Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Ian Stannard places 15th in our countdown of British riders of 2014
Ian Stannard may not look back on the 2014 season too fondly because of the injury that wrecked the bulk of it but his victory in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad broke new ground for him and, in a way, for British cycling.
The race, which used to be called Omloop Het Volk, is the traditional opener to the Belgian Classics season. It combines cobbles, hills and cobbled hills and is frequently held in miserable weather.
Stannard seems to thrive in miserable weather and although it was cold, wet and muddy, he looked good all day.
At the finish it was just Stannard and Greg Van Avermaet and the Sky rider produced a terrific finish to clinch victory and become the first British man to win the race.
Graham Jones was runner-up in 1982 and Tom Simpson won the Tour of Flanders in 1961, of course, but it has felt for a few seasons like Stannard and Geraint Thomas have stood on the cusp of making a breakthrough without managing it.
That is why it was such a shame that Stannard’s Classics campaign was ruined by a crash at Ghent-Wevelgem, which left him with a fractured vertebrae. That not only ruled him out of the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix but the Tour de France too.
But for winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Stannard moved up a couple of rungs on the ladder of Classics contenders.
We will be counting down the 20 best British riders of 2014 throughout December, with the top 10 published in the December 18 issue of Cycling Weekly magazine