By Gregor Brown in Meerbeke
Tour of Flanders pre-race favourite Filippo Pozzato came up empty-handed in a day dominated by Belgian team Quick Step Sunday in Belgium. The Italian of team Katusha, winner of last week's E3 Prijs, made his hardest attacks on the Berendries as the race entered its critical moments.
"I tried to attack early, and isolate the others, but afterwards no one would work. At the end the others caught us," the 27-year-old said.
A move with two of Quick Step's team captains - eventual winner Stijn Devolder and Sylvain Chavanel - escaped up the road after the Eikenmolen (with 26km to go). Its third captain, two-time winner Tom Boonen, helped trap and mark Pozzato and teammate Serguei Ivanov.
"Later on, we saw that [Quick Step's] Matteo Tosatto and some others were up front, so it was too much. Quick Step went one after another.
"If Ivanov could have got on with Devolder, it would have been and ideal situation. However, Devolder is Devolder."
Pozzato entered the final 20 kilometres at the head of the main chase group with Boonen and Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto) and Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank). Flecha attacked on the Kapelmuur, but Pozzato lacked strength.
"I think if Boonen had something on Kapelmuur he would have tried, but instead we both had already spent too much. We remained with [Silence-Lotto's Philippe] Gilbert, who went strong on Kapelmuur. At the top I was tired."
Pozzato ended his day in fifth. He was happy with how his young team showed itself despite criticism of the team's strength leading to the race.