Cyclingnews Stannard: Everything Aligned For Me To Win Het Nieuwsblad


Jan 3, 2005
Ian Stannard’s initial feeling on making the winning selection at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was one of relief, but the reality of his predicament slowly began to dawn on him as the famous grey towers of Ghent drew nearer on the horizon.
When the dust settled after the cobbled section at Haaghoek with 40 kilometres remaining, Stannard found himself in a four-man break with no fewer than three Etixx-QuickStep riders for company. It’s hard to imagine at that moment that there was a single bookmaker in Flanders prepared to lay odds on the Sky man outmanoeuvring Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh.
“At first I was comfortable, I didn’t have to ride, but then you start thinking about different scenarios and I realised they were just going to attack me in the finale and there’s not much you can do,” Stannard said. “But I knew they’d have to ride hard coming into the finish as well. They haven’t won this race in a long time and it’s missing off Tom’s palmares as well, so I knew they’d commit to it.

Yet, some way, somehow, Stannard managed to pull off the most improbable of victories and claim his second successive Omloop win, after he shed both Vandenbergh and Boonen in the finale, and then disposed of Terpstra in the two-up sprint before the stunned masses in Sint-Pietersplein.
Stannard’s reputation has been built on his brute strength rather than his tactical acumen, – “I’m certainly not the smartest, but hopefully one of the stronger ones,” he joked afterwards – and he credited his surprise outflanking of Boonen et al to the circumstances of the day.
“I think everything aligned right for me to win the race,” he said, pointing to the fact that Sep Vanmarke’s determined pursuit behind kept the Etixx trio honest. Rather than try to attack Stannard one by one in the finale, they were put to the pin of their collars just to hold off the Vanmarcke group, while the Englishman was able to sit in the wheels.

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