Stannard beats the odds in Omloop.
Sky’s Ian Stannard won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad against long odds, out muscling and outthinking three Etixx-Quickstep riders including classics superstar Tom Boonen, Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra and their teammate Stijn Vandenbergh.
As Stannard admitted, all the stars aligned and race circumstances played in his favor but this was a masterful victory — especially for a guy who admits he’s not the most tactically shrewd guy in the peloton.
What he was, was in damn fine form. In a four man break, he chased down Boonen with 3 k to go, slowly, methodically, calmly pulling him back with the two other Etixx-Quicksteps on his wheel. He didn’t waste a watt and it showed his confidence despite being outnumbered and fighting alone against the strongest classics team in the race.
Then Terpstra attacked in the closing 1.5 K and Stannard also brought him back. Still, the euros and odds remained in the favor of Etixx-Quickstep and for god-sakes, that lug in the Sky jersey had to be getting tired, right?
In fact, that was the final smart move made by Standard in the final kilometer when it was clear that no matter how hard Boonen chased, he wasn’t going to make it back even though he could see the two just up ahead.
While it perhaps appeared that Terpstra made the mistake of going to the front, our view was that Stannard played dead, fatigue finally overcoming him, as he eased off the gas just enough for Terpstra to think the Englishman was cooked. We’d bet money that Terpstra thought he had this race wrapped up.
Instead Stannard stunned him with one last powerful move, coming around Terpstra on the right. The Belgian veered into Stannard’s path a bit in a final bid to slow him but the big guy kept control of his bike and all his momentum.
Three against one and the one kills all three.
We would have thought that Etixx-Quickstep team boss Patrick Lefevere’s head would blow off. That the normally red-faced Lefevere would go full crimson and simply explode. Instead the man was curiously pissy about Stannard’s win, claiming a rider of his stature shouldn’t be sitting on his boy’s wheels for 40k.
That was a petty and stupid remark by Lefevere. Stature? What about a guy like Boonen who has won four Paris-Roubaixs? What about Terpstra who won the Tour of Flanders only last year? Stannard was on his own, outnumbered against classics heavyweights and sitting on a wheel is the only tactic to play.
Lefevere knows that so it was a shock to see him lauding his own squad for “making the race” and then whining that Stannard won when Boonen and Terpstra had most of the cards.
Chapeau Stannard. A ugly mouth-eaten beret for Patrick Lefevere.