Nuyens' Dwaars Door Vlaanderen
The Saxo Bank man forged, and then did most of the work in the escape during the final 20k or so. And despite all that work, still having enough juice to out-sprint the very rapid Gerraint Thomas with the bunch breathing down your neck at only 5 sec back with 2k to go never easy.
A well needed victory for Bjarne's boyz. I read things in the press that said Nick didn't have the stuff to be a classics leader for Saxo Bank. And that it was 'over' as top team for Saxo Bank after the defections.
Well, today Nuyens proved both premises false. First, he was smart enough to go just as Spartacus was ending a massive surge. Then once away, Cancellara and the Garmin boys were all trying to pull back his escape, but none of the classic-king horses could bring him back.
Nuyens has been on podium in Tour of Flanders before, so being off the front in the Flemish Ardennes is clearly familiar turf for him. His form looks excellent - he's snel, and sterk. Don't be surprised to see him uncork a win in vlaanderen's mooiste. I for one would be pleased to see that, have been a supporter since he was at Quick Step. A lot of resemblance to Eric Leman in this compact flahute.
And speaking of uncorking one, for a brief moment on one of the final climbs, it looked like belge trikleur Stijn DeVolder was going to do a replay of his Ronde escapes on the Eikenmolen, attempting to power away from the bunch. Only today, after his all-out acceleration, he didn't have the juice - or maybe he wasn't given enough leash - to bridge up to Nuyens and co. On the way in to the finish, he was hovering at the back of the front group.
Does the two time Ronde champion have the form to do it this year for a third time? Judging by today, I'd say no, but a lot can change in a week. Tommeke was prominent in all the action a lot in the final battles after the old Kwaremont, and looks like he's coming back into form after illness just in time for his favorite classics.
What remains to be seen for these two flandrien favorites is whether they can 'go to 11' on Ronde Sunday in a week or so.