Owain Doull (Team Sky) secured his best-ever result on the road with second place behind Bob Jungels in Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. The British rider was aggressive throughout the one-day race and eventually broke away with three riders inside the final few kilometres. Although Jungels was already too far up the road and took a solo win, Doull launched a sprint from 350 metres out and held off Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders winner Niki Terpstra for second place.
"It's been a good day," Doull told Cyclingnews. "I'm speechless. You always want to step up and be in the active end of these races. You believe you can do it but until you do, you just don't know. I'm a bit in shock to be honest. It's the biggest result of my road career so far, without a doubt."
Doull came into the Opening Weekend with decent form after taking a stage win the Herald Sun Tour and eighth in the individual time trial at the Tour de la Provence. With Luke Rowe out through illness and Dylan van Baarle picking up an injury in Omloop, the 25-year-old was bumped up the pecking order at Team Sky for Kuurne after a strong showing in Omloop. He took the opportunity with both hands, first forging clear in a determined seven-man break on the Oude Kwaremont with teammate Ian Stannard, and then making his late attack inside the final three kilometres.
"I'm just taking it all in to be honest. I felt good all day and I was in that front split over the Kwaremont. All day I had good legs and then I could see that they were running out of legs in the group behind, so with about 3km to go I jumped. Terpstra, Jens Keukeleire and Yves Lampaert came with me. We were working, obviously Lampaert was foxing around but then we came into the last corner and just knew that I had to go because we were getting caught by the bunch. I went with about 350 and managed to hold on," Doull said.
"I could see Jungels ahead but by that stage I knew that we weren't bringing him back. It was a case of racing for what was there."
Doull's result represents a significant leap for the former Olympic track champion. He was 11th in Omloop last year – and failed to finish Kuurne – but more often than not he is required to work for other riders. Although Team Sky have Rowe, Gianni Moscon and several other riders to welcome back to the Classics squad in the coming weeks, the Welshman has done his chances of another leadership role no harm at all.
"I've changed a lot of stuff over this winter. I've really focused on a few things and tweaked a few things but it's starting to pay off. It's nice to get the confirmation after all the hard work that I've done," Doull said. "I don't get many chances on this team to race for myself so when I do it's important to take it with both hands and make the most of it."