pm

    Just saw that Lefevre has criticised Stannard’s tactics. Slightly bizarre as I would imagine mugging three incredibly strong riders from the same team in a 4 man escape is the very definition of good tactics. Patrick seems to think that IS should have done a turn… No, I think that would have made him actually less likely to win. But still, today shows that maybe the EQS lot are a bit confused about the whole good tactics / bad tactics debate – I’m looking at you, Stijn…

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 28 February 2015, 9:00 pm

      It’s harsh of Lefevere but he won’t want to be seen criticising his riders in public, he has to back them to do the job the next time. I suspect in private he’s saying another thing.

      • Andy Saturday, 28 February 2015, 9:10 pm

        Good point, of course, I think VDB will be getting what is known in these shores as ‘the hairdryer’. And of course you called this in your preview – or at least mentioned that Lefevre’s team have form for this kind of thing… Chapeau, once again.

        • UK Cycling Expert Sunday, 1 March 2015, 10:54 pm

          VDB will always mean Frank Van den Broeck, the father of Jurgen, to expert cycling fans

          • ShortsNL Monday, 2 March 2015, 9:54 am

            Hello mr. UK Cycling Expert.

            Thanks for clarifying the meaning of VDB to expert cycling fans. It is enlightening to hear from an expert like you.

            For the ‘ordinary’ cycling fan though, VDB will most likely be Frank Vandenbroucke, winner of the 1999 Omloop and LBL, who by the way is in no way related to Lotto-Soudal’s Jurgen Van den Broeck.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Vandenbroucke_(cyclist)
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jurgen_van_den_Broeck

          • GTGTGT Tuesday, 3 March 2015, 9:36 am

            Ouch…. That’s a nice slap down.

          • Anonymous Tuesday, 3 March 2015, 6:27 pm

            Or a complete lack of sense of humour

  • Alex Saturday, 28 February 2015, 8:29 pm

    I also just read that bit of whining from Lefevre — a leader like Stannard shouldn’t just follow wheels for 40km, etc. Sour grapes by Lefevre, and besides isn’t he criticizing IS for doing the exact same thing Stybar was doing? Stybar took zero pulls in that chase, why would he? If there had been more than one team in Stannard’s lead group, yeah, maybe a little criticism, but with 3 vs 1 they can only blame themselves. Great race, it’s been an entertaining early season so far (save for the sand dune races) and lots of early stories.

    • CoDrvr Saturday, 28 February 2015, 11:01 pm

      Zdeněk Štybar however gentlemanly led Sep Vanmarcke and GVA out. Didn’t contest. Chapeau bas.

      • Brian Sunday, 1 March 2015, 12:08 am

        Good tip of the hat.

      • The Inner Ring Sunday, 1 March 2015, 10:38 pm

        Classy if him and it pays not to sprint for one point when you’ll lose friends.

        He’s been quietly impressive this weekend, covering moves and looking comfortable all the time.

        • channel_zero Monday, 2 March 2015, 6:08 am

          Stybar is a former cyclocross world champion who is doing a great job transitioning to road.

          I seriously doubt omega-whatever will ever commit to Stybar, but he could deliver a podium for them.

          • Andrew Monday, 2 March 2015, 12:02 pm

            Štybar is good enough to win. But every rider needs the luck too. Some say you make your own. I just hope he gets remembered for more than hitting a stray member of the public on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.

          • King Boonen Monday, 2 March 2015, 12:50 pm

            Stybar might be given leadership at Strade Bianche. I think he should be based on performances so far although Terpstra and Vandenbergh might have something else to say about that.

  • Rick Richter Saturday, 28 February 2015, 8:44 pm

    I’d really hate to be VDB at the E-QS dinner table tonight.

  • Kelly's Bidon Saturday, 28 February 2015, 8:48 pm

    Prior to Boonen’s first big dig, his lieutenants – with Tom a la derriere played the old let the wheel go trick to try and drain a bit of energy from the Stannard tank. Also, when Vanmarke got within sight at 13 secs, Stannard did go through and pull a couple of times. For me the standout moment was Stannard’s refusal to chase down Boonen immediately following that first big attack. He won the race there by gradually pulling back and reducing In his first post race interview Stannard was humble – implying that he was the fresher of the quartet because they’d ridden so hard. A wonderful ride, an honest man and a great win.

    • Ablindeye Monday, 2 March 2015, 10:10 am

      Indeed, lots can be said about tactics but this was a triumph of a level head alongside the gradual application of power. Stannard never tried to jump with the attacks, that would have left him vulnerable to the counter punch no matter how fresh he was. He stayed positive, reeled everything in and took a delightful win against the odds as a result.

      Omloop HN always seems to entertain – Spring is off to a great start again.

  • Canocola Saturday, 28 February 2015, 9:18 pm

    Good call on the last 50km being a great race to watch – once the attacks came in and the four got away it all settled down (this wasn’t one of those races with everyone piling in the attacks) – but it was never clear that they’d stay away and even if they did, how would they conspire to duff Stannard over? It all served to ratchet up the tension for the final run-in, and that delivered in spades.

  • Qwerty Saturday, 28 February 2015, 9:48 pm

    Thrilling race, still buzzing hours after the finish.

    INRNG: what could EQS have done different?

    • The Inner Ring Saturday, 28 February 2015, 10:03 pm

      I still want to know why Boonen went for an attack instead of count on the sprint, he was running Kristoff close in Oman etc. More, why did Vandenbergh seem to chase Terpstra? If he’d sat tight the Dutchman could have won.

      Another option would have been to try a “double attack”. I’ve not seen it before but imagine Vandenbergh jumps which forces Stannard to chase. As soon as he closes it down Boonen AND Terpstra attack, each darting down opposite sides of the road. Which rider does Stannard cover? It could work on the wide approach road into Gent. A bit different but fun to think about.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 28 February 2015, 11:12 pm

        I would say that is what EQS tried – I don’t really see it as Vandenbergh chasing Terpstra down: Stannard has just caught Boonen and immediately Terpstra AND Vandenbergh jump. Terpstra is stronger so gets more distance and unfortunately Vandenbergh is caught out between him and the two behind, giving Stannard a wheel to chase. So Vandenbergh played it badly as he wasn’t strong enough to ride away in the two-pronged attack, but I don’t see it as him chasing his teammate. Watch the moment that they both jump almost simultaneously.

        Or am I wrong?

        • Guy Saturday, 28 February 2015, 11:39 pm

          Yep, that’s what it looked like to me too.

        • keith_in_Chapel_Hill Sunday, 1 March 2015, 2:05 am

          Yes, that is also how I saw it. I think Inrng and several commenters here are incorrect on the way they judged Vandenbergh for allegedly chasing down Terpstra. Watch the replay here: http://www.steephill.tv/players/youtube3/?title=Last+5+Km&dashboard=omloop-het-nieuwsblad&id=DPX3cM7cvJA&yr=2015

          At precisely 1:35, Terpstra attacks and Vandebergh appears to immediately try to latch on. He is not chasing him down, he is trying to latch on to make it a two-man team which, had it succeeded, may have then gapped Stannard and Boonen. Vandenbergh’s was not necessarily the best move with only 2 or 3 km to go, but it did not at all look to me like he was “chasing down” his teammate.

          The more puzzling tactic was Terpstra’s leading out Stannard in the sprint. Had he just sat there on his wheel, any cat-and-mouse by Stannard would have enabled Boonen to catch back on and take the win.

          • Doctornurse Sunday, 1 March 2015, 10:49 am

            First, Chapeau to Stannard who raced like a Trojan with absolutey zero fear and placed EQS under such enormous pressure that they buckled like so much balsa wood…

            Second, yep, I see what you are saying about VDB’s reacction to Terpstra- Spont on. the question still remains- WHY would he even try to bridge to Terpstra’s wheel at that point?

            The obvious play was *clearly* to let Terpstra go, block Stannard’s way a bit, force him to chase, slot in behind Stannard and use his enormous size to shield Boonen from the wind and allow the Big Dawg to either prepare for the sprint, or marshall his forces to counterattack…

            Even if VDB was just trying to do his job, he still made an incrediibly stupid move on a guy who was clearly prepared to race and had a serious pair of legs on that day…

            Then of course, Terpstra simpy panicked at the finale and gave the thing away with his schoolboy sprining tactics- Quite shocking for a rider of his quality…

            This just shows you what pressure of expectations and the effect of the unexpected can do to some of the most talented, strongest, well-drilled cyclists in the world- The season has truly begun!

            Cheers!

          • The Inner Ring Sunday, 1 March 2015, 11:15 am

            There’s a good example of a “covering” move from the Ruta Del Sol. Watch as Ligthart attacks and a Lotto-Soudal rider moves to the front to soak up any chasers, this works well because he’s on the front but not closing the gap to his team mate. Different race, different circumstances but Lotto provide a “how to” example for the future.

            http://youtu.be/s95IKcrAe-0

          • sminer Monday, 2 March 2015, 1:31 am

            Agree with all that keith said.

          • channel_zero Monday, 2 March 2015, 6:14 am

            The more puzzling tactic was Terpstra’s leading out Stannard in the sprint.

            It was reported they thought there was no time for messing around.

            It’s possible to win from the front, but that final 300m was not set up well enough to pull it off. It seemed like Stannard had more to sprint with.

          • Oliver Monday, 2 March 2015, 12:45 pm

            Oh boy…

          • irungo txuletak Wednesday, 4 March 2015, 10:48 am

            I also think the problem in Etixx QS tactics was Terpstra, mostly on the second attack. He should have waited in the Stannard’s wheel so whether the quicker Boonen can come back or Stannard has to push hard in the last k with him behind waiting for the sprint. Bad bad tactic.
            By the way, flemish press is doubting about Boonen’s shape on basis of his late attack, but I am not sure. On the Haaghoek he was the only one who seemed able to catch Vanmarcke, then in the Paddestraat it looked like he waited his fellows.

      • Brian Sunday, 1 March 2015, 12:21 am

        Exactly. When Boonen dropped to the back, I thought for sure he’d take a sprint win. That was in the last 5Ks and all he had to do was wait (they had to know the chase wasn’t that close that late). When Boonen jumped and Stannard reeled him in, it looked like Quickstep lost most of their cards.

        It’s ironic how too many teammates in the break can blow-up your tactics.

        • Canocola Sunday, 1 March 2015, 12:46 am

          I suspect the moment that Quickstep really lost most of their cards was when Stannard himself took up the pace (about 2.8km to go) – it’s hard to work someone over when you’re still frantically chasing them back down, and even harder when only one of you can even get back on terms. It was a ballsy move to do that, but ultimately I think Stannard played a more sophisticated game at that point than he’s willing to admit.

          Inner Ring is right, I think, with the photo above encapsulating the moment the race was truly an finally decided, but I think part of the reason people are so excited about this particular result is that even after watching the final km a few times, you still notice new subtleties in the way it played out. It’s not a simple ‘Stannard sits on, wins the sprint’ – and I think that’s why lots of people are still talking about it.

          • BenW Monday, 2 March 2015, 5:03 pm

            Stannard wasn’t “wheelsucking” for me at all, not in the last few KMs anyway. He worked really hard to chase down, and watching him motor off with just over 2kms left was fabulous. Excellent racecraft.

  • Carl Saturday, 28 February 2015, 10:41 pm

    Boonen has never won the race and I think that’s why he didn’t wait and sprint no?
    3 against one. Magnificent win! Bravo Stannard!

  • Sergios Saturday, 28 February 2015, 10:41 pm

    Great win by Ian Stannard today, whether it’s due to tactical mistakes of the opponents or not is irrelevant! Last year’s race was what brought me to this fantastic blog, and to this day whenever I think of tough cyclists last year’s race “the moment the race was won”-photo comes to mind.

  • Steppings Saturday, 28 February 2015, 11:01 pm

    Well done Stannard, of course if he had been one of Lefevre’s boys, post race analysis would have mentioned how Ian rode with his head today blah, blah blah etc.

  • nortonp Saturday, 28 February 2015, 11:12 pm

    Thanks for an excellent report (as ever). I expect to be decided by a sprint tomorrow. EQS will have to work like dogs to keep Cav in the running. Sky to sit on and ein again with EV maybe?

    • CoDrvr Saturday, 28 February 2015, 11:14 pm

      My money’s on Kristoff.

      • Andrew Monday, 2 March 2015, 12:06 pm

        Better luck next time!

  • nortonp Saturday, 28 February 2015, 11:13 pm

    Win not ein……sorry.

  • Larrick Sunday, 1 March 2015, 12:29 am

    Unabashed Stan fan.

    The build up to the finale and then the unexpected victory had me wide awake at 3:00am. So much so I was still struggling to sleep at four. Awake five hours later to relive the finish over breakfast. A fantastic start to the classics season and hoping Stan can stay healthy this year and play his full part in the races to come.

    p.s. Only one Anon comment. Times have changed 🙂

  • Rick Richter Sunday, 1 March 2015, 1:27 am

    @INRNG Any thoughts regarding digital signs with time splits at closing intervals?

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 1 March 2015, 11:16 am

      No, not really. Any particular reason to ask?

      • Rick Richter Sunday, 1 March 2015, 10:44 pm

        One of the complaints from the EQS riders is that they did not receive any information about splits in the last 35k from the race officials. Having a sign on the kilometer banner would make that a moot point. However I think their complaints ring hollow…

  • Peter Sunday, 1 March 2015, 3:22 am

    After the Astana headlines this week, it was great to see a fantastic race and a top win by the big man.
    Top marks too to Mr Ring and other contributors for helping a newbie like me see the complexities and nuances. Thanks!

  • Alan S Sunday, 1 March 2015, 3:56 am

    Should have made Stannard pull the last 3km and especially the last 1km. Not sure why Terpstra led him into the final stretch. Worse comes to worse, gives Boonen a chance to catch up.

  • Whiff Sunday, 1 March 2015, 4:07 am

    Chapeau for producing your report so quickly. As a Brit I’m hoping this might finally be the season when some of the younger British riders, like Stannard and Thomsa finally emerge from the shadow of Wiggins, Froome and Cavendish and start to win big themselves.

  • Steve Potts Sunday, 1 March 2015, 4:15 am

    A fantastic start to the Belgian racing. Stannard was sublime. Very difficult to pick one moment when the race was won for all the moments when it was lost:

    The 3 Ettix riders tiring themselves out staying ahead of the chasing group.
    Boonen betting on himself with the attack that was quickly reeled back in.
    Vendenbergh trying to stay in touch.
    Terpstra leading out Stannard and then allowing him to get behind him for the final sprint.

    Tactical nightmare for Ettix, pressure on Cav for sure.

  • Joe K. Sunday, 1 March 2015, 5:57 am

    That race exemplified what makes cycling–especially the Belgian cobbled classics–such a great and exciting sport. Not only power, but on-the-fly ability to implement tactics, and a bit of luck, will win you the race. This season’s so good, so far. Me want more!!!

  • MattF Sunday, 1 March 2015, 7:11 am

    Don’t overlook internal rivalry as an explanation for Ettix’ failed tactics. Boonen and Terpstra are both alpha males of the team. Think Valverde and Rodriguez at the 2013 World Champs. That said, kudos to Stannard – and the lack of race radios. Maybe the latter have stilted the tactical nous of the modern day pro?

  • J Evans Sunday, 1 March 2015, 10:47 am

    I’ve said this on the K-B-K preview too, but why do Sky insist on leading the peloton needlessly?
    Stannard was brilliant yesterday, but E-QS had three and Sky had one becauase Eisel and Wiggins had used themselves up 80k before the finish.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 1 March 2015, 11:17 am

      Risk vs reward? They want to stay out of trouble and placing riders up front costs little more in energy than it does if you’re in 30th place but it’s safer.

      • Anonymous Sunday, 1 March 2015, 11:50 am

        But why take the wind for so long, unnecessarily? Surely better for Stannard’s support riders to stay fresh and help him later, when they will be needed.
        Plus, Luke Rowe attacked just as the peloton were about to catch the break-away riders.
        Attack after they’ve been caught and you might have riders with fresh legs come with you. Join a failing break-away and you have only knackered riders for help.

        • J Evans Sunday, 1 March 2015, 11:51 am

          Oops, didn’t mean to be anon.

    • Andrew Monday, 2 March 2015, 12:11 pm

      I agree with The Inner Ring. In a race of this type you simply cannot afford to miss breaks. The safest and most advantageous position is at the front of the peloton. What is the point saving a few % of energy if you miss the crucial selection? In a one day race it often comes down to being where the action is.

      And let’s not forget that for all Sky’s tactics they actually won.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 1 March 2015, 4:04 pm

    I don’t think they gave Stannard enough respect, letting him sit on like that. And they spent so much energy getting a huge gap they didn’t need. They should have burned one rider (honestly Vandenbergh looked stronger than terpstra) pulling, then start attacking earlier to wear down stannard. Stybar is the trump if cat and mouse means a very tired gva and svm catch up. Plus in the sprint why did Terpstra hit the front so early?? Boonen’s chase should have guaranteed a decent pace all the way to the line from the sky man.

    Great racing but quikstep done goofed.

    • channel_zero Monday, 2 March 2015, 5:07 pm

      The interviews with the Omega-Pharma guys claim they had no idea what their lead was because no one was telling them.

      If you didn’t know what the split was with < 5Km to go, there's no choice but to ride hard. If they kept checking for the field, they would have been swept up. Apparently they also had a headwind.

  • matthew Sunday, 1 March 2015, 6:31 pm

    best not forget IS has recovered from some broken vertebra since winning last year. great performance, and with Cav winning today GB are dominating the spring classics so far 🙂

    • whiff Sunday, 1 March 2015, 6:53 pm

      … and the early European stage races!

  • Tom J Sunday, 1 March 2015, 8:13 pm

    When all is said and done, Etixx have a win from the opening weekend and that is more than can be said for BMC, Lotto, Katusha etc – more than anyone except Sky.

    The significance of the Omloop won’t be clear until after Paris-Roubaix. If Cav wins MSR or Terpstra or Boonen win one of Flanders or Paris-Roubaix, this Saturday’s sports pages will be so-much chip paper. Indeed, either of Flanders or P-R for Boonen wil catapult him to immortal status. On the other hand, if Etixx draw a blank over the next six or seven weeks, Saturday will be at the top of the post-mortems when the “where did it all go wrong?” articles are penned…

    Tom

    • Andrew Monday, 2 March 2015, 12:19 pm

      Boonen hasn’t won Flanders or Roubaix since 2012. Whilst not saying he is done, he is certainly nearer the end than the beginning of his career. Something tells me he won’t win either again. Its a reasonable line of argument that he isn’t even the strongest rider at Etixx anymore. And what happens if, in either monument, Etixx are once more stacked with 3 or 4 options coming to the line? Are the others just going to give way and make it easy for him? It might be the only chance the other rider gets to win a massive race.

      • channel_zero Monday, 2 March 2015, 5:12 pm

        Rumors of his demise are overstated. Boonen cannot attack without at least one other team stuck to his wheel.

        He is off to a great start for 2015, so I imagine many very high placings during the classics block.

        • george Monday, 2 March 2015, 8:50 pm

          Yeah, there is no way Boonen is done. Remember last year, he was a nonfactor in Het Nieusblad, and he still was respectable at Roubaix (top ten, attacking from 60k out). This year, he has shown he has got some of his sprinting prowess back, and he was third here. Last time he was on the podium here was 2012, where he was second to Vanmarcke, and we all know how that spring ended. So actually, if I where looking at Boonen’s performance from the point of view of one of his competitors, I would be very afraid.

  • Gledwin Sunday, 1 March 2015, 8:20 pm

    Lets hope they dont win anything else, dont want any more bloody brits ruining good quality euro racing. *this comment is purely a troll, it is kinda how I feel though….weird.

    • Andrew Monday, 2 March 2015, 12:20 pm

      Something tells me we haven’t seen the last British win this season. Far from it…

  • Jonhard Sunday, 1 March 2015, 9:01 pm

    There’s something special about the Omloop, even now with some good racing in 2015 already… but lots of classics to come, and Harelbeke or G-W would do for many teams (Sky?) I suspect, never mind a monument. The public flaying of EQS reflects those 3-1 odds at the end but also their pre-eminent position as a classics team… they need wins big and small every spring.

    Sky look stronger for spring this year. Viviani is a weapon and did well to find third after a slightly muffed lead out, and could create options for the likes of of Rowe maybe.

  • RayG Sunday, 1 March 2015, 10:49 pm

    Excellent finish. I can only wonder what the comments here and elsewhere would be like if it was Simon Gerrans who had sat on for 20km and won the sprint.

    • Tricky Dicky Monday, 2 March 2015, 12:07 am

      Ah, but the difference Ray, is that Gerrans would not have (1) pulled back Boonen single-handedly or (2) broken two of the 2 EQS riders when he got on the front with about 2.5km to go. Fans, and some riders, find Gerrans annoying because he pretty much never commits until the final sprint. I don’t criticise him for this, he has taken many fine wins by playing to his strengths, but here’s no way you can compare his modus operandi with what Stannard did on Saturday.

      • RayG Monday, 2 March 2015, 1:49 am

        You mean Stannard played to his strengths? 🙂

  • Larry T. Monday, 2 March 2015, 7:58 am

    Looking at the photo at the top of this story I was thinking: Who are the marketing/branding geniuses responsible for the fact that one can barely tell these riders are on opposing teams?

    • UHJ Monday, 2 March 2015, 1:02 pm

      @LarryT, that is a good question. -As the saying goes.
      In Denmark we approve club-jerseys and -suits on a formal basis to ensure that they are not too alike. We keep a database of the designs and will request changes if two designs are too close. It works reat and the clubs/teams have no problems with this arrangement.
      Apparently the UCI do not feel any need to impose design restrictions at WT level but they should. On a rainy/foggy/wintery day (MS-R, Giro, anyone?) it is really difficult to tell these teams from each other. At a lower level, throw in Cult Energy and it would not be any easier.
      So much for the new rule of rain-capes being in team colours or one of the main team colours. Etixx/Sky/Cult/MTN/Aplecin/BMC/IAM/Cannondale-Garmin/… you name’m; main team color = black. Will they be allowed to ride black rain capes? Probably yes.
      So – in all practicality – this rule no longer has any effect. Well played, UCI.

      • Igam Ogam Monday, 2 March 2015, 4:12 pm

        The ICI must approve all pro team jerseys and all branding has to fit the their guidelines. National Federations tend to follow the UCI rules (with sometimes a year or two delay in implementing changes) so the rules that the Danish Federation applies are basically the UCI regs otherwise members of Danish clubs could not ride UCI affiliated events.

        It’s pretty evident to me who the teams are I – can see “Sky” five times very clearly in the first picture and love or loathe it their kit is one-of-a-kind. Picture three makes it pretty clear how different the jerseys are, works great if you have time for a “overwinning” salute (INRG – that IS an excellent word!).

        Would you have been saying the same thing if Sep Vanmarcke or Greg Van Avermaet was the other rider? Their teams obviously have better geniuses.

        However, I think if I were etixx or Quickstep I’d be wondering what I’m paying for as Latexo is clearly the main sponsor of their team.

        • Igam Ogam Monday, 2 March 2015, 4:13 pm

          Correction Picture five not picture three 🙁

          • Larry T. Tuesday, 3 March 2015, 8:57 am

            Under close inspection on a STILL photo by a guy who knows a whole lot about the sport your argument is just fine…but I thought for the most part races are video watched by folks who might not be so sophisticated and don’t care so much for close inspection to determine who’s who. But I’m not a marketing/branding genius, so what do I know? I’m sure VELON will fix all this up when their marketing/branding genius types take over the sport. 🙂

  • D Monday, 2 March 2015, 9:01 am

    Why were Belgian farmers flying black flags on all the linedup tractors?

    Great race. Great summary.

    • Steve Potts Monday, 2 March 2015, 2:39 pm

      British commentary said it was due to grievences over prices they were paid for produce by supermarkets etc.

    • UHJ Monday, 2 March 2015, 3:10 pm

      Belgian legislation in the making to reduce cabondioxide emissions are supposedly going to hit hard on Belgian farmers and agriculture. Hence the protests.

  • Anonymous Monday, 2 March 2015, 10:14 am

    Stannard 1 Ettix nil. Result. text book stuff, bloody great.

    • Ian Tuesday, 3 March 2015, 9:42 am

      Surely you mean Stannard Bridge – 3, Etix (Dis)united – 0

  • Daniel Monday, 2 March 2015, 5:20 pm

    I think this is one of the cases when you can call it “The Moment The Race Was Lost”

  • djconnel Monday, 2 March 2015, 5:47 pm

    To a topic you’ve covered excellently in the past:
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B_GxE0YWsAIXYnw.jpg

    • Larrick Tuesday, 3 March 2015, 1:42 am

      That is a great photo. Only guy on the cobbles and he wins the race.

      If the UCI ever start enforcing their own rule, that’s the poster for the ad campaign.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 3 March 2015, 9:05 am

      There’s a story to this and the rule, I’ll cover it today.

      • Larrick Tuesday, 3 March 2015, 9:23 am

        Is it from KBK?

  • Chrisman Monday, 2 March 2015, 9:05 pm

    Was this actually on TV? If it was then I’m gutted. But someone must be to blame, I’m not taking responsibility. And more to the point, when is Stannard going to be knighted for his achievements? He’s a monster. Wackjob. Plenty more people’s feeling are goingt to get hurt before the season is out. On a vengeful one. Belgians getting pied off all over like unruly stepchildren.

    • Anonymous Wednesday, 4 March 2015, 12:20 pm

      Catch the last few km’s on Youtube. I was gutted couldn’t watch it all live. This should go down as an all time great now I have had a few days to digest. Like watching 3 lions going after a gazelle…and the gazelle wins.

      • burnt Thursday, 5 March 2015, 6:49 am

        You really missed out. My wife and I watched Sporza’s feed for the final 60km and it was supremely entertaining. When the split happened at 40km we thought we were going to see a clinic on how to work someone over but instead Stannard outfoxed them. We weren’t rooting for anyone in particular but I must say we both feel for the Quickstep boys. When you foul things up so badly… As soon as Stannard raised his arms in victory we looked at each other and shouted, “no way!!!” It was almost as good as last year’s world championship ‘cross race duel between Nys and Stybar.

  • StephenB Thursday, 5 March 2015, 12:53 pm

    To be fair to Vandenbergh I thought he was just trying to latch on to Terpstra’s wheel and hope for a 2 up TT to the finish thinking Stannard might be a bit goosed after chasing down Boonen, leaving Boonen on Stannard’s wheel & Stannard to chase.

    Just underestimated Yogi. Terpstra didn’t have it to go away as well.

    Just daft tactics in the end. Boonen should never have attacked. Having never won Omloop probably a bit of Roubaix 14 in his head thinking one of the others would sneak away.

    One race I’d happily watch again on a dreary winter evening just for the effort and tactics of the race. Pure cobbled classic.

    S

  • Djconnel Thursday, 5 March 2015, 4:35 pm

    That was my interpretation on two viewings. Get 2 off the front and boonen sitting on the wheel and it’s a won race. Stannard did the only thing he could do to end the attacks: Attack himself. Brilliant.

    At the end of a long hard race don’t expect mental sharpness of the level of a chess final. I’m lucky if I can remember my own name at the end of 200 km. these guys all played good cards but Stannard was simply excellent.