Rider of the week
The 70th edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad proved to be the best race of 2015 so far, which isn’t a surprise, considering the hype surrounding it, as it was the first Classic of a season many felt started just now, once the riders hit the legendary Belgian cobbles. The 200-km-long race which started and finished in Ghent had everything: attacks, punctures, drama, a hard fight between the strong men and a thrilling finale, which is sure to make it into the vintage collections of every fan.
After Taaianberg, where three of Etixx’s men were left at the front with Ian Stannard, the race resembled to the legendary wins of Mapei from 15-20 years ago, when Patrick Lefevere’s riders mastered the Classic to perfection to get a 1-2-3. In the end, it wasn’t meant to be that way, because a series of mistakes made by Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh, combined with a very strong and impressive performance from Ian Stannard landed the win for the Brit, who became only the ninth rider in history to take successive triumphs in Omloop.
Thanks to his determination, great power, excellent tactic and instinct, Stannard responded to every attack of his opponents and eventually held off the Etixx-Quick Step trio, scoring what many thought to be an improbable win. One of the strongest cyclists of the peloton, the 27-year-old is building himself a nice palmares and if health and luck will be on his side in the weeks to come, Ian Stannard has every chance of becoming the first British winner of Paris-Roubaix.