Etixx-QuickStep‘s formation from Patrick Lefevere struggled at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, failing to place a rider among the top 10. In fact, the powerful Belgian team hasn’t won the Classics opener since 2005 with the victory from Nick Nuyens.
The team was never in control of the race and when it mattered their riders lost out in the battle for positions over the famous Taaienberg climb, also known as Boonen-climb. The leaders of the team in Gent were specialists Niki Terpstra and Tom Boonen.
After the race they stepped out of the team bus, only to admit that they weren’t there during the most decisive point of the race.
Dutch champion Terpstra was humble in defeat. “At the Taaienberg we were not in the right position. It wasn’t lost there but when we tried to set things straight we ran into bad luck. We could close that gap but there was a crash from Tony Martin when coming off the cobbles where I landed into some spectators. Then at the Haaghoek I had a chain problem and I had to chase again,” Terpstra said.
“There’s only ten riders who can ride in the top 10. Normally we ride there but not this time. Our rivals were there. That’s where we lost the first battle.”
It was Boonen’s first race of importance after sustaining his head injury. A lot of questions were raised whether he would be able to get back at the highest level. Before the race he stated that he didn’t expect to win, mainly hoping not to get a major beating. Boonen finished eleventh, not pushing on in the sprint for sixth place.
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