Ian Stannard talks about his against-the-odds Omloop Het Nieuwsblad victory

Ian Stannard (Team Sky) sprang a surprise at Het Nieuwsblad, escaping with three Etixx-QuickStep riders then beating them all at the finish in Ghent to successfully defend his title.

It was a victory against the odds, but the British rider said afterwards that the circumstances suited him. With a strong chasing group at 20 to 30 seconds for much of the final 30km, it meant the three Etixx riders – Tom Boonen, Niki Terpstra and Stijn Vandenbergh – had to keep riding hard rather than attacking Stannard.

It was initially a five-man group that went clear on one of the final cobbled sections, with 43km left, but Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNL-Jumbo) punctured and was swept up by the chasers. Stannard was then able to sit on the Etixx train, but, with Vanmarcke in particular driving a three-man chasing group, they never had enough of an advantage to, in Stannard’s words, “start playing games.”

Stannard said: “I was a little bit worried about it because I thought they were going to attack me pretty hard but the group was only 20 seconds behind so they couldn’t play too much and I could play poker at the back.

“Tom tried to attack me [with 5km to go] and I rode back up. When you ride up to a guy like that you know your legs are pretty good. I went over the top of him, then Niki came up to me, and I was aware Tom was just behind. Niki went a bit early in the sprint and shielded me from the wind a bit and I just had to grit my teeth.”

Stannard squeezed past Terpstra for a a narrow win, with the three Etixx riders second, third and fourth. It was an embarrassing outcome for the Belgian super team, but Stannard sympathised. “It’s a hard situation: there are guys chasing behind, so they had to ride hard. If the gap was a minute they could have played it more. I don’t know what else they could have done, but it played into my hands nicely.”

Ian Stannard in the 2015 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad

Ian Stannard let his Etixx-QuickStep escape companions create the gap back to the chase group

Stannard’s sports director, Servais Knaven, said that he had told Stannard to work if the chase group – which included another Etixx rider, Zdenek Stybar – got any closer. “The first concern was the chase group,” said Knaven. “I told him if they get closer you have to work because we have no one else behind. Then you’ll just have to go for the podium.”

But as Stannard said, it played into his hands. And 12 months after his breakthrough his win here – during which he suffered a broken back after a crash at Ghent-Wevelgem that saw him off the bike for three months – he was relieved to confirm that he is back to full fitness. “For myself I really wanted to do well in this race and show I was back at my old level,” said Stannard.

  • RobTM

    Just want to add my congrats! Great job Yogi!!

  • John Senior

    Amazing ride from Stannard – a Brit beating 3 Etixx riders by blowing 2 of them off his wheel and beating the other in the sprint – at 55 these are the kind of events that even 10 years ago I wouldn’t have dreamt of seeing.
    And, don’t want to knock Brad but it must be a bit frustrating to read all the coverage of him as a ‘classics’ contender when all the evidence says Stannard, Rowe and Thomas (who..ahem..beat him in Roubaix last year when someone forgot to tell Brad..’hey you’re the ex pursuit world and olympic champion..maybe you should try to go for a long one’. Clearly Brad mistook himself for Chris Hoy and thought he would win the sprint!) are all better at the classics than he is. Suspect that unless Brad is told what to do and when, and no one upsets him by half wheeling him, then he’s not going to do it.
    Good luck tomorrow lads!

  • AndySchleckFan

    Hey Julian Dean – How was getting booted from the tour for headbutting?
    But on Etixx- they made numerous horrible blunders including ever attacking -as they would have won the sprint; or covering their own counterattack after Boonen was caught, or leading out the sprint —

  • Julian Dean

    The Quick Steppers didn’t do many things right did they?

  • walter warburton

    Brilliant ride by Ian, good luck for tomorrow.He was outnumbered but used it to his advantage perfectly.

  • TrevorHoldsworth

    In-form Stannard was unbeatable! Or “How Etixx snatched defeat from the jaws of victory”. 😉