"This was one of those days where it seemed everything went wrong," said Discovery Channel directeur-sportif Dirk Demol on a less-than-average team performance in Gent-Wevelgem that only saw one finisher in Antonio Cruz, who came 16th, with the rest of the team suffering mechanicals, bad luck, or being the victim of crashes. "That's life, and now we have to focus on Sunday."
However, with one of their team's star-performers for Paris-Roubaix and last year's third place finisher, Roger Hammond, crashing out after hitting a pole, the Discovery fleet may not be in full motion this weekend. Heading the British national champion's list of injuries is a broken thumb, but Hammond also suffered a sprained ankle and bruised knee as a result of his crash.
Recalled Hammond to ThePaceline.com: "I thought, 'What the hell is he doing out on the edge of the road?' It was strange, but thought he may be just another crazy fan who likes to stand out there in front of the riders until the last minute. I was riding towards him and went behind him on the cycle path to get around, but he then shot back and I had to move back into the road and couldn't avoid the pole."
"It's pretty serious," said Hammond on his injuries. "With a broken thumb, it would be difficult but not impossible to ride on Sunday, but with the ankle and knee, it may not be possible. The only thing I can hope for is to recover the next few days. The finger is not a problem - I can immobilize the thumb so I can hold the handlebars. It's not ideal but we'll see. I'll go training tomorrow and see what happens."
"I think there is a very small chance he can race on Sunday but we need to wait another day or so," added Demol.
Devolder an off-day in Flanders; Boonen the King of Belgium
Demol also thought that Stijn Devolder, the winner of Three Days of the Panne last week, had an off day at the Tour of Flanders last Sunday. "I think it may have been his worst day of the season," he said. "Maybe he spent too much energy last week. And on Thursday and Friday, he was very busy with friends and the media - everybody wanted a piece of him because of De Panne."
On his former protege Tom Boonen, who Demol began working with when he was just 15 years old, before joining US Postal for a year after riding as a stagiaire in 2001, the assistant directeur-sportif only has praise for the winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen: "He's a national hero. They should now be calling him the King of Belgium," said Demol.
"I knew all the time he was going to turn into a [successful] rider, but it's gone faster than I expected it would go. He's only 24 years old. Last year, he won over 20 races and this year he already has six wins including Flanders. I didn't think he was ready to do that now, but maybe in one or two years. Plus, the way he won Flanders - it wasn't in a group sprint from 15-20 riders but in an attack to win alone. Unbelievable."