Britain's Geraint Thomas (Sky) was narrowly denied a win in Dwars door Vlaanderen in Waregem,
Belgium, by fellow escapee Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-Sungard).
The pair had been part of a four, then three-man escape group in the final 20km of the semi-classic. Thomas, Nuyens and Frederic Amorison (Landbouwkrediet) put in a concerted effort to distance the bunch but didn't get more than 20 seconds clear.
Niki Terpstra (Quick Step) then attacked the bunch with 7km to go. Thomas's team-mate Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) marked him closely, reeling him back in. By this time, the escape trio's advantage had been whittled down to 12 seconds.
Amorison got dropped as Nuyens and Thomas continued to drive clear in the closing two kilometres. With the bunch creeping up behind them, Thomas opened up his sprint in the final 500 metres but was caught and passed by Nuyens on the line.
It's Nuyens' first win since taking a stage of the Tour of Austria last year. British cycling fans may remember Nuyens as the winner of the 2005 Tour of Britain.
American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) took the bunch sprint for third in the UCI 1.1-ranked event.
Dwars door Vlaanderen 2011: 203km
1. Nick Nuyens (Bel) Saxo Bank-Sungard
2. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at same time
3. Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Cervelo at 1 sec
4. Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky
5. Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil
6. Baden Cooke (Aus) Saxo Bank-Sungard
7. Leif Hoste (Bel) Katusha
8. Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank
9. Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
10. Dominique Rollin (Can) Francaise des Jeux at same time
Geraint Thomas heads the four-man escape group
So close: Geraint Thomas is pipped on the line by winner Nick Nuyens
Spring Classics 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
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