Juan Antonio Flecha (Sky) was 10cm away from repeating last year's win in the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday afternoon. The Spaniard fell just short in a two-man sprint with Sebastian Langeveld (Rabobank) after a rainy day of racing through Flanders.
"Normally he's faster than me but today he was only 10cm faster than me," Flecha said with a smile after coming so close to the win. "I rode a nice race again and we both did a good sprint after such a long and hard race," Flecha said.
While the Spaniard didn't have a problem with losing the sprint he did feel the sprint wasn't completely clean. "He's going to the left and that movement cost me the victory. After so many kilometres it's hard. I have to be honest and realize it's part of the game; it's quite simple. If I had to brake, then you have the right to talk but this was just a movement," Flecha said.
Despite falling short of the win Flecha showed that he's ready for a good run at the spring classics this season. While most top favourites were holding back their horses in the remains of the peloton Flecha was the only one to play his cards. At that moment Langeveld was already alone in the attack. Behind him there was a group of five riders. Niki Terpstra (Quick-Step) and Tom Boonen (Quick-Step) were leading the peloton.
Suddenly Boonen took his foot off the gas and Terpstra was gone, with Flecha quickly closing the gap alone. "I was always aware of the race situation and I knew we had Matthew [Hayman] in front. Maybe Quick-Step wanted to send somebody to the front. It was the right moment to start gambling. I went on the 53 and not on the 39. I had the legs to go there," Flecha said.
Flecha bridged up to the first chase group and then left them at the cobbles of the Paddestraat. The Spaniard clearly wanted nothing but the win in Ghent and he went on to close the minute gap on his former team-mate Langeveld before falling 10cm short on St-Peter's Square.