Sebastian Langevelde broke clear from the field at the Het Niewsblad (formerly Het Volk)with over 50k left in the race before being joined by defending champion Juan Antonio Flecha with under 10k remaining. As in 2010 Flecha seemed in the driver's seat, against a tired opponent who had been away and in the wind on his own for a long time. Using a similar approach to his 2010 winning ride, Flecha tried to detach Langevelde from his wheel with about 5k remaining. Langevelde held on though and was able to hold Flecha off at the line to take his biggest win to date.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
With Langevelde's win the Rabobank team continues what has been a dream start to their 2011 campaign. Strong performances across all disciplines has seen the team take top honors at both stage races and one day races. With Lars Boom waiting in the wings for the upcoming cobbled classics, the orange-clad Dutch outfit looks set for a big spring.
At this point, the only limiting factor for Rabobank seems to be the health of new signing Matti Breschel, who is still dealing with a knee injury from last year. If Breschel can get healthy, Rabobank would have a three-pronged attack at the cobbled classics. Once the hillier one day races roll around, Robert Gesink will take the reigns. Gesink has improved every year as a pro, and he looks poised to be among the very best in the world come grand tour time.
Coming into the season, few would have guessed that Rabobank would be so competitive early on in the year. But with a strong and unified approach to each race, the Dutch team has vaulted themselves among the best teams int he world, at least at this point in the season.
Looking ahead, expect a strong ride from Oscar Freire at Milan-San Remo as the Spaniard looks to repeat his 2010 victory. The likelihood that Freire will win MSR again is slight, but his form is good and all he'll need is the right circumstances to see himself on the top step of the podium once again.
Additional observations from the Omloop
Is there anything more enjoyable than watching Juan Antonio Flecha finish a race in second place? The only thing better is watching Leif Hoste put himself in the wind only to see the main protagonist fly by him when it counts.
John Degenkolb! Although the youngster faded down the stretch, he nevertheless put in an amazing Omloop ride. A future classics hope that we all need to get more familiar with. Wow!
Boonen, Gilbert, Hushovd and the rest of the favorites don't factor on a day where the group gets away from them. Not a huge surprise here, but you would have thought that at least one of the big namers would have been up front. Perhaps this forecasts a bigger result from one of them tomorrow at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne?
Gotta love the rainy weather that the field had to take on in addition to a harder race route. Let's keep that rain and wind coming!
The lack of race radios didn't seem to have a huge affect on the tactics. This Omloop shaped up like many editions before it. This underscores that riders make a race. Still, not having radios allows at least for a chance for chaos at the front of the peloton. Jury is still out on how or if the lack of radios will affect tactics on the road.
Classics season is on, let's go!
Posted by Briggs at 9:14 AM