Team Sky survived a "dreadful day" in the Tour of Flanders today in Belgium, which saw Geraint Thomas crash and Edvald Boasson Hagen fade on the Kwaremont climb.
"I think we had a pretty dreadful day, really," Sky's performance manager, Rod Ellingworth explained. "The lads did everything they could."
Boasson Hagen held on for 17th placed in the main group, 1-39 behind winner Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard). Thomas finished further back at 2-49 minutes in 41st place.
Thomas started the race as team leader. Bernhard Eisel was recovering from a bug and Mat Hayman fell sick overnight.
Thomas remained in the thick of the action as the race developed along with Boasson Hagen, the team's second leader. However, a crash after the second Kwaremont ascent put him in a bad spot.
"I was feeling good. It's one of those things. It's one of those racing crashes, it's just bad timing really," Thomas said.
"It was five-and-a-half hours of concentrating, being in the right place at the right time but it can all go in 10 seconds."
Thomas hit the deck when riders in the peloton swerved. Salvatore Puccio waited and pulled him back to the group, but it was a mad and costly chase ahead of the Paterberg and final circuit.
"I didn't expect him to come back," sports director, Servais Knaven added. "Puccio waited for him and brought him back. He had the legs but that effort was too much five kilometres before the [Paterberg]."
Over to Eddy
"Eddy" Boasson Hagen carried Sky's flag going into the final Kwaremont climb. When Fabian Cancellara revved up to ride free, he sat third wheel behind Peter Sagan (Cannondale). However, the first two rode clear, and the Norwegian Champion faded.
"I was in the right place but the legs weren't there. It was too hard for me," Boasson Hagen explained. "Of course you want to follow but it was no possible."
Ellingworth added, "Edvald was well positioned to go with Fabian and Sagan, so I think that was good in that it showed that he wasn't in the wrong place and we were asking questions. Just simply, he just couldn't do it."
The bright side is that Sky has raced the cobbles campaign well up to this point. Its leaders today were ready to play for the victory, but a crash put Thomas on the back foot. Boasson Hagen simply was unable to follow, but that was the same for everyone else, barring Peter Sagan.
"Edvald is going really well, but maybe we have to admit that Fabian and Sagan at that moment were going better," said Knaven. "If you're in the wheel and they drop you, they are better - you have to admit it."
They turn their attention to Paris-Roubaix on Sunday. Eisel and Hayman should be feeling better. Joined by Ian Stannard, they will chase a cobbled classics win before the campaign closes.
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