Something that Saxo Banks’s Nick Nuyens has that Matti Breschel doesn’t: two good knees.
Team manager Bjarne Riis brought Nuyens in this season as the low cost, last hope replacement for departing classics stars like Fabian Cancellara and Matti Breschel.
While it’s too early to make a definite call on that move, the short term on Nuyens looks brilliant. He was the strongest rider and victor in today’s Dwars Door Vlaanderen. The Belgian out-lasted the roaring chase group then out-sprinted Sky’s Geraint Thomas.
Fabulous Fabian admitted he was was still worn out from Milan San Remo and Breschel, well, he’s getting himself yet another knee operation and his classics season is pretty much gone.
The move to Saxo Bank has already rejuvenated Nuyens after a previous season of injury and disappointment, “This year is another year, and I felt good straight away,” he said. “They [Saxo Bank] have placed a lot of confidence in me and allowed me to prepare calmly for the Classics. Even after Milan-San Remo, they said ‘don’t worry, the season starts in Waregem.'” Mission accomplished.
Meanwhile over in Spain at the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, Saxo’s Alberto Contador won the queen stage, crossing the line alone atop the hors catégorie Coll De Pal summit finish. The impressive win in stage three also gave him the lead in the general classification.
Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) edged Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) for second place with both riders arriving 23 seconds behind the smoking Pistolero. Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) won a three-way sprint for fourth place ahead of the ageless Chris Horner.
“I am very happy, because it is a complex climb and you have to know how the wind blows,” said Contador. “At 5km to go there were still 50 riders, and I knew that this was the hardest part, so I attacked. Then Leipheimer come across and I attacked again until I reached the finish line.”
Score two for the angry birds at Saxo Bank. Bjarne Riis is feeling pretty smart this week. It’s a feeling he’s always enjoyed.