Juan Antonio Flecha scored Team Sky’s first major one-day win by taking the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad Belgian classics opener on Saturday.
Flecha broke free from a six-man escape group – which included former winners Nick Nuyens (Rabobank) and Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) – within the final 20km to take the solo win and became the first Spanish rider in history to win the race.
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“It’s really emotional for me,” Flecha said after his win. “I’ve been knocking on the door many times in these races and if you keep trying then sometimes, like today, the victory comes. It’s a really beautiful feeling.”
Flecha dedicated his win to Frank Vandenbroucke, the Belgian Classics star who tragically died last year.
Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo) furiously chased Flecha in the dying kilometres to take a slim second as Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Transitions) brought the bunch home for third.
Roger Hammond (Cervelo) was Britain’s top finisher, in 19th place.
The early-season Classics action continues in Belgium tomorrow (Sunday) with Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) will be looking to repeat last year’s win.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad 2010
1. Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Team Sky 204.3km in 5-7-15
2. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo at 18secs
3. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions
4. Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
5. Marcel Sieberg (Ger) HTC-Columbia
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team Sky
7. Niko Eeckhout (Bel) An Post-Sean Kelly
8. Bernhard Eisel (Aut) HTC-Columbia
9. Tom Veelers (Ned) Skil-Shimano
10. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha all at same time
19. Roger Hammond (GB) Cervelo at same time
77. David Millar (GB) Garmin-Transitions at 4-59
103. Ian Stannard (GB) Team Sky at 10-45
125. Russell Downing (GB) Team Sky at 13-10
137. Jeremy Hunt (GB) Cervelo at 13-10
Juan Antonio Flecha (centre) takes Sky’s first big win; with Heinrich Haussler second (left) and Tyler Farrar third (right)
George Hincapie on the cobbles
Juan Antonio Flecha solos to victory
Tyler Farrar heads the bunch home for third