Despite seeing Moreno Hofland narrowly lose to Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in a sprint for the victory at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, Belkin's sport director Nico Verhoeven was buoyed by his team's performance as Sep Vanmarcke crossed the line in third place to give the Dutch outfit two spots on the podium. Maarten Wynants sixth place gave the team three riders inside the top-ten.
Hofland already has one win under his belt in 2014 courtesy of Stage 4 at the Vuelta a Andalucía but couldn't hide his disappointment at losing the sprint as he punched the handlebars on his Bianchi in frustration upon crossing the line.
The 22-year-old quickly realised that in fact he had put in a top effort. "When Boonen beats you, you don't have to be ashamed of yourself, but immediately after a race it's not very pleasant, of course," said Hofland post-race. "A few moments later I realised what I had done. Tom Boonen is not just another rider."
"It went from left to right in the sprint and, when Boonen accelerated, I was boxed in a bit."
Having made it into the break, Hofland had taken several pulls on the front, costing him energy. "There was no other option," said Vanmarcke. "In the last 15 kilometres, Moreno was able to save some energy, but before that, there was no way that he could just sit and wait for a sprint. The peloton could have caught us, especially because Van Summeren and Lampaert were all by themselves in our break and didn't work at all."
Having placed fourth the day before at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Vanmarcke admitted that he would have loved to win one of the weekend's races, but he was proud of the teamwork.
"If you race to win, you cannot be satisfied easily. I was close on both occasions, but I'd really hoped to win at least one. As a team we rode two great races," said Vanmarcke.
"We accomplished almost everything we wanted to. Now we know how we need to do it, and we have gained a lot of confidence. We have to build on this. Hopefully, I can get in the mix in the next classic races as well."
"We did terribly well. We changed the dynamic of the race. Our acceleration with 80km to go proved decisive. That was real teamwork. The guys in the pack were professional neutralizing the peloton. If you end up losing to a very strong Boonen, you have to be satisfied. We were beaten in a fair way, and that feels a lot better than what happened yesterday, with Lars Boom and his puncture."
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