After two injury-plagued seasons, Nick Nuyens (Garmin-Sharp) is hopeful that Saturday’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad can mark the beginning of an upturn in his fortunes. Winner of the Tour of Flanders in 2011, Nuyens fractured his hip in a crash at the following year's Paris-Nice and has struggled with the injury ever since.
Last year, his first at Garmin, Nuyens was forced to cut his spring campaign short after he abandoned E3 Harelbeke and race sparingly thereafter. He ended his year by starting the Vuelta a España and riding the Tour of Beijing, however, and is confident that he approaches 2014 with a solid foundation.
"I hope I'm ready for the spring. For the first time in a long time, I felt that I could build on an equal basis with my colleagues," Nuyens said, according to Sporza.
The Belgian spoke of his frustration at being unable to recapture the condition that carried him to the Tour of Flanders and Dwars door Vlaanderen in 2011 and admitted that there have been times over the past two years when he has considered retirement.
"That sometimes flashed through my mind. Perfectly normal, I think," he said. "When you've won a monument like the Tour of Flanders and then a year later you're at the back hanging between the cars…
"But I like to do my job and I wanted to come back. I only want to stop when I'm tired of it.”
While many of the contenders for the cobbled classics have raced in Dubai, Qatar and Oman in recent weeks, Nuyens limited himself to just four race days in February, at the Challenge Mallorca. He said that he will be satisfied if he manages to do his job at the weekend. Whether it's helping a teammate or going into the finale myself, I want to enjoy myself during the race," Nuyens said.
Winner of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad in 2005 – “that was really the start of my career" – Nuyens still took the opportunity to reconnoitre the course on Tuesday. While he expects Tom Boonen to figure prominently on Saturday, he also believes some younger Belgian riders will feature, including new Garmin teammate Sebastian Langeveld.
"Lotto-Belisol with Jürgen Roelandts and Sebastian Langeveld with us won't be far away," Nuyens said. "And you've got Sep Vanmarcke too. You often have the same names, but in Omloop there is always a surprise or two."