Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne saw Niko Eeckhout (An Post-Sean Kelly), the grand old man of the peloton at the age of 41, feature off the front of the peloton for a long time and he only threw in the towel in the final kilometers. The experienced Belgian always knew that the breakaway wouldn’t stay away but “Rambo” preferred to go down fighting rather than ride for an anonymous top 10 result behind eventual winner Mark Cavendish (Sky Procycling).
“You know that if Cavendish comes here his team will ride,” Eeckhout explained afterwards. “Greipel wanted a bunch sprint too so there was no chance we would make it to the finish. You have to choose. I could wait for the sprint and maybe finish seventh but then I don’t think that would gain any attention. Somehow they saw the race live in Ireland and the chief of the postal company already texted us with congratulations.”
Many riders want to feature in the early breakaway but somehow Eeckhout often manages to sneak along if the eventual group goes the distance. “You’ve got to know the tricks,” Eeckhout said after taking a shower in the team’s bus, minuscule in comparison to the huge trucks of the WorldTour teams.
“We rode away at the turning point of the race in Ninove when the peloton hesitated briefly. Before that it was very fast and with the tailwind you know it’s hard to get away. It’s always like that in these races but experience helped me to go at the right moment.”
In contrast to other teams, the An Post-Sean Kelly team wasn’t able to ride in exotic locations in February, and instead raced short and soaked stages in the Étoile de Bèsseges. “I’m happy with our build-up. Sadly enough we couldn’t go flat out every day but my participation in the Volta ao Algarve made up for that. I’m ready for the rest of the season.”