By Brecht Decaluwé
The first stage of the Tour of Belgium was a windy fight where some favourites were surprised by the echelons formed, among the losers of the day were Belgians Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) and Nick Nuyens (Cofidis). Last year's winner Maarten Tjallingii (Skil-Shimano) finished in the first group and looks able to repeat his 2006 surprise performance.
"There was one occasion where I was surprised, but I stayed cool and easily came back to the front," the former MTB'er said to Cyclingnews. The echelons that are formed when riding always cause problems in the peloton. Skil-Shimano and Quickstep were some of the few teams to lead the first echelon on multiple occasions, it showed that there is confidence within the Dutch team.
"It's not only about publicity or confidence but mainly about tactics, it's the best position to be at that moment. In the wheels you need to work hard as well, so it's better to work for a minute in front than risk to get dropped off the side," Tjallingii explained.
Sébastien Rosseler (Quickstep) showed his GC ambitions today by sprinting for the bonus seconds two times while Tjallingii wasn't spotted near the front. "Actually I tried to be there but that Quickstep train is pretty strong. You have to be in the wheel of Rosseler if you want to stand a chance, but surprisingly enough everybody wants to be there," Tjallingii laughed.
To win the Tour of Belgium again the 29 year-old will have to break down the Quickstep train, something that looks impossible when you realize that a certain Tom Boonen is a domestique in this race. "Impossible? Last year they said that as well," last year's winner said, smiling.