By Bjorn Haake in Gent, Belgium
Trains have often been a problem in the Classics, and Saturday's Omloop Het Nieuwsblad was no exception. Four riders were in pursuit of the break of the day, and were unable to stop in time for a level crossing which had just begun to close. Steven Caethoven (Agritubel), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank), Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) and Björn Thurau (Elk Haus) were disqualified by the jury.
Thurau explained that their speed was simply too high. "The lights had just started blinking. In this short period it was impossible to stop, so we decided to keep going."
The jury immediately told the four riders they were out of the race. "I kept going because I couldn't believe it," said Thurau. "I came back to the next bigger group and rolled along until I had a flat tyre." That's when he realised he really was out of the race. "The neutral support car didn't give me a wheel. They told me I was disqualified..."
Thurau was quite disappointed. "You train hard and do everything to be in top form and then in one second everything is destroyed." He added that stopping would have probably ended their break. "I doubt the jury would have stopped the field and let us keep our 1:20. Plus once you have to stop, your legs are shot and it is all over."
Thurau thought the composition of the teams may have had to do with the jury's decision. "Maybe if Boonen would have been in the break, they would have said 'Race on'. But oh well, I can't change it."
Tjallingii was also eliminated, which triggered an immediate reaction by Rabobank. "That screwed up their tactics, too," Thurau said.