Well, its Monday and Iâ€™m still not sure what I think about Saturdayâ€™s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad. But hereâ€™s what I think I think:
1. First, letâ€™s address the obvious: Rabobankâ€™s Sebastian Langeveld rode an incredibly aggressive and gutsy race to take the biggest victory of his career. At 26, the best is yet to come for the young Dutchman.
2. Second only to Langeveld was Team Skyâ€™s Juan Antonio Flecha, the defending champion and the only pre-race favorite who seemed willing to race today. That was the first time Iâ€™ve ever seen a spring classic turn into a match sprintâ€”and it was fantastic.
3. And speaking of pre-race favorites willing to race Saturday, I have three theories as to why the majority of them werenâ€™t:
a. They were caught napping. (Iâ€™m talking to you especially, Mr. Devolder.)
b. The weather left them all with wet matches. (Theyâ€™re hard men, but theyâ€™re still human.)
c. They were subtly protesting the radio ban. Unfortunately, if this were indeed the case, in an effort to prove just how boring racing would be without radios, they failed miserably. (And by the way, next time you send out a pre-race memo about a mid-race protest, make sure Juan Antonio Flecha gets it.)
4. How long do you think it will be before we see micro-headsets tucked inside helmets, i.e. radio doping?
5. Quick-Step still thinks more of itself than the rest of the peloton does. Aside from Niki Terpstra, Quick-Step missed just about every move that mattered, as if they expected the race to just naturally come back together with about 40 kilometers to go. Shame on you, Quick-Step.
6. Now take that last paragraph, copy and paste it here, and replace Quick-Step with Omega Pharma-Lotto, and Niki Terpstra with Jurgen Roelandts.
7. Now take that last paragraph, copy and paste it here, and replace Omega Pharma-Lotto with Garmin-CervÃ©lo, and Jurgen Roelandts with Maartijn Maaskant.
8. For those of you who keep track of such things, score Saturday 4-1 in favor of Holland for riders in the top-10. Quick-Step and Omega Pharma-Lotto were lucky there are no Sunday papers in Belgium.
10. Thank you, World Cycling Channel. You have everything I could ever ask for.
11. Itâ€™s funny how things work out by the end of a race, but I had only 2-Star faith in Rabobankâ€™s ability to score a good result without Matti Breschel, yet the team put both of its pre-race co-captains in the top-10. In the end, of the pairs I picked, the next closest was Skyâ€™s Flecha and Edvald Boasson Hagen in second andâ€¦41st-place.
12. Manuel Quinziato made the second group for BMC, while Greg Van Avermaet and Marcus Burghardt were practically non-existent. Burghardt and Van Avermaet better make most these chances while they have them. Alessandro Ballan appears to have rediscovered his former self and George Hincapieâ€™s always going to be Option #1â€”this weekend might have been the German and Belgianâ€™s only chances to lead the team in the classics.
13. As for HTC, the team seems to have signed another young star with John Degenkolb. The Omloopâ€™s distance and weather seemed to affect to the young German by the end of the day, but 12th-place is a terrific rookie result.
14. And thank you, Luca Paolini, for making me look like I still know a little bit about which riders perform well in which races.
What did you notice Saturday? Share your comments below and come back in a few hours for my thoughts on yesterdayâ€™s Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.