Thwaites and Boasson Hagen were able to make the 14-man group that went clear after Greg Van Avermaet‘s (BMC Racing) attack on the Kemmelberg, but their hesitation saw Van Avermaet and Jens Keukeleire (Orica-Scott) ride clear.
The peloton absorbed Thwaites and the Norwegian winner of the 2009 race in the final kilometre in Wevelgem. Thwaites ended 29th, the highest place Dimension Data ride, and rode directly to his team’s temporary silver motorhome further down Wevelgem’s main street.
“We did everything right up until that point,” Thwaites told Cycling Weekly.
“We had a good strong team performance to get in the break and then Bernie [Eisel] pulling to the bottom of the Kemmelberg, that put us in a good position. But yeah, we made a bit of a mistake and it cost us in the end.
“It’s always disappointing to race that far, do everything right and sort of make the mistake right at the end after the hard work.”
Watch: Cobbled Classics essential guide
Van Avermaet was the only BMC rider to make the crucial move group, while Team Sunweb, Quick-Step Floors and Dimension Data all had multiple options. When Keukeleire busted the group apart with 21 kilometres remaining, just outside of Ypres, Sunweb and Quick-Step both managed to make the new five-man group.
“We just hesitated really. We should’ve already jumped on that and made sure we had one of us in that group, it didn’t really matter if you had the legs or not, you could just sit there if you didn’t feel good,” Thwaites added.
“I hesitated and so did Eddy, so we both made that mistake. That’s what cost us a good result really.”
After going clear on the Kemmelberg, some riders in the 14-man move were skipping turns or not fully contributing as the race made its way on the flat final 35km to Wevelgem.
“It’s annoying,” Van Avermaet commented on the dynamics. “I got annoyed too, especially in the group of 14 because you know Degenkolb and Matthews were in the group, [who] certainly had interests in making the group work. Still, there were only two or three men coming through.”
Van Avermaet, together with Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step Floors) latched on to Keukeleire’s wheel when the Orica rider attacked, with Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Søren Kragh Andersen (Team Sunweb) bridged across shortly after. Meanwhile, Thwaites and Boasson Hagen sat in the second group.
“A few people were letting the wheel go to slip to the back of the group and it sort of split a little bit,” continued Thwaites. “When they accelerated, those guys went away, so we just weren’t in the right position and didn’t jump on it immediately.
“I’m not happy that we got nothing. I’m not going to dance around that we got caught and got nothing in the sprint, that’s not really what this team’s about.”
Thwaites will return to Leeds for the week, with him and Dimension Data having a chance to get revenge in Sunday’s Tour of Flanders.