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"You know if you are in the break with Stannard he always keeps going until the finish. And normally I should be able to beat him in the sprint. But I think the weather conditions fit him better," Van Avermaet says

Photo: Sirotti








01.03.2014 @ 20:07 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) had to settle for 2nd when he arrived at the finish with Ian Stannard (Sky) to decide today's opener of the classics season, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Usually, the fastest sprinter of the duo, the Belgian was hugely disappointed after missing what he described a perfect opportunity.


BMC Racing Team's Greg Van Avermaet finished runner-up to Ian Stannard (Team Sky) Saturday at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. With about 16 kilometers to go in the 198-km race, the two separated themselves from a select group that had been whittled down by the toll of the rain, cold, several crashes and 10 climbs that distinguish the opening Belgian classic.


The pair shared the workload to hold off two pursuers – Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) – and a third in the chase group, Stannard's teammate, Edvald Boasson Hagen, who ultimately finished third. Stannard went to his sprint with 300 meters to go and overcame Van Avermaet's late charge to the line.


"During the final, I was really cold, but I thought I could be my best in the sprint," Van Avermaet said. "But he (Stannard) surprised me and took two meters. My body didn't react anymore as I thought it would react. It is a disappointment because I thought I would be the strongest in the sprint."


Van Avermaet, fifth place the past two years and fourth in 2009, called his best result in the race a missed opportunity from a perfect situation.


"You know if you are in the break with Stannard he always keeps going until the finish," he said. "And normally I should be able to beat him in the sprint. But I think the weather conditions fit him better."

Phinney Finishes Seventh
BMC Racing Team's Taylor Phinney, who was active in the chase of a earlier breakaway that included Lars Boom (Belkin Pro Cycling Team) and Terpstra, finished seventh.


"Phinney rode a fantastic race, tactically really well," BMC Racing Team Sporting Manager Allan Peiper said. "He brought the group back to the group of Boom and that made the big difference for Greg in the final."


Peiper said there were several take-aways from the team's 10th runner-up result of the season.


"It was a disappointment not to win and I think Greg is really disappointed as well, being it is his home race and all the rest," he said. "But looking forward, I think he did a fantastic job as a team leader and the team rode really well as a strong block together. That serves us really well for the classics that are coming up."

Hushovd Crashes Out
The BMC Racing Team lost Norwegian national road champion Thor Hushovd to a crash with about 92 km to go. The race winner here in 2009 said he had no time to react on the rain-slickened pavement.


"There was braking in the front and one CCC Polsat guy didn't have time to brake and went straight into me," Hushovd said. "I don't think anything is broken; that's a good thing."


Hushovd was taken to a local hospital where X-rays confirmed nothing was broken.


Meanwhile, Rick Zabel started the race in place of Manuel Quinziato, who injured his left ankle when it was struck by a wheelchair a few days ago. Dr. Dario Spinelli said in order to allow Quinziato's Achilles to heal, Phinney will replace Quinziato on the roster for Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne on Sunday.



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