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"I always have a little trouble getting started in these early races in Belgium, so today’s 11th place was not bad. It was closer today than in my other years so I think that’s promising for the future."

Photo: Muscat Municipality/Paumer/B.Bade

ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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OMLOOP HET NIEUWSBLAD

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28.02.2015 @ 19:14 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The spring classics racing season came to life Saturday on the 200 km cobbled course for the 70th Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in cycling-crazed Belgium. With 11 hellingen (climbing) sections and ten cobbled sectors on course for the riders of 23 teams, the opening race served up a good dose of racing tactics at the finish in Gent.

 

"We had two guys that had some technical issues at a really important moment and they lost contact to the first group. We saw a strong Quick Step team and a much stronger Ian Stannard.  In the end Alex Kristoff sprinted for a placing and ended up 11th. It was a tough race for everybody, Tomorrow is another race we are looking forward to fight for a strong result there," said Katusha sports directorTorsten Schmidt. 

 

Three riders from Ettix – Quick Step were in the power seat for the finale, teamed up against the 2014 winner Ian Stannard of Sky. But the defending champion tucked in for much of the breakaway, conserving his energy and putting up an attack of his own with less than 3 km to go and continued riding from the front once the gap was closed. Coming into the last kilometer, Niki Terpstra went to the front and gave Stannard an armchair ride to the line, requiring only a brief sprint at the end to claim back-to-back wins with a finish time of 4:58.42. Terpstra took second with teammate Tom Boonen in third place. 

 

"I felt better today in this race than in previous years. Many times I do not finish this race. I always have a little trouble getting started in these early races in Belgium, so today’s 11th place was not bad. It was closer today than in my other years so I think that’s promising for the future," said Alexander Kristoff. 

 

Overcast skies and plenty of enthusiastic fans lining the roadways were on hand in the Flemish region of Belgium for Saturday’s race. One the break was brought back with 40 km to go, lots of attacking action played out at the front of the peloton before the group of four went clear. Other chased but at 10 km to go the gap remained at 21-seconds and continued to grow in the closing kilometers. The race looked sure to be won by an Ettix – Quick Step rider, but Stannard valiantly defended his title and beat the odds to earn the win.

 

Cobbled racing continues on Sunday as Team Katusha lines up to race in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.  

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