2.27.2016

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: She Brings The Rainbow! and he's Greg Van Avermaet


Stunning stunning stunning victory by the World Champion Armistead. But nobody could see it live. Too often women's races keep being discrinated, it's a shame. People don't follow female cycling because it isn't put on value and as a consequence it can't find good sponsors. The UCI must do more to change this: it shouldn't allow in its calendar races without a femal race and without a tv coverage for it. It isn't that hard or expensive anymore to show a race on streaming or at least some highlights.
The men race is on. 47 km to go there are two riders in front  - Reus and Gougeard - and four riders chasing - Benoot, Van Avermaet, Sagan and Rowe. Gap is just 16''.
41 km to go the two groups merge. A crash involves Philippe Gilbert, Floris Gerts and Jean-Pierre Drucker. The front group has about 30'' on the first chasers including also Chavanel, Moscon, Naesen, Thwaites and Van Zummeren.
35 km to go  Morice and Dhaene bridgeTheuns and Van der Sande attack from the peloton. Kai Reus gets a flat and is dropped from the front group. Theuns is caught but Stuyven counters and is chasing solo. 25 km to go he's 35" from the head of the race. Unfortunately he makes a mistake, almost crash and gets caught by the peloton. 
On the last cobbled section now: 20km to go. Gap is abount 1'. 15 km to go only 5 riders are left in front:  Benoot, Van Avermaet, Rowe, Sagan and Gougeard.
4 km to go gap is down to 30''. But the break sticks and the race has won at the sprint in this selected group. Greg van Avermaet wins on Peter Sagan. 3rd on the podium is an outstanding Tiesj Benoot.

Greg Van Avermaet:
“I’m never really winning that much and it’s the first race in Belgium so far, so I’m pretty happy with this victory. If I could choose one, I would have picked directly this one”. 
"It was really important for me to win the first Classics race of the season. I'm happy that I could finally win a Classic like this because I was close a few times here and I know how hard it is to win a Classic in the springtime."
"You never know how many victories you're going to have so I'm of course going to enjoy this one and hopefully I'll have more to come. Beating Sagan in a sprint like this only gives me more confidence. My main goal is still the Tour of Flanders and to already have this win in my pocket is the best way to start the season. I've always believed in my ability to outsprint the fast guys especially after a long, hard race. When I was second and third I was always saying to myself that I could beat them when things go perfectly. And today's victory confirmed this I think. You have to keep believing in yourself and one day it will come true."


Peter Sagan:

“For this time of the season I felt pretty good. It’s one month now since my last race, and I’ve just been preparing and training in Sierra Nevada. It was a hard race today and in the finale I felt like in one or two weeks I’ll be better. But for now, it’s already a good sign. The break went a bit early. We worked well together but in the finale I saw the gap was coming down so I made two or three accelerations on the cobbles and this took it out of me. I started to feel the cramps in the final kilometres and Greg is in better shape than me with a few more race days. But there are more important races to come. Also, it was great to race here in the rainbow jersey – it’s a great race with a special atmosphere.”


Tiesj Benoot:
“I can hardly be disappointed with a third place in my first Omloop Het Nieuwsblad where I started as a protected rider. The race exploded at the expected moment, at the Taaienberg. If men like Van Avermaet and Sagan attack, you simply have to follow them. It was still far from the finish, but all top teams were represented in the front of the race, except for Etixx – Quick-Step.
I could rely on a fantastic team that reacted to every attempt in the peloton. That says a lot about the atmosphere and the shape of the whole team. Also the riders that were in the front group did a great job. Everyone did his very best to defend our lead. Even Alexis Gougeard, who was at the front of the race all day long. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy to sprint against these riders. I thought for a while that I could try to ride away, but at the end of the Lange Munte it was still about twenty kilometres towards the finish with a strong headwind. So it would be very difficult. Eventually I rode a decent sprint, but Greg was the best and he’s the deserved winner.
My third place of today proves that I had a good winter. In Mallorca and Algarve I received the confirmation of that great form, but the Omloop is the first real test. It’s a very good feeling to stand on the podium. It was really nice to be at the start here in my hometown, the atmosphere was simply fantastic.
The Omloop was the first race of the spring. Tomorrow I won’t start at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, that was planned beforehand. Next weekend I ride the Strade Bianche, a very nice race that has a lot of potential and has already become an important race. Then I participate in Tirreno-Adriatico, were we’ll try to do the final preparations for the rest of the spring. I feel really good and after this third place I’m looking forward to the other spring classics.”


Jasper Stuyven:
"We were there; perfect all day. I felt really, really good. I was looking at my SRM near the end, and feeling like we had only done 50kms. On the Taaienberg, I was well positioned. I saw Rowe and Van Avermaet attack, and I figured the group wouldn't let them go. I was not really worried, but before I realized, they had a gap. I was there with really good legs and tried to stay calm and to wait for a good moment to try. After I made an effort, I was communicating with Dirk [Demol, director] and discussing whether to wait or not and before I knew it I was down in a corner. I feel my back, I took a hit, but nothing we can’t fix. The Taaienberg hesitation cost me, I should have jumped out of the gutter and followed Benoot… I am maybe missing some experience. I got a tactical lesson today. Today was a good opportunity for Edward and myself because Fabian [Cancellara] isn't here, and both of us in the top ten shows we're ready. Top ten is great, but it could have been more."


RESULTS
WOMEN
1 Armitstead
2 Blaak +29
3 Cromwell +29
4 Kirchmann +29
5 Olds +29
6 Brand +29
7 Hosking +29
8 Zorzi +29
9 Small +29
10 Johansson +29
MEN
1 Van Avermaet
2 Sagan
3 Benoot
4 Rowe
5 Gougeard +6
6 Debusschere +9
7 Petit +9
8 Theuns +9
9 Stuyven +9
10 Ladagnous +10



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