Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Langeveld takes two-man sprint against Flecha
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: Langeveld takes two-man sprint against Flecha

by Bjorn Haake at 11:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Centimeters decide outcome of first classics race in 2011

Sebastiaan LangeveldSebastian Langeveld took a hard earned victory in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, having attacked solo with over 50 kilometers to go. He was joined by Juan Antonio Flecha for the final 13 kilometers of the race. The two offered a tactical last kilometer, followed by an exciting sprint where Langeveld prevailed by a few centimeters. Flecha's Sky teammate Matthew Hayman beat Yoann Offredo for third place.

The plan for Langeveld was slightly different. "I wanted to make the race after the Taaienberg," he said to Sporza. "But I ended up alone. I did go through with it, since I knew the wind would be in my favor then."

He also profited from teammate  Lars Boom sitting in the first chase group. "I had hoped that after the Molenberg a group would come back, but only Flecha arrived." The latter attacked on the Paddestraat, helped by a moment of confusion when Martijn Maaskant and Luca Paolini slipped on the wet cobbles.

Flecha clawed back second after second, reducing the gap from 1'24 (30km to go) to 11 seconds (15km to go). After the two had exited the Lange Munte, Langeveld seemed to have recovered enough and kept the gap at 13 seconds. But then he sat up to wait for Flecha - something that was unlikely to have happened with race radio. The UCI imposed  a radio ban this year. Langeveld's sports director confirmed during the race to Belgian TV that he did not tell Langeveld to wait. "No, it was his decision alone."

Langeveld then stayed with Flecha, answered the Spaniard's only attack with five kilometers to go and entered the two-up sprint cautiously optimistic. "I wasn't sure for the sprint, but I did check out the finish. I knew I had to go early."

Flecha was a good sport, having been prevented again from winning a great course. "It was a nice course, with a neat sprint, too. Normally, Sebastian is faster than I, but in such a race  and with such weather you will never know. Today the difference was only ten centimeters or so."

Both were visibly tired from the previous effort as they sprinted side by side, trying to control their bikes. "Ok, he came a bit close in the sprint, but that is part of the game." In the first moment, Flecha was not even sure of the outcome. "He put his arms up in the air, but after the finish I  was not so sure he had won."

Race favorites Tom Boonen and Philippe Gilbert missed the decisive part of the action after the Taaienberg and finished five minutes behind. That left Jürgen Roelandts as best Belgian, in ninth place. "I knew that Flecha was going to try something on the Paddestraat. I came to within about ten meters, then exploded. In the second part of the Paddestraat I went over my limit and then I knew it was over."

Roelandts was there to help Gilbert, but there was nothing to do today. "Our captain Philippe Gilbert was at the front several times, but after the Leberg he was not there anymore."

Rainy weather like it should be for a classic

It was raining in Belgian, giving true classics weather to the riders. Bram Schmitz (Verandas Willems-Accent), Ronan van Zandbeek (Skil-Shimano) and Steven Van Vooren (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) attacked early to get warm and were quickly joined by Steven Caethoven (Verandas Willems-Accent), Sébastien Chavanel (Quick Step), Sébastien Delfosse (Landbouwkrediet), Mathieu Ladagnous (FDJ) and Aleksejs Saramotins (Cofidis). The eight riders formed the break of the day, gaining a maximum of 8'30 after a good hour of racing.

With 70km to go Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) took a bad line and ended up on the wrong side of the highway, separated by a guard rail. A quick stop and hop brought him back onto the right side of the Belgian road.

With the radios not present the peloton did not take any chances and started to bring down the gap early. Over the Kruisberg, with 67km to go, the difference had dropped below the two-minute mark.

At the bottom of the Taaienberg, the gap was down to 38 seconds. With Quick Step leader Tom Boonen always motivated at 'his' climb, the speed went up. Boonen was closely marked by Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) and the Belgian was unable to create a larger gap. Schmitz, Ladagnous and Saramotins were the last of the break riders to surrender, with around 55 kilometers to go, just before the Eikenberg was tackled.

Langeveld attacked on the Eikenberg, staying away solo. The chase behind him was half-hearted and with 37km to go, the gap was up to a minute between Langeveld and a group of ten riders, containing Niki Terpstra, Flecha and Jürgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto). The peloton with Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto), Hushovd and Boonen was already over two minutes back, having completely missed the decisive actions of the race.

Over the Paddestraat, Langeveld had 1'24 over the chasers and 2'24 over the peloton, with only 30 kilometers left. Flecha used some confusion after a crash by Luca Paolini (Katusha) and Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Cervelo) on the Paddestraat to start chasing solo after Langeveld.

Despite a strong headwind, Flecha was riding at over 40km/h. He closed the gap to Langeveld to less than 50 seconds, with 25 kilometers to go. The group that Flecha had belonged to was a further 45 seconds down.

At the 20km banner, Flecha had cut down the gap to 32 seconds, with the chase group out of contention. Flecha used the cobble section of the Lange Munte to reduce the gap to 11 seconds. It went back up to 13 seconds after the cobbles, when the inexplicable happened - Langeveld waited. His sports director confirmed to Dutch TV that it was Langeveld's own decision, giving further speculation that the radio ban is indeed making the races a little less predicatable.

The two joined forces with 13km to go, with Flecha setting a first attack inside the five-kilometer zone. Langeveld was quick to grab the Spaniard's wheel, followed by a brief discussion between the two. There was a truce until the final 500 meters. Langeveld sat behind Flecha and the Dutchman opened the sprint. Flecha did a good job responding, moving alongside Langeveld. The latter held on by a few centimeters.


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2011 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Results (203km)

  Click on the arrowsat the top of the column to sort the race results.
Country Result Name Team Time
ned 1 Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) 5:18:03
esp 2 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Team Sky) s.t.
aus 3 Mathew Hayman (Team Sky) 01:01
fra 4 Yoann Offredo (FDJ) 01:04
ita 5 Luca Paolini (Team Katusha) 01:21
ned 6 Niki Terpstra (Quick Step) 01:24
ned 7 Martijn Maaskant (Garmin-Cervelo) 01:30
ita 8 Manuel Quinziato (BMC Racing) 01:30
bel 9 Jürgen Roelandts (Omega Pharma-Lotto) 01:30
ned 10 Lars Boom (Rabobank) 01:30
bel 11 Frédéric Amorison (Landbouwkrediet) 01:34
ger 12 John Degenkolb (HTC-Highroad) 01:39
bel 13 Wouter Weylandt (Leopard Trek) 05:05
fra 14 Sébastien Hinault (AG2r-La Mondiale) s.t.
rus 15 Nikolai Trussov (Team Katusha) s.t.
can 16 Dominique Rollin (FDJ) s.t.
gbr 18 Russell Downing (Team Sky) s.t.
bel 19 Koen Barbe (Landbouwkrediet) s.t.
bel 20 Björn Leukemans (Vacansoleil-DCM) s.t.
bel 21 Maxime Vantomme (Team Katusha) s.t.
sui 22 Michael Schär (BMC Racing) s.t.
lat 23 Aleksejs Saramotins (Cofidis) s.t.
ita 24 Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM) s.t.
fra 25 Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step) s.t.
ned 26 Tom Stamsnijder (Leopard Trek) s.t.
gbr 27 Ian Stannard (Team Sky) s.t.
bel 28 Leif Hoste (Team Katusha) s.t.
bel 29 Kevin Van Impe (Quick Step) s.t.
bel 30 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) s.t.
fra 31 Sébastien Turgot (Europcar) s.t.
ned 32 Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank) s.t.
nor 33 Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
ger 34 Andreas Klier (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
bel 35 Tom Boonen (Quick Step) s.t.
bel 36 Nikolas Maes (Quick Step) s.t.
nzl 37 Hayden Roulston (HTC-Highroad) s.t.
bel 38 Jan Ghyselinck (HTC-Highroad) s.t.
bel 39 Gianni Meersman (FDJ) s.t.
fra 40 Sébastien Minard (AG2r-La Mondiale) s.t.
nor 41 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) s.t.
ger 42 Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing) s.t.
bel 43 Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) s.t.
bel 44 Dries Devenyns (Quick Step) s.t.
bel 45 Staf Scheirlinckx (Verandas Willems-Accent) 09:22
den 46 Lars Ytting Bak (HTC-Highroad) 10:41
bel 47 Kristof Goddaert (AG2r-La Mondiale) s.t.
bel 48 Pieter Jacobs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) s.t.
bel 49 Bert De Backer (Skil-Shimano) s.t.
den 50 Alex Rasmussen (HTC-Highroad) s.t.
fra 51 Jean-Luc Delpech (Bretagne-Schuller) s.t.
fra 52 Arnaud Labbe (Cofidis) s.t.
bel 53 Jens Keukeleire (Cofidis) s.t.
ger 54 Marcel Sieberg (Omega Pharma-Lotto) s.t.
bel 55 Jelle Wallays (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) s.t.
ned 56 Bram Schmitz (Verandas Willems-Accent) s.t.
ned 57 Roy Curvers (Skil-Shimano) s.t.
ned 58 Koen De Kort (Skil-Shimano) s.t.
bel 59 Wim De Vocht (Verandas Willems-Accent) s.t.
can 60 Michael Barry (Team Sky) s.t.
bel 61 Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) s.t.
fra 62 Anthony Geslin (FDJ) s.t.
fra 63 Matthieu Ladagnous (FDJ) s.t.
bel 64 Johan Coenen (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) s.t.
ned 65 Karsten Kroon (BMC Racing) s.t.
fra 66 Lloyd Mondory (ALM) s.t.
rus 67 Serguei Ivanov (Team Katusha) s.t.
ned 68 Jos Van Emden (Rabobank) s.t.
ger 69 Dominic Klemme (Leopard Trek) s.t.
fra 70 Vincent Jerome (Europcar) s.t.
ned 71 Laurens Ten Dam (Rabobank) s.t.
fra 72 Alexandre Pichot (Europcar) s.t.
ned 73 Rick Flens (Rabobank) s.t.
gbr 74 Roger Hammond (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
fra 75 Cyril Lemoine (Saur-Sojasun) s.t.
fra 76 Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) s.t.
bel 77 Geert Steurs (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) 14:29
bel 78 Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) s.t.
bel 79 Dieter Cappelle (Verandas Willems-Accent) s.t.
esp 80 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Omega Pharma-Lotto) s.t.
aus 81 William Clarke (Leopard Trek) s.t.
rus 82 Vladimir Isaychev (Team Katusha) s.t.
bel 83 Dominique Cornu (Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator) s.t.
ita 84 Alessandro Donati (Acqua & Sapone) s.t.
gbr 85 David Millar (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
ned 86 Bobbie Traksel (Landbouwkrediet) s.t.
bel 87 Geert Verheyen (Landbouwkrediet) s.t.
fra 88 Johan Le Bon (Bretagne-Schuller) s.t.
bel 89 Dimitri Claeys (NetApp) s.t.
ger 90 Timon Seubert (NetApp) s.t.
fra 91 Anthony Delaplace (Saur-Sojasun) s.t.
bel 92 James Vanlandschoot (Verandas Willems-Accent) s.t.
ned 93 Arnoud Van Groen (Verandas Willems-Accent) s.t.
fra 94 Damien Gaudin (Europcar) s.t.
aut 95 Bernhard Eisel (HTC-Highroad) s.t.
nor 96 Gabriel Rasch (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
nor 97 Tristan Valentin (Cofidis) s.t.

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