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"I think it was perfect. When you're racing against Boonen, Sagan and Cancellara, this is not kindergarten, this is against the best in the world, you know," Allan Peiper said.

Photo: Sirotti

FABIAN CANCELLARA

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GREG VAN AVERMAET

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MANUEL QUINZIATO

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RONDE VAN VLAANDEREN

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TAYLOR PHINNEY

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07.04.2014 @ 09:30 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

The BMC riders certainly left an impression of riding their own race while the biggest guns were still playing a waiting game in the Ronde van Vlaanderen yesterday, what has to be considered a part of a very positive change of image of the American team under the direction of Allan Peiper. Provided with a long-awaited opportunity to become a leader for the Flemish classics, Greg Van Avermaet was narrowly beaten at the finish line by Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), but arguably emerged the strongest man is the season’s second monument.

 

Preluded by Taylor Phinney’s participation in day’s early breakaway and Manuel Quinziato’s several relentless attacks on the hellingen in the middle part of Ronde van Vlaanderen route, Van Avermaet took off shortly after the Taaienberg, with still 37 kilometers to go and Stijn Vandenbergh on his wheel – dutifully deploying the Omega Pharma-Quick Step tactics to cover every moderately serious move.

 

After the race reached its conclusion in Oudenaarde, the BMC captain confirmed that he entered yesterday’s spectacle with a clear plan in his mind and did everything he could to transform team tactics into the possibly most successful scenario.

 

Van Avermaet hugely regretted that Vandenbergh didn’t contribute to his work when the duo took off, but the huge Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider was obviously sticking to the tactics contrived by the Belgian squad and reportedly couldn’t be given a nod to go clear and chase his own success in the finale because of the broken team radio.

 

"I tried to go where I planned to go and it was a good move, I think, before the Taaienberg, and then I tried to make it to the end," Van Avermaet said by the podium area. "It was a little bit disappointing that Vandenbergh did not ride with me, I was always on my own."

 

"If Vandenbergh had ridden, there's a good chance they'd have stayed out in front," he said. "Still, it was a gutsy move to take just before the Taaienberg, but you could see he had the legs," BMC manager Allan Peiper shared Van Avermaet’s insights on the happenings.

 

As it has been pointed out multiple times before De Ronde, the only option for outsiders to upset the biggest guns in the likes of Boonen or Cancellara was to anticipate their moves and that was exactly what the BMC leader decided to do.

 

"The goal was to get over the Paterberg," Peiper said, mindful that if his rider crested the final climb still in front, then he would be in the shake-up for the win at the very least.

 

"I think it was perfect. When you're racing against Boonen, Sagan and Cancellara, this is not kindergarten, this is against the best in the world, you know," Peiper said. "Realistically speaking, if Greg waits until the Paterberg, is he going to be with him [Cancellara]? Even he doesn't know. This way he was ahead of the ball game and that was perfect."

 

The duo of Van Avermaet and Vendenbergh was joined by Cancellara and Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin Procycling) to play the finale, aptly described by Patrick Lefevere as “a sprint of dying swans”. On paper, the BMC classics specialist was the fastest finisher of the quartet, but he was also the most fatigued one following an almost 40-kilometer long breakaway with the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider sticked to his wheel.

 

The riders came to complete standstill several times before Cancellara launched sprint with only 300 meters to go, and the Swiss classics specialist crossed the finish line before Van Avermaet in the finale, in which rather the strongest than the fastest prevailed.

 

"I tried to do good final in the sprint, but it was a sprint of the strongest. We started at the same moment and Fabian was a bit stronger," Van Avermaet admitted.

 

The runner-up spot claimed in the Ronde van Vlaanderen yesterday marks just another near miss for Van Avermaet, and even though being beaten by Cancellara – the class of his own, is not a shameful kind of defeat, the 28-year old Belgian was certainly disappointed as he again failed to take the spoils in the major classic event.

 

"This is one of the major races of a rider's career and the chance Greg had today was enormous," Peiper admitted. "But having said that, the way he rode dispels any doubts people had about him and the way he can ride a bike race, and the way he can play himself out. Being beaten by Cancellara, who's winning it for the third time, that's not a bad way to be beaten."

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