26 September, 2013
Stannard takes Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Report by Gavin Hughes
Sky Pro Cycling's Ian Stannard won the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Sunday in conditions that typified the Flemish early season openers.
The race, born out of muscular, agricultural Flandrian hard men is a good indication of early season form and it would appear that Team Sky have laid down a marker as to what their intentions are this Spring as they seek to add one day classics to their Palmares.
Before the race started there was a minutes silence for Kristoff Goddaert who was tragically killed in a training accident in February and when the racing began - so did the rain and the inevitable falls, with Thor Hushovd (BMC) and last year's winner, Luca Paolini (Katusha) among the early casualties.
The 198 KM race was characterised by attack and counter attack with first Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) and then Tour of Qatar winner Niki Terpstra (OPQ) chancing their luck.
With just shy of 20 KM to go Stannard and Van Avermaet (BMC) worked together effectively to launch a decisive attack. In the ensuing two up sprint, Van Avermaet led Stannard out who finished strongly in what may have been one of the most satisfying wins of his career and more importantly sets team Sky on their quest for their elusive Classics victory.