Unlucky Quick-Step Floors in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad
Tom Boonen and Niki Terpstra crashed in the first classic of the year, which saw Matteo Trentin finish in 9th place.
The Opening Week-end was a tough one for Quick-Step Floors, who rolled out from Ghent with the hope of getting a top result, but saw its plans crumble due to numerous crashes and mechanicals. Tom Boonen, who was racing Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (198.3 kilometers) for the 15th time in his career, was the first to have problems on Saturday, crashing just ahead of the Haaghoek cobbled sector, but soon returned to the peloton, flanked by his teammates, despite hitting his right elbow and knee in the incident.
Unfortunately, another clash blocked Tom, this time not long before tackling the Taaienberg, a climb on which he left a deep mark at the previous editions; even though he confronted with pain following the first incident in which he was involved, Boonen remounted and continued the race, as the other teams put the hammer down to distance him, but eventually had to stop in the last 50 kilometers. Tom was one of the two Quick-Step Floors riders to crash on Saturday, first to go to the ground being Niki Terpstra, in the run in to the legendary Muur-Kapelmuur, who resumed the race despite hitting his knee.
Several riders took off following the incident which occurred before the Taaienberg, and despite a spirited chase led by Quick-Step Floors' Philippe Gilbert, Zdenek Stybar and Matteo Trentin together with Trek-Segafredo, they made it to the line, where Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) beat Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Sep Vanmarcke (Cannondale-Drapac). First chasers arrived around a minute later, and Trentin was our team's highest finisher, in 9th place, for his maiden top 10 at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.
For 36-year-old Tom Boonen, the outcome wasn't the one he had hoped for at the start of the day, but nevertheless, the seven-time Monument winner kept his optimism after this demanding race: "I was close to the front of the peloton on the Haaghoek, but crashed when another rider moved from the right to the left without paying attention. He touched my front wheel and in the blink of an eye I was on the ground. At the 62km to-go mark, I was involved in another crash, but fortunately I didn't went down this time. My derailleur and rear wheel got stucked in another guy's bike, and at that point the race was lost."
Next up for Tom Boonen is the 200.7km-long Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, a race in which he holds the record for the most wins, three: "I have some bruises on my right side and a bit of pain, but I'm in a good spirit, because I could continue riding after the crash. Hopefully, it's nothing serious. I'm more disappointed by the fact that I couldn't be in the thick of the action on the Taaienberg. Tomorrow is another day and another race, and we'll just see how I feel and how things work out."
Belgian champion and two-time winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Philippe Gilbert was part of the chasing group in the final part of the race, doing some long stints at the front and even cutting the leaders' advantage before Lange Munte. In the end, he finished 13th, a result which shows that he's on the right track ahead of his big goals of this spring: "I got stucked behind that crash prior to the Taaienberg, and from that moment on, I chased until the very end. It was a strange race, but I'm satisfied for giving everything that I had. I didn't race a lot before Omloop, so I was expecting not to be at 100%, but the important thing is that the sensations were there today, which is encouraging for the future."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele