Team Sky came away from the Tour of Flanders empty handed, despite strong performances from both Edvald Boasson Hagen and Juan Antonio Flecha. The Sky captains were in contention until a combination of bad luck and tired legs ended their chances of top 10 results, with Boasson Hagen taking 18th and Flecha finishing one place further back.
At the finish in Oudenaarde, Sky's team director Servais Knaven praised the team's overall efforts. While Boasson Hagen came into the race with decent form, Flecha was somewhat of an unknown. An injury had kept him out of competition for over four weeks and despite his pedigree in the Classics, his form in a 260km race was a mystery.
"We're happy with Flecha. He didn't ride for four weeks and when you come back to this level again, with the best riders, I think then you can be happy with his ride. Edvald did a good ride as well and he showed what he is capable of and he's looking good for next weekend at Paris-Roubaix," Knaven told Cyclingnews.
On the first of three laps of the race's major climbs, Sky had strength in numbers. Flecha and Boasson Hagen were supported by Matthew Hayman, Bernhard Eisel, Ian Stannard and Christian Knees. However the team's race began to unravel on the second assent of the Paterberg. Garmin-Barracuda's Johan Vansummeren was edged into the barriers, causing a pile up in the middle of the road. Boasson Hagen was caught behind and his attempt to chase back with Oscar Gatto was futile. On the third set of climbs, the Norwegian was unable to respond to the trio of Alessandro Ballan, Tom Boonen and Filippo Pozzato as they accelerated away on the Oude Kwaremont.
"I think we did a good race. We were always at the front and had good team work. In my eyes it was just a shame that Edvald was left standing still on the Paterberg with the crash," Knaven said.
"He lost contact with the best riders and although he tried to chase them down he lost some energy. The team worked to chase because we had Flecha there and Edvald, both with good legs. Then it came back together on the bottom of the Kwaremont and Edvald just missed a little bit to help him go with the best riders."