Saturday, February 26, 2011

Omloop: Fun To Say and Watch!

In the first Classics race of the season, Rabobank’s Sebastian Langeveld outkicked Juan Antonio Flecha of Team Sky to win the hiply-named Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. The race is even more fun to watch than to say, and racers did not disappoint. First, a potential protest over the radio ban was averted by representatives of the riders voicing their concerns but agreeing to go pedal, and forcibly. The Classics masters like Tom Boonen, Thor Hushovd and Phillippe Gilbert missed out on the moves in a confusing and dynamic race. The weather was 48 degrees with a steady rain over most of the course, leaving deep pockets of mud on roads and making the cobblestones slick and grimy. 50 km out, Langeveld attacked on the Eikenberg climb and went roughly half the distance alone before being caught by Juan Antonio Flecha, who rode down a gap of a minute in under 30km to join Langeveld to set up a tight finish. The former teammates (Flecha spent three years at Rabobank) worked together to hold off a chase group that never really closed ground before sprinting to the line, with Langeveld taking it by little more than the width of a rim.

Victory! It took Rabobank’s staff three hours to hose this guy down.

Note: He wasn’t in it today, but the Bohunk’s personal Classics favorite and all-around Nice Guy Thor Hushovd looked stronger today than he did at Tour of Oman. He finished 33rd but with many of the pre-race favorites, and even rode down Tom Boonen after the Belgian took a jaunt up the road.

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