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Belgian seasons opens on cue

In freezing cold and damp February weather, Belgium's opening race, the 60th Omloop Het Volk lived up to all expectations. Always a hard race, being similar to both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in parts, Het Volk was fought out between the Belgian teams Quick.Step and Davitamon-Lotto, with Discovery Channel and Rabobank playing important roles.

At one stage with 60 km to go, Quick.Step was on the back foot as a dangerous eight man breakaway was up the road with three Discovery riders (Ekimov, Devolder, Hincapie), Van Petegem (Davitamon), Kroon (Rabobank), Gilbert (FDJ), Gardeyn (MrBookmaker) and Tankink (Quick.Step). The break had 50 seconds and Tankink's presence there wasn't much of a consolation. Quick.Step began to ride hard behind and closed down the break with 37 km to go, opening things up for a new round of attacks. But in a tense and difficult finale, it was Nick Nuyens who escaped on the cobbled Vogelzangstraat with 15 km to go to ride the peloton out of contention, winning by 14 seconds from his teammate Tom Boonen.

"It was the longest 15 km of my life," quipped Nuyens at the finish. "Still, I was never in doubt, because I knew I was strong. The other guys in my team, who slowed things down, may ask everything of me now."

Tom Boonen had an unfortunate tumble when he was accidentally knocked off by Nico Eeckhout (4th) after the finish. But he was more than happy with the team's performance today. "It's as if I'd won myself - that's how happy I am for Nick," said Boonen. "I was also very content that he was there, because it meant that I wasn't going to get it all on my neck.

Results and report

Photos

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