No radios, high excitement — maybe the UCI got something right for once.
It’s wasn’t one of the favorites who won Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with a radio-controlled strategy. Nope, it was Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) who beat the odds and surprised the big guns.
The Dutchman launched a solo attack over 50 kilometers from the finish line. It wasn’t the Rabobank director sportif giving orders, it was Langeveld going on a hunch, taking a risk and riding on instinct.
It worked to perfection — even when Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky) made a counter attack and bridged up to Langeveld with 15 kilometers remaining, the young Rabobank never lost his head. Sure, Flecha had the edge in experience and had won the Omloop last year but it didn’t matter in the end.
“I didn’t wait for Flecha but when he came back I saw that he didn’t have much left in his tank. I knew that he would try to attack. If I could neutralize that attack I would be mentally at an advantage,” Langeveld said.
Flecha figured all that breakaway work would make his rival and easy mark. He was almost right — the almost being a matter of centimeters.
“Normally Langeveld is faster but after such a race it’s different. I wasn’t as sure as he was that he’d won but in the end he was ten centimeters faster today,” said Flecha. Perhaps some remedial bike throw practice would be in order.
Matt Hayman made it a fine team result for Sky by catching Yoann Offredo (FDJ) and passing him for third. Sky boss Uncle Fester — or as he’s officially known, David Brailsford — should be happy
It was an exciting race, a thrilling chase and there was plenty of radio silence. Tom Boonen, Philippe Gilbert and Thor Hushovd had a quiet day. They did their prep work on the cobbles at race speed but nothing more.
After 203 kilometers in the cold rain there was one happy man, Sebastian Langeveld. “I worked very hard for the victory and I’m going to take my time to enjoy it,” said Langeveld.
If he rides Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday, look for him at the back of the peloton, orange jersey, huge smile.