By Gregor Brown in Deinze
"It was good in Ronde," said Discovery Channel's Antonio Cruz in Deinze, before the start of the 69th Gent-Wevelgem. The 35 year-old American was in good spirits and looking forward to the day's Semi-Classic.
"The team went really well," he continued, reflecting on Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen, where his team saw to Vladimir Gusev's fifth place. "I tried to help Stijn Devolder as much as possible. I told him not to attack at silly points of the race. It worked out well, and now I am focusing on today."
Cruz is no stranger to the Belgian races, having raced here before with US Postal. He thought that De Ronde was a little strange. "The race was very unusual because there was no wind and so there were a lot more guys than normal, even at 200 plus kilometres."
Thinking about the 207 kilometre-race from Deinze to Wevelgem, he said it could be another wind-less day. "Today, I think there will not be much wind. This is usually the biggest factor in the Gent-Wevelgem, and then going over the Kemmel is the second selection point."
Discovery Channel went into the race with an open mind, which allowed Cruz to work how he saw fit. "I have a free role, so I will go for it. I will try to be in good position and make the selection." He finished the race in the third group, with riders like Graeme Brown (Rabobank) and Nico Mattan (DFL-Cyclingnews-Litespeed), at 5'02" back. His teammates, Vladimir Gusev and Volodymyr Bileka, finished in the main chase group, at 15 seconds back from winner Marcus Burghardt (T-Mobile).
After the race, Cruz and his team-mates packed their bags, heading for Compiègne, the start of Sunday's Paris-Roubaix.