Tough start to the Classics for Mitchelton-SCOTT at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Sat 29 Feb 2020

Mitchelton-SCOTT endured a tough day out in Belgium as the Classics season kicked-off in miserable conditions at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.

Kiwi Dion Smith and Italian duo Edoardo Affini and Alex Konychev were the only finishes for the squad in a race that was blown apart by crosswinds.

Wind Blows
Five riders formed the early breakaway with the peloton allowing the escapees to go clear by over seven minutes by the time the race reached the first cobbled sector. The bunch then kept the gap at around five minutes in the early stages until the race burst into life.

A change in direction brought crosswinds and the peloton split in half as a group of 16 riders edged clear. Mitchelton-SCOTT missed the move but had numbers in the remains of the main peloton, and it was all back together with 100 kilometres remaining.

A number of splits and attacks came and went with Affini in the mix until an eight man move finally got away with around 70 kilometres to go. The select group worked well together to open up a gap of over two-minutes, while the chasing group failed to get organised behind.

No Chase
A small chase eventually formed but their pursuit of the leaders was short-lived as the bunch reeled them back in. Mitchelton-SCOTT missed the regrouping and found themselves in the third group on the road as the gap to the leaders the seven leaders stood at 1’40”.

However, it was soon apparent that the win was going to come from one of the seven leaders with the chase continuing to falter as the kilometres ticked down. The fight for victory eventually came down to a two-up sprint with Jasper Syuyven (Trek-Segafredo) coming out on top.

Dion Smith:
“It was as classic of a Belgium classic today, wind rain and cobbles so it was a really tough day. It’s always hard to prepare for how big a shock to the system it is unless you live here I guess!”

“It was a bit of a unfortunate day for the team with a couple of our key guys like Durbo getting caught out in a crosswind section while trying to get a warm jacket, being so far out from the finish it looked to be an okay time to do it but today was so unpredictable with the wind.”

“We still had three of us in the main selection though so wasn’t all bad! But by the last 30 kilometres the race had taken its toll, personally my legs just shut down and I literally couldn’t do anymore big effort’s. The two young guns had a really strong ride though, and can take so much from today.”

Edoardo Affini:
“For sure it was a pure Belgian day. It was tough, especially with the strong winds that played a big role in today’s race.”

“Already with a long way to go there were splits due to the wind and I managed to stay around the front and I tried to follow some moves. If I look back to last year, I can see I’ve improved, but I think there is still a lot to work on.”

Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2020 Results:
1. Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) 5:03:24
2. Yves Lampaert (Deceuninck – Qucik-Step) ST
52. Dion Smith (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +7:26

Photos courtesy of Getty Images.