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  British team animates race with a number of attacks

Photo: Sirotti








28.02.2013 @ 10:38 Posted by Jesper Johannesen


Sky once again proved its collective strength by putting in a number of strong attacks in yesterday's Walloon season opener, Le Samyn. In the end, Chris Sutton sprinted to a 9th place.


The British Sky team has been a dominating force in most races during the last year, and the same was the case in Le Samyn yesterday. Throughout the race, the team was involved in all key moves, and twice during the race their riders tried to foil the peloton by putting in solo attacks.


Luke Rowe was involved in the day's main break as he used the opening kilometers to initiate a three-man move with Thomas Sprengers (Topsport Vlaanderen - Baloise) and Elias Van Breussegem (Doltcini - Flanders). They build up a maximum advantage of 5.30, and as his companions were dropped along the way, Rowe continued on his own. He was finally caught with 12 km remaining.


Inside the final 10 km, the team went on the attack again - this time with Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard who were involved in a move with Ignatas Konovalovas (MTN Qhubeka) and Bert-Jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil-DCM). Thomas left the others behind him inside the final four kilometer, but in spite of his strong early-season form he was captured with less than 2 km remaining. In the end, the team's sprinter Chris Sutton was 9th.


The wave of attacks was down to a carefully planned pre-race tactics. With sprinter Sutton in strong condition, the team simply wanted to tire the peloton in view of the final sprint.


“The plan was to make the race hard as we knew we always had CJ (Sutton, ed.) who could go for the sprint," sport director Servais Knaven told after the race. "He took ninth at the finish, but all in all it was a good day. The temperature was never above one degree, so it was cold again.”


Despite the disappointing result, Knaven was impressed by the performance of his rider throughout the race. However, a strong headwind made it difficult for riders to battle against the peloton.


“The guys did a good race today,” he said. “Luke was up there in the break. We knew it would be hard to make it to the finish, but at one point it was looking pretty good as it was really cold out there and the chasers were suffering. Luke was really strong, but in the end it was always going to be tough for him riding into a headwind."


“When he came back, the other guys began to make the race hard again and tried to go in the attacks. G (Thomas, ed.) went with around 10 to go and he got a nice gap, but again with the headwind it was hard. He was caught just before the flamme rouge, so it’s just one of those things."


The race also had a positive outcome for the team. Mathew Hayman was on his way to an overall top 10 finish at the Tour of Qatar when he crashed heavily on stage 4 and was forced to abandon. With his favorite races, the spring classics, just around the corner, the team feared that they could lose an important force in these important events. However, Hayman has had an amazing recovery and was able to make a comeback in Le Samyn and even finished the race in the main peloton.


“Mathew finished the race in his first event back after his Qatar crash,” Knaven added. “He looked great considering the circumstances so that is a really good sign heading into the training camp in Tenerife.”


Next up for Team Sky's classics roster is a training camp in Tenerife. As a new approach to the spring races, the classics riders will avoid Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico completely and use the Canary island as their main build-up.



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