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Team Sky’s Ian Stannard proved his pedigree with victory at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. Known as a ‘bad weather specialist’, the Brit showed both strength and a killer instinct to beat BMC’s Greg Van Avermaet with a perfectly timed sprint to the line. Having attacked with 17km left to race, Stannard was joined by the Belgian and the pair worked together to stay clear. From that remaining group Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagan took the sprint to finish on the third step of the podium. It was Hagen who’d done well to latch back on to the break of Lars Boom and Niki Terpstra, but when Boom punctured, Hagen and Terpstra ‘failed’ to make the gap stick and soon Stannard and friends caught up. The powerful rouleur then launched himself with only Van Avermaet able to stay with him.
Stannard, the 2012 British National Road Champion, had kept in contention with the lead group going over the Taaienberg climb, with teamamtes Bernie Eisel, Luke Rowe (who finished 11th) and Hagen on the 198km looping parcours working well and covering moves. The suitably grim and gritty season opener had all the ingredients for a Flanders Classic with cobbles, crashes and crappy Belgian weather. Stannard used his experience from previous outings at European one-day races, such as Milan-San Remo and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, to dig deep and use his head at the crucial moment.
“I knew the guys behind us had dropped off a bit so it was just about playing it right. I felt strong on the lead-in and I was confident for the sprint. I knew 300m [was a good distance]. I needed to wind it up a little bit and not have it be super fast. It worked out well. I knew I had to try and hit him as hard as I could and I was able to get a gap.”
Servais Knaven, Sports Director and former Roubaix-winner, said of the Team’s performance:
“It was a really incredible show of teamwork today by the guys,” he told TeamSky.com. “That’s how you need to do it in the Classics – riding together and getting to the front. We have a really strong team and if you can be there at the front then this can happen. If you’re strong like Ian was today you can beat anybody.”
It was a great win for the Team and a man who’s been seeking a one-day scalp for the last few seasons. Hopefully there’s more to come from Stannard and the other classics riders in the coming months.
Ian Stannard’s Classic Kit
In a post-race interview Stannard also explained how essential reliable kit is in such conditions. He said: “It’s about getting the clothing right and staying as warm as possible.”
- Pro Team Jersey: standard weight performance which is streamlined, robust and highly breathable
- Prototype jersey for wet conditions (for release in AW14)
- SS Merino Mesh Base Layer: natural performance which is lightweight yet insulates wonderfully
- Thermal Bib Shorts: Essential kit for the spring classics, brushed back insides and a longer leg for colder race conditions
- Italian Roubaix fabric Knee Warmers: The same spec as the Rapha Warmers – soft, snug and breathable
- Roubaix Arm Warmers
- The upcoming Race Mitts (plus prototype fleece glove): Pared back racing mitts for optimum protection and control
- Toe covers and rain overshoes specific to the team
- Loads of Winter Embrocation: Absolutely crucial warming agent for early season racing in Belgium. Smells great too