Dutchman edges defending champion Flecha in Ghent
Sebastian Langeveld of Rabobank edged out last year’s winner Juan Antonio Flecha in a close sprint to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
Langeveld threw his bike at the line and won a few centimetres to take the biggest win of his career. He collected the kisses and the praise on the podium, with Matt Hayman joining his teammate Flecha on the podium after taking third place ahead of Yoann Offredo (FDJ).
“I worked very hard for the victory and I’m going to take my time to enjoy it,” Langeveld said.
The Dutchman rode aggressively in the rain-soaked race, launching a solo attack in the middle of the key hilly section of the race with more than 50km left to race.
He quickly gained a gap of half a minute on a chase group while all the big-name favourites were riding in the remains of the peloton just under a minute down. On the Leberg climb, Flecha launched a counter-attack together with Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step) out of the peloton.
“On the Leberg it was time to gamble and I had the legs to go there,” Flecha said.
The Spaniard first caught up with the group of chasers and then he left them on the cobbles of the Paddestraat when there were less than 30km to race. At that moment the gap between Flecha and Langeveld was more than a minute. Langeveld and Flecha fought out an intense pursuit but the Spaniard closed the gap second by second on his former Rabobank teammate.
With 15km to go, Flecha joined up with Langeveld and the two were set for a two-man sprint.
“I didn’t wait for Flecha but when he came back I saw that he didn’t have much left in his tank. I knew that he would try to attack. If I could neutralize that attack I would be mentally at an advantage,” Langeveld said.
The final kilometres unfolded as Langeveld predicted but in the sprint Flecha surprisingly turned out to be much faster than expected. “Normally Langeveld is faster but after such a race it’s different. I wasn’t as sure as he was that he’d won but in the end he was ten centimetres faster today,” Flecha conceded.
In the first chase group there were several attacks in the final kilometres and a minute after the close sprint, it was Hayman who showed up first at the St-Peter’s square in Ghent, just ahead of the surprising young French rider Yoann Offredo (FDJ). The other chasers were just behind, with the main peloton at five minutes and another cold and wet group at almost ten minutes.
All the action
The first half of the race was marked by a breakaway by Sébastien Delfosse (Landbouwkrediet-KDL), Steven Van Vooren (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator), Bram Schmitz and Steven Caethoven (Veranda’s Willems-Accent), Aleksejs Saramotins (Cofidis), Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ), Ronan van Zandbeek (Skil-Shimano) and Sébastien Chavanel (Europcar). The group build up a lead of almost eight minutes. However the foul weather made it a hard race and by the time the race started in earnest front many riders were already at their limit.
On the cobbles of Donderij, with 65km to go, the race started in the peloton when the riders from Sky and then Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) upping the speed. When arriving at the Taaienberg – also known as Boonenberg – the peloton was stretched out. Boonen led the peloton over the cobbled climb in the asphalted gutter, with world champion Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervélo) just behind him. In between the Taaienberg and the Eikenberg climbs, the pace remained high thanks to the efforts of Offredo and Hushovd.
The early breakaway was quickly caught and Langeveld used the Eikenberg to go clear. Behind him the favourites were playing a waiting game. A group including John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad), Hayman, Manuel Quinziato (BMC), Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Cervélo) went away after him. Little later another group left the main peloton featuring Fréderic Amorison (Landbouwkrediet-KDL), Jurgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Lars Boom (Rabobank) and Luca Paolini (Katusha).
When Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step) set a high pace on the Leberg he ended up riding away with Flecha. The chase groups came together behind sole leader Langeveld, who still had a lead of more than a minute. Flecha put the hammer down on the cobbles of the Paddestraat and set off in pursuit, and from there the great finale with Langeveld unfolded.
Flecha seemed the favourite to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for a second year but the young Dutchman had no plans to give up as he showed with his perfect sprint.
|1||Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team||5:18:03|
|2||Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Procycling|
|3||Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Procycling||0:01:01|
|4||Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ||0:01:04|
|5||Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha Team||0:01:21|
|6||Niki Terpstra (Ned) Quickstep Cycling Team||0:01:24|
|7||Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Team Garmin-Cervelo||0:01:30|
|8||Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team|
|9||Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto|
|10||Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank Cycling Team|
Story courtesy of Cyclingnews.com