Nuyens nicks Flanders win
Belgian triumphant on home turf
Last Updated: 03/04/11 6:11pm
Nuyens celebrates his victory
Nick Nuyens was crowned 2011 Tour of Flanders champion after outsprinting Sylvain Chavanel and Fabian Cancellara to seal the biggest victory of his career.
The Saxo Bank Sungard rider worked his way into the elite 12-man group at the foot of the Bosberg and only he and Chavanel (Quick-Step) could react when Cancellara (Leopard Trek) attacked inside the final four kilometres of action.
That same trio remained ahead as they turned onto the long closing straight, and despite another late burst from Cancellara, it was the Belgian who emerged to take a narrow but famous win in front of his home crowd.
The race was one of the most thrilling in recent years, and Team Sky's Jeremy Hunt had helped bring the 'Monument' to life when he moved clear with four accomplices early in the day.
Chavanel was also feeling fresh though and pressed forward with Simon Clarke (Astana) on the iconic climb of the Koppenberg, hauling back the lead quartet with 84km to go.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) and Lars Boom (Rabobank) were the only men that could initially follow, but Chavanel kicked again on his own and stayed ahead until Cancellara bridged the gap over to him just before they hit the Tenbosse.
The duo quickly built a one-minute advantage but behind a determined chase group had formed and they worked well to bring everything back together on the climb of the Bosberg.
And that was how things stayed until 3.5km to go when Cancellara attacked again, only this time Nuyens and Chavanel went with him, and despite the defending champion's best efforts it was Nuyens who proved the fastest finisher and sent the patriotic crowd home happy with his slender success.