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“I think Lotto did what they could and we did what we could, but I think other teams could have started working a lot earlier. Giant-Shimano and FDJ only came to the front with one lap to go with 1:10, when you know it’s to...

Photo: Sirotti












02.03.2014 @ 20:52 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After yesterday's impressive showing in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Team Sky found themselves on the defensive in today's Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. The team failed to chase down the decisive 10-rider group and criticisized teams like FDJ and Giant-Shimano who had been late to contribute to the work in peloton.


Team Sky led the chasing pack at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne but were unable to place a man in the winning move after a successful day on Saturday.24 hours after a virtuoso performance at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad the team found themselves chasing hard as a group of 10 riders slipped clear in a surprise early breakaway.


Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step) leant on the horsepower of his team to win as the reduced group contested the sprint. The Belgian edged out Moreno Hofland (Belkin) by half a bike-length after the chase efforts had fallen away.


The pivotal moment in the race came with over 70 kilometres still to race after a sustained attack on the Oude Kwaremont saw Belkin rip the race apart. Omega Pharma – Quick-Step were quick to sense the stretching of the elastic and committed numbers to the front.


The peloton eventually snapped in spectacular style as an elite group of 10 riders (featuring five Omega Pharma – Quick-Step jerseys and three from Belkin) slipped away, quickly opening out a gap approaching one minute. As the group behind scrambled to organise themselves it was Team Sky who picked up the chase, initially through Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Ian Stannard. Support from Lotto Belisol eventually arrived as it became a battle of four teams, spread across the two groups.


With all the climbs completed the gap first time across the line was 54 seconds and would never get much lower as the chase efforts inevitably waned.


After the stage Sports Director Servais Knaven admitted that chase efforts were always going to be difficult against such a powerful move.


"It was a bunch of strong riders in the breakaway with five from Quick-Step and three from Belkin," he explained. "It was clear that they'd work really well together and it was really hard to catch them. The guys did what they could with Lotto but we couldn't take enough time back. The gap stayed pretty stable. Other teams didn't come to help and maybe if the likes of FDJ and Giant-Shimano had helped initially then there would have been a chance. But even then it would have been difficult.


“I think Lotto did what they could and we did what we could, but I think other teams could have started working a lot earlier,” he added to Cyclingnews. “Giant-Shimano and FDJ only came to the front with one lap to go with 1:10, when you know it’s too late. I don’t know why they waited that long.


“I think if everybody had started riding together after Kwaremont, then there was a chance. But if you have five QuickStep and three Belkin in front, you are 100 percent sure they will ride together, they will never stop. And that’s what happened.


"At the end of the day that's bike racing. It is always difficult to predict and people often say that Kuurne always ends in a bunch sprint. That's not always the case.


"Our guys didn't have the legs to be there on the Kwaremont and the whole team were racing yesterday too. There were a few tired legs out there but it's been a good weekend on the whole and there's plenty to build on for the next races."


The team had failed to make the selection on the Kwaremont and Knaven openly admitted that his riders had not been good enough.


“Being in the front on the Kwaremont is nothing to do with tactics. It’s what everybody wants, so that’s not tactics,” Knaven said. “If you are not there, it can be because you had to brake at the wrong time or because you don’t just have the legs. And you can’t all be in the first position.


“I mean in Omloop, Boonen is normally always in the first position on the Taaienberg but yesterday he was not there. It’s a fight like a bunch sprint going towards the bottom of these climbs. Of course, some people are there nine times out of ten and other people six out of ten. I can’t explain why.”



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