Tom Boonen 2nd in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Tom Boonen, who gave it his all and covered and made nearly every move on Saturday, came in 2nd to Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda) in a three-up sprint at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky Procycling) was third.
The move that separated the three from a group of seven riders occurred on a cobblestone section with slightly less than 20km to go in the 200km race. Dries Devenyns, who was in the break before it split to support Boonen, eventually was absorbed by the peloton as the race continued.
"I'm happy about my race," Devenyns said."I was the only one able to enter in the first group after that Tom attacked on the Taaienberg. Then I worked for Tom as much as I could. On the Lange Munte cobblestones I wasn't able to follow. In any case we are happy about our collective performance".
Flecha and Vanmarcke did their best to try and shake Boonen before the sprint, attacking within the final few kilometers several times. However, Boonen stuck with them each time.
Boonen started his sprint early, and unfortunately could not hold his power against Vanmarcke just meters before the finish.
"I launched a long sprint because I knew that in the last 200 meters there were two corners where it would have been difficult to pass, but I miscalculated the effort," Boonen said. "At 80 meters from the finish my sprint was over, I had no more power in my legs. I had also a cramp on my right leg. It's a pity but I was beaten by a good rider who deserved the victory."
Boonen was the rider to initially attack the peloton with a little more than 55km remaining. He and Lars Boom (Rabobank) fought for position on the move, and Boom crashed as a result of the aggressive move.
Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team lead the chase of an original seven rider break that expanded its gap to more than 11 minutes early in the race. Boonen attacked when the chase was still happening. His effort throughout the day may have cracked several key riders. As a result of Boonen's move, the break that included he and Devenyns caught a remaining duo of escapees with 39km to go.
Martin Velits and Matteo Trentin both crashed, and abandoned, on Saturday. Velits said the road was wet, and he could not avoid a rider in front of him.
It was a total team effort for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team. They now look to Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne tomorrow.
"Omloop is always a difficult race and even in the past we had few surprises," Boonen said. "In any case, my condition is good. On the Taaienberg I attacked and the feeling was really good. I have time to improve leading up to Paris-Nice. The Classics are far yet. Even the team was super today. Dries did a great job for me and Chavanel was great before the Taaienberg. In general the guys were super today."