By Brecht Decaluwé in Waregem
Belgian Nick Nuyens was possibly the strongest man in the Wednesday's 63rd Dwars door Vlaanderen in Belgium. The talented Cofidis rider hammered up the Oude Kwaremont, and together with team-mate and eventual winner Sylvain Chavanel they dominated the race. Nuyens had received some criticism after the Belgian opening weekend for his defensive racing style, and on Wednesday he wiped away every chance for critics with his impressive performance. The 27 year-old outspoken clean rider is more ready than ever for a great Spring Classics season.
"I felt it was about time for me to go in the attack myself and stop anticipating on attacks from other riders. In the hill zone I decided the moment had come because I don't have a chance to win the race if I don't wear my opponents down," Nuyens commented to Cyclingnews after the race.
When asked if he wasn't too disappointed that he didn't win himself, Nuyens didn't regret the lost opportunity. "It doesn't matter. Of course it's more fun for me if I win, but the most important is the team victory. It's good to be riding together with someone who can finish it as well in these races," Nuyens pointed out.
If the Chavanel group had been caught, Nuyens might have been the strongest rider in the escape, although the Belgian didn't agree with that theory. "I wasn't thinking about attacks anymore. I was only busy with defending the breakaway, so it was all or nothing. If you saw my sprint then you know I didn't have much left." Nuyens barely managed to get out of his saddle and crossed the line as one to last rider of the group.
The Cofidis attack on the Oude Kwaremont was one of the most impressive moments of the race. Staf Scheirlinckx paved the cobbled road for his captains, and when they took over nobody was able to follow. Until now, these kind of actions were only deployed by the mighty Quickstep team. "I like Quickstep a lot. I know how it has to be done," Nuyens laughed. "I thought there would be more on our wheel, so this is morale boosting, especially after a Milano-Sanremo where I was lacking the guts to throw myself into the battle for a good position. Now I wanted to show that I'm riding well.
"For me, this is a very difficult race to win as the hills are far away from the finish, although Chavanel showed it is possible to do it," Nuyens added, defying his own theory that Dwars door Vlaanderen can't be won by a non-sprinter. When asked whether the list of favourites for the Tour of Flanders which contains names like Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara, Leif Hoste and Alessandro Ballan can now also contain Nick Nuyens, the Belgian reacted firmly. "If it isn't there by now, I don't understand anything about it!"