A day of misfortune for ORICA-GreenEDGE at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Sat 27 Feb 2016

Large crowds on a sunny and windy morning in Gent welcomed the 71st edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, which has been won by Greg Van Avermat (BMC). 

It was a day of misfortune for ORICA-GreenEDGE, which saw local Belgian rider Jens Keukeleire suffer a mechanical with 59 kilometres to go as he was forced to take a wheel from teammate Alexander Edmondson. Mathew Hayman was involved in a crash with Phillipe Gilbert (BMC) compounding the team’s misfortunes.

While both Keukeleire and Edmondson were able to finish the race Hayman was rushed to hospital for scans with a broken right radius. It is still to be decided whether surgery will be required.

“It was a really unlucky race for us today, we had riders in excellent positions for most of the race,” explained sports director Laurenzo Lapage.

“We had the mechanicals with Keukeleire and (Magnus) Cort who needed a bike change and then the crashes with Hayman and (Luke) Durbridge all coming at key moments in the race.”

“Once you lose some ground in a race like this on the small roads it’s moving too fast to get back on and reclaim the good position.”

On a day when things could have certainly gone better, Lapage was positive about the team’s overall showing and willingness to fight.

“Considering this was our first race with this group of riders, we did a really perfect job up until the incidents in the last 60kilometres. We have trained and worked really hard together and I was surprised how well we were doing.”

"Hats off to the boys, we can take lots of positives into tomorrow’s race and we all wish Mathew Hayman a speedy recovery.”

 How it happened:

The action began almost immediately with a 12 rider breakaway forming directly after the neutral zone. The lead group worked well together to create a gap of around five minutes on the main peloton which held until the Muur van Geraardsbergen. Once over the top of the climb the gap began to decrease.

As Etixx-Quickstep took over at the front of the bunch in the approach to the Kruisberg the gap had fallen to just over three minutes. At this point in the race positioning is all important as the speeds rise and the roads narrow. A crash occurred involving Cort and Dennis van Winden (LottoNL-Jumbo) which resulted in a bike change for Cort and unfortunate loss of position.

30 kilometres later and the leaders had only a minute over the peloton. Luke Rowe (SKY), Van Avermat and Tiejs Benoot (Lotto Soudal) took off from the main bunch with world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) hot on their tails. This turned out to be a key moment in the winning move.  

At 45 kilometres to go Tony Martin (Etixx-Quickstep) went down as the peloton began to show twitchy signs of nerves and stress. A few minutes later and Hayman and Durbridge were involved in a pile up within the main group and unfortunately for ORICA-GreenEDGE the race was all but over.

As three or four more riders joined with Rowe, Van Avermat and Sagan the group began to take some shape. Taking turns to ensure that they held onto their advantage and increase their chance of taking it into the final kilometres. Van Avermat started his sprint from fourth position and held an aggressive line all the way to the finish.

ORICA-GreenEDGE return to action tomorrow at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad results:

1. Greg Van Avermat (BMC) 4:54:12
2. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) 0:00:00
3. Tiejs Benoot (Lotto Soudal) 0:00:00
69. Magnus Cort (OGE) 0.04:41