Ian Stannard wins Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for second year in a row
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 28/02/15 6:52pm
Team Sky’s Ian Stannard produced a remarkable upset to win the Belgian one-day classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad for the second year in succession on Saturday.
The Englishman formed part of a four-man lead group with 43km remaining but given that all of the other three members were from Etixx – Quick-Step – Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh – his chances of victory looked remote at best.
However, he fended off two late attacks, first from Boonen and then Terpstra, before beating the latter in a sprint for victory.
Stannard becomes the first man since Peter van Petegem in 1998 to win successive editions of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and his performance will go down as one of the best ever by a Briton in a classic.
There were two Britons in the top 10, after Stannard's Team Sky team-mate Luke Rowe crossed the line in ninth place. Sir Bradley Wiggins finished 5min 9sec down in 44th.
Both Wiggins and Rowe had earlier played a key role in chasing down the day's breakaway, and almost as soon as it had been caught, Boonen created the lead group of four with a searing injection of pace.
Stannard sat at the back of the quartet for the next 38km and it was only with 4.6km to go that the inevitable Quick-Step attacks finally began.
Boonen was the first to go, but as soon as Stannard had chased him down, Terpstra took his turn to attack the Briton. However, Stannard brought the group back together once more, before launching an attack of his own that led to both Vandenbergh and Boonen being dropped.
That set up a two-man shootout for victory and although Terpstra took the initiative by leading out the sprint, Stannard somehow summoned the energy to surge past him in the final 30m to clinch a memorable victory.
The triumph continued a superb start to the season for Team Sky, who also won the Ruta del Sol and Volta ao Algarve last weekend.
1 Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky, 4:58:42
2 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Etixx – Quick-Step, same time
3 Tom Boonen (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step, +3secs
4 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Etixx – Quick-Step, +12
5 Sep Vanmarcke (Bel) LottoNL-Jumbo, +1:24
6 Greg van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, st
7 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Etixx – Quick-Step, +1:29
8 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing, +4:35
9 Luke Rowe (GB) Team Sky, +4:55
10 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ.fr, st