Hushovd slips out of winning break
They may have one of the biggest budgets and the some of the sport's most decorated and accomplished Classics riders but BMC proved that racing doesn't always go to plan after their performance in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad fizzled out following a promising start.
The team lined up with arguably their strongest Classics line-up - only George Hincapie was missing - as Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd, Greg Van Avermaet and Alessandro Ballan took to the start in Ghent.
The opening half of the race went to plan. The team's leaders were kept out of trouble by able domestiques, while rival squad, Omega-Pharma, did the majority of the work on the front of the bunch.
However, the team's race began to unravel on the Taaienberg. Gilbert lacked form and positioning, finding himself isolated before a puncture effectively ended his chances of wining a third title in the race.
At the front of the race, Thor Hushovd made the split and looked set to contest the win but the 2010 world champion cracked along with Matti Breschel (Rabobank) on the Paddestraat with 30 kilometres to go.
"I was happy that I was there with the best riders when we went fast. I just had a bad moment on the Paddestraat but I don't know what happened. Suddenly I was dropped but I felt strong and that's important," Hushovd told Cyclingnews.
"I had confidence that I was strong enough to be there in the final. Like I said I had that bad moment and suddenly I lost the power. When things like that happen it's just over for such a hard race."
BMC did eventually rally, leading the chase from behind and Van Avermaet secured 5th place in the bunch sprint for 4th.
For the likes of Hushovd and Gilbert, bigger tests are on the horizon and the team will surely chalk up today's race as a learning experience. For second year professional Taylor Phinney it was exactly that. The American rode on the front for the first 70 kilometres and finished his first semi-classic in 44th place.
"It didn't work out 100 per cent," added Hushovd. It's the first race together and I think today the Taaienberg was the main place to be in the front and we missed a couple of guys to really be in the final with two or three but we'll work on that for future races."
Hushovd will skip Sunday's Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne and venture home before starting next month's Paris-Nice.
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