Just seven days before it was Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome making headlines for victories in the Tour of the Algarve and Ruta del Sol respectively. After proving unbeatable in early season stage races, we’ve now turned our attentions to single-day semi-classics with similar success.
The circumstances of Stannard’s win in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad were the most remarkable for several reasons. He was defending champion, it was the first big test of his comeback after last season’s injuries, and he just happened to outfox three Etixx-Quick Step riders in the four-up breakaway. Beating Tom Boonen in Belgium is no mean feat.
That was a huge embarrassment for the Belgian superteam and it took a Brit to restore pride at Etixx with Cavendish’s sprint victory in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
It was a powerful, well-timed effort from Cav at the finish but it was also his climbing that impressed. Our man even managed to get with the 20-strong lead group that broke away on the Oude Kwaremont but was eventually caught with 35 kilometres to go.
Next week Froome takes on Alberto Contador in Tirreno-Adriatico while Thomas goes for gold in Paris-Nice. It’s only March but this is already shaping up to be a vintage year.
Robert Garbutt is editor of Cycling Weekly