Well that was a big crash wasn’t it? Fortunately no real injuries were sustained in the pile up that occurred moments before the Taaienberg of Saturday’s Omloop race, but it was enough to take Tom Boonen and Alexander Kristoff out of the running. A shame for Boonen who will now view Omloop as ‘the-one-cobbled-classic that got away’, whilst Greg Van Avermaet will be able to look back fondly, having now won the race twice.
At least Boonen will have the opportunity for a quick rebound, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne coming 24 hours later. Boonen holds the record number of victories here with three and given Mark Cavendish (on 2 wins) is racing in Abu Dhabi, his record is safe for another year.
Traditionally, Omloop is for the hard and KBK is for the fast. Past podiums of KBK have featured Cavendish, Kristoff, Bouhanni and Vivani – not guys you usually see winning Belgian classics, and some of these names feature on the start list for the 2017 edition.
Jasper Stuyven (TFS) will be confident as reigning champion, but Kristoff (KAT) — if the crash at Omloop had no ill effect – and Bouhanni (COF), who placed second and third respectively in 2016 will also feel they can crack it this time.
After the hard work Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard put in during Omloop, Sky will probably put their eggs in a Danny Van Poppel shaped basket especially with his strong start to the season down under, and Orica Scott will fancy their chances with their fast man Magnus Cort Nielsen, who impressed so much in the final months of last year.
Sam Bennet (BOH) will probably have the nod from teammate Sagan to go for it, Arnaud Demare (FDJ) will be keeping his hands firmly on his bars when climbing if a car passes him (we hope), Nacer Bouhanni will be keeping his hands firmly on his bars when anyone on a bike passes him (we hope also) and finally Brian Coquard (DEN) could go under the radar, avoid any potential pitfalls and madness, and fly through to win.
It’s anyone’s guess who could take it, but what we’re certain of is that Tom Boonen won’t want to leave this race as sorely as he left Omloop today.