Ian Stannard 'couldn't be happier' after Omloop Het Nieuwsblad win
Last Updated: 28/02/15 7:17pm
Ian Stannard admitted circumstances played into his hands in his remarkable win at the Belgian one-day classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday.
Stannard formed part of a four-man lead group with 43km to go alongside Etixx – Quick-Step’s Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh and then beat Terpstra in a sprint for victory.
His chances of winning had initially looked slim when he found himself up against three rival team-mates, but a strong chase 30 seconds back down the road ensured the Quick-Step trio had to keep working hard in order to avoid being caught.
While that served to tire them out, Stannard stayed sheltered in their slipstream and consequently had energy left over to fend off late attacks from Boonen and Terpstra before claiming his second win at the race in a row.
He told teamsky.com: “With Sep Vanmarcke and Greg van Avermaet chasing behind, it put the pressure on them [Boonen, Terpstra and Vandenbergh]. I could just sit back, play a bit of poker and enjoy the ride. I just wanted to get a free ride for as long as I could. That was my idea.
"When they all started attacking me, it wasn’t a great feeling. When Boonen went, I was thinking, ‘Right, what do I do here?’
“I knew if I rode him back I would get attacked. I paced myself back a little bit. I could feel the wheel behind was trying hard to stay with me. So I felt like it was going pretty good and then I just took my chance.”
Stannard’s victory proved he is back to his best following an injury-ravaged year since his previous Omloop Het Nieuwsblad win.
The Team Sky rider broke his back at Gent-Wevelgem last March and then fractured his wrist at the Tour of Britain in September.
“I couldn’t be happier,” he added. “It’s nice to do the double sweep at the race, but after the difficulties I had last year, breaking my back, it’s nice to have got myself back to where I was.”
Boonen admitted Etixx - Quick-Step should have waited for a sprint rather than attacking Stannard in the final kilometres.
He said: "There is a thin line between a great race and a costly mistake and unfortunately we took the risk of not waiting for the sprint, and it didn't work out. It would have been great to win the race, but that's cycling. Congratulations to Stannard. He rode a smart tactical race and his reactions to our attacks were impressive. His sprint was also strong."